Archive for November, 2006

Maintaining Your Knives

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Touch a brand-new blade gently with your thumb and it should feel very sharp. As you use it, though, it will naturally grow duller over time. There are two tools that you need to maintain the quality of the blade so that your knife will continue to serve you well: a honing steel and a sharpener. A common myth is that a steel sharpens the blade; actually, it maintains the blade so that it is straight and true. Properly used, it will help keep your blade sharper, longer; used improperly it will dull the blade.

honing your blade, step one

honing your blade, step two

To use the steel correctly, grasp it in your guide hand and hold your knife in your dominant hand. Next, find the appropriate angle between your blade and the steel, about 20 degrees. The snooty-snoo guy at the knife counter in the upscale kitchen store will advise you that the exact angle desired is 22.5 degrees; but, in all reality, as long as you’re in the right ballpark, you’ll be doing your knife more good than harm. His guideline can be helpful, though, especially since his angle might be even easier to find than the ballpark figure: hold it at a 45 degree angle, and then cut the angle in half. You’ll be right where you want to be. Starting with the heel of the blade (the end closer to the handle), turn your wrist so that you scrape the blade evenly across the steel in one fluid motion. Repeat for the other side of the blade. Get each side of the blade 4-6 times, but not more than that: over-honing your blade will dull it prematurely. Most new steels have a shield at the top of the handle to protect you from accidentally slashing your thumb while honing the blade. Make sure you keep your thumb behind this shield, because if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to give yourself a healthy laceration. If your steel happens to be an older model without a shield, make sure you watch where your hand is and make certain that it’s well out of harm’s way.


Buying Knives

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

all the knives you really need
Everybody has ‘em, everybody uses ‘em, but most people don’t know how to choose ‘em or how to maintain ‘em so they’re constantly sharp, which is a shame, because there’s no kitchen tool more dangerous than a dull knife. A dull knife is far more apt to slip off of what you’re trying to cut, which means that it’s more apt to catch you instead. Once it catches you, it’s less likely to make a clean incision, and you wind up with a jagged, painful, slow-to-heal wound. Nobody wants that, so put down whatever else you’re doing and pay attention—here’s the skinny on how to choose a good set of knives for your kitchen and how to keep them in tip-top shape.


Herbicide-Resistant Rice Approved for Humans

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Request for approval made after rice contaminated supplies

I’m not sure what I find more troubling: that agrochemical companies feel the need to breed new, poison-resistant strains of staple crops, or that the government seems so apt to approve them. The USDA has approved for human consumption a breed of rice developed by Bayer CropScience that is resistant to herbicides. The path toward approval was set in motion last July, when Bayer notified the government that it had found small amounts of the rice (deemed LLRICE601) in rice storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri and in samples of commercial long-grain rice due to cross-pollination between test crops and commercial crops. Prior to that discovery, the rice was “not intended for commercialization,” but because the genetic alteration was found by the USDA not to pose any health or environmental threats, it was just recently approved for all uses.

I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that the “protein conferring herbicide tolerance” itself poses no threat to human health, but what about the extra herbicides that can now be sprayed on the crops? That stuff can’t possibly be good for our systems–its very purpose is to kill plants! I’d feel much more at ease if our nation’s best and brightest biochemical engineers were devoting their talents toward developing strains of plants that need less chemical input instead of developing strains that tolerate more.

Some more disturbing information about Bayer’s and the USDA’s business and regulatory practices are revealed in a press release from the Institute of Science in Society from September 29 of this year, with ISIS’s sources noted as applicable:


Flours and Breads

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Hola Jesse,

To the untrained cook, breads and flours come in two different types: white bread and not white bread. Here at our house we keep two types of flour around, white flour and whole wheat flour. When baking with the whole wheat flour, the result is much less sweet and a little more firm than with white flour. Why is this? What is the process to take whole wheat and turn it into white flour? What happens to all the stuff that is removed from whole wheat flour to turn it into white flour?



Flour can come from any grain. If you look in the right places, you can find rye flour, barley flour, spelt flour, buckwheat flour, and more. For the most part, the only type of flour most of us use is wheat flour. Whether it’s whole or white depends on how the wheat is handled after it’s been ground into flour.


Garlic Hot Sauce Turkey Injection

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Orange:
Welcome back on line. Hope you have a speedy recovery.
We are planning to fry a turkey on Saturday. I know first hand that you make a very tasty garlic injection sauce.
Is there any chance you could have time to share the details prior to Sat. so that we can recreate it?

Sure can! I’ve got lots of time now to share recipes that I’ve already done (though not quite so much ability to develop new ones). You’re in luck, too, because the garlic-infused hot sauce injection is incredibly easy to make.

