Low tech stuff I recommend

This is a list of low tech stuff I recommend having. The criterion for being “low tech” is me not expecting the thing to meaningfully improve in the next 5 years.

Steve Gadd points to Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet:

Food Safety

Correctly following the steps of a recipe is only part of the cooking process; you also need to keep food safety in mind so that the people you feed don’t become ill. Few cookbooks tackle this subject. First, it can be quite complicated; Modernist Cuisine has two lengthy chapters devoted to this topic, and that’s only a beginning. Second, people tend to get squeamish when you talk about pathogens, sickness, and fecal contamination. We believe it is important for every cook (whether at home or in a restaurant) to understand the basics of food safety. Following a few simple rules makes cooking at home a lot safer.

The first thing to understand about food safety is that the overwhelming majority of food poisoning cases occur because the food is contaminated—and at least 80% of the time, the contaminant is fecal matter (either animal or human). As you might imagine, eating feces is a bad idea for lots of reasons, but for food safety the point is that gastrointestinal illnesses are transmitted by germs (pathogens) in the feces. Nobody wants to eat feces; it happens accidentally through lapses in hygiene. The single most important thing you can do to eliminate foodborne illness is to practice better hygiene.

HYGIENE

Good hygiene is critical wherever food is prepared or eaten, and the most important thing you need to keep clean is your hands. Proper hand washing is not just passing your hands quickly under a faucet—it means carefully scrubbing your hands with soap and water for a full 30 seconds and using a nailbrush to clean under your nails. That’s what surgeons do before an operation, and it is what a cook should do before cooking.

Nearly everything in a kitchen is covered in bacteria, even if it looks clean. Even food that arrives to the kitchen clean can become contaminated by pathogens that have been carried into the kitchen on other food, the bottom of a shoe, or other sources. According to New York University microbiologist and immunologist Philip Tierno, the two dirtiest items in a typical house are both found in the kitchen: the sink and the sponge.

To keep things as clean as possible and reduce the risk of cross-contamination, wash small kitchen tools, containers, utensils, dishes, and pans in a hot, sanitizing dishwasher. Or you can mix 1 Tbsp of Clorox bleach per gallon of water (about 4 mL of bleach per liter of water) in a bucket, and submerge your tools in it for at least two minutes. After you drain the bleach solution, do not rinse or wipe dry the implements or the container; doing so might recontaminate them.

Let everything drip-dry. Any residue of bleach that remains will be so faint that it will not affect the taste or the safety of the food.

Once a week, heat your sponge in the microwave on high for 1 minute, or toss it in the dishwasher with the drying cycle turned on. You should also stop using your dish towel to wipe down counters, hands, and equipment; it soon accumulates food, bacteria, and yes, feces. Dish towels should be used as nothing more than potholders. For wiping hands and other surfaces, switch to disposable paper towels.


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