cowboyardee's Profile

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The myth of marble pastry boards

"If marble conducts heat better than wood, and would warm dough faster than wood, then wouldn't a cold marble board on a marble counter (at room temperature) warm up faster than on a butcher block counter?"
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Yeah, generally speaking it would. Thing is the difference would not likely be big enough to matter when we're talking about making pie crusts. Mainly because marble slabs are fairly massive and have fairly high specific heat. They just don't heat up or cool down very quickly. The surface you place a marble slab on matters in theory, but most marble slabs are big enough to render that difference moot for practical considerations. The bigger takeaway is that if you want to cool down a marble slab, you should probably either allow a while for it to get cold or use something very, very cold to chill it down quickly.

about 23 hours ago
cowboyardee in Cookware

The myth of marble pastry boards

I'm not sure I'm understanding you anymore. Over the course of this thread, you've made a number of statements that appear to contradict each other.

If you agree that more highly conductive surfaces can either heat or cool objects they touch at a faster rate than less conductive surfaces in similar circumstances, then that's essentially all I was arguing in the first place.

If my examples of this general principle were faulty, you haven't made a particularly convincing case as to why and how (except in the wet towel example, admittedly).

about 23 hours ago
cowboyardee in Cookware

The myth of marble pastry boards

"Oddly, I knew what I was talking about, and was correct in theory, but was wrong about the wood versus the marble."
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Ok, I'll play. How so, exactly? My initial claim was that marble at room temperature would heat up chilled pastry dough more quickly than wood at room temperature? Do you disagree with this statement, or something else?

My examples were geared towards defeating the general claim that the conduction properties of a heat source were irrelevant when talking about heating a cooler object through direct contact. If you want to test room temp marble and chilled pastry vs wood and chilled pastry, the most reasonable experiment would be to test those interactions directly; I never intended to claim otherwise.

FWIW, you're correct that different materials absorb heat at different rates, which is of course just another aspect of conduction. You also seem to think any given material has a maximum rate at which it can be heated which cannot be exceeded no matter how much heat is applied, which is to the best of my knowledge completely incorrect (at least until we're talking on a theoretical, speed of light type scale). But I could be misunderstanding you.

about 24 hours ago
cowboyardee in Cookware

The myth of marble pastry boards

My background is more or less irrelevant, seeing as...

1) any claims anyone makes to their backgrounds on an internet forum are nearly unverifiable
and
2) we've already had people touting their chemistry degree spouting things that were demonstrably and obviously incorrect upthread.

It's the internet. I'm as correct or incorrect as my arguments are.

(but if it makes you feel better to know, I have absolutely no background besides a personal interest in materials sciences, chemistry, physics, and cooking. If you look upthread, you'll see I mentioned I studied English in college.)

Back to the examples above:
As for the second example... fair enough. The water conducts heat from the pan into itself faster than the towel alone does and thus heats up faster. It also conducts its heat into your hand more quickly than dry cloth does, as is (somewhat) evident if you quickly unfolded the dry towel and touched the part of it that held the pan... but I'll have to work harder to prove it, I guess.

Lets go back to the first example. You might notice that I wrote to leave the mitt in the oven for at least 30 minutes. You can certainly leave it in longer. You agree that it will eventually rise to the temperature of the oven, right? 30 minutes or 3 hours. You'll get the same result. If you want to control the experiment even more, use a piece of metal with the same weight as your oven mitt - maybe a large metal spoon. You'll still get the same result, though the smaller piece of metal won't retain heat as long. If you did the same experiment with marble and wooden pastry boards, you would again find the same result.

One more example? Look up pizza steels. There are about 50 million articles and posts about them, on this site and elsewhere. The point of using a slab of steel as opposed to a stone for pizza is that steel conducts heat more quickly than stone and cooks the bottoms of pizzas more quickly, leading to a more dramatic rise and more distinctive texture in a home oven. You'll find the same information on several threads on the first page of this forum. You'll find side by side comparisons. You'll find experts (the writers of Modernist Cuisine, for example) making the same claims. You'll find confirmation.

2 days ago
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

The myth of marble pastry boards

It's an easy experiment to prove for yourself. Place an oven mitt and a metal pan both in the oven at its lowest setting. Wait half an hour (or longer if you want). Touch each with your bare hand. The metal pan will probably be hot enough to burn you a little bit if you touch it for more than a second or two. The mitt will hot, but you can hold it without injuring yourself.

Or for a similar phenomenon. Pick up a hot pan using a dry dish towel as pot holder. Doesn't burn your hand, right? Now pour a little water on the towel. It'll burn like heck within a second or two if you pick up the same pan.

