Philips Avance XL Airfryer: Bigger, Better and Faster!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

I have to admit that I love fried stuff, and my idea of comfort food is a plate of golden deep-fried calamari rings dipped in mustard-mayo sauce. Not exactly the healthiest of dishes, but there's nothing that a bit of crunch couldn't fix. Lately, however, I have realised that deep-fried foods tend to make me queasy and leave my stomach uncomfortably bloated. I have been told that it is due to a lower metabolism as we age, coupled with the fact that the body's system isn't as 'efficient' in breaking down oil and fats when we are older. I, of course, refuse to believe that (yes - the age part!!) but it's really becoming increasingly difficult to stay in the self denial mode.

When Philips first introduced the Viva Airfryer in April 2011, I was admittedly sceptical. Frying stuff without oil just doesn't seem 'believable' to me. Where would the crunch and crispness come from? Would there be any flavour without the usage of oil? As its name suggests, it's like conjuring up a plate of fried stuff out of thin air!

The Airfryer really got me intrigued. I wanted to get one, but I was fearful that it will end up a white elephant in the kitchen because the resulting food items will not sit too well with the family. After all, we know that healthy alternatives very rarely measure up to the real deal. Meanwhile, friends who have the Airfryer have nothing but good things to say about it, save for a few die-hard 'fast food fries' lovers.

Then they've gone and made the Airfryer bigger. And better.

The Mookid is not a huge fan of fried stuff, and neither does he like fried snacks much. His only weakness is french fries, so I thought that if I could serve him up a plate of fries with the benefit of up to 80% less oil, it will be a great alternative to the usual oil soaked limp ones that are served in many fast food places (depending on your luck, and crowd).

So!... Let me introduce you to my new kitchen helper: The Philips Avance XL Airfryer.



It's darn difficult to take a pic of the fryer without a reflection of myself on the surface, can?!

With a 50% increase in capacity and 30% faster cooking time as compared to the Viva, the Avance Airfryer makes cooking for the entire family a breeze. The improved model also boasts a 1.2 kg cooking capacity (up from 800g) which fits more, enabling you to feed a family of 5 easily and saving you a lot of time! As a working Mum, I know how challenging it is to whip up a simple meal after a day at work and battling peak hour madness to get home. Anything which helps me cut a lot of preparation and cooking time is a winner in my books.

The new improved Avance model also fits an 18 cm oven-proof dish within its nifty basket, and this makes baking and gratinating so convenient. You can even air-roast a whole chicken inside!

The Rapid Air Technology within the Philips Airfryer allows you to fry, bake, grill, gratinate and roast snacks and meals with up to 80% less fat than a conventional deep fryer unit. The grill element within the Philips Airfryer heats up air within the unit, where the starfish design helps propel the heat, guaranteeing a fast and even cooking session, The Rapid Air Technology allows one to fry food without the use of oil, and hence, reducing the smell of oil in the kitchen.

'Starfish' sounds more whimsical than calling it rotor blades or turbine, I suppose.
Even though the unit is pretty heavy at 7kg, it has a non slip base which ensures that accidents are prevented. It also has a 'Smart Preset Button' feature which allows you to save the settings used for a favourite dish, so that the next time round you make the dish, there is no need to manually set the temperature and time! Furthermore, its removable non stick coated drawer and food basket are not only easy to clean, it is also dishwasher safe.

Using the Airfryer kinda makes me feel like Sabrina in Bewitched, except that maybe the twitch of the nose is replaced by a tap on the digital touchscreen. The control allows you to increase or decrease temperatures to the degree, and this is especially useful when baking at specific temperatures.

I've always dreamt of doing the touch button thing to make (people) disappear. Or teleport. Or time travel! I suppose this is the closest I can get to it.
The unit needs no assembly at all. I LIKE! The food basket and non stick 'drawer' fits nicely into place without having to look for grooves or clasps, and easily glides in and out of the main fryer unit. There is no danger of tugging the drawer out and accidentally pulling the entire thing out either - it stops at a maximum distance. You would need to lift it up and off the unit to separate it.

Slide in, slide out.

Wire basket big enough to put a spring chicken inside. Or a rack of lamb. Or half a slab of ribs.
There's also no need to worry about extra wide counter space to accommodate the fryer. I like how it floats!

STOP looking for my reflection on the airfryer!!
Ok... now that the technicalities are done - Let's get down to business. It's time to see if the Airfryer is all that it claims to be!

