How to cook a steak from frozen in 30 minutes

I have long been a fan of pan-searing steaks and finishing their roast in the oven. Previously, I'd either thaw the steaks in the fridge overnight or I would sous vide them instead of using the oven, and sear them at the end.

This technique: thawing the surface of the steak enough to hold seasoning and then starting the pan sear is wonderful. I have found that sous vide from frozen to be ok but not my favorite. Read the rest

This french fry board is so perfect

It's a mandala of crispy fried carbohydrates, and I want to worship every bite. Read the rest

FDA relaxes food labeling regulations for pandemic

Food manufacturers will be permitted to substitute ingredients in products without changing the labels. The FDA posted a "temporary flexibility policy" permitting inaccurate labels, claiming it is necessary to "support the food chain" during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The FDA is providing flexibility for manufacturers to make minor formulation changes in certain circumstances without making conforming label changes, such as making a change to product ingredients, without updating the ingredient list on the packaged food when such a minor change is made.

Other temporary flexibilities that FDA has issued address nutrition labeling on food packagesmenu labeling, packaging and labeling of shell eggs and the distribution of eggs to retail locations.

An interesting thing about me not saying what was in the food is you not proving what was in the food. Read the rest

How to improve your fried rice using physics

Apparently a high percentage of chefs at Chinese restaurants suffer shoulder plane from wok tossing. They must rapidly move the heavy pan to launch the food into the air so it cooks but doesn't burn, even though the temperatures may hit 1200°C. Recently, Georgia Tech mechanical engineers studied the kinematics of Chinese restaurant chefs to understand how they actually move and the "optimal regime for making fried rice." According to their scientific paper, they hope their study can not only lead to better fried rice for all but also "inspire the design of stir-fry robotics and exoskeletons to reduce the rate of muscle strain injury among professional chefs." From their scientific paper:

Tossing is a combination of two independent motions, a side to side motion and a see-saw motion, allowing rice grains to slide around the wok as well as to jump off the surface. We identify two critical parameters that chefs can vary: the frequency of tossing and the phase lag between the two motions applied. By filming professional chefs, we found that, at the frequency chosen by chefs, the phase difference performed is optimal for mixing. We suggest that future chefs increase the frequency of motion, which may enable rice to jump further, and promote cooling and mixing.

"The physics of tossing fried rice" (Journal of the Royal Society Interface via Science News) Read the rest

Quarantine food fun: 'I made all the serving suggestions on the Ritz box'

“So how were they? Not bad. Some of them were kind of dry, but for the most part they tasted how you'd expect.” Read the rest

Delightful clip of a pizza-loving groundhog

Pizza Rat has got nothing on this Philadelphia groundhog who casually walked up to a glass door and casually munched on a slice, apparently for more than an hour, as two dogs looked on with delight.

(6ABC) Read the rest

How long can you safely keep condiments in your pantry and fridge?

In a perfect follow-up to Mark's post yesterday about expiration dates on food packaging, here's a piece from The Washington Post on how long it's safe to keep various condiments in your pantry and fridge.

Unless otherwise noted, each category includes how long the unopened product can be stored in your pantry unopened followed by suggested refrigeration time after opening.

Barbecue sauce: 1 year; 4 months (see note above on shelf-stable).

Chutney: 1 year; 1 to 2 months.

Hoisin: 18 to 24 months; 3 to 6 months.

Honey: Consume within 2 years (store in pantry).

Horseradish: 12 months when stored in refrigerator; 3 to 4 months refrigerated after opening.

Hot sauce: 9 to 12 months; 6 months in the pantry after opening, although refrigeration will better retain heat.

Jams, jellies and preserves: 6 to 18 months; 6 to 12 months.

Jarred pesto: 6 to 9 months; 7 days.

Jarred spaghetti sauce: 18 months; 4 days.

Read the rest here.

Image: Allie Smith on Unsplash Read the rest

How To Buy Meat, the record album

In the late 1960s, the US Department of Agriculture released this LP titled "How To Buy Meat." The voice is that of Sandra Brookover, Consumer Meat Specialist. The record, a collection of public service announcements, was meant for radio stations and never saw a commercial release. Due its scarcity, I expect the imminent release of a 180 gram, gatefold reissue of the record. Limited edition, 'natch.

Have a listen: "How can you tell a blade chuck roast from an arm chuck roast?" (MP3)

(Weird Universe)

Read the rest

Which expiration dates on food packaging should you pay attention to?

This New York Times article has good information about which foods are still safe to eat past their expiration date. One takeaway is that dry food that doesn't have much fat in it is probably safe to eat for years. For example white rice, which has been refined so that the fat is removed, will last a lot longer than brown rice, which will go rancid after several months. Dried beans and lentils will also last for years, but will "become tougher and take longer to cook as time goes on."