In both cases, increasing the conduction makes it easier for a hot surface to heat up (or burn) a cooler one.

2 days ago
cowboyardee in Cookware

Blade experts offer advice.

'You would think someone will look at this and say "Hmm, that does not look right. Let me call up the guy again to double check what he actually said"'
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Or else, let's do some basic fact checking and figure out which statement is actually true.

2 days ago
cowboyardee in Cookware

Blade experts offer advice.

Fair enough. The author did manage to misspell both 'Victorinox' and 'Forschner' in the same sentence. Can't necessarily say she's above the occasional misquote.

2 days ago
cowboyardee in Cookware

Blade experts offer advice.

Petek, I think you can guess what my thoughts on this article are. It's embarrassing.

Moral of the story is: don't take your knives to Sharpening By Dave in Chicago. And don't read Epicurious for advice on knives.

2 days ago
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

The myth of marble pastry boards

edit: double post

Apr 17, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

The myth of marble pastry boards

"To chilled dough, the room temperature marble and wood should "feel" the same, since neither one is conducting heat away from the dough. If you heated a piece of wood and a piece of marble to an equal temperature greater than 98.6 degrees, they should feel the same to the touch, since both are warmer than body temperature and neither is conducting heat away from your hand."
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The first half of your post was more or less correct, but you're a bit mistaken in the quote above. To chilled dough (below room temp), room temperature marble will 'feel' warmer than room temperature wood. Likewise, if you heat both marble and wood to, say, 120 degrees f, the marble will feel hotter to your hand than wood does. In these cases, marble or wood is conducting heat into a cooler object (dough or your hand), just as cooled marble or wood can conduct heat away from a warmer object. And since marble conducts heat better than wood it both heats and chills objects better than wood does, depending on whether it's hotter or colder than the object in question.

Apr 17, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Built In Magnetic Knife Strip

I know of no particularly long magnetic strips on the market currently. You can always buy several and place them end to end.

However, for a custom job like this, I would consider having a custom one made or even making one yourself. You can do this by buying a long strip of nice-looking wood to install between the rows of tiles, cutting out a groove along the back of it, and gluing rare earth magnets in the groove. It's a little extra work, but it would sure look pretty nice. Here's a tutorial walking you through one way to do it:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Rainb...

Apr 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Complain or Shut Up?

"The only advantage of creating a scene on the spot would have been the chance we would just walk out and not pay."
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Yeah, I think this is the core of the matter. The restaurant didn't try and fail to serve you good food. They half-assed their end and knowingly served you bad food. You don't fix that kind of thing by complaining, because they already know the food wasn't good. Different situation from an honest error at a place that's making an effort.

The only thing you may have stood to gain from complaining was a comp for the host, or maybe some free half-assed deserts. Whether to do that depends on the social situation. Most of the time I figure a restaurant that knowingly serves bad food isn't too inclined to comp it in the first place, and complaints might make the host feel even worse. So I just enjoy the company during dinner, pay the bill (or tip if I'm the guest), and don't come back. And maybe rant on CH.

Pizza makers

The Blackstone does appear capable of making genuine Neapolitan pies (as demonstrated by various users over on pizzamaking.com ), which makes it just about the lowest cost oven that I know of capable of this feat.

Many home ovens are capable of making very decent NY style pizzas with sub-5 minute cooking times. The thing is, making a good NY style pizza in a home oven isn't quite as simple as heating the oven at its max setting and cooking said pizza. You have to use a dough recipe that's well-suited to home ovens. You have to shape and transfer the dough correctly, and using a peel. And often you have to find a way to circumvent the maximum air temperature in the oven so that you're effectively cooking at a higher temperature than it says on the dial, while also ensuring that the heat intensity to the top of the pizza matches that to the bottom of it. The most common way to do this is using an oven with an electric broiler element at its ceiling while cooking on a thick metal pizza steel, and this often requires some experimentation to produce the ideal preheat. I've also managed decent NY style pies in older gas ovens that would preheat beyond their max by using the 'broil' setting (though not cooking under the broiler, which is below the main oven space). Some brave souls have even hacked into the self-cleaning feature on their oven to make great pizza, or located and insulated their oven's internal temperature probe to generate higher temperatures.

It would help to know exactly what kind of effect the OP is trying to achieve and how her current oven is designed. Specifying whole wheat for the crust already makes it harder to achieve the texture that most people associate with a professional pizza, and the OP may find a more powerful oven doesn't necessarily solve the difficulties she's had so far.

Apr 08, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Okay knife nerds, what do you think of this Dexter?

