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December 01, 2004

Not yarn, but food!

When I'm not thinking about yarn, I'm often thinking about something food-related, whether that's reading about food or planning a meal or wishing I had more time to cook instead of eating junk. But today's entry comes from actual work-related food reading. I'm doing arcane database work on a book for Facts on File, The New Complete Book of Food. (I'd link directly to a page on the book, but the website does some weird frames-related thing that means I don't have a direct URL. You can search on the title on the main page.)

I wouldn't like to say this book is complete crap. Most of the things in it are true, though they are rather boring. But I found myself wondering if the author of this book actually even likes food, and whether she has ever cooked any. Because some of the advice this book gives is craaaaaazy.

To reduce the amount of fat in ground beef, heat the beef in a pan until it browns. Then put the beef in a colander, and pour one cup of warm water over the beef. Repeat with a second cup of warm water to rinse away fat melted by heating the beef. Use the ground beef in sauce and other dishes that do not require it to hold together.

Or taste like beef.

When buying beer: Look for: A popular brand that sells steadily and will be fresh when you buy it. Avoid: Dusty or warm bottles and cans.

Buy Bud.

When buying Brussels sprouts: Avoid sprouts with tiny holes in the leaves through which insects have burrowed.

I'm so glad to be reminded to not eat food that bugs have been eating!

Cooking with butter: To measure a half-cup of butter. Pour 4 ounces of water into an 8-ounce measuring cup, then add butter until the water rises to the 8-ounce mark. Scoop out the butter, use as directed in recipe.

Probably more accurate than just cutting off part of a stick. Certainly prissier.

Ounce for ounce, carob, has more fiber and calcium but fewer calories than cocoa. ­

What's the point here?

Freezing cooked carrots creates ice crystals that rupture these membranes so that the carrots usually seem mushy when defrosted. If possible, remove the carrots before freezing a soup or stew and add fresh or canned carrots when you defrost the dish.

I want to meet the person who takes this advice. So I can mock them openly.

Dates are an unusual fruit: they contain no vitamin C.

I don't have anything snarky to add about this -- I just thought it was cool.

In cooking, the eggplant absorbs very large amounts of oil. To keep eggplant parmigiana low in fat, use non-fat cheese and ration the olive oil.


Preparing eggs: First, find out how fresh the eggs really are. The freshest ones are the eggs that sink and lie flat on their sides when submerged in cool water. These eggs can be used for any dish. By the time the egg is a week old, the air pocket inside, near the broad end, has expanded so that the broad end tilts up as the egg is submerged in cool water. The yolk and the white inside have begun to separate; these eggs are easier to peel when hard-cooked. A week or two later, the egg's air pocket has expanded enough to cause the broad end of the egg to point straight up when you put the egg in water. By now the egg is runny and should be used in sauces where it doesn't matter if it isn't picture-perfect. After four weeks, the egg will float. Throw it away.

Do I have to do this for each egg I prepare?

Look for: Eggs that fit your needs.

Needs. Heh heh heh. I knew I could get this back to knitting somehow!

Posted by Rose at December 1, 2004 05:12 PM


I'll say it, then: crap book!

I once had a dinner date with a guy who did the rinse-the-ground-beef trick on whatever it was he was making for us. Tasted like cardboard. He didn't get a second date. FAT = FLAVOR.

Carob? GROSS.

Let me know when you find someone who does that carrot trick, so that i may join you in the mocking.

Who has eggs on hand for four whole weeks?

Posted by: Miriam at December 3, 2004 11:11 AM

Sorry folks - at least some of that just plain sounds like sensible advice. You sure you haven't got your mockometer set a little too high?

That's a pretty cool way to measure butter if you feel the need to be accurate, and of course a lot of veggies don't freeze well and have a crap texture when defrosted.

Oh well - I guess I've just asked to be mocked openly. Bummer.

Posted by: Steve at December 21, 2004 06:02 PM

Steve: Well, yes - but why just the carrots? The potatoes are going to go to shit as well, and the celery if you used it. Freezing the meat for any length of time isn't going to do it any good either. Why not just say "don't freeze stew"? Why suggest picking out all the carrots, which is both a pain in the butt and not going to help you much?

Posted by: cyclopatra at December 22, 2004 12:45 AM

What Cyclopatra said! I don't disagree that freezing the carrots will make them yucky, just that the idea of picking them out and adding new carrots to defrosted stew makes me giggle.

I confess to just being snarky about the butter measuring; the trick *is* both nifty and accurate. On the other hand, if I'm baking, I'm usually using sticks of butter, which I can measure by length, and if I'm not baking, the preciseness of my butter measurement is usually not crucial.

Posted by: Rose at December 22, 2004 08:33 PM

But, but... If we actually manage to make more stew than we (and the kids) would eat in two days anyway, then we do fish out (and eat) the carrots before freezing. Potatoes aren't gross when they've been frozen, but carrots are.

And then, yeah, sometimes we'd add some carrots afterwards. But usually we'd just eat it *gasp* sans carrots. I have to admit, it's been a long time since we had to freeze food.

Rinsing beef, though? Jeez, I don't even drain it if I can help it. (Get lean beef to start with and you don't have to, and then it tastes great! It only *seems* like you're saving money on fatty beef, if you're going to throw part away.)

Posted by: Michael at December 22, 2004 10:44 PM

The butter trick is useful, but not for measuring butter. It's the way my mom taught me to measure fats in tub-format, e.g., Crisco. Of course, nowadays Crisco comes in sticks, too, _and_ we're not supposed to be eating it, because of the dreaded trans fats. Mmm, so we can go back to butter.

The bit about carob is just sad, sad, sad.

Posted by: bbrug at December 22, 2004 11:16 PM