Category Archive for: ‘Cooking Tools & Techniques’

Just when I thought there was nothing left in the world that could surprise me, along comes Tempeh.

What the heck?

Tempeh is another soy product in patty form.  Yes, it is fermented.  Temp’h is made with whole soybeans that undergo very little processing.  It is high in protein, as most soy products and is therefore a great vegan protein source.

Why do we care?

We care because of the texture.  Ahhhh, the texture is that of meat.  I’m not going to pretend that I don’t love everything about meat, with the exception of what it does to my body.  I miss the texture, the mouth feel, the chew of a steak, bbq, a simple hamburger.  Is tempeh the answer?  I sure hope so.

Where to get it

The author of at least one of the articles I read about tempeh feels that because of the complicated nature of the fermentation process necessary to make tempeh, they do not recommend making your own.  This is one of those pre-packaged foods you’ll want to buy.

“You can find tempeh pre-packaged in the refrigerated section of most natural foods stores. Unlike tofu, it hasn’t made it to most mainstream groceries just yet, but try requesting it and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover they’ll stock it, or order it for you. If you have to order in bulk, that’s okay because it can be frozen until ready to use.

Because soy bean crops are almost always grown with GMOs  (Genetically Modified Organisms ), your soy products (and corn products, for that matter) should always, always, always be made with organic soy. And this is no exception. So be sure to check your labels to be sure it’s organic. Sometimes it says it on the cover of the package, and sometimes it says it in the actual ingredient list, so check both.”

How To Clean and Prep Tempeh

There are basically two types of tempeh which you can find, one is fresh (or fresh frozen) and one is vacuum-sealed and found in the refrigerated section of your store.

The vacuum-sealed tempehs are almost always pasteurized. This is not in all actuality “pre-cooking” but a way to kill bacteria and molds and other harmful organisims. The pasteurization ensures that all the bacteria is killed off (including, unfortunately, beneficial bacteria) so it can be packaged and sold in stores. These are ready-to-eat and usually do not have to be pre-cooked.

The fresh tempeh is more rare, but seems to be healthier because all the fantastic nutritional qualities are still intact. It’s definitely a food filled with live cultures and such. Fresh tempeh must be pre-cooked for at least 20 minutes before eating. Fresh tempeh can also be frozen in this fresh state.

(When I called my local Whole Foods store to ask if they have any fresh frozen non-pasteurized tempeh, they said it’s illegal for them to sell non-pasteurized tempeh.)

So in the end, the consumer really has to be vigilant. It the package says ready to eat, that means it’s likely been pasteurized and is good to go. If the package says to cook first, then it’s very important to do so.

No matter which tempeh you choose the soybeans are fermented so it’s much easier for our bodies to digest. And of course the tempeh is a nice source of protein. I might recommend that, as with all pre-packaged foods, one not rely on them on a daily basis but try to focus on eating whole foods as nature intended.

Now, having said all that I recommend you cook your tempeh before using it in your recipe. First of all, it helps to remove some of tempeh’s bitter flavor. Secondly, it helps to make the tempeh soft and moist which makes for scrumptious tempeh recipes. And if you would like to marinate your tempeh, cooking it first helps the tempeh to accept more of the marinade.

If you would like to steam it first, you can learn how to do that here: How To Steam Your Tempeh. I recommend steaming it for 20 minutes.



I haven’t yet tried tempeh, but I’m going to today.  If this is the next coming of the faux meat, I’ll let you know, believe me – jughandle

You Can Be 90% healthy too!

Can any one be 90 percent health?  I believe you can, but my point here is to make living a strict life style, such as vegan eating, easily attainable.

The art of the cheat

I never really liked the word “cheat”.  It implies that you’ve done something wrong.  In this case, lets do something right.  Let’s call it the “10 percent solution”.  For me, and I think, one of my failings in life, I have a strong need to keep my options open. I believe there are way too many rules in life already, why self-impose more. When I’m restricted I have a strong desire toward that restriction.  Weird?  What you resist you get?

So, I came up with a personal solution that might serve you as well.  I use a “10 percent solution”.  It’s easy doing something for a short period of time, am I right?  I make available to me the possibility to eat anything and everything I want at any time.  I can dream about the food, I can plan menus with it, I can even cook it.  I know that if I really want to, I can partake of the forbidden.  But I don’t 90 % of the time.  I leave the door open to eating meat and/or dairy and eggs, one day per week.  Funny thing is that by making it possible, I don’t want it as often.  Only about 10 percent of the time, not even once per week.

