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Dear_one
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17 Mar 2020, 9:04 pm

Some of us may be wanting to cook our own food to avoid CV-19, and I have read several stories about members who get frustrated with the timing issues. You are not alone. In the funny papers, Flo Capp regularly burns Andy's dinner. Anyway, I've been observing myself, and here's how I avoid burning things:
Watching and listening are important at times, particularly if using a lot of heat to get a process going, which then only needs a bit to continue. If I am frying something, the pitch of the sizzle tells me if it is close to burning. If something is boiling furiously, the pot lid will rattle, and can be spun on a bearing of pure steam. I also use a clear pot lid, so it is easier to tell what is happening.
There are also known time blocks. I can sautee mushrooms while cutting up the rest of the vegetables, and have everything ready to go together at once. While making toast, there is enough time to do various minor chores, such as rinsing sprouts, fetching ingredients, and chopping a green onion, or washing a few dishes.

I also use a timer. The mechanical twist-to-set ones, or a watch, are most convenient. It takes 10 minutes for a big pot of rice to boil, and then 20 minutes of simmering before it is time to start chopping the veggies. Baking granola needs stirring 3 or 4 times an hour, but being a few minutes late just gives a few brown flakes as a warning, so you can adjust.
Usually, I cook enough for 3 days, and then just set a timer on a toaster oven to re-heat the leftovers. I also construct fairly complex sandwiches with no burning hazard, except when starting the beans for hummus every fortnight. Salads are quite safe. Cookies are pretty easy, and quite rewarding.
The current hazards are a good reason to learn cooking, but the rewards of saving money and eating better will last.



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17 Mar 2020, 9:07 pm

I have three automatic rice cookers, The cheap one uses a clever magnetic shutoff switch and is extremely reliable.

A good sense of smell can also be helpful for figuring out when something is done.



Dear_one
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17 Mar 2020, 9:33 pm

As an engineer, that rice cooker control fills me with admiration. Small appliances in general have some of the most ingenious, minimal mechanisms to do their jobs. The only fancy one I have is a breadmaker. The Toastmaster is my favourite, but the single-paddle B&D is quite decent, among others. I get them for $10 from people who received them as gifts but didn't use them. I used to fill in the breadless days using a hot-air corn popper.



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18 Mar 2020, 6:16 am

In order to use a timer, one has to remember to set it. :D

After that, it is good to be alert to smell (ovens) and sounds of rattling (stove tops), as dear_one pointed out.

Letting a pot boil dry happens from time to time. :oops:


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18 Mar 2020, 4:54 pm

^It happens to me too still.

I think teaching myself to cook has been the most beneficial skill I've acquired (I don't say mastered). Even just the basics makes a big dif. Eat better for less :D



Dear_one
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18 Mar 2020, 5:13 pm

I burnt several pots when I was making my own maple syrup and a few others, but I don't think I've done one for a year or so now. I still blow an occasional loaf of bread, and my cookies are still crumbly, but practice really helps.
For people who really struggle, it might work to make an audio recording of a recipe, with all the timing set to work in your kitchen. "Put 2 cups of cold water in the small pot, and put it on the small burner, set to high. Now chop up the vegetables. . . ." Then, when four minutes have passed - "The water is about to boil - turn it to simmer as soon as it does." Similarly, you say when to add things, and when they are done. It might be easiest to talk to the recorder while watching someone else cook the sample meal. Using video too might make it much easier on the descriptions.



Karamazov
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18 Mar 2020, 5:38 pm

I rewrite all recipes in flow-chart type format so the ingredients go down the page in the order you use them on the left, bracketed into groups with the instructions on the right, more complex recipes have several columns of brackets and instructions as it builds up to the finished dish.

I sliced & prep all ingredients first and have them laid out on the counter in order before the oven/stove is switched on.

It’s only in the last few years I’ve realised that by using multiple timers I can cook several things at once:
Setting timer one for everything done, timer two for putting side dish a on the hob, timer three for putting side dish b in the oven etc.
Still prefer one-pot though: much less to go wrong.

I have to stay in the kitchen the entire time though... things get smoky if I leave the room :roll:

I’ve also had to accept I can’t clean as I go and keep track of the cooking: the kitchen looks like it’s been ransacked by pirates by the time dinners ready! :lol:



harry12345
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18 Mar 2020, 5:39 pm

Cook EVERYTHING for FOUR hours.

No chance of food poisoning then....... 8O



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18 Mar 2020, 5:48 pm

harry12345 wrote:
Cook EVERYTHING for FOUR hours.

No chance of food poisoning then....... 8O


No wonder so many people hate eating veggies, or whatever is left of them after 4 hours of cooking 8O


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Karamazov
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18 Mar 2020, 6:40 pm

^ Just add salt, salt & salt for traditional British fare! :lol:



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18 Mar 2020, 6:45 pm

Karamazov wrote:
^ Just add salt, salt & salt for traditional British fare! :lol:


LOL yeah, I know, I come from a culture with a similar attitude to cooking the living shite out of them :lol:

I was convinced I hate all veggies outside of potatoes, beans and onion until I discovered (authentic) Asian, Italian and French cuisine. Now there's literally no veggie I won't eat (and enjoy) if cooked/prepared properly, instead of obliterating it!


