Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Toaster Oven CK-8A ACA

I recently invested in a toaster oven so I can bake cookies, cup cakes, or even take a shot at mini-pizzas. The apartments here usually only have table top cookers and not large ovens. The good thing about living in China is that you can get most stuff cheap although it will be non-branded. However this oven seemed to have all brands covered. It is manufactured by ACA, the Appliance Company of America! It also bears the Home Appliance logo which looks kind of like the Home Improvement stamp. They also slapped the slogan ‘we bring good things to life’ on their box. Isn’t that that the General Electric catchphrase…

The CK-8A boosts a wide range of features such as the easy clean interior, 15 minute timer, power light, broiler tray, and a viewing window. What would a toaster be without a viewing window?

In all fairness though, the accessories were pretty cool. The toaster came with 2 trays and even a free oven mitt, albeit it did not fit me. The glass door of the oven was pretty sweet too because it has no metal frame on it giving the toaster a more sleek shape. There are some toasters that look all old fashioned and could be embarrassing when a chick comes over to cook with you. This is not one of them. This looks like the Honda Civic of Oven Toasters.

Although the controls are in Chinese, I was able to utilize my finely tuned sense of logic to figure out that the knob on top adjusts the temperature of the oven and the switch below controls the timer. I think the fact that I have lived and studied in so many countries is what has given me the ability to conform to and decipher such complex conditions. A lesser man would be stuck in China eating non-toasted bread with no hope of ever enjoying a mimi-pizza!

So armed with my trusty new CK-8A Toaster Oven, I ventured forth to make some garlic bread. You have got to love garlic bread. And it is the ideal dish to make in a toaster oven. First I pealed about 8 cloves of garlic and put them in the small plastic container that came with my nifty blender. I can’t find the post or pictures of my nifty blender to link back to, but it has been a life saver. It has a special blade that chops up the garlic real nice without turning it into a paste. This way you can spread some over the bread and it becomes crispy garlic chips.

You need to leave some butter out on the counter for a while so you can effectively mix it up with the chopped garlic. If you take it right of the fridge it will be too hard to make a good pulp with. Do not even consider using the microwave to soften the butter. You will end up with a watery substance that does not spread well.

Neatly slice the long bread, sometimes referred to as ‘French bread’, diagonally down from the top but not all the way through. Leave the crust of the base un-severed. This way the pieces still hold together and you can drop dabs of the garlic butter into the crevasses. I also like to smother a bit of the butter right over the loaf of bread. Doing it this way instead of buttering and laying out individual slices insures that each piece is crispy on the outside yet the center of the loaf is soft, warm, and well marinated in melted garlic butter.

The end result was pretty good. I had to fiddle with the heat a little bit and as a result I burned a few slices. But now that I have the controls mastered I can churn out garlic bread quite effectively. You can also use the same method to make the garlic bread for a BBQ. Just wrap the buttered loaf in aluminum foil and throw it on the grill. Sometimes I add some grated cheese and veggies into the mix to make this more of a meal, like cheese toast. The CK-8A Toaster Oven was a sound investment that is sure to yield endless pleasure for me. Now I have to try out mini-pizzas. If I can do that my life is made!

Check out Indo Dreamin’ for an awesome picture I posted taken by Brother Ro in some region of China he visited last month.

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