Purple Ball Jars are No April Fool’s Joke

FULL DISCLOSURE: THIS IS AN AFFILIATE LINK. AND THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

I don’t know about you, but I take everything posted today with a grain of salt salt lick. Today’s date is April 1, 2015. That means it’s April Fool’s Day. Did I punctuate that correctly? It’s just one “Fool,” right? Or multiple “Fools?” I have to get the apostrophe correct. And I’m rambling. So this is an AFFILIATE LINK, and THIS IS NOT A JOKE. And a run-on sentence. Because Purple Ball Jars are no April Fool’s Joke.

We present, the Purple Ball Jar from the Ball Ball Jar People. This is actually a link to our friends at Cooking.com, whose work with Ball, the maker of Purple Ball Jars, is well-documented. Or at least it’s documented here, in this link. New Limited Edition Purple Heritage Jars from Ball.

Turns out, Purple is a rather important color. In the three-year history of the special editions of these Ball Jars, Ball has decided to go with Purple only one time: this year. It’s the last of the three-year special edition, so it’s not going to be Purple’s year next year. This year is the year for Purple, and it should be the year for you, if you like Purple. Or Ball Jars. And especially Purple Ball Jars.

Here is a photo of Purple Ball Jars.

Purple Ball Jar

For the Tea Lover

I’ve worked with a couple folks in my career who can (politely) be called “Tea Elitists.” And really, shouldn’t the same attention be given to them that’s given to the coffee lover?

tea loverToday, we’re going to focus just a little on tea and those who obsess with it. Or fuss over it. Or just simply love a cup in the morning. Today, this post is for you, the tea lover.

In usual Metakitchen style – and with this friendly reminder that you should totally like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter – we’ll share a video or two, as well as a product or two or three. And maybe a statistic or two or three. Products where we have an affiliate relationship will be clearly marked as “ADVERTISEMENT.” So, without further ado, we present…

For the Tea Lover

Item one will look great in any tea lover’s kitchen – provided you have the right color scheme going with your backsplash and whatnot. Check this baby out – ADVERTISEMENT:

Marseille Blue Teakettle and Mug Set by Le…

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Price: $99.95

(I want one. And I don’t really drink tea.)

Next, how about a video. A music video! These guys are pioneers in the musical genre known as “Chap Hop.” And this song is about tea.

BTW, another ADVERTISEMENT – here’s a general link to our friends at http://www.gopjn.com/t/TEFNTERIQUVHRElGSUFFRExES0g

Wait a second, how do you actually BREW tea? Watch this video and learn why the tea bag is considered…uh…evil.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole video…here’s a quick bullet-pointed recap:

  • Hand-picked tea is superior
  • Sometimes tea bags come from stuff that’s leftover on the floor at the factory
  • Any sort of bag, satchel, etc. is not good either
  • You can brew loose-leaf tea and it’s not inconvenient
  • There are two types of brewing: “Western” and “Tea Ceremony.”

And, here’s a video from a site called TastyTeas that will show you a few of the loose-leaf varieties of tea.

There you have it – a quick share For the Tea Lover. Drink up!

Some Guy Cooking an Egg in a Microwave

The more I think about “Kitchen Hacks,” the more annoyed I get.

Egg in a MicrowaveReally, is some guy cooking an egg in a microwave really a “Kitchen Hack?”

First, watch this:

Then, let’s talk…

First of all, I said my piece on the kitchen hack issue in that other post. At least, I think I said my piece. Secondly, I think we’re talking about productivity for the sake of internet memes here: which is precisely why I titled this post:

Some Guy Cooking an Egg in a Microwave.

Taste? Flavor? Convenience? Doing it just to be “cool?” Those are some of the reasons you might want to cook your eggs differently – like Eggs in a Muffin Tin.

As you build your Metakitchen, you might want to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Seriously: the post above talks about presentation of the eggs, and the fact that they’re moving and wanted something quick for the family that can be put in the fridge. Awesome.

Meanwhile, there are other egg techniques out there that are just as quick, or maybe even quicker – I cooked my egg in the microwave, start to finish, including the video, in under three minutes (you don’t see me spraying the cooking spray in the bowl).

As we build out this site, we’re asking ourselves that very question: “Why are we doing this?”

Honestly, because we needed to whip up an egg for the dog and wanted to have a video on YouTube.

Ha.

Take That, Rural Chuck Wagon Lady

She makes Cinnamon Toast to die for. We make Cinnamon Toast to LIVE for.

The absolute greatest Cinnamon Toast Recipe in the History of Mankind – and womankind, too – isn’t contained on some TV show or found in some cookbook found on the prairie. NO, dear, gentle, highly impassioned toast-loving reader, the absolute greatest Cinnamon Toast Recipe in the History of Mankind was just whipped up twenty minutes ago by some suburban dad who thinks he’s a professional chef but in reality is just running a blog about cooking. Take That, Urban Chuck Wagon Lady!

