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Absurdly, stupidly basic cooking questions (Part 1)


jhlurie
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I know this is so 5 pages ago ;) but I have a comment regarding double boilers and the temperature of steam versus that of water.

The temperature of the boiling water is 100 degrees C. The temperature of the steam is also 100 degrees. The reason the egg takes a longer time to cook through the steam has to do with the rate of heat transfer. In the water, the egg is getting hit by much more water molecules at a time than it is above the water.

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For the cheesecloth question... if it is a small thing that needs boiling, like mulling spices, I wrap them in a disposable coffee filter tied up with cotton string instead of using cheesecloth. I never seem to have cheesecloth on hand when I need it.

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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. . . . .

Do you reuse cheesecloth? I boil mine a few times before it falls apart. Is there a better way?

Yeah . . . trash can. :raz:

Seriously, the only kind of cheesecloth that I know about is the flimsy stuff I get at the little packet at the grocery. I can't imagine boiling that stuff. I might be missing something here.

Dude, it's $3 a pop! (I like to make yogurt cheese pretty often.) You can get slightly better than supermarket quality, which hold up for a few uses. I feel one time is kinda wasteful. I really am a skinflint in the kitchen I guess...

Cucina, I don't boil stuff in the cheesecloth, I just boil the cheesecloth so I can use it again.

edit: also, I like to run stock and braising liquids in it fairly often. I guess you could say I am a big cheesecloth fan. :rolleyes:

Edited by Behemoth (log)
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This question is about cooking with wine. People always say to only cook with wine that you would drink, but that's a moot point for me as I normally don't drink alcoholic beverages. I just cook with them. For every day cooking will it really make any difference if I just use the cheap stuff out of a box?

Edited by sheetz (log)
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OK . . . As I suspected, we aren't talking about the same cheesecloth. I think the cheap stuff I have been using is intended to be disposable. I need to look into the other stuff.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I get cheese cloth at the mill end fabric store when they have it for about a buck a yard (very generous yard), and it's 60" wide.

Those cloth diapers (the ones without the pad in the middle) are a good substitute and are a lot cheaper than the little packets at the grocery. Failing that, the ratty old stained almost worn out flour sack dish clothes work well.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Instead of cheesecloth, I mostly use muslin, which can be purchased at your local fabric store for a buck or two a yard and lasts forever. I've found a couple of different weights over the years, and while most are heavier than cheesecloth, I've also found some that's darn near that light and porous. (Check for really thin fabric in the cheap stuff at the back of the store and in remnants) I've even found cheesecloth by the yard/bolt--and it's a lot cheaper than the "kitchen" stuff. Just make sure to get 100% natural fibers.

Another reusable (read: cheap) replacement is an oversized tea ball for infusing things; it's on a 6 inch chain with a hook at the end so I can hook it on the edge of a stockpot for easy extraction. Cost me a couple of bucks, I think it was designed for making iced tea with loose tea.

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This question is about cooking with wine.  People always say to only cook with wine that you would drink, but that's a moot point for me as I normally don't drink alcoholic beverages.  I just cook with them.  For every day cooking will it really make any difference if I just use the cheap stuff out of a box?

I'm no expert, but my take has been that I use wine that isn't awful, but it doesn't have to be better than swillable/chuggable/cheap picnic plonk.

I cook with those wines that come in the 4 pack of individual bottles - with screw caps, so any leftovers are easy to store in the fridge. I can't see opening a whole bottle of wine for a recipe that calls for 1/2 cup (which tonight's chicken piccata did). One of those little bottles holds about a cup, if I recall correctly, enough for one or two recipes. Of course I'll cook with some of the good wine if we're going to drink the rest of the bottle with dinner, but I think the little bottles work very well.

