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Kitchen regrets

Things that I probably shouldn't have bought. Plus, things for which I should have read the manual. 1. Despite the warnings of a colleague ("don't buy it"), I bought a heavyweight, porcelain-coated cast-iron grill pan.

Things that I probably shouldn't have bought. Plus, things for which I should have read the manual.

1. Despite the warnings of a colleague ("don't buy it"), I bought a heavyweight, porcelain-coated cast-iron grill pan. They are hard to clean, she said. The porcelain will chip, she said. But it was on sale at Canadian Tire. The pan does a nice job of grilling. But cleaning it is a major league chore. And the manual insists that no abrasive scrubbers be used. I've ignored the manual because cleaning is impossible unless you go abrasive. I'm waiting for the chipping to start.

2. The Cuisinart DLC-7 food processor. Another thing that's a hassle to clean. The manual said I could put the plastic bowl and lid into the dishwasher, so I did. After a while, little cracks developed in the all-important mechanism areas. Because of cracks in the spring assembly housing, I had to hold the lid just-so to make the thing run. Then, one day, that trick didn't work any more. A replacement bowl and lid adds up to roughly the price of a new food processor. So, I haven't used the Cuisinart for years.

3. I bought a blender with a plastic spindle. The spindle broke when I over-stressed the blender by trying to get it to crush ice. I couldn't see an easy way to fix the spindle, so I bought a new blender with a metal spindle, a retro-look, rather-noisy Osterizer.

4. The ceramic grater-cum-slicer. It looked good in the store. But It's slippery to use. And a couple of ceramic teeth have broken off. I'm almost certain the broken teeth are not my fault.

5. The floppy plastic spatula. A spatula is a spatula, I thought. But no. This one droops. I only use it in emergencies - that is, when all the other better spatulas are in the dishwasher.

6. The fruit juicer. I bought it after watching a late-night television infomercial. Before I bought, I was warned: they are a hassle, you won't use it, buying it would be stupid. They are indeed a hassle. Cleaning involves many, many parts. The machine is noisy. The amount of juice vs. the amount of labour is not good. I don't know where the juicer has gone.

7. The wok for the barbecue, a metal container with outward slanting sides with hole. Another device that was annoying to use, and hard to clean.

8. The deluxe Allure hood fan, which was twice as expensive as other hood fans we saw. We bought it because it was supposed to be quiet. It is indeed quiet and is quite efficient at sucking away smoke, grease and steam, and we still use it. But shortly after the warranty expired, the plastic clips that hold the filters in place broke. To replace them, you have to take the hood fan off the wall, because the clips are somehow secured from behind. Not a good design - both the brittleness of the clips and the way they are installed. Then the light switch stopped working. These days, I'm keeping the filters in place with a wad of masking tape, and turning the light on and off by loosening and tightening the bulb.

9. The $100 (on sale) Paderno no-stick pan with a heavy bottom. I swear - I only used plastic utensils on it. The no-stick coating failed after a few months. I wrote to Paderno and didn't get a reply. These days — chastened by that experience and alarming reports about how no-stick coatings are bad for you — I'm mostly using a cast iron pan. It's great. Cooking with it is a joy. Cleaning it is easy.

10. Our semi-new Panasonic microwave. After barely two years, the touchpad is wrinkling and the door-opening button doesn't open the door, unless you use two hands - one to press the button, the other to pull the door open. Our old Panasonic microwave, a super-heavy beast, lasted for 20 years before, one day, it refused to turn on. The door still worked fine.

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Why deluxe ice cream can be super-duper expensive. Part of it is expensive ingredients. More of it is image. At

While street food thrives across U.S., Canadians can only look on with relish. The headline doesn't quite reflect the story; the headline writer must have fallen in love with his cleverness. It's sort of about Vancouver's effort to unleash more food vendors on its streets. At

Pam Freir on the birth of frozen food as we know it - Clarence Birdseye seemed born to be branded. At

The downtown Victoria Smitty's restaurant has closed. At

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We were at Symphony Splash, and wandered through the food area. Even when business was light, the space was crowded. Vendors were on both sides of the street. As a result, there wasn't much room down the middle for lineups and gawkers. Putting the vendors along just one side of the street would have made things less daunting. But, maybe the organizers wanted to inject a feeling of crowded excitement, where the potential for having a hot dog (with relish) crushed into your chest is high (because you weren't watching where you were going, and neither was the holder of the hot dog).

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I had another good meal at Azuma, the high-volume, fast-service Japanese restaurant on Yates. It was the $8 tempura bento, which came with three prawns, and one piece each of yam, green pepper, onion and really delicious eggplant, plus rice topped with miso sauce, an iceberg lettuce salad, a chunk of melon and two slices of orange. The tempura was hot and fresh-tasting. That's a hallmark of this restaurant. The food is delivered to your table hot -- something, curiously, that isn't necessarily standard in all restaurants. (I'm remembering the lukewarm, but otherwise tasty, eggs benedict that I had recently at John's Place on Pandora, and the sausages in my breakfast combo at Denny's on Douglas.)

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