Cinnamon Toast You know, I’ve always thought of myself as a good “garbage chef.” Give me a kitchen o’ randomness, and I’ll make something that’s pure awesomesauce, except, if it’s not a sauce, then it’ll just be awesome.

For real, though.

Recently, someone sent me a link to Cinnamon Toast from a notable blogger and I thought – wow, people, that’s pretty freaktastic in its apparent goodness. I should try that. So I did, and it was pretty freaktastic in its actual goodness.

But I can do better. You can do better. We all can do better. The secret ingredient? IS LOVE!

Take That, Rural Chuck Wagon Lady!

No, people, the secret ingredient is not love. The secret ingredient was made obvious to me when I learned that the secret ingredient in the Rural Chuck Wagon Lady’s Cinnamon Toast recipe – vanilla extract – was missing. Horrors!

Ingredients

You’ll need four slices of bread. White bread is fine – we’re using what’s left from our Slow Cooker Stuffing the other day. It’s still good. Chef Don’t Judge. Three tablespoons of butter. One tablespoon of cinnamon sugar – make your own if you want, but it was just as easy to use the store-mixed stuff. (OF COURSE, making your own, out of a concoction of cinnamon and sugar, would be preferred, right? But this is just the same, far as I can tell, and it was handy.)

The secret ingredient: Almond Extract. Use about 1/4 of a teaspoon – it’s powerful stuff.

Instructions

Uh, you’re mixing the butter with the cinnamon sugar and the almond extract. Soften the butter for a few seconds in the microwave, then smash it together with a fork. Spread it onto the bread – all the way to the edges because you don’t want any inch of bread to be uncovered with this toasted, broiled, sizzling amazement.

We’ve got a brand-new Breville Toaster Oven (which is a mini-oven, in reality, and does everything; we’re in love with it so far). [ADVERTISEMENT: It was north of $100, so, if you bought one or something similar, use this code: 10% off purchase of $49+ with coupon code SAVE10.] First, we used the “Toast” setting, 4 for darkness and 4 for number of slices. Once that was done, FIVE MINUTES on the Broil setting – which requires moving the rack up one notch, so it’s closer to the broiler.

You want it sizzling, but not burning. Which the few minutes on the broiler accomplish. Watch it closely…but five minutes did the trick for us.

Serving Notes

Kids went ape for this. I’m not kidding – they wanted more. It’s because of my sheer brilliance in running out of vanilla extract a month ago and forgetting to get any at the store. Because I am that type of chef.

Photos

Bask in the glory of the simplicity, the white bread, the Nelson from the Simpsons screaming “Ha Ha” in the direction of Oklahoma or Kansas or Kentucky – whichever rural prairie chuck wagon place that woman lives in. It’s that awesome. Thank me later.

Bread and Butter

Spread that stuff evenly, leave no grain uncovered.

Almond Extract

You do not need vanilla extract. You do not need vanilla extract. You do not need vanilla extract.

Cinnamon Toast to Live For

You have succeeded. The toast is awesome. You are awesome.

I have emerged triumphantly from this challenge, the gauntlet having been thrown down, and the Almond Extract having wrestled Vanilla to the ground. Take That, Rural Chuck Wagon Lady. Your move.

Picks and Pans

You’re gonna love the clever wordplay here at Metakitchen HQ. As much as you love your favorite pan.

This here is gonna be one of those hybrid posts. By that, we mean that there will be a little info, a little promotional stuff, and a little fun. All rolled into one beautiful little package we call “Picks and Pans.”

One note: we’re running a very transparent operation here at Metakitchen, so we’ll tell you up front that there will be a clearly labeled ADVERTISEMENT or two within this post. That means an affiliate link, so we’ll be compensated if you purchase using the link. But we’re in the information and entertainment and connection business (but apparently NOT the comma business) here, so let’s try to do all three.

ADVERTISEMENT: Free Shipping on Cooking.com’s Exclusive 12-in. Everyday Pan <– Our advice is that you check this one out. You’ll see why in a hot second.

Everyone has a favorite pan, right? Frying pan, or sautee pan, or a saucier. Sometimes it takes a few years to get your favorites figured out – trial and error, more trial, more error. And who hasn’t had a run-in with cast iron?

metakitchen picks and pans

Some thoughts, then, about pans. Or, our picks of the pans. Thus the name: picks and pans.

Picks and Pans

First up, the graphic. Left to right, four different pans. We’ll give you our favorite, but first, here they are:

  1. Far left, Cuisinart non-stick frying pan. Purchased for…probably more than we should have paid.
  2. Anolon, deep, 9-inch non-stick. Anodized. Works okay…and happens to have a lid that fits perfectly (from another set). Got it from Freecycle, of all places. Don’t judge.
  3. Our favorite: Thomas Rosenthal. Who? What? If memory serves, we actually got this as a promotion from the local grocery store – you know, shop enough somewhere and they really want your business. It’s a 10-inch skillet, and it has become the family go-to for eggs and just about everything else we use a skillet for. (Which would include…eggs.)
  4. Calphalon, non-stick, 9″ wok-style pan. Works great, but, I’m not sure we use it enough.