I should think the boxed wines would also work quite well.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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I cant fry to save my soul. Tonight i was trying (main word- trying) to make some crab cakes in peanut oil, as it was the only frying oil i had left. The things fell apart and the only thing i have left to show is a nice burnmark on my hand (and a little one on my eyelid- ouch.) Did i use too much/not enough breadcrumbs, egg, meat, or what? It was really wet at first and wouldnt hold at all while frying. So, i added more crumbs. Still nothing- just edges that burned amazingly fast. So, I turned the heat even higher (which is when i landed on normandy by the looks of it) and still they fell apart. What the hell is going on?

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I know this is so 5 pages ago ;) but I have a comment regarding double boilers and the temperature of steam versus that of water.

The temperature of the boiling water is 100 degrees C.  The temperature of the steam is also 100 degrees.  The reason the egg takes a longer time to cook through the steam has to do with the rate of heat transfer.  In the water, the egg is getting hit by much more water molecules at a time than it is above the water.

Pedant's corner: whilst steam is the same temperature as water, it has more thermal energy. The additional energy is the "heat of vapourisation" - the energy that was required to transform water is at 100C into steam. The heat of vapourisation is then released as heat when steam hits an object and condenses back to water. This is why steam will burn you more severely than water; I assume it also affects cooking although I couldn't say how.

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I cant fry to save my soul. Tonight i was trying (main word- trying) to make some crab cakes in peanut oil, as it was the only frying oil i had left. The things fell apart and the only thing i have left to show is a nice burnmark on my hand (and a little one on my eyelid- ouch.) Did i use too much/not enough breadcrumbs, egg, meat, or what? It was really wet at first and wouldnt hold at all while frying. So, i added more crumbs. Still nothing- just edges that burned amazingly fast. So, I turned the heat even higher (which is when i landed on normandy by the looks of it) and still they fell apart. What the hell is going on?

I use an egg to bind crabcakes, and don't worry about other filler (though I like crumbled Ritz Crackers on the outside).

I egg, beaten, added 1 lb crabcake. You still have to treat them gently, but it works well without adding the "filler" mouthfeel that too many breadcrumbs does.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Whenever this thread appears in "view new posts" I think of something...

Do you reuse cheesecloth? I boil mine a few times before it falls apart. Is there a better way?

If you have the superfine cheesecloth, also known as "butter muslin" you can wash and reuse it as long as it holds together. I generaly stretch it across the top section of the dishwasher and clip it to the pegs with bindery clips to keep it from being sucked into the disposal.

I prefer not to wash it with my other things as I like it to be sterilized as it will be in direct contact with foods that readily accept mold spores and bacteria. As soon as they come out of the dishwasher dry, I fold them and put them in a ziploc bag to store.

Fifi, you can buy butter muslin at some of the places that sell supplies for cheesemaking, or you can get a small package from Williams-Sonoma if you want to know how it is. I could even send you some, PM me!

Some yardage stores will order it for you but you have to buy an entire bolt but it is very cheap that way.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Pedant's corner: whilst steam is the same temperature as water, it has more thermal energy. The additional energy is the "heat of vapourisation" - the energy that was required to transform water is at 100C into steam. The heat of vapourisation is then released as heat when steam hits an object and condenses back to water.  This is why steam will burn you more severely than water; I assume it also affects cooking although I couldn't say how.

Will steam being emitted from a pot of boiling water really burn you more severely that sticking your hand into that water? That doesn't seem correct to me. I agree that since steam is capable of being heated above 100C, it can burn you more severely in that case.
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Pedant's corner: whilst steam is the same temperature as water, it has more thermal energy. The additional energy is the "heat of vapourisation" - the energy that was required to transform water is at 100C into steam. The heat of vapourisation is then released as heat when steam hits an object and condenses back to water.  This is why steam will burn you more severely than water; I assume it also affects cooking although I couldn't say how.

Will steam being emitted from a pot of boiling water really burn you more severely that sticking your hand into that water? That doesn't seem correct to me. I agree that since steam is capable of being heated above 100C, it can burn you more severely in that case.

You're both right / too many variables / who knows?

