Cooking tips

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BeerBread, Brining, Cookware, Eggs, Steak


12 Tips to Keep You and Your Honey Blonde Warm this Winter
Cooped up inside this winter?    Keep busy (and buzzed) by brewing your own beer and wine!
Here's some helpful hints for cold weather brewing.
  1. Style is Important : Brew a Lager. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures to brew a cold fermenting beer. Lager yeasts work better at an average temp of 45-60 F. (Ales require 60-75 F.)
  2. Find the Right Spot: Location, Location, Location. Find the right place to brew. Check various places in your home with a thermometer over a couple of days and find the average temperature, and/or degree of temperature fluctuation. *Hint: Check out our Max/Min Thermometers which record the high and low temperature readings in your fermentation zone.
  3. Make it Big : Brew a strong beer and the added alcohol will keep you warm. Barleywines, imperial stouts and strong Belgian beers are all excellent for those long winter months. Make sure you brew it soon though, since many of these brews take a couple of months to be palatable, and sometimes even up to a couple of years to reach their optimum flavor.
  4. Protect it: Use a carboy shield to insulate your carboy. This fits snugly around 5 and 6 gallon carboys, conserving heat, protecting your brew from the harmful effects of light, and minimizing accidental damage from 'bumping' something else.
  5. Box it up: Wrap a blanket around your fermenter and keep it in a box. This will help to insulate your wort and minimize temperature fluctuations. While the outside air changes temperature quickly, your insulated fermenter stays warmer.
  6. Keep it up: Keep your fermenter off the basement floor. Avoid direct contact with the cold cement which is usually many degrees below ambient room temperature.
  7. Wrap it up: Get a Brew Belt. This wraps around your fermenter to provide a constant heat source. The temperature is not regulated, so you'll have to pay attention to the temperature and unplug it if the brew gets too warm.
  8. Warm the Bottom: Try a heating pad underneath your fermenter. Hot air rises. And the heat will radiate up through your brew. Take care not to heat the fermenter too much. Since most of these are unregulated, you'll have to keep an eye on the temperature.
  9. Light it up: Another way to warm up your vessels during the cooler months is with a 100 watt light bulb. Place the bulb approx 12 inches for your batch to warm up the temperature by as much as 8-10 degrees F. Back the bulb away, or use a lower wattage to affect less of a temperature increase. Be sure to cover your carboy with a towel or bag to protect it from the potentially harmfull effect of direct light.
  10. Maintain Control: Try a fridge thermostat. For excellent temperature control, put your fermenter in a closed space (like an old fridge, or even an insulated box) and plug your lamp into the thermostat. This will turn the bulb on and off, allowing you to set the desired temperature. Some people get real fancy with this and construct an insulated room or box, and use a regulated space heater for optimum temperature control.
  11. Try a Warm Bath: Put your fermenter into a larger bucket (or aquarium).  Fill the outside bucket with water, and use an aquarium heater (available at most pet supply stores) to heat (and possibly regulate the temperature of) the water.
  12. A.H.H.H. : Always have home-brew handy. This one's really a no-brainer, but it's also a very important element in maintaining your sanity during the brew process. Plus, if you have a basement full of Home-Brew, you wont have to run out in the middle of a blizzard to stock up on this all-important beverage.

Bread Tip #1

Keeping bread from splitting on top
Try reducing the temperature of the oven for the first 30 min or so when the "oven spring occurs" which is where the bread rises the most at the begining... What is happening is your temperature is so high that during this rising process the outside crust full cooks before it is done rising and then when it continues to rise it splits the crust. by reducing the temp by 25 to 50 degrees possibly "I'm not sure what temp your cooking at" for the first 30 min or until it ceases to rise furthur you will prevent this from happening.

Brining Tip #1

Because water is a heat conductor you will typically find that a brined item will cook faster than an non-brined item

Brining Tip #2:

If you want your poultry to have a golden and crispy skin it needs to sit in the refrigerator for several hours after you remove it from the brine so that the meat can absorb the moisture from the skin. Whole poultry is the exception however. To get a crispy, brown skin whole birds should be removed from the brine, wrapped in foil or plastic and put in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours.