I'll start with a simple dish (and because I totally forgot to buy chicken!!) and I'd be lying if I wasn't half expecting the Airfryer to cough up a failed attempt at breaded zucchini. Zucchini is (all that I had which could go with breadcrumbs in the fridge) notoriously difficult to deep fry so that it is crispy on the outside and still crunchy soft on the inside... even with a litre of oil, sometimes the resulting product is limp, soggy and oil laden.

Here goes nothing.

ZUCCHINI DORATE | Breaded Zucchini

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min with the Philips Avance XL Airfryer
Serves: 12 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 nos Zucchini (the fatter, the better)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 300 gr of breadcrumbs
  • 100 gr parmesan cheese
  • 50 gr dried Italian herbs (you can use those premixed ones in a bottle, I won't tell!)

Method

1. Start by cutting zucchini into 1cm thick slices.

This reminds me of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Don't ask why.
2. To get rid of the sap, rub each piece against the end knob, which you aren't going to use anyway.

Yes, I need a manicure. Now concentrate on the said zucchini!!
3. Dry each piece with a kitchen towel thoroughly. Don't skip this step... it makes a difference!

Pat dry. Do not squeeze the living juices out of the zucchini!
4. Mix breadcrumbs with dried Italian herbs (Marjoram, Basil, Red Bell Peppers, Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme) or just use this. I cheated and used this instead!

I won't tell if you don't!
5. Mix freshly grated parmesan cheese into breadcrumb mix. Only use freshly grated - none of those powdered stuff, please! If you can't find fresh cheese, just use a little salt instead. It's much better than using powdered cheese.


6. Dip the zucchini slices in the egg mixture, and coat it evenly with the breadcrumbs.

Not very even, but it was almost 2am!
7. Place it in the Airfryer basket, and slide the drawer in.

I was actually quite excited at this point. Come on, Airy Fairy! Do your magic!
8. Set temperature to 180 deg C, and fry for 15 minutes.


I was rather surprised at how it turned out. Crisp and crunchy coating on a juicy zucchini. And I didn't have to wipe my hands as I arranged the slices onto a plate. No oily dribble down my chin, too!

I'm just about convinced. I'm going to try out a few more items over the next few weeks. For now, I'm rather impressed. Could Air be the new oil, after all?

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Now YOU too can 'Cook with Air' today! 

Quote [MUMMYMOO] and buy the Viva Digital Airfryer at $399 (Usual price: $459), FREE $50 SHOPPING VOUCHER and Avance XL Airfryer at $479 (Usual price: $539), FREE $50 SHOPPING VOUCHER only at the PHILIPS EXPERIENCE SHOWROOM.* 

*This promotion is valid from 1st December 2013 till 31st January 2014.
Limited to 1 Airfryer per person. I/C must be produced.

PHILIPS EXPERIENCE SHOWROOM

Address: 620A Lorong 1 Toa Payoh Building TP4 Level 1 Singapore 319762
Tel: 6882 5800

Opening hours
Monday to Friday: 9.00 am – 7.00 pm 
Saturday: 9.00 am – 1.00 pm. 
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.

The Viva Digital Airfryer and Avance XL Airfryer are also available at regular prices in leading electronics stores, department stores and supermarkets island-wide.
DISCLAIMER: This review post is part of a series of sponsored conversations between PHILIPS Singapore and MummyMoo.

I have been compensated for this review, and a Philips Avance XL Airfryer has been given to me so that I will be able to present a first hand user experience. All cooking skills, content and opinions are, however, my own.

When kids go astray

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Last Thursday evening, I saw a scene which made me ponder. It has weighed heavily on my mind these past few days, and I just could not get the events out of my head.

Two boys got caught shoplifting. They apparently managed to get out of the store without being detained at the exit, and probably thought they were home free. They hung around the mall, and got caught by the police - who, perhaps with the aid of images from in-store CCTV, spotted them pretty easily.

What they did was definitely wrong, but my heart went out to these two small sized boys, who looked to be brothers. They were shuffling their feet, and the younger one was trying his best not to cry. Was it really necessary for the 3 policemen to interrogate them in public? Granted they were led to a corner of an open air area, but it was still in public's view, and the situation was clear enough for me to figure out what happened, even from a distance. Their bag was turned inside out, and out tumbled a few toys, complete with their packaging. So they wanted to be Thor, but that's besides the point.

