Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cooking tips

I'm a big fan of efficiency. My boss calls it "laziness", a virtue that he respects enormously - the ability to get results with the minimum possible investment.

Nowhere is this skill more important than in the kitchen. Despite the addition of our lovely Danske Møbler sideboard, space is still at a premium and we only have two saucepans. And when Susan starts to get hungry, her normally sunny disposition starts to cloud over, and getting calories into her becomes a time-critical exercise. I dread to think what she'd do if she were dining in Hell's Kitchen.

Thus it came about that last night, when I'd put the rice on and realised I hadn't hard-boiled the eggs as I'd intended, I came up with the bright idea of popping the eggs in with the rice. After all, I reasoned, it's all boiling water, isn't it? And rice requires ten minutes of simmering plus five to ten minutes of standing - that's surely enough time to get a nice hard-boiled result, yes?

For the record, it is. The eggs were perfect. There were only two drawbacks.

The first became apparent when the time came to hook the eggs out of the bed of quietly steaming rice. A spoon did that job nicely, but it also hooked a non-trivial amount of rice out with them, which immediately stuck like glue to the shell. I don't know why rice (Basmati, in case it makes a difference) is so adhesive to eggshell, but take it from me, there is an affinity there.

The second struck me when I contemplated the smooth, shiny whiteness of the freshly peeled eggs. Each egg showed a distinct patch of yellow to one side. Deprived of the tossing motion of the more conventional rapid boiling, the yolks had settled to one side. Not a disaster, merely a minor suboptimality.

I offer this finding in the spirit of furthering human understanding. My training as a process engineer tells me that your less brilliant ideas are just as worthy to be recorded as the best of them; that way, you (and others) will know, next time, without having to do the experiment again.

You're welcome.


Cian said...

So did you wash the eggs before cooking them with the rice? I'm just not sure if that step is required and I would hate to get it wrong.

But I am rather glad that the sideboard did arrive.

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I've recently discovered you can put a few peas in with the rice and it works (peas being in season here). Though I'm not sure I'd want to try it with basmati.

Cian - why would you need to wash eggs, unless they were visibly dirty? Who covers their eggs in weedkiller/pesticide/fertiliser?

vet said...

Cian, it never occurred to me to wash the eggs, for much the reasons outlined by bahumbug. I guess there might be all kinds of nasty bacteria in the back end of a hen, but I would think the boiling should take care of that.

But I don't know for sure. If you want to try it, you might want to take that precaution first. Who knows, it might even affect the stickiness of the rice.

Bahumbug, I quite often put peas in with the rice, and as you say it works just fine. I think fresh peas absorb only small amounts of water, not enough to affect the rice so long as the proportions are kept in check. (If you use frozen peas, there's usually a fair bit of frost that comes with them; I think they're hydro-neutral, or possibly even making a net contribution then.)

mumsie said...

Well done! I'm glad to see my example followed. We also only had two saucepans for years - and that was while raising a family of hungry boys. I think that may be the origin of my being a fan of cooking a lot of things in the oven.

Tonight I hardboiled eggs together with boiling little new potatoes, with their skins on. And I did not waste water on washing either beforehand.

Unlike Cian I knew the sideboard had arrived but I'm still waiting to see a picture of it in your lovely home.

Cian said...

I'm no expert, so I could be wrong. I think in Ireland Producers of Eggs are not supposed to wash them. And this is actually a preference. By washing eggs in a water for example the water gets into the egg through tiny pores and along with it so does the bacteria.

So in Ireland it might be a good idea to use a paper towel damp with hot water to wipe the egg first to remove the bacteria. But after mumsie's comment I got thinking - well of course her method should be fine too as there would be a good bit of liquid for boiling them with the potatoes. For some reason when envisioning cooking eggs with rice I imagined very little water (more like steaming I guess), but that may not have been the case at all.

I do not know what the standards are like in New Zealand/UK, but I know that some countries (The US springs to mind) use various chemical such as hypochlorites, hydroxides and peroxide to clean eggs. I would prefer not to have that residue on my eggs thank you.

vet said...

Yeah, I'm not a hundred per cent sure about those standards myself. But these are free-range, organic eggs, which I was hoping would protect us from the worst excesses of industrialisation.

It's true that there was only a little water involved. I didn't see any problem with that, but as I said, I didn't really think it through...

Anonymous said...

my $.02:
Eggs keep fresher unwashed, according to www.fsis.usda.gov:
"Bloom", the natural coating on just-laid eggs that helps prevent bacteria from permeating the shell...

However, www.eatwell.gov.uk:
Eggs may contain salmonella bacteria inside or on their shells...
There can be bacteria on the shell, as well as inside the egg, so you need to be careful how you handle eggs...If a whole egg, egg shell, or drips of white or yolk touch other foods, then bacteria can spread onto those foods.

From www.food.gov.uk, it appears cooking the eggs and food containing eggs thoroughly is enough.


vet said...

When considering any UK gov't advice regarding eggs, you should be aware of the ghost of Edwina Currie lurking over the story.

Long story short: salmonella is indeed a threat (although most people won't even notice eating a salmonella-infected egg - the total number of reported cases annually is tiny, even though tests show that a large proportion of eggs are infected). But thorough cooking eliminates even that small threat.

Deadlyjelly said...

Salmonella whatevva.

I'm more concerned about chicken shit and rooster spack. If you boil the eggs normally, I (like to) presume any fowl by-products float off in the water. Next time you offer me rice, I'll be retching - I mean, REACHING - for the bread.

I'll stick to poaching. Eggs, that is.