September 02, 2009

Proper doneness

My years working in a commercial kitchen left helped me become a good cook and it made me a great big pain in the ass to other people. Not because I complain when someone else cooks for me. Quite the contrary in fact. What disturbs others is my answer to the following question:

Q: How long do you cook it?

A: Until it's done.

I get the dirtiest looks from people, but I'm not trying to be a jackass. I actually don't know how many minutes it takes for most things to cook, especially meat. I merely press my hand/finger/spatula/fork onto the surface of the steak/hamburger and say "It's medium rare" or "It's medium well". This little tic seems to distress people to no end, especially when they cut into the meat and discover that I'm actually right. As I tell them, it's simply experience.

Now the kitchen I worked in used to hire apprentice chefs, kids who needed some practical experience to go along with their book learning. One of them mentioned a little trick that he learned in school to determine the doneness of meat. It sounded kind of neat, but I promptly forgot it as an interesting, but unnecessary, tool. However, I Stumbled Upon this webpage and was reminded of the technique that I'm certain is still being taught.

Anyway, check it out if you're so inclined.

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October 31, 2007

Pumpkin cheesecake (updated)

Michele posted a recipe for a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake, which looks delightful. I think that it's time to repost my yes-bake recipe:

My recipe is pretty old. It was originally for 4 cheesecakes(I used to work in a commercial kitchen), but the quantities have been scaled back for a single cake. When I cooked for a living, almost no one else made pumpkin cheesecakes. Now, it seems like everyone and their brother makes their own, including the big warehouse stores such as Costco. Whatever. This recipe is the best.


1 7/8 pounds cream cheese(worried about the fat? Use some Neufchatel)
5/8 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
5 eggs
3/8 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
5/8 cup sour cream
1/8 cup rum
1 Tbsp vanilla

Approx. 30-49 ginger snaps
Approx. 1/4 cup butter

1) Grind up ginger snaps and mix with enough melted butter to bind together.

2) Cream together cream cheese, brown sugar and sugar. Beat eggs and add to
cream cheese mixture.

3) Add flour and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. I suggest using the
beater attachment on your mixer, but it's up to you.

4) Grease a springform pan(10" preferred, but 9" will also work). Press the ginger
snap mixture into the pan to form the crust. Pour mixture into the crust-lined
pan; gently shake to remove air bubbles. Bake in 350 degree oven in a water bath
until the center is set.

***Note: If you have trouble with the cheesecake cracking, lower the temperature of
the oven to 300F and bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, open the door for one minute,
close the door and then let the cheesecake sit in it for about 45 minutes. Chill before

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August 06, 2007

There's a new sheriff in town

So Mountain Dew is no longer the king of soda pop caffeine. The winner? The new Pepsi Max. I was also completely amused by the number of commenters going WTF?! on the inclusion of Diet Cheerwine. Growing up in NC had its advantages, and Cheerwine was definitely one of those advantages.

Actually, I call complete bullshit on this list, as neither Jolt Cola nor Double Jolt Cola made the list. Trust me: those cans of No Doz enhanced glucose are much higher in content than any of those colored bubbly waters listed.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 08:18 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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April 24, 2006

More yummy goodness

Everything and Nothing hosts this week's Carnival of the Recipes, installment #88 in the series. If you're looking for some ideas to spice up your table, then this is the place for you.

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January 03, 2006

More yummy goodness

I've been a bit lax over the holidays keeping up with the Carnival of the Recipes. Number 70 is over at Not Exactly Rocket Science; number 71 can be found at World Famous Recipes; and Caterwauling host this week's version, number 72.

Go and get some cooking ideas to start off the New Year right.