The older boy didn't look a day over 10. The younger one, perhaps 7, or 8 years of age. They hung their head low, and I saw them shake their head a few times. The (young) policemen were taking turns to ask them questions, and several times, I saw the supposedly stolen items being dangled in front of them. Many people stopped to stare, and it pained me to see that these adults treated the scene like a 'live' drama, with many adults whispering to their children while pointing their fingers at the boys. Now that really made me mad. Was that even necessary?!

Now before I proceed further, please allow me to state that I saw the events as they unfolded because it happened right in front of where I work. The main entrance looks out to the open air area of the mall, and standing where I am, it was impossible to miss it. My colleague even wanted to go up to the store manager (identifiable by the company's tagline emblazoned on the back of his shirt) to pay for the toys, but we decided that it was not going to solve matters because the police are already involved. Honestly though, being parents ourselves, it was so heart breaking to see the boys surrounded and questioned by the police. While we agree that they have to face up to the consequences of their actions, we wondered if the situation could have been handled differently. Perhaps they could have been brought to the store and questioned discreetly instead of being interrogated in public.

I wondered where their parents were. I'm sure kids mature early these days, but what age is deemed acceptable for them to be completely unsupervised?

Perhaps their parents have no choice but to leave them to fend for themselves at a very young age. When both parents have to work and there are no alternative caregivers, or the cost of an external caregiver is an expense which cannot be met, there simply is no other option. They can only warn, advise and educate their children, but at the end of the day - kids will be kids, and 90% of the time, they either push their limits, or simply don't listen. It could also well be that their parents cannot afford to buy them luxury items, and thus they had to resort to stealing, because the temptation is just too great.

In any case, it is not for me to judge. I'm sure no parent will want to receive negative calls from the school or, in a worst case scenario, law enforcement personnel. I personally would not know what to do... but I know I will be hurt, disappointed, and question myself as to how I have failed as a parent. Have I not enforced enough discipline on my child?

I personally don't think that the lack of discipline is the major reason for many juvenile delinquency cases. I do believe that social pressure has also led to this, and though many believe that they are ignorant as children, they are faced with and survive problems that many adults are scared to face. However, these problems of their daily lives have taken a great toll on them. They turn to crime as a source of comfort, for in this world, they are able to obtain anything their hearts desire. They take material satisfaction as an answer to societal pressures, and when your days are filled with too much longing, need and wants, the temptation is far too great to be ignored.

Consequently, they turn to the world of crime for comfort. So whose fault is it? How can we help these children steer away from a life of crime?
Families have also experienced changes with the last 25 years. More families consist of one-parent households or two working parents, and as a result, children are likely to have less supervision at home that was common in the olden days. This lack of parental supervision is may be an influence on juvenile crime rates. Frustration or failure in school, the increased availability of drugs and alcohol, and the growing incidence of child abuse and child neglect may also increase the probability of a child committing a criminal act.

As I watched the two kids being escorted and led away by the policemen, I felt my heart drop to the pit of my stomach. I felt so sorry for them, and I felt even worse for their parents whom I'm sure will be so hurt to find out what their children have done.

I took a deep breath, and prayed that the experience will hopefully deter them from further acts of crime. 



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Ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.

Friday, 1 November 2013

When I first arrived in Singapore from Indonesia at the age of eight, I could not understand, read, write or speak English. I was familiar with everyday terms such as Good Morning, Thank you and Good Bye - but that was what my grasp of the English Language is limited to. Not only did I have to adapt to an entirely new environment, I had to also go to school practically armed with zero communications skills. To an eight year old, it was a pretty tough time, especially since I had to sit for a series of test papers to determine whether I could go to a class with kids of my own age, or start from Primary 1 all over again.

I was enrolled at Telok Kurau Girls', and thankfully, I had a wonderful English teacher. In just a space of 2 months, I went from not being able to understand English - to speaking full sentences in English, and not getting enough of Enid Blyton. Up till today, I attribute my love for the language to Mrs Molly Tan, who borrowed Ladybird books for me, and made me underline words which I am unfamiliar with as I was introduced to the intricacies of the English language. She patiently taught me how to 'read' a sentence so as to figure out the meaning of a word, and made me realise how so incredibly versatile the English language is.

She also made me understand how influential a teacher can be. She wanted to see me master the language, and adapted her methods according to what she believed suited me. She was passionate about teaching because she wanted to see her students succeed.