Trial and error have played a role in which pieces of cookery we like, and which ones we try to avoid. These four go-tos happen to all be non-stick, and there’s one thing they have in common: they can’t go in the dishwasher.

[IT WILL VOID THE WARRANTY!] [WE DON’T HAVE A WARRANTY ON THE FREECYLCE PAN!]

Care and Feeding of Nonstick Pans

So we don’t use anything other than wood or plastic to stir – spatulas or spoons only, no metal whisks with any of these.

Did we mention they can’t go in the dishwasher? They also shouldn’t get more than a mild scrubbing, either. This means using the soft side of the sponge, and not the scratchy side. The worst of the four, the Cuisinart, needs to soak more often than the other three – its non-stick qualities aren’t all that great, to be honest.

What About Cast Iron?

We’re still sniffing around for the best cast iron pan – we haven’t found it yet, but we’re eager (since, if you’ve visited the post about cooking steak, you’ll see at least one uses a cast iron skillet). [ADVERTISEMENT: When we look for one, we’ll use Cooking.com to do so. We’ve actually been subscribers to their email newsletter for awhile now. Good stuff there.]

If you use cast iron, though, you’ll want to learn the best way to clean it: you can try one of these videos. First, YouTuber Paul Wheaton sets this cleaning method – which involves boiling the gunk off – to music.

Honestly, though, I prefer this method, from the chef-owner (Chef “T”) of Tspoons, a cool-looking cooking school in Orange County, California. Why? Salt, vegetable oil – which we’ve heard about from a few people as the de rigeur method.

 What’s the Point?

We told you up top that we’re here to Inform, Entertain, and Connect. So we’ve informed you that…we prefer non-stick, we use the one that we got from the grocery store the most often, and we’re not yet in the cast iron game. We hope we’ve entertained you with two cast iron cleaning videos. And…we connect you with Cooking.com because we like their work, and, especially, we think that their proprietary 12-inch pan, which we link to above, is worth another look. [THAT’S AN ADVERTISEMENT LINK THERE.]

See you next time.

 

Sous Vide + Blow Torch

We’re the new kid on the block in the food blogging portal universe. So, of course, our post on steaks showcased our naivete.

OH and DISCLAIMER: BE VERY CAREFUL with ANY KITCHEN EQUIPMENT, ESPECIALLY A BLOWTORCH.

sous vide blowtorch

Thanks, Sansaire.

That “7 Ways to Cook Steak” post. From the other day. Our…what…fifth day of existence? That’s the one that got people questioning us, and got us looking around for sous vide videos. Especially ones with a blow torch. (Or “blowtorch” if you prefer the one-word version.) So here we are: Sous Vide + Blow Torch.

BTW, if you are employed in either the sous vide or blow torch industries, give us a ring. We’d like to try out your products. Seriously. Call me.

Anyway…while we wait for those to come in the mail (ahem), why not share a video? Or two?

First up, while long-ish at ten minutes and change, this video from YouTuber “CTP” might change the way you think about cooking steak.

Sous Vide + Blow Torch


But…but…wait…vacuum-sealed meat thrown into a water bath? Sounds so…weird.

He’s got the main science down here – aside from a couple questions in the YouTube comments about whether or not to use the wood cutting board, and whether pepper is flammable – the French phrase “sous-vide” actually means “under vacuum.” It’s “low and slow,” like you hear the barbecue people describe their method of cooking, but even lower: meat is cooked at 131-140 degrees, and the goal is to have the temperature of the meat equal to that of the water bath.

Obligatory Wikipedia Link Here: Sous Vide.

Sous Vide Equipment

The leader so far…at least the one that pops up highest on Google when we searched…is this bad boy from Anova Culinary. At $179 it’s more affordable than some of the other options – even with your Bed Bath & Beyond coupon that seems to show up in the mail every day.

Here’s a screengrab from their website; this looks like a serious machine.

Sous Vide Machine

Thanks, Anova Culinary.

Serious must be the operative word; the website “Serious Eats” gives this machine props.

But…do you really need a machine? Or can you whip up something without having one of these machine thingies?

Sous Vide Duck Breast – with no machine!

Food Wishes delivers the goods here…this insanely easy kitchen hack uses just a Ziploc bag, an accurate thermometer, a big stock pot, and a silicone mat. Then he crisps the duck in a frying pan. And I’m hungry.

Blow Torch?

I’m a guy, so I think that is a rhetorical question. You could skip to the end of the first video to watch the blow torch in action, or you could avoid the blow torch like the duck video above (a high heat sear at the end is gonna give you the crusty, charred flavor you want).

Or you can watch all 45 seconds of this video, where the blow torch takes center stage.

 

And, if you’re reading this and want to get me a Sous Vide machine to try out… it’s dave [at] metakitchen [dot] co.