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Archive for January 6th, 2019

There’s some truth in “You just never had it cooked right”: Liver & onions

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I had a hankering for beef liver and onions since glancing again at my lab results and seeing that the hemoglobin and red blood cell count were a little low: hemoglobin 134 (desirable range 135-170) and RBC 4.17 (range 4.20-5.40). So I got some, and cooked it tonight, The Wife being out watching the Golden Globes.

As I made and cooked the meal and observed what I did, I saw several ways in which I could have cooked it wrong and gotten a dry, tough result. So I offer here how to cook it right.

Use a cast-iron skillet. Cast iron has enormously greater heat capacity than other metals, and it also emits more radiative heat than stainless steel, so cooking certain things just works better in a cast-iron skillet. (I was using my Field Company No. 8 which I like a lot.) Examples of when I automatically reach for my cast-iron skillet: sautéing onions to the point of their being well caramelized; shrimp; veggies that I want to sort of give a roasted effect on the stove top; chicken hearts; and steak, of course. And beef liver.

Here’s the key info:

Stainless steel has an emissivity of around .07. Even when it’s extremely hot, you can put your hand close to it and not feel a thing. Only the food directly in contact with it is heating up in any way.

Cast iron, on the other hand, has a whopping .64 emissivity rating, which means that when you’re cooking in it, you’re not just cooking the surface in contact with the metal, but you’re cooking a good deal of food above it as well. This makes it ideal for things like making hash or pan roasting chicken and vegetables.

Given its heat capacity, cast iron also takes a long time to heat up, so start that before you do any prep. Pre-heat oven to 200ºF, with skillet in the oven.

For more information on the tech specs of cast iron, see this excellent post.

1/2 large red onion, halved vertically and sliced thinly across the grain

Take the skillet out and put it on a burner set to medium-low—roughly, midway between medium and low, and then take that halfway to the “low” setting.

The skillet already contains a lot of heat. You just want to maintain it, perhaps heat it up a bit more, but not a lot. For the onions to caramelize properly, they must cook slowly and for a long time.

Pour about 1.5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (the real stuff) into the hot skillet and immediately add the onions (which is why you have them already chopped: you want them into the pan before the heat degrades the olive oil).

Put a good pinch of kosher salt over them and let them cook stirring occasionally. Here I do other things, like clean up and put away whatever needs that attention.

Eventually the onions will begin to darken. Add the beef liver at that point.

Here’s what you want: you want to cook the liver relatively slowly for a long time. This is not a quick-fry thing. Slow and steady heat will cook through the liver without overcooking the exterior (and thus no toughness). Patience helps a lot here: not a meal to be cooked when you’re famished.

I put a pinch of Maldon salt on the liver, with a bit on the onions. No pepper, for some reason.

Extremely tasty with a glass of Chilean red wine.

Beef liver is high in purines, so it will be interesting to see whether I have a gout flare-up. My theory is that I just overdosed on purines from canned fish, and now that I’ve cut way back on that, and continued to hydrate well, I have some room for an occasional high-purine food. And I’m thinking of beef liver fortnightly.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 January 2019 at 5:32 pm

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she’s taking a ‘self-care’ break. Here’s what that means.

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We all need some conscious self-care at times. Lindsey Bever writes in the Washington Post:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the 29-year-old democratic socialist who, after months and months of campaigning, recently became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress — is taking a timeout for “self-care.”

The congresswoman-elect said in an Instagram video Monday that she will be spending several days “taking care of me” and asked others on social media for tips.

She then posted a picture showing a packed suitcase, writing that she had decided to drive to Upstate New York and “spend a few days in the middle of nowhere.”

Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the Instagram video that throughout the campaign, “I neglected myself.”

She said she used to eat well, practice yoga several times a week, and read and write for fun, but “as soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window.”

“I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup,” she wrote. “We live in a culture where that kind of lifestyle is subtly celebrated as ‘working hard,’ but I will be the first to you it’s NOT CUTE and makes your life harder on the other end (you wake up worse, energy all over the place, etc.).”

Amid stress over mass shootings and other tragedies, sexual assault and harassment allegations, and the deteriorating political climate, it seems more people have embraced the concept of “self-care” in the past couple of years. Numerous studies have emerged showing a connection between “self-compassion” and physical health, illustrating the importance of it.

Jennifer Guttman, a clinical psychologist based in New York and Connecticut, said the purpose of self-care is to “give your brain the opportunity to reboot itself.”

“Self-care is a time when people can do an inventory of what they need for themselves,” she said in an interview with The Washington Post, noting that it may mean catching up on sleep, taking a vacation or spending time with family and friends without everyday distractions. She said that when the brain is overloaded with “noise,” “it can’t work as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Experts say that self-care involves taking time to meet one’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs. That means not only eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising and sleeping seven to nine hours each night, but also decompressing by spending quality time with loved ones, catching up on hobbies and doing the things you enjoy, Guttman said.

According to a self-care help guide from the London-based counseling center Harley Therapy, self-care “acts as a barometer of your wellbeing.” The center noted that “if you struggle to take care of yourself either physically, financially, or emotionally, it’s often a sign of a psychological imbalance or issue, such as depression and low self-esteem.”

The guide breaks it down into 10 steps:

  1. “Choose the healthier option” — eating a balanced diet and exercising.
  2. “Recognise and honour your own needs” — put your own needs first.
  3. “Set boundaries” — know your own limits and try to abide by them.
  4. “Let go of what no longer serves you” — such as obligatory activities.
  5. “Set achievable goals” — set goals, but only ones that you can reach.
  6. “Make enjoyment non-negotiable” — put time for enjoyment in planner the same as you do any other priority.
  7. “Cultivate supportive relationships” — spend time with those who build you up.
  8. “Listen to yourself” — set aside personal time to write or sort out your thoughts.
  9. “Practise self-compassion” — make a solid effort to accept yourself.
  10. “Accept support” — reach out when you need a hand and let others help you.

Guttman, who said she is an advocate for self-care, said . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 January 2019 at 9:19 am

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