Caden started playgroup last March, just after he turned two. We visited several schools, but decided on his preschool based on the fact that when we spoke to the principal, she did not promise us that they can turn Caden into a scholar or a candidate for MENSA, the way the others seemed to do. All she said was:

"Every child is different, and our teachers will be there to guide them to realize their full potential."

That sealed the deal for us, because we respect the fact that our son is an individual with his own personality, characteristics and traits.

Back then, I was also concerned that he hasn't started talking. The only thing which made me hold back on seeking professional advice was that he was responsive to directions, and he showed understanding when spoken to. In addition to that, he also had an aversion to any dirt or mess, and was so particular about it so much so that he will not eat another bite should a stray grain of rice fall on his clothes, until it's removed. Stickers, plasters and bandages were a total write off, and it was especially challenging when he had to have a cut or scrape covered to heal. I communicated these habits to his teacher when we first had an orientation session prior to full fledged school days so that she may understand him better, but I did not expect her to try to make an effort to remedy it.

One day, he came home from school, and triumphantly held out his arms which had 2 stars drawn on it with a pen.

"Mehmee... STARS! Me good boy!" and refused to let me wash it off for the rest of the day. Incidentally, that was also the first full sentence which he spoke, and after I recovered from the shock - proceeded to ask him who gave him the stars. He grinned, and said: "Tee-chuh Sehwa"

I was so proud of my little boy, and I understood why Teacher Sarah chose to draw the stars on him. It was the first step to helping him understand that any 'dirt' or objects on his skin is perfectly fine, non permanent, and can be washed away. It was brilliant!

He proceeded to start communicating with us in words rather than gestures. A few words became a sentence, and in a month, he was chattering non-stop. He sings songs, counts objects, and identifies shapes. He tells us exactly what he wants and bosses us around. He greets me Good Morning, and kisses me good night. I ask him if he likes school, and answers with a resounding YEAH!

Caden looks forward to school daily, perhaps because he is in an environment whereby his teachers put in a lot of effort in helping him and his peers develop. There are activities, mini excursions, projects and lessons to help them learn social skills, explore and expand their minds. To me, his teachers are doing a wonderful job in helping him find himself, and not merely preparing him for higher education. That lays the foundation in learning - we have to want to learn in order for us to learn.

Teaching is an often thankless job, and as parents, we sometimes forget to attribute our kids' achievements to their teachers, but can be so quick to blame them when the kids aren't performing to certain expectations. Teaching is also more than just a job - it takes passion, time, energy and love to attempt to guide curious young minds, still exploring the world. Its' only reward, often, is of a personal nature. It's the joy in seeing a child proudly show you what they were not previously able to do. It's music to the ears when they start singing nursery rhymes without help. It's feeling loved and appreciated as they greet you with excited smiles and give you heartfelt hugs.

It's a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together.



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When I first saw this video, I was left, literally - quite speechless. I realised that being a working mum, I am totally guilty of leaving the task of refining his social skills to his teachers. While children learn a lot from their parents, their educators are the first ones who are tasked to teach them how to apply what they've learnt in a social environment. It begins with them.

This post is written in support of "It Began With You", a preschool appreciation campaign brought to you by NTUC First Campus (NFC). It also aims to encourage those who feel that they want to and can make a difference in a child's life through teaching to fulfil their aspirations.

NFC was established in 1970 in Singapore, and manages My First Skool, The Little Skool-House International and The Caterpillar's Cove. With 120 centres islandwide, NTUC First Campus' social mission is to ensure that every child, regardless of social or economic background, can receive quality and affordable early childhood care and education. It also provides a strong support network and career advancement opportunities for its staff. Both new and current teachers can develop their knowledge and skills in tailored training programs, as well as learn the best practices in regular meetings and forums.

Are you confident that you can understand a child well?
Find out if YOU have what it takes to be a pre-school teacher here (via Facebook) or here (access via mobile)

Please click image to direct you to the challenge page on Facebook

By participating in the quiz, you will also stand to win $50 CapitaMall vouchers weekly or a Travel Package worth $1500 in a Grand Lucky Draw!

Step forward and begin your career path with NFC. To find out more about NFC careers and positions available, visit itbeganwithyou.com or the NFC Facebook page. If you love children and believe you can make a difference in their learning journeys, please send them your CV today.

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Disclaimer: This community awareness advertorial post is brought to you by NTUC First Campus and MummyMoo. All accounts, opinions and appreciation for my past teachers as well as Caden's teachers now are heartfelt, and truly my own.
 

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