The Importance of Resting Meat

Katelyn Marchyshyn wrote . . . . . . . . .

When you pull a beautiful steak off the grill, we know it’s sizzling and oh so tempting to dive right into it. However, we urge you to put the knife down and wait; it will be worth it, we promise. Here’s the science to back us up on this one.

When you cook meat—be it pork, beef or poultry—the muscle fibres in the meat begin to tighten. While this occurs, water begins to be pushed out and moved towards the surface of the meat. When you take the meat off of the heat, the meat needs time to redistribute the moisture. By giving your meat time to reabsorb the moisture that is pushed out in the cooking process, your meat will be moist and delicious.

While your meat is resting, you should employ a technique called “tenting,” which refers to throwing a piece of tinfoil over it. For the 10-20 minutes that you tent your meat, the temperature may rise slightly, so it’s often best to take meat off the heat a few degrees before it is done as it will (generally) finish cooking while resting.

Source: Eat North

Sliced Steak with Arugula (Straccetti di Manzo)


5 ounces baby arugula
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 large sprig rosemary
1 pound boneless top loin steak (New York strip) or sirloin (1 inch thick), cut crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1 large shallot, thinly sliced crosswise
1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar


  1. Mound arugula on a large platter.
  2. Heat oil with garlic and rosemary in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat, turning garlic once or twice, until garlic is golden, about 4 minutes. Discard garlic and rosemary.
  3. Toss steak slices with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add meat to skillet all at once and saute over high heat, tossing with tongs to color evenly, about 1 minute for medium-rare.
  4. Arrange steak over arugula using tongs, then add shallot to oil in skillet along with vinegars, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and boil for 2 minutes. Pour dressing over steak, grind additional pepper over, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Gourmet Italian

China’s Tradition of Hospitality May Need Reshaping If Food Waste is to End

mandy Zuo wrote . . . . . . . . .

“He heaves his hoe in the rice field, under the noonday sun; on to the soil of the rice field his streaming sweat beads run”

This classical Chinese poem reminding people to treasure food has been one of the first things taught to schoolchildren in China for decades. But wasted food in the world’s most populous country has become so prevalent its leader has called for national action.

President Xi Jinping wants China to treat its “shocking and distressing” amount of food waste with a sense of crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, requiring a cultural shift in a population which has traditionally measured hospitality in leftovers.

Patrons of the country’s catering industry each wasted an average 11.7 per cent of their meal, according to a report co-authored by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2018.

In large gatherings, the rate rose to 38 per cent, while students threw away a third of the contents in their school lunchboxes, it said.

Preparing or ordering more food than necessary has long been regarded as a symbol of hospitality and social standing in China, where it is common for all dishes to be shared by the table. But the prosperity of recent decades has also partly contributed to the habit of squandering, according to experts.

Zhu Qizhen, a professor at China Agricultural University, said the Chinese people traditionally valued frugality, a consequence of a long history of famine and shortages. But another deeply rooted value – of expressing hospitality by treating guests to sumptuous feasts – was behind the squandering of food.

“What is a sumptuous feast then? One important standard is the amount of leftovers,” he said.

Shanghai man Ma Linhui, 70, said he shared his father’s attitude that treating guests well was a matter of “face”, the Chinese concept of respect and honour. “We didn’t have much to eat when I was young. But we would put all the food we had saved for months on the table when a guest visited, otherwise we would lose face,” he said.

“Even today, when I cook for my daughter and grandchildren, I can’t help but feel awkward if they eat up all the food. It makes me feel I haven’t prepared enough for them.”

China’s phenomenal economic growth and the bumper harvests of recent decades have taken Chinese society from food shortages to surpluses and it is against this backdrop that frugality is today often equated with stinginess, according to Zhu.

“Just see how farmers have been struggling to sell their produce. On the other side, we’ve been encouraging consumption to stimulate the economy. This, to some extent, is also encouraging waste,” he added.

Jing Linbo, deputy chairman of the China Cuisine Association, said a survey by his organisation had found business functions and banquets held by government officials using public funds were responsible for 80 per cent of wasted food in restaurants. “People are especially generous when spending public money,” he said.

A crackdown on the squandering of public funds was part of the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption drive which began in late 2012 with the introduction of eight disciplinary rules for all its members.

That was followed in early 2013 with a nationwide campaign called “empty plate” which aimed to eliminate food waste. Since then, consumption at the public’s expense has dropped, but the wastage has not improved much, according to Jing.

Restaurants were failing in their responsibilities to remind diners to save food, he said, while some were encouraging bigger orders, leading to more waste. “It is definitely not an issue to be rectified in a short period. Cultivating a good consumption culture needs a long-term effort.”

The effort sparked by Xi’s call for a national belt-tightening has begun, with local governments issuing a range of detailed measures to curb food consumption. Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus emerged last year, was among the first to roll out a new ordering mode for its restaurants.

