JANUARY CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: KITCHEN THINKING

KITCHEN THINKING

by John Rudy

Rather than providing yet another recipe I thought that, this month, I would provide some kitchen thoughts.  If you like this occasional side journey,  please let me know.

What temperature is my oven?

The recipe calls for you to bake a cake at 375° for 30 minutes, and it doesn’t come out right.  Why might that be?  First, your oven’s temperature reading might be wrong.  It is common for it to be off by as much as 10 degrees.  If you have a decent oven thermometer, try this:  put the thermometer on the middle rack, midway between the sides; set the temperature to 350 and wait until the thermometer stabilizes.  See what it says.   Maybe it says 310°.  Then try setting it for 350° and see what it says then.  If need be, then go to 400° and so on.  This will tell you how to adjust your recipe’s instructions  to meet your oven’s actual temperature.

Is the temperature the same at different places in my oven?

The configuration of your heating element and how the walls operate might be affecting your oven’s temperature.   So, move the sensor to different points in your oven and check it out.

What else is in your oven?

Have you tried to bake three pans of a layer cake, with two on one rack and the third on a lower rack?  If so, they won’t bake at the same speed.  So when you have to decide when to take each out you’ll have to check the pans separately.

How long does it take for an oven to cool off?

I have a cheesecake recipe that calls for baking, then turning the oven off, and  leaving the cake in the oven for an additional period of time.  My old oven would cool off quickly.  My new oven seems to take forever to cool off, so I have to crack the door.

How to use a meat thermometer

Most of us have meat thermometers that we use to determine whether the turkey or chicken or pork chop is ready.  (Cutting into them is not really a good idea as the juices escape.)  Additionally, every time you open the oven door to take a reading, the oven temperature might drop 20 degrees.  There is a nice solution, and that is a thermometer with a long cord so that it can go into the turkey (or whatever), through the oven door, and to the readout on your counter.  I bought a Taylor Model 1470N for about $15.

The thermometer works nicely.  I’m told it can also be used for cakes, but I haven’t tried it this way.

“Chef’s Corner” and “Tech Talk” feature writer for BOLLI “Matters” John Rudy

 

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? THE PONY RIDE by Barry David

THE PONY RIDE

By Barry David

The ring was oval-shaped, and we stood about midway on one side watching the ponies.  It was a glorious fall day. We were in no rush.

My granddaughter held my hand.  She had not yet decided about having a ride; it’s scary to try something new.  So we waited as she carefully appraised each pony as it passed by with its mounted child.

There were brown ones and black ones, some with mixed colors, and others with patterns.

I wondered what she was thinking.   Was she intimidated by them, simply afraid, or was she considering what color pony she’d like to ride?  What goes through a four-year-old’s head?  Lots!

“Would you like a ride?” I asked her.

“Yes,” was her reply, and there was no question about it.

“But I don’t want to ride on a big pony.”

“Okay,” I assured her.

“But I don’t want a small pony.”

“Oh,” I mumbled.  Where was this outing going?

In silence, we watched a few more go by and then, she said, “Papa, I want to ride on a medium pony.”

“Okay!”

A medium pony.  Not too big or too small.  Moderation.  And, given the times we are in as a nation, not too far left or right.

The extremes we deal with each day can make most of us uncomfortable whether in a pony ring or in politics.  Whether we are four or eighty-four, white or black, male or female, conservative or progressive, we are all simply part of the human web that connects us.

When faced with complex choices, compromise most often points the way to a lasting solution.   Sounds pretty basic, and it is.  Not rocket science, if egos are parked at the door.

Too many of our leaders need to get off their donkeys or elephants and mount a ring full of medium ponies.  If they just go on pony ride, they will help us all get “there” faster and “fairer.”  If not, we need to send them home on their donkeys or elephants, never to return.  We can’t allow any leader’s ego and dated ideology to screw up what can be a good pony ride for America.

And, oh, yes!  The pony ride—on a medium, light brown and white pony—was a great success.

BOLLI “Matters” contributor Barry David

Barry says that he and his wife Liz began taking courses at BOLLI “almost from the beginning while winding down my career in the computer field as GM of ADP.  Love taking subjects that I’ve not had exposure to before.  Being snowbirds, we’re delighted that spring semester is build the five-week offerings.  BOLLI has been and remains an important part of our life.”