The look and profile of these knives appeals to me - they are a throwback to Dexter's older lines of bolsterless carbon steel chef knives, which I've always liked (I made a thread about fixing one here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/808731. ) It's a fun and versatile profile to use, and the updated aesthetics appear to have been done quite well (to my tastes, anyway).

With that said, I'd have a hard time pulling the trigger on this knife even if I were in the market for another knife in the price range. Dexter makes very decent inexpensive knives, but doesn't have any major history in the higher-end market. As such, I'd worry the steel and the grind aren't up to par for the price range. It wouldn't surprise me too much if these knives had a more interesting grind than most Dexters... but even if so, they've got some stiff competition in the price range.

Seems like it's targeted toward collectors, or maybe as a gift for a cook who uses an old school Dexter as his tool of choice. Not a bad effort at that. But if they want to woo other knife nerds, they need to use a more interesting steel than the same stuff that's in their Sani-Safe line, for a start.

Shun Kanso

I doubt longevity would be an issue.

Functionality... I'd have to try this one out for a while to say.

Apr 03, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Kanso

I have no first hand experience (that I'm aware of) with AUS10 steel, but lots with VG-10. My understanding is that they are pretty similar in quality and relatively similar in composition, albeit with some small differences. From what I've heard, it may be even more similar to 440c but possibly with a finer grain structure, which would tend to make it easier to sharpen to an extremely fine edge (which is normally my biggest problem with 440c).

As with many high end steels, the devil is probably in how it's tempered and used by the manufacturer. Japanese knife afficionados sometimes tend to look down their [our] nose at 440c (as a basis of comparison) due to either experience with Western made 440c knives or, just as often, because of its relation to more common and inexpensive knives made in 440a steel. This can be misleading - Western knives tend to be made and tempered like Western knives regardless of the capabilities of the steel used, and 440c isn't what I'd consider a deficient steel. If it was tempered and used well, I would expect pretty similar quality to most VG-10 blades. But I could be wrong.

As for more general thoughts about the knives in question:
it's too early to say. I haven't played with them myself and haven't read any reviews by anyone I would consider reliable and knowledgeable. The aesthetics and profile of the chef's knife are more appealing to me than those of the Shun classic, for whatever that's worth. At $130 for an 8 inch chefs knife, there's some pretty stiff competition in the price range. The grind could make or break this knife.

Apr 03, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Demi Glace, my particular induction hot plate, and other interesting (maybe) things...

Looks very nice Caroline.

"I am intensely curious whether I could sous vide something successfully in a large pot of hot water fitted with something like a round cake rack in the bottom to keep the sous vide package suspended?"
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Yeah, you can. Before I got more specialized equipment (and even afterwards for a while if I needed to cook A LOT of food sous vide), I used a large stockpot just on top of the stove top, manually checked with a thermometer and adjusted. You'd likely be surprised at how steady a temperature you can achieve in this manner - but using a very large pot is important to achieving much stability.

"My Sous Vide Supreme doesn't waver more than .05 degrees from the temperature I set it for, so I'm also wondering whether it could be used as a giant crock pot?"
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This would probably work. But a caveat - I don't own a sous vide supreme, so I'm not 100% certain of how they're built. My first concern would be if there are any vents into the interior surface (maybe to allow for circulation or the housing for a temperature probe). I think there are none, but I'm not positive. If not, you're probably in the clear, but I could still foresee a couple potential issues. Thicker liquids and stews would not circulate as freely via convection as water does and could lead to parts of the pot near the heating element overheating. Also, I'm not sure where the temperature probe is built into the SVS, and it's possible that the unit will not work properly if it is not very nearly full (say, if the probe is near the top of the unit).

Apr 01, 2015
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

More thoughts on moralistic culinary elites

In fairness, I will admit freely that there are reasonable and intelligent critiques of liberal food causes. Likewise, there are plenty of dumb articles about food (or whatever) written from a liberal point of view. Though I don't hide that I tend towards liberalism, the conservative slant wasn't my main objection to the article.

The problem in this case: the article didn't really deserve a thoughtful reply. It was unsubstantial, and apparently oblivious to the ironic tension between its own central thesis and the tone it employed.

If you want to have an intelligent discussion or debate about liberal food causes, I encourage you to write a more intelligent critique of them than did the article in the OP. Shouldn't be hard. And where you find a leftward-slanting article as silly as the one above, you have my permission and encouragement to respond in BOOGA.

Knife Sharpening in/near Milwaukee

Try posting on the Milwaukee board (Great Lakes region, I think: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/72 ). Here on the cookware board, many people can walk you through methods of sharpening the knife yourself, but we're from all over the place and we don't know that specific area.