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August 15, 2005

Marshmallow Brownies

1/2 c butterscotch chips
1/4 c Butter or margarine
1 ea Egg
3/4 c Flour
1/4 t Salt
1/2 t Vanilla
1/3 c Brown sugar, packed
1 t Baking powder
1 c Mini marshamallows
1 c Chocolate chips
1/4 c Chopped nuts


Melt butterscotch chips and butter or margarine together over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Beat in egg. Combine dry ingredients including sugar, and stir into melted mixture. Fold in remaining stuff, just enough to combine (about 5 strokes). Spread in greased 9x9 inch pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.Do not overbake; center will be jiggly, but firms up as it cools.

Update: A very polite commenter reminded me that I'd forgotten to list the quantity for butterscotch chips. Whoops. Anyway, the recipe has been corrected.

Update: I originally listed 13 cups of chocolate chips, not 1/3 cup. Fudgy yes, but not brownies. Sorry for any confusion.

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August 05, 2005

More yummy goodness

The future Mrs. IMAO, the lovely and talented Sarah K., hosts this week's Carnival of the Recipes. Lots-and lots- of tasty recipes to try.

Once again, I forgot to submit. Sigh. Well, there's always next week.

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June 14, 2005

Brewing your first beer, post II: the ingredients

Our first beer is going to be an extract only brew and, to simply things even further, we're going to use what's called a beer kit. We will, however, discard the directions that come with the kit. Following those instructions reduces the chance of making a decent beer. Anyway.

So what kind of beer kit should you buy? Like anything else, it depends on what kind of beer you like. Stouts, pale ales, bitters, nut brown ale. For my part, I'm going to pick a nice, crisp, refreshing beer, one that will quench my summertime thirst. I'm not usually in the mood for a Guinness just after I've mowed the lawn. To that end, I've decided to brew my next beer using Coopers Draught malt extract kit. It comes in a 3.75 pound can, which isn't sufficient for a 5-gallon batch, meaning that I'll have to buy two. On to the next ingredient.

To magically transform malt sugar into alcohol, you're going to need yeast. Once again, we'll take the path of least resistance and use dried yeast. It's economical and easy to use. I've had good success using both Coopers Ale yeast and Doric ale yeast. The Munton's Ale yeast worked okay, too, but I've had more success with the other two. I recommend the Coopers Ale yeast because it ferments fairly well, even if the temperature climbs up out of the optimal range, which is certainly possible during the summer months.

The next ingredient is obvious: water. What may not be obvious, though, is that you shouldn't use plain old water straight out of the tap. Most municipal water systems are chlorinated and that stuff will make your beer taste like a child's wading pool. However, if your water is charcoal-filtered, you're all set. You could purchase 5-gallons of drinking water(not distilled) from the grocery store if you like, but I think it's unnecessary. Up to you, of course.

After your beer has fermented and you're ready to bottle, you'll have to add a little bit more yeast food to the beer so that it will carbonate in the bottle. So you'll need a little bit of corn sugar, about 3/4 cup or so. This is NOT table sugar and you won't find it in your grocery store. Just add it to your shopping cart when you're purchasing your other ingredients at the local homebrew supply shop.

Optional ingredient: some hop pellets for aroma/flavoring.

The kit you'll buy contains hops already, but these are bittering hops. There will be essentially no hop aroma from this kit unless you add some of your own. If you enjoy a nice hoppy aroma, you might consider tossing in 1/2 ounce of Cascade hop pellets. They have a great floral, citrusy aroma, which I really enjoy. Again, though, it's not necessary. Completely up to you.

To recap:

1) 2 x 3-4 pound cans of any hopped malt extract beer kit. I've chosen Coopers Draught kit for my brew; it comes in a 3.75 pound can.
NOTE: If your kit comes in a 6-7 pound can, you will only need one can. Just an FYI.

2) 5-gallons of water, with all of that nasty chlorine filtered out.

3) 1 package dried ale yeast, purchased separately from what's included with your beer kit

4) Optional: 1-ounce packet of Cascade hop pellets.

Up next in the series: brewing the darned thing.

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June 03, 2005

More yummy goodness

This week's Carnival of the Recipes is simmering over at Conservative Friends. Be sure to leave a tip for your host, Drew.

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