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Welcome to MarcusBall.com.        This personal site features information about Marcus Ba.  You will find a variety of information ranging from customer service tips and  management strategies, to massage therapy techniques, and cooking. Feel free to browse and enjoy.                  

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Alcohol
Kitchen Safety
Knife Use
Conversions
Beef
Classic Foods
Fish
Pasta
Pork
Poulty
Sandwiches
Shellfish
Spreads n Sauces
Soup & Salads
Cooking Tips

 
•  Basic Kitchen Protocol
Follow safe approaches for dressing to cook, handling knives, preventing burns, and using electrical appliances.

 
•  Proper Food Handling
Wash hands and toss expired food, yes. Also know how to taste correctly, prevent contamination, and freeze, refrigerate and thaw your meals.

 
•  Washing Produce
Also, how to dry fresh vegetables and fruits and when NOT to wash.

 


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Cooking Kitchen Safety

Answers to commonly asked cooking questions. For instance, how many teaspoons in a tablespoon? (3). At what temperature should we keep our fridges? (Between 36 - 38 degrees Fahrenheit). See more answers in the simple reference guides below.
 

Dress for safety:
  • Wear shoes with flat soles to minimize falls and help you stand in a balanced position. Leather uppers with closed toes protect from burns; cloth shoes absorb spilled liquids and prolong burning.
  • Keep arms and legs covered for protection, and don't wear leggings; they absorb hot liquids spilled on them. It is important to wear clothes that are comfortable and easily cleaned. If you wear a favorite outfit, you won't relax and will find yourself in awkward positions trying to protect your clothes.
  • Be careful of long dangling jewelry, it can get stuck in kitchen equipment.
  • It is also important to keep your hair contained, not just to keep it out of prepared foods, but also for your own safety - hair is flammable.
  • Long nails are dangerous in a kitchen; they harbor germs and interfere with proper knife skills.
  • Avoid reaching over the stovetop when cooking and watch your sleeves.
Handle your knives properly:
  • Keep knives sharp.
  • Be alert when using a knife; don't get careless or distracted.
  • Never cut towards yourself; always cut away from yourself.
  • Don't hold food in your hand to cut it - keep it on a cutting board.
  • Use the correct knife for the job; i.e. Chef's knife for chopping, bread knife for breads and tomatoes, paring knife for peeling and small work.
  • Never put your guiding hand on the end of the knife blade for extra leverage; some people might do this when cutting cheese.
  • Never leave knives in the sink.
  • Never put knives in the dishwasher.
  • When walking with a knife, hold it with the side loosely pressed against your thigh.
  • Don't store knives loose in drawer.
  • Don't try to catch falling knives.
Preventing burns:
  • Always have kitchen towels, hot pads, or oven mitts readily accessible.
  • Never use a damp towel to hold a hot pot or pan.
  • Be cautious with steam; don't look into a hot pot when opening the lid, and let steam subside first.
  • Saute or fry foods with high water content carefully; step back when submerging pieces into oil as the water content will cause the oil to spit and splatter.
  • When sauteing, put item in slowly, starting with end nearest yourself and slowly lower the item away from you.
  • Keep pan handles turned in and out of the path of people walking by.
  • Don't carry pots with hot oil; let oil return to room temperature before transporting.
  • Have a small fire extinguisher and a first aid kit readily accessible. Also make sure that smoke detectors are placed throughout your house.
  • Keep curtains, potholders, towels, and any other combustibles away from cooking areas.
Electrical appliances:
  • Dry hands before unplugging appliances.
  • Don't pull on cords to unplug.
  • Don't keep appliances next to a water source.
  • Have all frayed cords repaired by an electrician.
  • Keep appliance cords as short as possible to avoid accidents such as tripping or knocking the appliance over.
  • Don't plug too many items into one outlet.
  • When processing hot liquids in a blender (such as sauces and soups), make sure the blender's lid is back on, then cover the lid with a towel and your hand, before proceeding to blend. Also, do not fill the blender more than half-way.

 

Proper food handling is essential. The main concerns are cleanliness, preventing cross-contamination, and keeping foods at safe temperatures. With just a little knowledge, you can save yourself a lot of misery.

