Monday, November 8, 2010

A Marathon of Quick Tips

Yesterday was the 2010 NYC Marathon, and the hubs ran it in 3 hrs 45 minutes!
And he was still able to walk and talk afterward!

I'm sure the fact that I helped him train this year accounts for his impressive time... or... you know... the fact that he is something of a natural runner. Something I have never been.
Also, I'm sure this inspired him to power through after Mile 19:

I'm awkwardly holding up a sign cheering him on and trying not to thwack him with it.
I am torn between being very proud of him, and wishing for the sake of our old age and old knees that he would retire in the VERY near future. Unfortunately, something tells me he isn't retiring from marathon running any time soon, as he came home with literature on the Washington D.C. Marathon, as well as one in Rome this coming Spring.
He might be able to twist my arm into cheering him on in Rome... we are taking donations towards our airfare now. :)

In response to a recent reader's comment (a.k.a. - Why didn't you tell me that would happen?!) I'm going to throw a few more tips your way in this post.

Fresh Herbs:
Fresh herbs are wonderful. They can instantly brighten leftovers, bring an otherwise mediocre meal to life, perfume your whole kitchen, and do it all with basically zero calories.
Note: when using fresh herbs, remember that they contain minute amounts of water within them, so if you throw them whole into a pan of hot oil, they will pop and attempt to leap directly out of the pan, and can spatter you with hot oil at the same time.
Other than making sure your meat browns properly, that is also why you always want to make sure any protein you are cooking/searing is pat fully dry. It's not fun when your food spits back at you.

As you may have noticed from my recipes, I really enjoy cooking with garlic. Not only is it delicious, but it also helps your immune system fight off ills. I consider it a staple flavor in many of my meals.
Note: If you are following any recipes of mine in which I say to grate the garlic and then only give it about 30 seconds to cook in the pan, that is because I am using a superfine Microplane grater, and the resulting garlic is now a wet paste that only needs 30 seconds to cook before it could start to burn.
If you are in fact mincing the garlic in your home, or finely slicing, feel free to give the garlic a good 2 minutes in your hot pan to allow the flavors to sufficiently mellow.

When any sauce or gravy tells you to start off with onions and garlic, I suggest keeping your pan on medium to medium-low while they sweat out. Onions first, and when they are almost ready, the garlic. Once you have added either a liquid (stock, wine, etc) or a can of crushed tomatoes, then turn your heat up to medium-high to simmer. That way you avoid bitter and burnt onions and garlic.
Also, add your fresh herbs after the onions and garlic have finished cooking and the heat is still low. Then they won't act like popcorn in your pan.

When I tell you "about 7-9 minutes" as a cooking time, say when a pork loin is finishing up in the oven, I'm telling you what I'm doing in my kitchen in my oven, based on whatever size cut of meat I happen to have that day. Even tho every oven can be set to 425º, that does not mean that every oven is actually at 425º, and a tenderloin can vary from .75 lbs to 1.5 lbs and require very different cooking times.
Because I cook every day, I generally have a feel for when my food should be done.
And yes, on occasion, I have cursed a blue streak after discovering my psychic cooking abilities have failed me and I have to somehow salvage undercooked meat.
But for Tried-and-True cooking times, the use of an instant-read thermometer is always a safe bet. Some ovens come with probes included, but if yours does not, you can easily pick up meat thermometers at just about any store that sells kitchenware.
I got the following charts from What's Cooking America (because I'm way too lazy to retype this whole thing!) Except for my thoughts on "Well Done"*.
And remember, large roasts and birds will continue to cook for a bit once you remove them from the oven, so it's good to take them out when they are about 5-10º shy of your desired doneness.

Beef and Lamb Cooking Temperature Chart

Roasts, Steaks & Chops

120 to 125 degrees F

center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion

Medium Rare

130 to 135 degrees F
center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion


140 to 145 degrees F

center is light pink, outer portion is brown

Medium Well

150 to 155 degrees F

not pink

Well Done
160 degrees F and above

steak is uniformly brown throughout *(and a waste of good meat)

Ground Meat

160 to 165 degrees F

no longer pink but uniformly brown throughout

Poultry Cooking Temperature Chart

Poultry (Chicken & Duck)

165 degrees F

cook until juices run clear

TurkeyNOTE: A 12-lb turkey can easily handle 60 to 90 minutes of resting. During that time, temperature can rise 30 degrees if not exposed to drafts.

165 degrees F

juices run clear - leg moves easily

Stuffing (cooked alone or in turkey)
165 degrees F

Pork Cooking Temperature Chart

Roasts, Steaks & Chops


140 to 145 degrees F

pale pink center

Well Done

160 degrees F and above

steak is uniformly brown throughout

Pork ribs, pork shoulders, and beef brisket
160 degrees F and above
medium to well done

Sausage (raw)

160 degrees F

no longer pink


160 degrees F

140 degrees F

For more of my Cooking Basics check back to this post.

For Knife Skills and Care, take a gander back here.

Hope this helped.


Chuck said...

Thanks for this post, it is going to be very helpful. Good luck on your Rome marathon raising-fare-athon!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for the charts, darling! I'm leaving work early to go home and make my husband a birthday feast with actual red meat (something we almost never have). I will think of you as I dress the leg of lamb.

Joe Ambrosino said...

Excellent, info Kiddo!

Medifast said...

Great bunch of tips, thanks for posting.