January 11

The Best Way to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs

I love deviled eggs. I often bring them to the monthly church potluck. But peeling them has always been a real pain. The shells stick. The whites get mangled. There had to be a better way. So I did what any post-modern chef would do: GTS.

It turns out there are a lot of theories about the best way to peel hard boiled eggs. Everyone insists that theirs is the best. Take, for example, this page offering 5 Egg Hacks. You gotta love that first one, literally blowing the egg out of its shell.

There are plenty of ideas for pre-peeling treatment to making peeling easier, too. Here’s my assessment of those. First, older eggs are indeed easier to peel, because the egg tends to shrink away from the membrane. Second, starting the eggs in cold water rather than adding them to boiling water doesn’t make them easier to peel, but it does help prevent cracking. (Try making deviled eggs when the whites have run through the cracks in the shell!) Heating the water to boiling more slowly also seems to help prevent cracking. Adding salt doesn’t make an appreciable difference to peelability. But adding baking soda does. Several sites recommend 1/2 tsp per quart of water, and that made the majority of the 35-egg batch much easier to peel.

Now to the peeling methods. I had no luck at all blowing the egg out of its shell. In fact, none of the methods worked quite as described. The best and fastest way I found was to put five eggs in a Tupperware with a little water, put the lid on, and shake vigorously for 5-6 seconds. Don’t overdo it, or the eggs come out with gashes, and may even disintegrate! The result: some of the eggs came out perfectly peeled. Some came out with the shells loose, ready to be peeled off easily. Some didn’t. Of these, using a teaspoon to separate the shell and membrane from the egg worked on some. But on others, the membrane was stubborn, and peeling was a chore.

Still, this was a small minority, and a great improvement over the way I’ve done it in the past. Instead of taking two hours to peel 35 eggs, I did it in about 30 minutes.

The verdict: there’s no single perfect way to peel an egg. But adding baking soda to the water, using the shake method, and having a teaspoon handy make it a lot easier!

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June 14

Review: Aroma Rice Cooker

I love to cook, but I’m not much on kitchen gadgets. Tomato corer? I use a knife. Egg steamer? What’s that even for?

But when it comes to rice, I really love a rice cooker. I had one that went in the microwave, and it worked okay. It was better than cooking it on the stove, where I always seem to either burn it or make it soggy.

When the old one died, my wife and I went shopping for a new one. We wanted it to be simple, small enough for a family of four (and easy storage), easy to clean, and cheap. You can easily spend over a hundred bucks on a rice cooker, but that’s not my price range.

We settled on the Aroma Housewares 8-cup model.  They also have 6-cup and 20-cup models, but 8-cups is about right for us, plus this model offered a steamer basket.

We were a little concerned because it claimed to do so much and yet cost so little.  We were pleasantly surprised!  It does everything it claims.  It’s easy to use and easy to clean.  And it makes perfect rice, every time.

It has settings for white rice and brown rice.  I’ve used the brown rice setting on Sri Lankan red rice, also called red samba rice, and it works just fine.  It also has a delay timer, so you can set it to start cooking later in the day, perfect for use along with a crock pot, for example, for a dinner prepped before I leave the house.

When it comes to kitchen gadgets, it takes a lot to impress me.  The Aroma rice cooker is one of the few I’ve gotten excited about.

December 3

The Food We Take for Granted

farmers market 002

How much do you know about your food?  If you’re like most people, you might not even be aware of the price at the grocery store, much less where it came from and how it was created.  I do much of the shopping in our family, so I know what food costs.  I try to be aware of where it comes from, and make intelligent choices accordingly.  For example, I can’t being myself to eat summer fruits produced in South America, because they are air-shipped to the U.S. (unlike bananas, which come by boat).  It’s the only way they can get the fruit here fresh enough.  And it seems wrong to me to buy a peach, for example, that’s taken a plane ride most people in the world will never be able to afford.

Still, I am often surprised.  For example, today while researching selenium deficiency, I read that “the amount of selenium in common sources has decreased in recent decades.”  Selenium, an important trace mineral, is present in grains and leafy vegetables based on the selenium content of the soil it’s grown in.  As modern agricultural practices have tended to ignore soil health, many crops now contain fewer micronutrients than they used to.  According to one study, the decreases

occurred in different countries that share very similar historical farming management strategies, based mainly on the adoption of modern genetic varieties of crops and agronomic practices related to the acceleration of the growth rates of plants.

It’s worth noting that much of the Western United States has soils naturally low in selenium.  This includes Arizona, southern Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, and large portions of California including the Imperial Valley.  Thus, our reliance of California vegetables may make us more susceptible to selenium deficiency, as may our reliance on mega-farms for much of our food.

We wouldn’t know that, because the USDA in its infinite wisdom tells us, for example, that beef steak contains 33 mcg of selenium per serving.  Actual analysis suggests ranges from about 20 to 70 mcg, depending on where the cows are raised.  In fruits and vegetables, content can vary by a factor of ten.  Rice has been sampled as high as 1.0 mcg/g and as low as .02 mcg/g, depending on geographic origin.  USDA says rice contains .11 mcg/g, so you could be getting ten times more… or 82% less.

We take our food for granted.  It’s supposed to be healthy and nutritious.  But it isn’t as clear cut as we like to think.  Global economics and mega-farming have put even our expected nutritional content in danger.

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