Removing the NO-NO

If you remove the forbidden, amazingly the deep lingering desire also is gone.  At least for me.  Since starting this plan around mid December (yes I know that it’s only been a month) I have planned to eat meat every weekend only to find I didn’t really want it.  In fact, I’ve exercised the 10% rule only twice this month.

Conclusions and recommendations

I concluded long ago that if I eat a 90% vegan diet, I will clean the plaque from my arteries and in turn lose the 100 pounds I’ve gained from having no testosterone in my body. I’m a two time testicular cancer survivor.  The goal is to accomplish this in the year 2012.

I recommend that if you have dietary health issues that are causing you to be uncomfortable or to worry about your longevity, join the fun.  We’ll work through it together, it really isn’t that hard.  It can even be fun watching people squirm when you tell them you are a vegan. Tell them you are a member of  Jughandle’s Fat Farm and start a conversation.  What can it hurt? – Jughandle

Life Changing Posts

Important concepts to master.  In the past couple of years, let’s see, we’ve talked about:

Milk and Lactose IntoleranceHow to prevent and reverse heart diseaseSodium and Salt.

How to properly set a table and  Is diet soda good or bad.

I introduced you to Matcha tea and tea in general.

I explained that there are things that you shouldn’t put in the freezer  and what

to stock your pantry with as well as your freezer.

I showed you my favorite carved pumpkins, my favorite blogs to read

and we talked about Grits.

We learned how to de-bone a whole chicken, how to can things, how to blanch and how to cook rice.

We also learned how to make pie dough from scratch and our own scratch pasta.  Then we studied

how to roast vegetables and how to make Kimchi.  We learned about the 5 basic sauces and how to modify them.

We even learned harder looking dishes like Beef Wellington and Sushi.

We studied nutrition and diets and why vegan isn’t a bad idea.  We now know that there are at least 12 foods that are bad for the


More Important concepts to master

You wanted to learn about fiber and calories as well as the superfoods to eat.   But most of all you wanted to know about

what is in your food and mistakes we make that make us fatter.  I showed you where I get my coupons and how the Kroger Store is laid out.

I warned you about chemicals and pesticides in our food and told you which food is better to be bought organically raised.


I’ve shared over 55 of the best recipes I could find.  Now I need to know what else you’d like to learn about.  Please let me know. – Jughandle


Proper table settings



A – Napkin

B – Charger with dinner plate on top

C – Soup bowl on dinner plate

D – Bread & butter plate with butter knife

E – Water Glass

F – White wine glass – if serving

G – Red Wine glass – if serving

H – Fish Fork

I – Dinner Fork

J – Salad Fork

K – Dinner Knife

L – Fish Knife

M – Soup spoon

N – Dessert spoon and cake fork

Note – that it often is recommended that the salad fork (J) is placed to the left of the dinner fork (I). However, in this formal setting the dinner fork is placed to be used before the salad fork because it is suggested that the guest awaits the main meal before helping him/herself to the salad.

See: Proper table settings


Here is another that includes informal settings

What goes where on the table and which glasses go with what drinks

Real easy to remember, the etiquette experts tell us. The general rule with utensils is to start from the outside of your place setting, and work your way toward the service plate (the main meal plate): soup spoon first, then fish knife and fork, then service knife and fork. Proper arranging dining room sets with chairs at the end of the table for the host and hostess is another aspect.

Foods you can get by hand:

1. Bread: break slices of bread, rolls and muffins in half or into small pieces by hand before buttering.

2. Bacon: if there’s fat on it, eat it with a knife and fork. If it is crisp, crumble it with a fork and eat with your fingers.

3. Finger meals: follow the cue of your host. If finger meals are offered on a platter, place them on your plate before putting them into your mouth.

4. Foods meant to be eaten by hand: corn on the cob, spareribs, lobster, clams and oysters on the half shell, chicken wings and bones (in informal situations), sandwiches, certain fruits, olives, celery, dry cakes and cookies.

Removing inedible items from your mouth:

1. Olive pits: drop delicately into your palm before putting them onto your plate.

2. Chicken bone: use your fork to return it to the plate.

3. Fish bones: remove with your fingers.

4. Bigger pieces: bigger bones or food you don’t appreciate you should surreptitiously spit into your napkin, so that you can keep it out of sight.