Brining Tip #3:

The saltier the brine, the shorter time is required. And the brine will penetrate a chicken breast or pork chop much faster than a large thick muscle like a whole pork loin or turkey.

Brining Tip #4:

Water is optional. Any liquid will do for brining; just keep in mind my discussion about being too acid. You can substitute some or all of the water with whatever you heart desires. Wine, beer, fruit juices (especially good is apple), or vinegars all make a good liquid base for your brine. Just remember our discussion about making the brine to acidic. If you add more acid to your mixture, I would decrease the brining time.

Brining Tip #5:

Any herb, spice, sweetener, fruit, vegetable will work; let your imaginations run wild. Think of a brine as a soup, there can be a lot of complexity in soup or just simple ones.

Brining Tip #6:

You need enough brine to completely submerge the meat without any part being out of the liquid. Some items might need to be weighted down to stay under.

Brining Tip #7:

How much liquid will you need? Take the meat you plan to brine and place it in the container. Cover with liquid. Now you know! Measure the amount and you'll know how much brine to make.

Brining Tip #8:

Almost any container will work as long as it's non-reactive to salt.

Brining Tip #9:

You don't want the brine cooking the meat, always add your meat to a cold brine, not a hot one.

Brining Tip #10:

You don't need to boil the entire gallon of liquid to create your brine. Start with a quart, add your salts and sugars and create a super saturated solution. After boiling, mix your remaining liquid, thoroughly; this way you don't have to use a really big pot to boil with. If you need to cool this super solution down quickly, mix with ice water.

Brining Tip #11:

Lighter more tender meats needs less brining time

Brining Tip #12:

Denser meats like pork, need longer times.

Brining Tip #13:

Remember that the longer you brine the stronger the flavor will be.

Brining Tip #14:

You do not need to rinse unless you were using a high salt concentration in the brine.

Brining Tip #15:

Want to preserve the color of the meat. Add 1 Tablespoon of Cure (Saltpeter, Tenderquick, Prague Powder) per gallon of liquid. This will help Another trick used by chefs is to add 1 tablespoon of saltpeter per gallon of liquid. If the color is important to you, consider the cure.

Cookware Tip #1: Cast Iron:

Cast Iron is a pourous material. Think of it as a sponge and by spreading oil on it.. "I preffer to use something like shortening" and baking it you seel off these pores which does two things... It keeps food from getting into these pores and it makes it a natural non stick surface... I typicaly coat the entire pan inside and out and bake it without preheating the oven and bringing it up to 350 untill it starts to smoke cutting off the heat and letting it cool down.. Then wipe it down this gets you a good "seasoning" on your pans... When washing just rinse out with water and scrub then dry immediatly.. If you use soap you will remove the seasoning to some degree.

Eggs Tip #1

How to make a hardboiled egg with no green ring and easier to peel.
When making a hard boiled egg it is best to use slightly older eggs since egg shells are porous and some of the moisture in the egg will escape making the larger end of the egg where an air sack naturally occurs larger making it much easier for seperation. The best way I have found for hard boiling an egg is to start the egg in a pot with regular temperature water "water from tap" bring to boil and time 10 minutes from there keeping it at a low boil. Remove the egg and shock it in an ice water bath to end the cooking. This will keep you from over cooking the egg and having the greenish sulfar look around the outside of the yolk. You'll have a perfect nice and easy to peel egg every time

Steak Tip #1

Testing Doneness of Steak
A good method I have learned for doneness of steak is to with one hand hold your pointer finger and thumb together and with your other hand press on the meaty section just below your thumb.  This will feal simmilar to the way a steak feals that is rare if pressing on a steak. For med rare use your middle finger and thumb together and press same way for medium to med well goto the next finger and then for well done use your pinky.