Microwave

Usually the microwave doesn't produce very good results. The mechanism behind how it heats food is to blame. High energy radiation (microwave) is shot into the food and it causes water molecules to start spinning. The friction in the spinning water translates to heat. It's not recommended for most dishes; however, there is one crucial benefit it holds over the oven or stove...

Heat from a pan or oven enters through the surface of the food and has to conduct to the center. It takes longer and it's hard to tell what's going on inside. You can roast a chicken and it looks beautiful on the outside, but the inside is still raw because of this. Microwaves penetrate much deeper before it is converted to heat. In a microwave there is much more heat originating in the center of the food rather than just the surface.

However, microwaves work high intensity in a short period of time. This rapid process means possible uneven heating. One area could receive more microwaves and heat up much more, you may have to rotate the food halfway.

Practical application: If you are in a rush and bring out chicken that is still raw inside (or the steak is just too rare for you), stick it in the microwave. It cooks the center much faster than sticking it in the oven or stove. Another benefit is that it cooks the center quicker without overcooking the outside like direct heat could. This saved me many times when I thought the chicken was fully cooked and served it.

salt

The number 1 thing I could suggest to improve one's cooking is to learn to add the proper amount of salt. Most of the time food is bland because it isn't salted enough. Salt has a flavor, but it actually intensifies other flavors. The key is to add enough salt to bring out other flavors but just short of becoming "salty"

It's not easy coming up with a standardized amount for salt because people have different preferences and sensitivities as well as many other factors; however, there are some guidelines you can use.

2% salt is often considered the threshold of what the tongue considers palatable. I use this as my upper limit, but what's the sweet spot? If you look at many salty, savory snacks like chips you see about 1% salt. That's where I began and I found that I like about 1% (5g salt/lb). That means about 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. I use this only as a guideline and always add 1/2 of it first and slowly add the rest and stop when just right (I trust my senses more than formulas).

Application: Usually I take about 3/4 teaspoon salt per pound and rub it into the surface of steaks and roasts about 2-3 hours before cooking. Use it when making mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, marinara...whatever dish where "add salt to taste" is written, use this as a guideline

There are many other factors, usually dish specific, so sometimes you need more or less than 1 teaspoon salt/lb to get 1% salt.

Better Burgers

Here's one easy tip that will quickly improve your next BBQ. Now there's nothing wrong with Costco, they usually have excellent quality; however, for some reason their frozen burgers aren't that great. Smart and Final actually has the best frozen burger patties I've seen, aside from grinding meat and making your own patties.

It's the same price (or sometimes cheaper) and another benefit is that they are IQF (individually quick frozen) - patties don't stick to one another. In my opinion, they taste alot better than Costco burgers. Smart and Final sells them in white boxes under the brand "First Street" and are differentiated by the fat content. I usually just get the cheapest. Another thing to look out for is the numbers such as 4/1. What this means is 4 patties per pound (or 1/4lb patties). They sell in 10lb boxes so you can buy 40 patties for the same price as 50 smaller patties or 30 larger patties. My recomendation is to do the standard 1/4lb.

Update

It's been a crazy month here at Gracepoint Fellowship Church - Berkeley college did Glive, we had Good Friday, and we had Easter service/picinic. Things are slowing down a little so look for more new posts in the coming weeks! There have been alot of great meals and lots of lessons learned which will trickle down to this site!