Simply smash a few cloves of garlic (6-8 or so) so that they’re basically whole, but broken. That way their natural oils can easily comingle with the hot sauce and lend their flavor to it. Put the garlic in a sauce pan and add 12 ounces of cayenne pepper hot sauce. Put over a medium flame and let simmer for about a half hour or forty-five minutes. Strain the garlic from the hot sauce and let it cool.

Using your turkey-injection needle, inject the infused hot sauce into the breasts, legs, and thighs of your bird (so that pockets of flavor form between the skin and the meat; you’ll be able to see the bubbles) and then fry it according to the directions provided with your turkey fryer. Also, be certain to follow all safety precautions listed in your turkey fryer instruction book, including (but not limited to) only using the turkey fryer outdoors, not overfilling it, and keeping a close eye on the temperature of the oil.

Email me your culinary questions!

On Not Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

I’m not going to have any say whatsoever over the meal this year and everything’s going to be just fine

“If you’re making crusts for the pumpkin and the pecan,” I tried convincing my wife and my sister who are stepping up to take care of the whole meal this year, “why not just make crusts for the apple pie, too? It’s just as easy to make four crusts as it is to make two,” but that’s about as far as I got in my argument before Aurora shushed me, saying that I didn’t really have a say in it this year, now did I?

Unfortunately, she’s right. If I were in control of the meal, I’d be in full prep mode right now. I’d be dicing bread and toasting it for the walnut stuffing, cutting onions, celery, and carrots for the same purpose, making pie crusts and the fillings to go in them, salting the turkey, boiling eggs to be deviled, cutting vegetables for appetizers and making dip to accompany them, and occasionally poking my head into the living room to see what’s going on in the television show everyone else was watching. We’d have six pies for six people instead of the paltry four; the crusts would all be homemade; the turkey would be injected with garlic-infused hot sauce and deep fried in peanut oil instead of roasted; the vegetables would be cut more quickly than they will be… but all that having been said, truth be told, the differences will be minor and the meal we’ll be eating will still be damned tasty even if I had no hand in making it.

Whether I’m cooking or not, my family still wants to eat well. The pumpkin pie will be from scratch, as will the cranberry jelly and the dinner rolls. We’re still going to have the walnut stuffing and a free-range Pennsylvania bird. we’ve never actually had a fried turkey on Thanksgiving before; that’s more of a Mardi Gras thing for us, but I was going to try something a little different this year. When everything’s said and done, our meal tomorrow will be pretty much standard fare for what I’ve eaten on Thanksgiving day for most of my life. I’m not going to have any say over the meal at all whatsoever and everything’s going to be just fine.

Hospital Food

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

If you’re looking for a tasty meal, don’t get sick

Or injured, because really I’m of fine health, with the exception of having a severely broken leg and ankle.

FAQ: Freak accident playing soccer no contact making a quick cut heard something snap and went down screaming one surgery completed successfully at least one more to follow in a week complete bed rest two to three weeks limited mobility ~ 3 months yes it sucks but please don’t dwell on the depressing aspects of the situation because i don’t want to think about it. Thus, we’re skipping completely over a detailed description of the injury and getting right to food.

Hospital food is rarely called cuisine, and with good reason.


Corduroy Orange Temporarily Offline

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Loyal supporters of Corduroy Orange –

Mr. Orange asked me to let you know that Corduroy Orange will be offline for the next few days due to the fact that he broke his ankle quite severely. Although I did not witness the act, I can report that the results are pretty stunning, placing him off of his feet for at least the next three months. However, that means that while there will be no posts in the recent futre, I’m sure there will be quite a few once he returns later this week. In fact, I know he already has some not-so-rave reports to give about emergency room food.

In the meantime, this is your chance to email Corduroy your questions about food, kitchens, eating, and everything in between! He’ll have limited kitchen mobility to create new recipes, but he still has lots of fun and random culinary knowledge to dispense.

Mrs. Orange.

There’s Something Fishy About These Jokes

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Q: Why did the vegan go deep-sea fishing?
A: Just for the halibut!

Q: What did the salmon say when he swam into a wall?
A: Damn!

Q: What does the pope eat during lent?
A: Holy mackerel!

Q: Why are fish such intelligent creatures?
A: Because they swim in schools!

Bread Baking Update

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Walking the Walk

I have not had store-bought bread for almost two weeks now: I’m following my own advice and baking my own. It’s turned out to be a fairly easy process; I’ve baked two batches at home (though I have been making bread at work some lately–experience which has helped my learning curve quite a bit), and each has lasted for about a week. The improvement from my first batch to my second was quite noticeable—it went from being not bad to being pretty darn good. I’ve got a couple of tips that might help you kick the store-bought habit, too.