I do know of a few good sharpeners who take mail orders. But they tend to be (relatively) expensive and focus on very premium knives.

Apr 01, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Straighten Warped Chinese Cleaver?

A picture might help.

I tend to agree with the other responders that hammering out the warp is not really a job for someone who's not a trained metal worker. The question is whether the edge needs fixing, whether you can do that fixing with a sharpening stone, and whether the warping is a major or a minor problem in the first place.

Apr 01, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Why it's better to thaw frozen chicken before cooking

In this particular case, they are...

1) most likely cooking the chicken a relatively long while to ensure doneness and safety (which isn't necessarily a problem on its own with legs and thighs, since they maintain a good texture at higher internal temperatures). Starting from frozen demands a longer cooking time than starting from thawed.

and

2) effectively making a weak stock/broth which does dilute some of the nutrients from the chicken into the water, and then throwing away the water/stock.

Is there any nutritional value left in the chicken? Yeah. It still has calories and nutrients, albeit less than it had in the first place. Same goes with the flavor of the meat.

You should also note that there are time honored traditions of bringing stock or broth to a boil, throwing it away, and starting again with new water to make a more refined product - the resulting stock can be pretty good. But it's generally acknowledged that the chicken (or whatever) used to cook stocks has less flavor, appeal, and nutritional value than chicken cooked another way. Of course, the kitchen you work for isn't likely cooking the chicken for many, many hours as you would when you make a stock traditionally, so the loss of quality and nutritional value to the chicken itself isn't as complete. But perhaps still more loss than you would experience cooking from thawed in the same manner but for less time. And definitely more loss than you would experience cooking the chicken in another manner entirely.

In any case, the main issue driving the loss of quality in this case is the cooking method. The frozen/thawed issue merely exacerbates this.

Mar 31, 2015
cowboyardee in General Topics

Why it's better to thaw frozen chicken before cooking

You won't find the kind of references you're looking for. They don't exist. Or rather you might, but those references will mainly be the opinions of various authority figures and not based on actual vigorous testing.

The main reason to thaw chicken before cooking is to make for more even cooking, less possibility of over- or under-cooking, and more predictable and shorter cooking times. In situations where cooking times are well-established and evenness of cooking is guaranteed (mainly, I'm thinking of sous vide here), you will find there is no major reason to thaw before cooking, though you can make a case for preferring chicken that was never frozen in the first place. I'm sure you can find many recipes for sous vide chicken starting with frozen meat, if you're inclined. Most of the authoritative time/temp tables for sous vide cooking account for the possibility of starting with frozen meat.

More thoughts on moralistic culinary elites

OMG! Libs are serving food! And they're all ELITE and shit about it! BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!

The ":)"...Friendly or passive agressive?

It depends on the context.

I generally avoid using emoticons. However, every once in a while I'll use one after a smarmy response to someone I am friendly with as a way ofsaying 'I'm just kidding ya, buddy.' I could see how that would seem passive aggressive to an onlooker who didn't know who's friendly with who.

Mar 28, 2015
cowboyardee in Site Talk

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

I'm not sure what to tell you, Tom. Of course systems from other countries may not work exactly the same in the US as they do in the countries in which they were originally implemented. Importing successful ideas from other societies takes wisdom and care and time. On the other hand, you seem to be arguing that there is nothing at all to be learned from successful systems elsewhere. That can't be right.

Later, you are making claims about the grand failure of American-style Great Society social spending (claims which have about the same degree of historical credibility as that old chestnut that the civil war had nothing to do with slavery, I might add) while ignoring that most of my arguments were in favor of a kind of social spending that differs from the American style.

And slightly less pertinent to the rest of the conversation:

You don't seem to understand the costs of treating chronic and misdiagnosed conditions. Bed sores ain't cheap. And MRIs, though useful, aren't the first-line diagnostic tool you seem to think they are.

Mar 25, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

I can grant you both those points, but I don't think they hurt my case very much.

Comparing economic figures from different countries is indeed tricky and can be misleading if we're talking about relatively small margins and distinctions. But I'm not arguing that a minimum wage hike of X will improve the standard of living by Y percent or anything that specific. I'm just pointing out that there is likely a problem with the notion that a higher minimum wage actually increases poverty. The global trends don't bear that out, even if it's easy to quibble about the exact details.

Also, please don't take my previous post as a statement wholly against need-based welfare programs. I do still think they're important, and agree that basically all developed nations use them to some degree. My point was that need-based welfare systems aren't the only way more egalitarian societies limit poverty and improve the general standard of living. There are more subtle ways to redistribute large wealth imbalances, and countries with the highest standards of living have generally latched onto these while the US has not.