1. Washing hands
Wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water, for a minimum of 20 seconds. Remember to lather up to the elbow. Pay special attention to nails and fingertips, one of the easiest and most crucial steps in food safety. Rings and bracelets can harbor germs, so either remove them or wash them carefully. It is important to wash hands in the following situations:
  • Before the start of food preparation
  • Between handling different food items, such as raw meat, poultry, or fish and vegetables. (Don't forget to wipe off the faucet!)
  • After using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
  • After touching a pet.
  • After tending to a sick person, blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing.
  • After handling garbage.
  • After touching your face or hair.
2. Tasting food
 
  • When tasting food while cooking, always use a separate tasting spoon, and get a new one each time. Do not double dip and do not eat off the utensil you are using to stir.
  • Do not use your fingers to taste. It is not sanitary and can cause a burn if the food is very hot.
  • Always handle a tasting spoon by the stem, never by the scoop.
3. Handling injuries
 
  • If you get cut, quickly put pressure on the cut and clean and bandage accordingly. Clean knife and cutting board accordingly.
  • Always wear latex or rubber gloves when you have bandages on your hands. Change bandage often.
4. Preventing cross-contamination
Bacteria from raw meats that is spread to other foods, utensils, or surfaces is called "cross-contamination". Mixing raw meats with ready to eat foods is the primary source of cross-contamination. This important and multi-faceted category includes the following components:

Raw meats, poultry, and fish
  • Always separate raw meats away from produce and ready to eat foods.
  • At the store, have the cashier bag raw meats separately.
  • At home, always store raw meats on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, so meat juices won't drip on other foods.
Kitchen counters
  • Wash well with hot soapy water and then use a disinfectant.
  • Do not let pets walk on work surfaces and don't sit on work surfaces.
  • Whenever you have finished working with one food, clean the counters well before introducing a new food.
Cutting boards
  • It is a good idea to have separate cutting boards, one for meat, fish, poultry, and one for foods that will be served raw.
  • Plastic cutting boards should be sanitized with a bleach solution or by washing in the dishwasher. To make a bleach solution, mix 1 tablespoon of bleach with one quart of cool water. Discard solution daily.
  • Sanitize wooden cutting boards by rubbing with distilled grain vinegar, then air-dry or microwave for ten minutes.
  • Cutting boards, especially wooden ones, should be regularly inspected to ensure that food is not getting imbedded in cracks or crevices.
  • Throw out cutting boards when they get excessively worn or hard-to-clean cracks appear.
  • Wash cutting boards with hot soapy water after each use.
Kitchen dishcloths, sponges and aprons
  • Repeatedly using the same cloth or sponge to wipe counters spreads germs. Remember to wash towels in the washing machine daily and put sponges in the dishwasher.
  • Avoid wiping your hands on your apron, as you will pick up bacteria from the last time you wiped your hands.
  • When hand washing dishes, allow them to air-dry. Don't use towels to dry them, as this will spread germs.
Utensils and serving pieces for cooked and raw food
  • If you take raw meat, poultry, or fish to the outdoor grill, also bring a new container to put food in after it is cooked.
  • Wash or replace cutlery and utensils that were used while product was raw.
  • If your meat, poultry or seafood was in a marinade, bring marinade to a boil for at least 3 minutes before using as a sauce. However, it's usually better to discard marinade altogether.
Uncooked foods
  • Wash lettuce well, even pre-washed produce, by soaking in a bowl of cool, fresh, drinkable water.
  • Clean berries and other fruits with running water; the friction of the water will brush off bacteria.
  • Wash melons and other large fruits and vegetables that are not going to be cooked. Remember they came from a farm, grew on dirt, and have been handled by numerous people. If you cut an unwashed melon, bacteria from the surface will be pushed inside by the knife.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, always wash foods in a bowl, not in a water-filled sink.
  • If you wash raw chicken, meat, or fish, be sure to wash out the sink well to prevent cross-contamination.
  • When using a food thermometer, always wash it between probes.
  • Frequent hand washing is crucial in preventing cross contamination.
5. Temperature
Bacteria grows rapidly between the temperatures of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range is known as the "Danger Zone". To properly store, hold, and cook foods, it is imperative to minimize the amount of time foods are at these temperatures. Pathogenic bacteria thrive in the Danger Zone; certain strains can double in number every 20 minutes. These are the bacteria that cause food borne illnesses, but do not affect taste, smell, or appearance of the food.
  • Any foods that have been in this temperature range for two hours or more should be discarded; they might taste all right, but can make you very sick.
  • Don't marinate food at room temperature for longer than 1 hour.
6. Refrigeration
Your refrigerator is one of the most important items in your kitchen for keeping foods safe.
  • Always refrigerate perishable items immediately to minimize reproduction of pathogenic bacteria. Refrigeration will not, however, completely protect foods from spoilage bacteria. This family of bacteria can multiply at low temperatures, and diminish the quality of foods, contributing to off-flavors and aromas.
  • It is important to maintain the temperature of your refrigerator below 40 degrees F. Ideal refrigerator temperature is between 36 and 38 degrees F.
  • Frequently check the temperature with an appliance thermometer. If your refrigerator exceeds 40 degrees F for over two hours, dispose of all perishable foods.
  • When refrigerating cooked foods, divide food into smaller portions so they will chill faster.
  • It is also important not to overfill your refrigerator, as cold air circulation is necessary to keep foods chilled.
  • The door areas of the refrigerator have frequent temperature fluctuations from opening and closing, so don't store perishable foods on the door. Keep eggs in the carton inside the refrigerator instead of the egg rack, and don't store milk in the door racks.
  • If food spills in your refrigerator, wipe up the spill immediately and sanitize if necessary.
  • Do weekly checks to assure that food is not spoiling, and occasionally wash all surfaces with warm, soapy water. To keep odors from forming, leave opened box of baking soda on a shelf and change every few months.
7. Thawing frozen foods
There are three safe ways to thaw frozen food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Leaving food on a counter or thawing in hot water will cause food to be in the Danger Zone.
  • Refrigerator thawing can take a long time, but it is the safest method. Plan ahead, as large food items, such as a turkey, may take 24 hours for every 5 pounds. For smaller items, such as chicken breasts, put in the refrigerator in the morning for dinner that evening. Foods that are thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen safely, with some loss in aesthetic quality.
  • Cold-water thawing is faster, but can be more complicated. Meat should be wrapped in a leak-proof bag or else it will absorb the water. Keep water cold by changing it every 30 minutes. A bag of chicken breasts that weighs under a pound will defrost in less than an hour, and a large turkey takes 2 to 3 hours for every 5 pounds. Foods thawed in cold water must be cooked before refreezing.
  • If food is thawed with a microwave, it must be cooked immediately following the thawing. During this process, some of the surface areas might start cooking and are in the danger zone. For this reason, we don't recommend microwave defrosting. Foods thawed in the microwave must be cooked before refreezing.
8. Cooling soups, stocks, and hot liquids quickly
When making a large batch of soup or stew, it can often take a long time to cool. Since foods should not be in the Danger Zone for more than 2 hours, here are some pointers to cool foods down quickly:
  • Liquids are best cooled in metal containers. Plastic insulates heat and cools more slowly.
  • Set container in an ice-water bath that reaches the same level as the liquid in the container.
  • Stir ice-water bath occasionally to accelerate cooling.
9. Storage instructions and "use by" dates
Pay attention to storage instructions, such as "Refrigerate after opening" and dates on containers. If items have been stored improperly, it is safest to discard them instead of risking illness.

