Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Kitchen Hacks

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  • Hugh Wilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Curry hack: fry onions and garlic, add fresh-ground spices, stir for a bit, add passata, stir some more, and then bring your curry sauce up to the required volume by adding boiling water while stirring. Comes up really nicely.

    Further to this, magic curry ingredients (i.e. those to take them next level) can include fresh pandan leaves, fresh curry leaves, maldive fish (or maldive fish sambal) and coconut powder - the only downside is that some of these things seems impossible to find in Auckland (nothing but blank looks when asking about maldive fish a few months back, at multiple shops including the Sandringham area Indian strip)

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    Well, with the lid on, the pressure in the pot should increase, which will increase the boiling point above 100°C…

    The pressure doubles in the pressure cooker – while there is water in it – for every 20 degrees above boiling. Most domestic pressure cookers run at about +1 atmosphere. That is about 120 deg C.

    DO NOT TRY TO ACHIEVE GREATER TEMPERATURES THAN THIS BY JAMMING SHUT THE SAFETY VALVE!

    It has been known in the early days of steam engines for whole steamboats, locos and villages to be demolished when heated water (way way above 100 deg C) goes bad. Or should I say the containers of same go bad.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Ram,

    Green Seasoning

    At the core of many West Indian recipes. http://www.cookingwithria.com/2013/03/trinidad-green-seasoning.html and a search on green seasoning will uncover many variations.

    The hack - you can change ingredients and proportions to suit yourself. Make ice cubes, pop it in a jar.

    Since Mar 2008 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Ross Mason,

    I was about to experiment with Ma's pressure cooker when the Boston bombing happened. I went off the idea; really need a practical lesson because it would be great to be able to batch-cook chickpeas and beans then freeze meal-size lots. I have good intentions and stocks of lots of types of dried beans, but I usually use cans because I'm not organised enough to soak and cook them for hours before dinner.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs,

    The not so humble potato makes a great substitute for pastry for a quichey-type thing. Sliced thin with my Happy-Hand Grater (slicer really) and layered on the bottom and sides of an oiled baking dish, pre baked till on the edge of cooked, then filling added and finish baking.

    And if you are super organised extra potato slices cooked in a single layer in another oiled baking dish = home-made crispy, transparent chips.

    * for off-gluten-ators and pototo-heads alike.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Richard Ram,

    green seasoning

    Looks great, will be giving that a go

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Richard Ram,

    Green Seasoning

    I like the look of that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, merrily made pizza dough and left it to rise earlier -- only noticing when I tidied up that I'd used the old, three-months-out-of-date yeast.

    Giving it every chance by leaving it in a pre-warmed oven to rise. Say a little prayer for me ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If no rise make the dough paper thin and brush with oil (does create a need for large amounts of topping though). cook very very hot.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Nora: do you know how long an opened packet of miso keeps in the fridge? I have just found one bought in December and used a tiny amount than forgotten.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It'll be fine - that stuff is over-powered anyway!

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to Hebe,

    how long an opened packet of miso keeps in the fridge?

    Is that a trick question ; ) round here it doesn't last long at all....

    but seriously, i guess is should last months, maybe longer as a fermented product with such an intense salt level : )

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs,

    Attachment

    And the transparent chips

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    When D and I have a glass of wine with dinner, there’s typically about 1/2 a cup left in the bottle that often goes undrunk.

    I can honestly say that this has never happend in our household. #lush

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Nora Leggs,

    I think I'm gonna make it ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    However, having a quick scan of your working

    Ah, yes, thanks. That'll teach me to do the conversion in my head - out by 10-fold (but on the good side, so far as my argument is concerned :-))

    I don’t think that %-age of pressure above atmospheric is going to convert directly into boiling point temperature

    I don't know either, whether it's linear or something else. But I do know that the steam temperature will probably follow some variant of PV=nRT. So T=PV/nR. V is close to constant, the pot doesn't change size much. R is a constant by definition. If n is kept constant, then T of the steam will rise linearly as P rises (and vice versa). But n is not constant, the steam is escaping from the pot via the vent, and in fact it is P that is constant, and only a tiny bit more than one atmosphere. So T will actually remain constant, and very close to the T at one atmosphere, until all the n are gone.

    Not quite sure where you get your 5× wattage figure.

    That's just the difference between the wattage coming out of the element at the lowest and the highest setting. It was a very rough guess based on observation of the difference in the amount of time each one takes to boil water. But for fun, I've just now done an actual experiment on it, seeing how fast each setting can evaporate off 100ml of water. The results:
    On setting 6 (highest) water at room temperature evaporated completely away in 6.5 minutes.
    On setting 5 it took 25 minutes.
    On setting 1 it hadn't reached boiling before I had to cook dinner 40 minutes later. Will have to come up with a different experiment for that setting.