Mar 25, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

How? How exactly has the US proven that?

If you compare countries in terms of social welfare expenditures as a percent of GDP, you'll find... shockingly... that countries with higher expenditures tend to have a higher standard of living and less poverty than the US.

On the other hand, I'd certainly agree that the F-35 ain't ending poverty anytime soon.

Mar 24, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

"In the meantime, the higher minimum wage will price some of the weaker players out of the job market and have them go from a low-paying job to no job at all. Not good for the poverty situation."
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If you look at other countries with higher minimum wages than the US, you'll tend to find that they do indeed have lower levels of poverty and a higher standard of living (even when those wages are adjusted for local spending power). It's possible that those higher minimum wages are *allowed* by higher levels of economic egalitarianism rather than the drivers of it. I'll admit that's a possibility. But in general the correlation between minimum wage and poverty levels runs the opposite direction to what you suggest.

"If society wants to help people in need, you need a need-based system. That's how most welfare states work in the Western World."
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Not necessarily. Much of the developed world relies less heavily on need-based systems of welfare and instead provides government services via tax dollars to the whole populace. Just like our k-12 school system. Government provided daycare would be a fine example. Universal healthcare is another (the US healthcare system in particular acts as a huge non-progressive tax that clobbers the middle class; the poor are entitled to emergency services but can't pay and their costs are built into what providers charge and subsequently everyone else's insurance plans; the wealthy pay essentially no more than anyone else). And as I mentioned above, infrastructure projects can benefit everyone including those they employ.

"If less inequality is the goal, increase the tax burden on the rich and redistribute money to programs that will help low-income people."
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I agree that's the more direct way to do it. Doing it well (especially considering how far ahead of the tax game wealthy individuals and corporations currently are), garnering political support for it, and overcoming massive corporate influence over politicians... that's trickier.

With that said, I lean toward an 'all of the above' strategy anyway. Perhaps restructuring of American taxes, increased social spending, and a higher minimum wage are all necessary. What's the best dollar figure for right now? I don't claim to know.

At any rate, I thank you for posting a well-considered response, even if we disagree.

Mar 24, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

"A minimum wage law is an extremely blunt instrument for raising the standard of living. It doesn't look at needs. It doesn't distinguish a breadwinner with mouths to feed and student loans to pay back from a frat boy just working a few hours to get extra money to party. If society is supposed to subsidize certain people, it would be more reasonable to do so based on need."
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Ostensibly, that's what American welfare programs are designed to do - discern need and allocate resources accordingly. Thing is, it's been my observation that most people opposed to increasing the minimum wage are not big on welfare either.

We tend to discuss these things like there are no real world examples of countries that do a better job of avoiding huge wealth disparities and widespread poverty. Of course, applying another country's model wholesale in the US is not necessarily simple or wise, but it would be nice if the conversation focused more on how other systems might or might not apply to our current circumstances rather than simply arguing whether it's possible to create a more egalitarian society on theoretical terms alone as though the idea to so do was conjured up only in the most recent news cycle.

The (US-style) welfare state has the disadvantages of corruptibility (of both administrators and recipients), waste and bureaucracy, pitting classes against each other, perpetually weak political support, and instability due to shifting political whims.

An increased minimum wage and protections for American workers has the disadvantages of its 'bluntness,' potential to worsen unemployment (at least in the short term), and possibly decreased opportunity and/or growth potential for small businesses.

Government programs to more directly employ more people to better wage jobs (such as large infrastructure projects) have the disadvantages of inefficiency and bureaucracy, corruptibility, and the politically unpalatable specter of raising taxes to pay for said programs.

But...

Widespread poverty has the disadvantages of slowly strangling the American economy (which is still one driven largely by consumer spending, after all), cultural and political instability, crumbling or outdated infrastructure, and increased crime and incarceration rates. Which is not to mention the worst problem with high rates poverty... wait for it... high rates of poverty. Why should people continue to support a system that fails an increasing number of them?

I'd love to see an adult conversation where we all at least admitted that whatever action we're advocating or arguing against, we're merely picking our poison carefully.

Mar 24, 2015
cowboyardee in Not About Food
1

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

Put aside your feelings about those starbucks hipsters and ask yourself a simple question:

What is a reasonable amount of money to pay someone to make coffee?

Or let's phrase it differently... bearing in mind that even baristas may have kids, student loans, etc., what's the lowest wage you can expect a full-time American worker to be able to live on without assistance?

You can pay em to work; or you can pay em not to work; or you can pay to put em in prison. But those are really the only three options. They don't go away just because you find them distasteful.