Posts tagged ‘cooking’

Some Avacados Contain Half the Fat of Others

By Kaye Nemec

‘Tis the season for backyard barbecues, refreshing drinks and summertime snacks — like guacamole made from fresh avocados. There are several guacamole recipes available but obviously the ingredient you can’t do without is avocado.

Seventy-five percent of the U.S. avocado crop is made up of Haas avocados grown in California. These are the avocados most people in the U.S. are familiar with and are, most likely, the only variety they can even name. But, it turns out there are other varieties of avocados – and one of them even has half the fat of a Haas avocado.

Fuerte avocados are grown in Florida and are actually larger than Haas avocados. Traditional Haas avocados have about 22 ½ grams of fat and 250 calories. The Fuerte varieties have only about 11 grams of fat and 125 calories.

Additional varieties of avocados include Zutano, Bacon and Cocktail. The Cocktail avocados are only one or two ounces each and do not contain the pit found in most other varieties.

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Sources: Avocado Central, WHFoods

Photo: ingserban

June 9, 2011 at 2:00 am 5 comments

Alcohol Does Not Completely Burn Off in Cooking

By Chad Upton

Whether you marinade steaks in beer or use Vanilla extract in your baking, you’re probably left with more alcohol in your food than you realize.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can infuse wonderful flavors. And yes, Vanilla extract has alcohol in it. Actually, it’s mandated by law in the US.

In many cultures, alcohol and food go hand in hand. Fancy wine bars pair meals or selected cheese and chocolate with wine.

Before modern cough medicines, Doctors prescribed a tablespoon of brandy to calm children’s coughs. Even some existing cough medicines, such as NyQuil, contain alcohol (except the childrens remedy). Monks have been known to brew and drink beer since the middle ages.

The USDA’s Nutrition Data Lab used gas-liquid chromatography to determine how much alcohol remained in food after various cooking scenarios.

Cooking Method Alcohol Remaining
Flambé 75%
Left Overnight (no heat) 70%
baked 25 mins (alcohol not stirred in) 45%
baked 15 mins (alcohol stirred in) 40%
baked 30 mins (alcohol stirred in) 35%
baked 60 mins (alcohol stirred in) 25%
baked 90 mins (alcohol stirred in) 20%
baked 120 mins (alcohol stirred in) 10%
baked 150 mins (alcohol stirred in) 5%

Even after 2.5 hours, 5% of the alcohol remains. I don’t think it’s anything to be too alarmed about. Grandma’s have been serving cookies laced with Vanilla extract to children for many years and most of us turned out just fine. That said, it’s still pretty surprising.

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Sources: Wikipedia, O Chef , Trappist Beer, NyQuil

Photo: 5volt (cc)

July 26, 2010 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

ID is Not Required to Buy Cooking Wine

By Chad Upton

The laws and store policies around the products that require ID and the ones that don’t, are sometimes confusing.

I was in Target a while back and bought a can of compressed air to clean my dusty laptop. I was surprised when they asked for ID at the checkout.

Apparently some people like to get high from the propellant in canned air. It’s unfortunate, these are not recreational drugs, these are asphyxiates that displace the oxygen in the air, reducing the oxygen that reaches your brain and eventually causes death. The solution is to require ID for purchase, although even a 42 year old man died from “huffing” canned air.

Even when you’re using these products as intended, you should avoid inhaling the fumes and ensure adequate ventilation.

I was at Target a few weeks later, looking for ramekins to make Crème brûlée. I also needed a butane blowtorch to caramelize the top of the custard. It turns out that you can buy butane torches and fuel without ID. Thinking back to my teenage years, a blowtorch would have been much more fun than a can of air.

But, cooking wine has the most interesting story.

It ranges from 10%-13% alcohol and anybody can buy cooking wine at the grocery store. They even sell it in grocery stores in “dry” areas, where no alcoholic drinks are sold. In fact, Safeway requires ID to buy cough syrup, but not for cooking wine. Some cough syrup, such as NyQuil, contains alcohol. Other cough and cold medications contain a drug known as Dextromethorphan, which is a dissociative psychedelic drug.

My friend Molly told me about this cooking wine loophole and gave me a sample of the product. If you’ve ever tasted cooking wine on it’s own, you’ll understand why anyone is allowed to buy it. Nobody would ever consume it on its own, it’s simply awful.

Wine that is sold as “cooking wine” is usually grape or rice wine. It is then adulterated with salt, which makes it less suitable for cooking and even more undrinkable. If you’re making a recipe that calls for wine, use wine that you’d actually drink and use a wine that pairs well with the food you’re cooking.

Cooking wine has a lot of salt for coloring and as a preservative. Because cooking wine is consumed very slowly, the salt prevents acedic acid from forming and turning it into wine vinegar.

Oh, and if you’re going to make Crème brûlée, my friend Mike showed me that you should skip the butane and go with propane — it has a wider flame that heats more evenly, which gives much better results and in less time.

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Sources: Wikipedia (Cooking Wine, Difluoroethane, Dextromethorphan), MSDS, Cooking Wine Without ID (1, 2), Dry Counties, NyQuil

Photo: anitasarkeesian (cc)

July 20, 2010 at 5:00 am 13 comments

Use Hot Water To Make Crystal Clear Ice Cubes

Ice made from cold water looks cloudy because air that is trapped in the water become suspended in the ice. If you boil water before pouring it in the ice cube trays, you release most or all of the air that would otherwise be trapped in the water — making the ice cubes crystal clear.

Crystal clear ice cubes look great when used with designer ice cube trays. For any holiday or event, designer ice cubes are a cool thing to entertain guests and spark conversation.

Ikea has a few designer ice cube trays that you can pickup or Amazon has hundreds available for delivery, including: Christmas Trees and Snowmen, Penguins, Ice Invaders, Peace Signs, Hearts, Homer Simpson, Stewie (Family Guy), Stars, Skull and Crossbones, Butterflies, Dinosaurs …etc.  They even have molds to make Shot Glasses and Stir Sticks out of ice.

Another secret: the ice cube trays can also be used as Jello molds!

Remember, you’ll have to boil water to make it hot because you can’t use hot water from the tap – explained here.

BrokenSecrets.com

Sources: Illinois Dept Physics

December 24, 2009 at 1:05 am 4 comments

You Shouldn’t Drink Hot Water From Your Tap

Household tap water is usually heated in a hot water tank or by an inline water heater. Water tanks particularly, collect sediments overtime and are breeding grounds for bacteria. You might be thinking that bacteria cannot survive in hot water, but you need water above 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill most bacteria. That’s why your meat thermometer recommends you cook chicken until that internal temperature is reached.

Hot water also dissolves contaminants such as lead that may be found in the solder of your hot water pipe. Newer copper tubing and fittings or PEX (plastic) pipes would be safer in this respect.

If you’ve ever read the manual for your coffee maker, it clearly states that you should make coffee using cold water.  This is not because the temperature of the water makes better coffee, it’s because you should only consume tap water from the cold side of the tap.

If you need water that is always hot, there are food grade water heaters that you can use. For example, you may have a water cooler/heater or an installation under your kitchen sink for dispensing water that is always hot. Otherwise, always use cold water and then heat it in a kettle, microwave, pot…etc.

BrokenSecrets.com

Sources: MIT, Everything2.com, CooksRecipes.com

Photo: Malla Mi (Creative Commons)

December 10, 2009 at 1:34 am 9 comments


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