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Karamazov
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18 Mar 2020, 7:25 pm

BenderRodriguez wrote:
Karamazov wrote:
^ Just add salt, salt & salt for traditional British fare! :lol:


LOL yeah, I know, I come from a culture with a similar attitude to cooking the living shite out of them :lol:

I was convinced I hate all veggies outside of potatoes, beans and onion until I discovered (authentic) Asian, Italian and French cuisine. Now there's literally no veggie I won't eat (and enjoy) if cooked/prepared properly, instead of obliterating it!


I know! I’ve made food before now for other people and looked on in silent amusement as they discover that carrots aren’t soft, and turnips and beans have different textures! :lol:

I also have this radical notion that roast potatoes should be only par-boiled then fully roasted... that might be a bit much for my compatriots though :wink:

Some of them still struggle with the notion that a pile of slimy burnt onion doesn’t belong on a plate. :P



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18 Mar 2020, 8:02 pm

I mostly imitate food I have particularly enjoyed, provided it is easy to make. Once, I sniffed every spice jar, and, according to how much it reminded me of a friend's chili, I added some to a mix. I still make that same mix 50 years later. If I leave out the chilis, it works as "Italian seasoning" in anything.
For a full-on guest spread, I make the dessert in advance. Date squares are pretty foolproof. The chili takes at least a day, starting with soaking the beans, and is best on the second day, so the timing on that is no problem. Likewise, the timing of the rice, which is started according to the time of the invitation. The last quarter of the meal is done just in time to have it peak for serving, but it can be easy to combine this with guests by pre-preparation. I'd never try something new for guests.
There's a TED talk by a very enthusiastic fellow to whom cooking is the key to making waste food both tasty and nutritious. It really is the magic that gets people through famines, or just individual hard times. He contrasts this with some families that have gone generations on only take-out food and such, and can barely boil water. He finds that they can learn, when they understand the health imperatives.
Cooking for myself, I only need one pot and burner. A hotplate will do in a pinch. I once went about a year using only an electric wok for everything from cooking to water heater.



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18 Mar 2020, 8:17 pm

When I am solo canoeing, I have only one pot on a Swedish stove that cooks with methanol. It's simple and works great.

I think I heard an interview on NPR with the guy who cooks from waste food, like potato peelings.


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18 Mar 2020, 9:21 pm

Dear_one wrote:
I mostly imitate food I have particularly enjoyed, provided it is easy to make. Once, I sniffed every spice jar, and, according to how much it reminded me of a friend's chili, I added some to a mix. I still make that same mix 50 years later. If I leave out the chilis, it works as "Italian seasoning" in anything.
For a full-on guest spread, I make the dessert in advance. Date squares are pretty foolproof. The chili takes at least a day, starting with soaking the beans, and is best on the second day, so the timing on that is no problem. Likewise, the timing of the rice, which is started according to the time of the invitation. The last quarter of the meal is done just in time to have it peak for serving, but it can be easy to combine this with guests by pre-preparation. I'd never try something new for guests.
There's a TED talk by a very enthusiastic fellow to whom cooking is the key to making waste food both tasty and nutritious. It really is the magic that gets people through famines, or just individual hard times. He contrasts this with some families that have gone generations on only take-out food and such, and can barely boil water. He finds that they can learn, when they understand the health imperatives.
Cooking for myself, I only need one pot and burner. A hotplate will do in a pinch. I once went about a year using only an electric wok for everything from cooking to water heater.


Dear_one:

I think you and I would get along great. I've enjoyed cooking since I was about ten years old when my Mom encouraged me; maybe it would be more accurate to say she didn't discourage me. She let me experiment in the kitchen and make recipes from cookbooks for children that I would check out from the library. My first recipe I created around that age was fresh mushrooms sliced, sauteed in a bit of olive oil and sour cream with some fresh dill.

A great food item for beginning cooks? Make soup. The possibilities are limitless and soup is a food that's very forgiving to make, unlike most baking.

I take soup making to another level since I first make my own stock which is usually chicken stock. Good stock is the foundation of a good soup. I get frozen organic chicken backs from my local co-op store. They're a byproduct so they're inexpensive. I oven roast them first then pressure cook them in water. I usually then pick the meat from the bones. Our dog gets the less than choice meat/skin while the good meat is something that still has enough flavor in it to make a mayonnaise based chicken salad or can be used to make chicken soup.

I have not eaten at a fast food restaurant in over fifteen years.

Tonight I'm making seven pounds of sauerkraut. Fermenting vegetables is another great thing for beginning cooks to experiment with. It's important to have the right ratio of salt to vegetables though so following a proven recipe is important.


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19 Mar 2020, 5:59 am

Karamazov wrote:
I know! I’ve made food before now for other people and looked on in silent amusement as they discover that carrots aren’t soft, and turnips and beans have different textures! :lol:

I also have this radical notion that roast potatoes should be only par-boiled then fully roasted... that might be a bit much for my compatriots though :wink:

Some of them still struggle with the notion that a pile of slimy burnt onion doesn’t belong on a plate. :P


Sounds familiar, I seem to remember you're vegetarian? I've always enjoyed the challenge of cooking for vegetarian friends and people with dietary restrictions and any carnivorous person who samples them loved and marvelled at the different textures and aromas you can get from fresh ingredients treated with respect.

And now all I can think of is the Black Adder :lol:

Image


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