Thursday, Sep 27, 2012

Froth with difficulty
A weirdly indispensable new appliance
By MAG RUFFMAN, Special to QMI Agency

I recently met a guy whose cell phone is tricked out in a multi-layer ballistic nylon housing thatís impact-resistant to the point of ridiculousness. I asked him why he needed such bulky cell phone armour.

ďIím a breaker,Ē he said.

My heart filled with sympathy. ďBreakersĒ bust things without meaning to. The condition is usually present from birth. Their mothers repeat 20 times a day, ďIím sorry, he just doesnít know his own strength.Ē

Thereís almost nothing that a breaker isnít hard on. Objects implode, lose parts or get crushed by rogue forces.

I donít personally know the heartbreak (as it were) of being a breaker, because Iím a spiller.

We spillers have our own unique category of social awkwardness.

Remembered unfavourably by restaurant staff, car rental agencies and previous employers for our explosive relationships with liquids, we sully tablecloths, carpeting, clothing and upholstery with our trademark bursts of red wine, paint, solvents and ketchup.

The spiller syndrome is activated by any form of emotional tension, resulting in cataclysmic liquid propulsions during first dates, business meetings and even while entertaining dinner guests at home.

For example, during my first use of a brand new cappuccino maker, while my dinner guests awaited their coffee, I managed to explode scalding milk up two walls of the kitchen, soil my entire outfit and leave a steaming lake of espresso seeping under the backsplash.

Since that night Iíve been unable to face the steam arm on my cappuccino maker. It just hangs there, taunting me like a supernumerary nipple, useless and unnecessary yet arresting.

Yes, there are other ways to heat milk for cappuccino or latte. You can scald milk in a saucepan (takes forever and the pot is a pain to clean). Or place a half-filled cup of milk in the microwave and zap it for about 45 seconds; this produces fragrant, scalded milk but also spawns violent volcanic overflows if itís microwaved even one second too long.

So when a new stand-alone milk-frothing unit came on the market, I was one of the first to test it.

The Keurig milk frother ($79.99 at is a small-capacity unit that heats and froths milk to perfect foamy hotness in 90 seconds. Itís dead quiet, unlike the freakish expectorations of the steam arm on my cappuccino maker.

The unitís clear plastic lid allows you to monitor the frothing process. The foam is hot, voluminous, firm and long-lasting. Whatís not to love? Oh, and the metal liner of the Keurig milk frother is non-stick, so cleanup is easy.

It does take some focus to get the lid on properly Ė it tends to hang up on the handle. And its thermostat is a little sensitive Ė if itís already warm it needs to be ďresetĒ (i.e. unplugged and then plugged in again) before you can get it to reheat previously frothed milk.

TIP: When it comes to foam, the lower the fat content of the milk, the better the froth. I performed one troubled experiment in which I attempted to froth whipping cream in the Keurig, but it was a flop since the fatty bubbles are too heavy and die instantly.

Being a spiller, most of my experiences with kitchen appliances have been disastrous and effluvial. This is one appliance that never misbehaves while delivering the smug elegance of endless, foamy goodness.

Mag Ruffman appears weekdays on Real Life on CTS. Visit her online at

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