    So I'll revise the above guess to say that the difference in power is considerably greater than 5-fold between the highest and lowest settings. It's at least 6-fold (and probably a lot more than that, blind guess now is that it's probably more like 20 to 30-fold), and I now believe that the scale is not linear.

    Will do a better experiment later tonight to be sure :-) I will have to read the meter to find the actual electricity usages.

    This refers to power delivered to the water, of course, not power used by the element, which will be a lot more. I expect that will also be more efficient at lower levels.

    All of which goes way further to my point that you gain massive advantages from putting on the lid and almost no losses.

    I was being facetious when I made my point about pressure and temperature.

    I guessed as much but I'm studying thermodynamics right now for an exam on Tuesday so there's no harm in my getting expert feedback :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to BenWilson,

    But n is not constant

    Well, actually in this formula it will be constant, until the water is gone. Every gram of water leaving through the vent is replaced by a gram coming out of the water in gaseous form into the pot.

    I'm still puzzling over whether the water will boil off quicker with the lid on or off (in the case that boiling it off is what you are trying to do). First guess is that it doesn't make much difference. I can quite clearly see through the lid (it's glass) that the water is boiling harder with the lid on. But it also collects inside the lid and drips back in, which doesn't happen with it off. Will test this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeast lasts an awfully long time. So long as it starts fizzing in the water potion it means it's still working fine.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Good passata, $2 a bottle

    Where's good place to find it?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ChrisB,

    Herb scissors

    now that's a hack

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman, in reply to BenWilson,

    I don’t know either, whether it’s linear or something else. But I do know that the steam temperature will probably follow some variant of PV=nRT.

    I think for the liquid, the boiling point is defined by the Clausius–Clapeyron equation.

    Even assuming that the ideal gas law applies to confined steam above boiling water, the temperature of the steam won't necessarily be the same as the temperature of the liquid (except at the interface presumably). Am I right? The temperature of the steam is determined by the pressure of its environment, though collisions with other steam molecules. So I don't think we can infer the boiling point of the water from the temperature of the steam.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 135 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    Am I right?

    Don't know for sure, but my understanding is that they would be very close to the same temperature, the liquid and the gas, if they are close to thermal equilibrium, and all of the energy coming in from the element would be going into changing the phase of the water. There is some difference in the temperature throughout the space - the lid must be slightly cooler, otherwise the gas would not condense on it. Makes sense because the whole pot radiates heat in all directions and the lid is the farthest point from the source of heat. But the condensed water would be only fractionally below boiling point, since it is in constant contact with the steam. If it fell any further, the steam coming into contact with it would condense, the droplets would grow, and eventually they would fall. Looking at what is happening in the boiling pot, I notice that the droplets aren't growing and dropping back in at a high rate. Most of the energy leaving the system is doing so in the steam coming out the vent, which makes sense since convection transfers heat much faster than radiation.

    Hence the overall point that the temperature of what's in the pot can't be more than the steam, which in turn can't be much more than the water. So there's no increased cooking value from a higher rate of phase change of the water molecules. The temperature is still virtually constant, at the boiling point, whatever it is.

    But I don't know how the boiling point alters, mainly because I don't know what the pressure would be - I could only put an upper bound on it before in terms of the weight of the lid. It's somewhere between that and 1atm. But that range is really small, probably less than any consumer temperature gauge can distinguish.

    Essentially, we have two unknowns, the pressure and the temperature. But we can say something about the bounds of the pressure, and thus the bounds of the temperature. I can only presume the boiling point is within those bounds. It must be since it's greater than at 1atm, and less than or equal to the temperature of the steam.

    Even assuming that the ideal gas law applies to confined steam above boiling water

    Well it's not an ideal gas, since H2O is not monatomic.It's not even diatomic. Which is why I said "some variant of PV=nRT". It will probably be multiplied by some fraction specific to the ability of the molecule to take on energy in other ways than just bouncing around. Like it might rotate, or vibrate, or something. But that fraction will be constant, I think.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    For relatively low-tech but great coffee-grinding, a hand grinder is the bee's knees. I have this one: http://shop.coffeesupreme.com.au/collections/accessories/products/hario-ceramic-coffee-mill-skerton

    And for getting off jar lids, use the manky old stainless can opener in the kitchen drawer - one leg has the bottle-opener notch and is perfect for cracking the seal by slightly levering one section of the rim. Most notch-type bottle-openers (as opposed to the ring-style ones) will work for jars.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale, in reply to Ben Chapman,

    a third dilemma: how to distinguish between cubes of frozen chicken stock and frozen white wine.

    At least both are reasonable things to chuck into a pot of soup/risotto/etc?

    My fail was clam juice vs eggwhite. Meringues did not happen.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Use a melon baller to remove cores from apple and pear halves. It's super quick, super safe, and good for getting all the core in one hit without removing vast quantities of fruit. It also looks very tidy, if you care about that sort of thing.

    If you ask me, this is the only legit use for a melon baller. Who wants balls of melon?

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

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