Tag Archives: cooking

Conversing in Converstions: Metric System 101

11 Oct

One thing that is vital when cooking is understanding food measurements. Whether you’re reading a foreign recipe or buying deli meats and cheeses at the market, a lesson in conversion is pretty helpful. This blog post would have seriously come in handy for me last year when I was studying abroad.

While studying in Montreal, my friends and I decided to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, and I was left with the task of cooking the turkey (probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever cooked before).

Oh Canada!

When I went to the grocery store, I had come thinking I need a 14 pound turkey to serve everyone. I was surprised to find that I could not buy things in pounds—thanks to America’s alternative to the metric system—but I had to figure out 14 pounds in kilograms. Needless to say, I was lost.

I asked a man behind the butcher counter if he could tell me the conversion, but he responded something in Quebecois French that I could not decipher, and then proceeded to show me a pork leg.

“No,” I said. “Nevermind.”

I called my Dad, who was on the road , if he knew the conversion and that was another deadend.

“Maybe you should call your mother on this one,” he suggested.

So I called my mom, who was just home from work, so she was a little on edge as she settled back into my chaotic house. “Mom, I am at the grocery store, and I have no clue how big I should get my turkey. Can you look up the conversion online for me?”

She searched on my home computer conversion charts for pound to kilo and found all kinds of numbers and equations to help solve my turkey problem. “I think you multiple .45 to whatever the poundage is, or maybe it’s division. Wait a sec this website says something about ounces. Are there ounces on the a label?”

The overload of multiple kinds of information was not helpful. I ended up just picking up four or five turkeys and just guessing.

Though when it came time to cook the turkey, it was a lot more hassle not knowing the weight of the bird. If you’ve ever cooked a turkey you know that for every four pounds of poultry, you cook it for about an hour and a half. I had no idea what the size of my turkey was except for the not-so-exact measurement: big.

So confusing!

To make matters worse, the turkey cooking instructions were in Celsius. Kill me now was all I could think.

In the end, the turkey came out amazing thanks to a lot of patience, intuition, and the motivating smells of deliciousness.

To make it easier on all you studying abroad, however, I’ve included a link to a website that explains and calculates conversion way better than I ever could.

http://www.france-property-and-information.com/metric_conversion_table.htm

http://www.calcul.com/cooking-conversion

Why America? Why?

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Well, Medium, or Rare?

24 Jan

Cooking meat the right way is one of the most important things you can learn about handling food. And I’m not just talking about making it taste good- I’m talking about cooking it so it doesn’t make you sick.

The most obvious rule is that it’s generally not a good idea to eat raw meat. You risk ingesting e coli or salmonella, the things that give you food poisoning. The way to avoid food poisoning is to cook the meat until it’s not pink or jelly-like in the middle. Meats like steak and beef (same animal, different cut) should be cooked until somewhere in the range of faintly pink (rare) to as brown as the exterior (well-done). Fish is done when it’s entirely opaque (not gel-like) on the inside. If you have a specific thing you want to cook, while Googling it is a perfectly good option, there’s nothing like knowing ahead of time what your food’s goal state of being is.

Now, one thing that I got the sense a lot of students over-look is how they handle the raw meat during the preparation process. Never use the same utensil and cutting board with which you prepared raw meat to prepare anything that’s not raw meat! This means, cut the vegetables on a separate board with a separate knife. Once you touch raw meat, don’t touch anything else other than raw meat utensils until you thoroughly wash your hands- and use your arm to get the faucet running. And, use a different utensil to prod and poke the meat while it’s cooking than you use once it’s cooked. There would be nothing more tragically ironic than going through all the pains of cooking your meat well only to get food poisoning from a fork you touched while the meat was still raw.

If you’re cooking something big, like a roast or a large bird of some kind, get a meat thermometer so you can check the internal temperature. The minimum for steak is at least 145, for chicken it’s 160. These are in Fahrenheit. Also, unlike red meat, chicken HAS to be cooked until there is no pinkness to be found- it’s a less dense meat so it’s easier for bacteria to travel and infiltrate it.

Those two things- cooking the meat all the way through and being mindful of handling raw meat- are the two big things to remember when making your hamburgers, stir fries, burritos, chicken parm, and any other culinary college creations you concoct.

As for making meat extra tender and tasty, that’s a whole other article.

The IGA and Provigo

5 Nov

The two grocery stores we use the most in Montreal are the IGA and Provigo. They’re both about a five minute walk from the UQAM dorms and are both fully fledged grocery stores. We all had our different opinions on which one we preferred and which was better for different kinds of groceries. The best way for you to find out, of course, is just to try them both. Here’s my little heads-up and summary of them. Continue reading

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