Which glasses go with what drinks

Wine connoisseurs agree that each type of wine needs a particular type of glass to bring out the distinctive bouquet. Using a narrow glass for a rich Burgundy, for example, won’t allow enough room to swirl it around in, and it’s the swirl that brings out its bouquet. The glass also needs to taper properly toward the top so that it captures the bouquet yet allows for sipping. In general, the stem of a glass should be long enough to keep hands from touching the bowl, which can affect the wine’s temperature, and therefor its bouquet.

The proper wine glasses - courtesy of wineview

Water | Brandy | White wine | Pinor Noir/Burgundy | Sparkling wine | Red wine

a. Water: full body glass with short stem. Hold the glass by the stem to preserve its chill.

b. Brandy: brandy snifter. Roll the snifter between both hands and then cup it in one hand – warming the glass brings out the bouquet in brandy.

c. White wine: slightly smaller glass with wider bowl to capture the bouquet. Hold the glass by the stem to preserve its chill.

d. Burgundy Reds and Pinot Noirs: a wide bowl to bring out their complexity. The glass is slightly taller than the white wine glass.

e. Champagne: a narrow fluted glass, which reduces the wine’s surface area and keep the bubbles from dissipating.

f. Red wine: the bigger of the wine glasses. Hold the glass at the bottom of the bowl where it meets the stem.

I just thought we needed a little culture before the formal dinners of the holiday season – jughandle

My Favorite 12 Food Blogs

Of the thousands of food blogs written, these are a dozen of  the 50 or so I follow on a daily or weekly basis in no particular order of importance to me:

1. The Homesick Texan – Great recipes, well written stories, with good pictures.  Not all healthy food, but more like what we all want.

2. The Stonesoup delicious, healthy meals in minutes  Very nice design.  Easy to navigate.  Great recipes with fantastic pictures.

3. Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook – Finding the forgotten feast – – Nicely designed, different point of view.  Great wild game recipes. Even vegetarian recipes.

4. [No Recipes] make good dishes better – – Beautiful, large, close-up pictures. Yes, they have recipes, great ones that are easy to find and catagorized by type of cuisine.

5. david lebovitz living the sweet life in Paris – – My current favorite design layout for a food blog.  Great pictures with nice, if not always complete, recipes and amazing photographs of David’s life in Paris and his travels.

6. Deliciously OrganicSimple Dishes, Vibrant Flavors Everyone Will Love – Great design, pictures and of course, organic recipes.

7. Cooking For EngineersHave an analytical mind? Like to cook? This is the site to read! – – The design is what you’d expect from an engineer, but the recipes are very well explained with good pictures and great descriptions.  Good stories and explanations of techniques like sous vide and equipment.

8. The Pioneer Woman CooksPlowing through life in the country….one calf nut at a time. – – The pioneer woman not only cooks, she confesses, photographs, gardens, homeschools and entertains.  She freak’n does everything – I hate her.  Actually I’m jealous of her. I don’t read everything she writes, God only knows how she has the time to do everything, then write about it.  Her pictures are the best.  She has great stories with very complete recipes and interesting topics.  I don’t want to look at her picture because I’m happy with the image I have of her with a blue suit and red cape with a yellow/red S on the chest.

9. foodgawker – – Not so much a blog as a photo gallery of great recipe pictures and links to their site on the web.  Great place to just Gawk or browse food beautiful food.

10. Smitten KitchenFearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York City. – – Nicely designed with great pictures of health innovative food.  Think food outside the box.

11. Zoe Bakes eat dessert first – – Nothing but baking recipes. Great recipes with lots and lots of great pictures on how to do it.  Nice blog.

12.  Big Red Kitchena regular gathering of distinguished guests – – Simple, to the point, great recipes with beautiful food pictures that will make your mouth water.  Unusual, across the board, recipe ideas to liven up your menu.

There are many, many more great food blogs out there.  If you find one you like please let me know – jughandle


Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkins.  What ever you may think about the Halloween holiday, it remains one of the most interesting holidays of the year.  Not only do we have parties, we dress up, exchange food and generally do things we wouldn’t think of doing any other time of the year.

I’ve always enjoyed carving the pumpkin, but my problem is that I’m a remodeler and not a designer.  I can easily add to or improve someone else’s original idea, but given a blank pumpkin, I’d be clueless.  So assuming that we all aren’t Brad Copeland (one of the world’s best designers) I’m providing some ideas.  I’d love it if you’d send me some pictures of your results.  – Jughandle



Pumpkin Ideas