Extension and Ag Research News


Prairie Fare: Well-chosen Appliances Bring Rewards

You can save energy, water and money when you choose appliances.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“A good craftsman never blames his tools,” my husband teased.

Note to other husbands or significant others: Don’t say that. Ever.

I was grumbling about our oven as I removed a lopsided cake that was overly brown on one side and underbaked on the other. Although I had learned how to compensate for the uneven heating, I didn’t exactly enjoy watching food like a hawk.

“Well, I am going to buy all new appliances,” I remarked.

My husband’s face grew pale at the thought of the cost. Little did he know what would happen next.

I decided that if I reached a milestone goal at work, I would reward myself and our family. We needed to shed the appliances that were nearly two decades old before we had a kitchen appliance emergency, I reasoned.

We visited every store that sells appliances in our city, compared prices, products and energy usage. We were looking for a two-in-one conventional/convection oven, with a small oven at the top to bake casseroles or a pan of cookies. We wanted a refrigerator/freezer with the freezer unit on the bottom so we could see our frozen food inventory.

We measured our space and then we put the information in a file for many months. When my work title changed to professor, I was ready to order our new stainless steel appliances.

The appliance salesman stopped over to measure our space. Then he delivered some bad news. Unfortunately, none of the appliances fit. In fact, we had a limited number of choices that would fit in our built-in spots for the stove and refrigerator unless we did some remodeling.

Further, all the dishwasher models available were too tall, so we needed to remove the kitchen countertops and boost them about an inch. Our carpenter didn’t think he could remove the counters without damaging them, so we got an estimate for new countertops. By the way, we also needed a new sink and faucets.

Now my face was pale. I thought moving to another house might be less expensive, so I gave up on the idea of new appliances, at least momentarily.

Because we love to cook and eat good food, this investment was for our family, I reasoned. We moved forward. Our new appliances are far more efficient, and the kitchen looks pretty sharp, too.

I reasoned that we would save enough water and electricity through time to pay for them. Besides, with all the healthful food we will be cooking with our new appliances, we may extend our lives. Yes, I was convincing myself I had done the right thing.

Actually, you can save energy, water and money when you choose appliances. According to http://energy.gov, you can use the Energy Star label to find appliances that use less water and energy than the federal standards. Energy Star dishwashers use 5.8 gallons of water per cycle, compared with the 10 gallons per cycle usage of pre-1994 dishwashers.

A new Energy Star-rated refrigerator uses 20 percent less energy than federal standards and 40 percent less energy than models sold in 2001. These are a few more energy-saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy:

  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan or electric kettle to boil water; it's faster and uses less energy.
  • Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
  • Use small electric pans, or toaster or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.

Our kids are delighted with our kitchen investment, and we are enjoying all the features of our “new” kitchen. Our kids probably think that cooking show hosts “Rachael” and “Emeril” are their new parents. Here’s a meal reminiscent of Sunday dinners.

Classic Beef Pot Roast With Root Vegetables

1 boneless beef chuck shoulder, arm or blade roast (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

14-ounce can beef broth, low salt

1 pound of small, red-skinned potatoes cut in half

1 pound of carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1 large onion cut in eight wedges

1 1/2 c. frozen peas

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour dissolved in 1/4 c. cold water

Chopped fresh parsley (optional)


2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed

Combine seasoning ingredients and then press mixture evenly onto all surfaces of the beef pot roast. Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat on stove until hot. Place pot roast in stockpot; brown evenly. Pour off drippings. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth to stockpot and bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 2 1/4 hours.

Add potatoes, carrots and onion to stockpot; bring to boil. Reduce heat; continue simmering, covered, 25 minutes. Stir in peas; continue simmering, covered, five to10 minutes or until pot roast and vegetables are fork-tender. Remove pot roast and vegetables; keep warm. Skim fat from cooking liquid, if necessary. Measure 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid and return to stockpot; stir in flour mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir two to three minutes or until thickened. Carve pot roast into thin slices; serve with vegetables and gravy. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Serves eight. Each serving has 380 calories, 17 grams (g) of fat, 22 g of carbohydrate and 4 g of fiber.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Nov. 15, 2012

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu


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