 

You’ve just brought home the freshest fruit and veggies — and now you want to make sure they stay that way before you’re ready to eat them! Washing and storing produce is an art in itself that can be made much, much easier with a few simple tips.

Why Wash?
Wash nearly any produce that comes through your door as even organic products will still likely be covered with fertilizer, dust, soil, bacteria, fungi and pesticides. There’s no need to panic as it’s rare to get sick from contaminants on fruit and vegetables, but it’s definitely a good habit to wash most things as soon as you bring them home. It will save time later.

Most produce actually benefits from a little added moisture when it won’t be stored for too long. Too much dampness will eventually cause mold and other funky microorganisms to grow, so don’t plan on keeping washed items for more than a couple of days — or make sure to dry them out thoroughly.

Tips for Washing
One way to wash a lot of produce is to fill up a large bowl with cool water and dunk it all, scrubbing or swirling as you go. You may need to change the water a couple times. Warm water will actually bring out the flavor in items that you’re ready to serve, but never go above lukewarm — you don’t want to cook the food!

Cool water is best for crisping limp produce — wilted lettuce and limp carrots will revive with 30 minutes to an hour in a cold water bath. Always wash bagged lettuce, even if it is labeled pre-washed.

You can get a vegetable scrubber for root vegetables or anything with a rind. New potatoes and baby carrots will require little else than a gentle scrub before cooking. Even items you’re planning on peeling with a peeler, though, should be washed as any contaminants on the outside will spread to the peeler and the food inside.

By the way, you won’t get the wax coating off of things like apples by scrubbing — you need to actually peel the fruit to remove it.

Never use any detergent or bleach solutions to wash with as fruit and vegetables can absorb these solutions and they’re not meant for human consumption. You can use special produce sprays to wash, but water alone will also do the trick.