It is true that 100C steam has more thermal energy than the same mass of water at 100C because of the heat of vaporization, but the severity of the burn on that particular hand clearly depends on variables yet unspecified. What wafts from the pot is a mixture of steam and air and water vapor, anyway. Someone with a better command of the science than I might offer a discussion of what would happen if you exposed your hand to pure steam at 100C/1 atmosphere compared with the boiling water scenario....

Or we might just agree that you shouldn't plunge your hand into the boiling water NOR should you put your finger in the spout of the rapidly boiling kettle. :shock:

Fern

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OK, my question is so stupid that is has taken me two days to work up the courage to ask it... (I'm a new member, this is my first post). Being completely enchanted by a previous couscous thread, I threw caution to the winds & bought a tagine. My embarrassingly stupid question involves the making of preserved lemons. I understand that you cut them in quarters almost through the end & pack them in salt. What I don't understand is do you spread them out, salt them & stack them like daisies or do you pack them in salt & fold them back up like lemons and pack them in the jar. Like I said, it took me two days to ask this. I'm painfully aware that it's a stupid question.

I'd be oh so grateful for a little guidance here...

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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OK, my question is so stupid that is has taken me two days to work up the courage to ask it... (I'm a new member, this is my first post).  Being completely enchanted by a previous couscous thread, I threw caution to the winds & bought a tagine.  My embarrassingly stupid question involves the making of preserved lemons.  I understand that you cut them in quarters almost through the end & pack them in salt.  What I don't understand is do you spread them out, salt them & stack them like daisies or do you pack them in salt & fold them back up like lemons and pack them in the jar.  Like I said, it took me two days to ask  this.  I'm painfully aware that it's a stupid question.

I'd be oh so grateful for a little guidance here...

Fold them back up like lemons and pack them in the jar. Welcome to eGullet!

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Pedant's corner: whilst steam is the same temperature as water, it has more thermal energy. The additional energy is the "heat of vapourisation" - the energy that was required to transform water is at 100C into steam. The heat of vapourisation is then released as heat when steam hits an object and condenses back to water.  This is why steam will burn you more severely than water; I assume it also affects cooking although I couldn't say how.

Will steam being emitted from a pot of boiling water really burn you more severely that sticking your hand into that water? That doesn't seem correct to me. I agree that since steam is capable of being heated above 100C, it can burn you more severely in that case.

If you're comparing 1g of water with 1g of steam then, yes, the steam will burn you more severely. Chances are, of course, that in your scenario you've got 5kg of water and only 20g of steam.

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OK, my question is so stupid that is has taken me two days to work up the courage to ask it... (I'm a new member, this is my first post).  Being completely enchanted by a previous couscous thread, I threw caution to the winds & bought a tagine.  My embarrassingly stupid question involves the making of preserved lemons.  I understand that you cut them in quarters almost through the end & pack them in salt.  What I don't understand is do you spread them out, salt them & stack them like daisies or do you pack them in salt & fold them back up like lemons and pack them in the jar.  Like I said, it took me two days to ask  this.  I'm painfully aware that it's a stupid question.

I'd be oh so grateful for a little guidance here...

No question is ever stupid! It is the people who "assume" they know the answer to something like this, without having seen it, who are truly stupid.

Never, ever, hesitate to ask questions. It is the mark of a person who delights in learning and there are a great many people who take great pleasure in sharing their knowledge so you please both yourself and others. It is an admirable characteristic.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Welcome Pat W. And you might want to check out this discussion. There are also other discussions here that you can go searching for. That is the delight of eGullet. We have a bit of everything. Have fun!

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had an odd thing happen the other day, and thought I'd check in with the more scientific crowd here:

I was sauteing some pork chops, as I've done 100,000 times before, plain chops, little bit of olive oil and thyme. When the chops are done, I squeeze some fresh lemon juice over them while still in the pan and then serve. Only this time, when I squirted the lemon juice, the whole pan went 'woosh' up in flames as if I had poured in cognac or some 100 proof whiskey. So, my question is, why did the lemon juice spontaneously ignite?

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It was the fat that vaporized and ignited.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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