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An MRI in my kitchen

I’m re-doing my 1985 vintage kitchen. A few months ago I ripped the handle off an oven, four burners have never been enough, and the ancient dishwasher is so loud it sounds like a street-cleaning machine. The cabinet veneer is peeling. The wimpy double ovens are horribly slow, poorly callibrated, and situated in a doorway making me turn sidways everytime I try to access them. (Forget about induction — that came much later). I could go on. Take, for example, the white tile floor. Anybody tried to keep a white tile floor clean in a heavily trafficked kitchen? It’s hopeless, and I can’t take it anymore.

To be fair, there are a few things I’ve loved. The blue granite countertops. Can’t see a speck of dirt, or a streak of water. The Franke double sink. With my CSA veggies, I use that smaller sink every week to rinse the dirt till the water comes clean.

But now I’m back to square one, making every decision. It can be unnerving (these should be the worst of my problems). After years of cooking in dilapidated rental apartments or student housing, I am picking my own kitchen for the first time. This probably sounds like a case of too much disposable income to most people. And it’s true. But this is not a trophy kitchen, it is very much in use. I had 14 people for shabbat dinner last Friday, and every night my family of 5 sits down to dinner. We eat home-cooked food almost every meal. This kitchen is a workhorse, and I use every square inch of it. Yes, I am blessed.

Back to the decisions. Anyone read about induction cooking? Essentially, it’s an MRI under my countertop. Induction cooking uses magnetic technology to spin the electrons in a ferromagnetic pan (you can tell one if a magnet sticks to it), thus heating up the pan. Two downsides as far as I can tell. Uses a lot of electricity (though more efficient than standard electric cooktops), and makes a faint whirring sound from a fan cooling down the magnet. It’s supposed to be super fast, and highly precise, e.g. perfect for heating sugar to the soft ball stage. Almost all my pans are already compatible, so that’s not a problem.

So, of course I’m getting a 12-inch, two burner induction cooktop. Unless someone convinces me differently. It doesn’t draw too much electricity, and I make so many puddings, lemon curds and things that require precise heating, I figure I’ll use it. Plus, it’s fast. Can’t wait to test which burner boils pasta water faster, the large induction burner or the big gas one. (Have always been a bit of a kitchen geek).

Regarding kashrut issues, I found out that fancy sink manufacturers sell racks that fit exactly into the bottom of the sink, for separating meat from dairy. Figured I’d better get the one that fits, just in case we go down that road someday. I intend to have my new sink for at least 20 years. What are the chances that the induction technology holds up that well? It doesn’t hurt to hope.

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5 Responses to “An MRI in my kitchen”

  1. Larry Lennhoff Says:

    I don’t know to what extent you are traditionally observant, but if you are you may find the induction stovetop problematic. They are very hard to kasher for passover, and there may be problems with using them on yom tov (more details on request).

    Also, have you considered either a double dishwasher or two dishwashers?

    Lastly, we color coded the knobs on your kitchen so even people who barely know what kashrut is can help in the kitchen. “Take the plates and silver from the blue handled drawers and don’t take anything from a drawer that has a red handle works very well.”

  2. Phyllis Bieri Says:

    Larry — thanks for your comments. Am very intrigued. Why is an induction cooktop hard to kasher for Pesach? It is a smooth glass top, fitted directly onto the counter.

    Although we are not strictly kosher, I have a convert’s need to know all the rules. Why would induction cooking be different from a standard electric cooktop on yom tov?

    Re: dishwashers. I was told that as long as the tub is stainless steel and not plastic, one dishwasher can be used, providing it only contains meat or dairy at one time.

    Appreciate your input.

  3. jabbett Says:

    Courtesy of the Star-K’s article on Passover kashering:

    Kashering a Glass, Corning, Halogen or Ceran electric smoothtop range for Pesach use is a bit complex. To kasher the burner area, clean well and turn on the elements until they glow. The burner area is now considered kosher for Pesach. However, the remaining area that does not get hot is not kashered. The manufacturers do not suggest covering this area as one would a porcelain or stainless steel top, as it may cause the glass to break. Real kosherization can be accomplished by holding a blow torch over the glass until it is hot enough to singe a piece of newspaper on contact with the glass. However, this too may cause the glass to shatter and is not recommended.

    As the area between the burners cannot practically be kashered, it would be wise to have a trivet on the open glass area to move pots onto. In addition, in order to use a large pot that extends beyond the designated cooking area, one should place a metal disc, approximately 1/8 of an inch thick, on the burner area to raise the Passover pots above the rest of the glass surface. (Caution: This disc should not extend beyond the designated cooking area.) This will also help in case a small pot boils over, sending a trickle of hot liquid that would serve as a connector from the Passover pot to the non-Passover stovetop. (Note: Cooking efficiency may be compromised when using a metal disc.)

  4. Leah Koenig Says:

    Oy. I’ll be honest – it is this type of thing that drives me crazy about where kashrut has come. It also reminds me of a joke:

    God: “And remember, Moses, if you want to keep kosher, never cook a calf in its mother’s milk.”

    Moses: “So you are saying we should never eat milk and meat together.”

    God: “No, what I’m saying is, never cook a calf in its mother’s milk.”

    Moses: “Oh Lord, forgive my ignorance! What you are really saying is we should wait six hours after eating meat to eat milk so the two are not in our stomachs.”

    God: “No, Moses, listen to me. I am saying, don’t cook a calf in its mother’s milk!”

    Moses: “Oh, Lord! Please don’t strike me down for my stupidity! What you mean is we should have a separate set of dishes for milk and a separate set for meat and if we make a mistake we have to bury that dish outside …”

    God: “Moses, do whatever you want …”

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