Canned fruits and vegetables also have very long shelf lives:

So long as there is no outward sign of spoilage (such as bulging or rust), or visible spoilage when you open it (such as cloudiness, moldiness or rotten smells), your canned fruits, vegetables and meats will remain as delicious and palatable as the day you bought them for years (or in the case of, say, Vienna sausages at least as good as they were to begin with). The little button on the top of jarred goods, which will bulge if there has been significant bacterial action inside the jar, is still the best way to tell if the contents are going to be all right to eat. Depending on storage, that could be a year or a decade. Similarly, cans of soda will keep their fizz for years, glass bottles for up to a year and plastic bottles for a few months. (Most plastics are gas-permeable.)

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Read the rest

Coronavirus outbreak leads to beef production cuts at Cargill plant in Canada that supplies McDonald's patties

The plant is “built around efficiency,” keeping workers in close quarters and making it impossible to social distance, Cargill says

Smithfield Foods, Inc. recently closed a major pork processing plant in South Dakota, after workers were sickened with coronavirus in what has since become an outbreak hotspot.

Now, U.S.-owned Cargill is cutting production at one of Canada's biggest beef-packing plants, after several dozen Cargill meat processing workers there were confirmed ill with the new coronavirus. Read the rest

How to fold a bag of chips so it stays closed

If you lack a Chip Clip, bulldog clip, clothespin, paperclip, or rubber band, this folding technique is a great solution. Of course, an even better solution is just to eat the whole damn bag. Read the rest

Perfect breakfast burrito in 8 simple steps

Wow. Breakfast burritos are WAY better when working and cooking from home.

Now I am hungry. Read the rest

The secret of Triscuits revealed

Triscuits. In this staple of American snacking life, what does the "Tri" stand for? One assumes, perhaps, that it refers to there being three layers, ingredients or some other triple quality of the snack itself. Sage Boggs emailed Nabisco, and amazingly Nabisco itself no longer remembers — it acquired Triscuit's manufacturer in 1928 and the records are long gone — but it does assert that the Tri is not a reference to "triple" or other three-related terms.

Boggs sleuthed it out based on the 1903 ad embedded above; read his Twitter thread for the spoiler.

Read the rest

With "Boober Eats" Portland strippers continue to serve the populace

Portland, Oregon, home of a fantastic bookstore and some awesome people.

The Oregonian:

The home delivery service, in which a pair of scantily clad strippers will deliver hot food to your door, started as a joke Boulden posted on social media. When people began seriously inquiring about orders, Boulden saw potential.

So, while the rest of Portland was hoarding toilet paper and pasta, he bought out one local store’s stock of pasties.

From 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., Boober Eats is offering the full menu from the Lucky Devil Lounge at the same prices. Delivery rates are generally $30, but vary depending on distance from the lounge.

...

Popular orders include chicken fingers, steak bites and mini corndogs.

Read the rest

An American artist illustrates a webcomic love letter to her hometown of Wuhan

Laura Gao was born in Wuhan before moving to the US at the age of 3. An experienced graphic designer who now works for Twitter, Gao has been — understandably — frustrated with the virulant racism that's accompanied the worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and Trump's continued insistence on blaming China for the virus.

But Wuhan isn't as well-known as other cities in China, even though it has a larger population than London or New York. So instead of letting her hometown continue to be associated with a pandemic, Gao wrote and illustrated a new webcomic to help people get to know the city where she was born, beyond those gross racist implications.

It's a short read, but it will remind you that Wuhan is indeed a place of humans, culture, and history, all of which deserve appreciation and respect.

The Wuhan I Know [Laura Gao]

Image: Creativity City in Wuhan by Majorantarktis / Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0) Read the rest

Come eat cake with us, Danny

Kaci the Homicidal Homemaker made this deliciously sinister cake inspired by the carpet at the Overlook Hotel. [via Marshall Julius]

Also, Hellraiser brownies:

Read the rest

Scientists cook with bug butter made from insects

Fat from black soldier fly larvae is a "sustainable and healthy alternative to butter," according to scientists at Ghent University in Belgium. According their research though, you can't go with more than half bug butter before it starts to taste suspect or downright foul. From Ghent University:

“The ecological footprint of an insect is much smaller compared to animal-based food sources” said researcher Daylan Tzompa-Sosa (Ghent University). “Besides, we can grow insects in large quantities in Europe, which also reduces the footprint of transport. After all, palm fat is often imported from outside of Europe..."

“Insect fat is a different type of fat than butter” researcher Tzompa-Sosa explains. “Insect fat contains lauric acid, which provides positive nutritional attributes since it is more digestible than butter. Moreover, lauric acid has an antibacterial, antimicrobial and antimycotic effect. This means that it is able, for example, to eliminate harmless various viruses, bacteria or even fungi in the body, allowing it to have a positive effect on health.”

"Consumers’ perception of bakery products with insect fat as partial butter replacement" (Food Quality and Preference)

"Scientists make cake with butter from bugs instead of cows" (Thomson Reuters/CBC)

Read the rest

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