Drying
Dry all fruit and vegetables immediately after washing unless they’re going right in the pot. Most of the time, water is the enemy of flavor, so drying foods properly is critical to allow sauces or dressings to stick to the food and to keep your seasonings undiluted. Plus, if you’re going to store items after washing, it helps to keep them as dry as possible.

Gently dry delicate items with dish or paper towels and use a salad spinner for leafy greens. For berries, herbs or greens, you can also layer your produce with strips of paper towels in a large bowl — the paper towels will absorb the moisture.

Tougher herbs such as parsley can actually be placed in a dish towel and rung out to dry after they’ve been chopped, something which is critical if you want to be able to sprinkle them for garnish later.

Handle with Care
Delicate herbs or soft fruit you should immerse in a bowl of water, swish them around, pour the water out, and repeat until the water runs clean. Sandy herbs or greens such as cilantro or arugula require this as holding them under a running tap will move the dirt around instead of lifting and letting the dirt sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Very ripe fruit and berries can also be gently splashed with water and turned in a colander with your hand.

Washing Root Vegetables
All root veggies should be given a good scrub before peeling, then rinsed again after removing the peel. Contaminants from the peel will make their way to the flesh while you’re peeling, which is why a second rinse is a good idea.

Washing Fruit
Citrus fruit and melons that you’ll be cutting should be washed. Otherwise, the knife will bring any contaminants into the center of the fruit. They should be really scrubbed if you want to use the zest for cooking.

Grapes can be washed in a colander and stored in the refrigerator. Strawberries, raspberries and figs are better off getting a quick wash just before eating, although if you won’t be storing them for long. You can also wash in advance as long as you’re gentle and dry them well.

Washing Vegetables
Cukes, salad greens and scallions will crisp up if they are soaked in ice water for at least 30 minutes, which you can do after you wash them. Many cucumbers have a wax coating that you can’t wash off, so these should be peeled as well.

With leeks, you should cut their root ends and green tops off, slice them in half lengthwise, and rinse thoroughly while fanning the layers out in lukewarm water.

There’s a big debate about how to wash mushrooms. Some people prefer to simply dab at the dirt with a damp paper towel to avoid the mushroom getting soggy. Still, if there’s a lot of dirt, you really should wash them under a stream of water in a colander and check every one to make sure you get all the mud out.

What Not to Wash
You can definitely skip washing certain items where the peel really barely touches the inside — onions, garlic, winter squash, and citrus fruit (unless you’re zesting), can all be peeled and eaten as is.

ADVICE TO THE COOK Source: Boston Fish Pier Sea Food Cookbook (1913)

Great cleanliness, as well as care and attention, is required from a cook. Keep your hands very clean; try to prevent your nails from getting black or discolored; don't "scatter" in your kitchen; clean up as you go; put cold water into each saucepan or stew pan as you finish using it. Dry your sauce- pans before you put them on the shelf. Scour tins with good mineral soap and rinse thoroughly in hot water. In cleaning a frying-pan, scour the outside as well as the inside. In cleaning greasy utensils, such as the soup-pot and frying-pan, wipe off the worst of the grease with soft paper (which can be burned), then soak in warm water to which soap-powder or a little ammonia has been added, finishing with mineral soap. Wash your pudding-cloths, scald and hang them to dry directly after using them; air them before you put them away, or they will be musty; keep in dry place. Be careful not to use a knife that has cut onions till it has been cleaned. Keep sink and sink-brush very clean; be careful never to throw anything but water down sink. Do not throw cabbage water down it; throw it away out of doors; its smell is very bad. Never have sticky plates or dishes; use very hot water for washing them; when greasy, change it. Take care that you look at the meat the butcher brings, to see that it is good. Let there be no waste in the kitchen.

TIPS FOR KITCHEN Source: Boston Fish Pier Sea Food Cookbook (1913)

  • Without cleanliness and punctuality good cooking is impossible.

  • Leave nothing dirty—clean and clear as you go.

  • A time for everything and everything in time.

  • A good cook wastes nothing.

  • An hour lost in the morning has to be run after all day.

  • Strong fire for roasting. Clear fire for broiling.

  • Wash vegetables in three waters.

  • Boil fish quickly; meat slowly.

  • Throw flour on kerosene flames.

  • Slamming door of oven makes cake fall.

  • A few drops of lemon juice makes cake frosting very white.

  • Try sprinkling powdered cloves about places infected with red ants.

  • Salt in the oven under baking tins will prevent scorching on the bottom.

  • Salt and vinegar will remove stains from discolored teacups.

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