Groups of 10 diners are now expected to order for nine – only adding more food to the table later, if it is actually required. Groups of two or three are to be offered half portions or smaller shares and all restaurants should provide takeaway boxes for leftovers, according to a notice from the Wuhan Catering Association on Tuesday.

Source: SCMP

Nut Butters are a Healthy Way to Spread Nutrients

Packed with nutrients and easy to eat, either as a sandwich spread or as a dip, nut butters can be a simple solution for school lunches, snacks and beyond.

And their growing popularity seems to be matched only by the number of varieties available. Gone are the days when peanut butter was the only choice for someone craving a chewy, nutty spread. Today, it’s just as easy to find delicious butters made from almonds, cashews, macadamias or walnuts in the school cafeteria – or the pantry.

But use caution: While nut butters generally deliver the same benefits as the nuts they contain – protein and healthy fats, for example – some may contain excess amounts of sugar or saturated fats.

People who regularly eat nuts or nut butters have a lower risk of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes than those who do not include them in their diet. Some nuts, like walnuts, are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are heart-healthy fats and might play a role in lowering triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood.

Nuts – and by extension, nut butters – also include protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, delivering a host of health benefits.

But often, nut butters may include large amounts of salt and sugar. Many spreads previously contained trans fats, which can raise bad LDL cholesterol levels and lower good HDL cholesterol. But the Food and Drug Administration began banning artificial trans fats in 2018.

Instead, many companies have begun to switch to saturated fats. For people who need to lower their cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 5% to 6% of total daily calories.

“What we’re seeing is that a lot of products are being changed from trans fats, and what they’re replacing it with is saturated fat,” said Judith Wylie-Rosett, a professor and division head for health behavior research and implementation science at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“They may add coconut oil, which has no trans fat in it but it gives you the same texture as a hydrogenated oil, so you end up with this palatable, malleable, spreadable product that is like the hydrogenated products. … (So,) you have to look for saturated fats as well.” Coconut oil, extracted from the meat of what can loosely be called a seed, a fruit or a nut, is mostly saturated fat, about 82%.

It’s a good idea to read labels and compare the levels of saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Nuts and nut butters also may be high in calories; a serving size typically is a small handful of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Wylie-Rosett suggests diluting nut butters by combining them with other ingredients to extend the bulk of a portion – or chopping nuts and sprinkling them on low-calorie salads or vegetables to deliver some of the nutrients and flavor of nuts without so many calories.

Nut butters also can be paired with other healthy foods such as whole-grain breads, celery, apples or pears, and even stirred into nonfat yogurt.

People who have nut allergies should check with their doctor before consuming nut butters. Those who have a peanut allergy need to ask if they can eat sunflower seed butter or soy nut butter. Hummus, made from chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste), also could be an alternative that is a good source of protein.

It’s important to refrigerate nut butters once they have been opened, because like nuts, they can go rancid, which can make the flavor unpleasant but not necessarily unsafe. Commercial peanut butters may include preservatives to extend shelf life – six months to two years unopened and two to three months opened – but refrigeration can extend its life further. But it’s more important to refrigerate natural nut butters, which contain fewer preservatives.

Source: American Heart Association

Citrus Flavoring is Weaponized Against Insect-Borne Diseases

Donald G. McNeil Jr. wrote . . . . . . . . .

Adding a new weapon to the fight against insect-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and malaria, the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday approved a new chemical that both repels and kills ticks and mosquitoes.

The chemical, nootkatone, an oil found in cedar trees and grapefruits, is so safe that it is used by the food and perfume industries.

Nootkatone is considered nontoxic to humans and other mammals, birds, fish and bees, the E.P.A. said in a statement.

Diseases caused by the bites of ticks, mosquitoes and fleas have tripled in the United States in the last 15 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a 2018 report. They include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever from ticks; West Nile, dengue, Zika and chikungunya from mosquitoes; and plague from fleas.

In tropical countries, malaria and yellow fever are major killers; elephantiasis is also spread by mosquitoes. Lethal Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is spread by ticks, and kala azar is spread by sandflies.

Manuel F. Lluberas, a public health entomologist who has worked on mosquito-control campaigns all over the world, said he hoped that nootkatone would be accepted by people who fear synthetic repellents and that it could be made cheaply enough to be bought by foreign aid programs like the President’s Malaria Initiative.

The E.P.A. registration applies only to nootkatone as an active ingredient, the statement said. Any formulations using it in the future will have to be tested and registered separately.

The chemical repels mosquitoes, ticks, bedbugs and fleas — and, in high concentrations, kills them, according to the C.D.C. It may also be effective against lice, sandflies, midges and other pests, some of which can carry lethal diseases.

It is not oily, lasts for hours and has a pleasant grapefruit-like scent, said Ben Beard, deputy director of the division of vector-borne diseases at the C.D.C.

“If you drink Fresca or Squirt, you’ve drunk nootkatone,” Dr. Beard said.

Nootkatone works differently from previous classes of insecticides and can kill bugs that are resistant to DDT, pyrethroids and other common insecticides.

Experts in insect-borne diseases greeted the news with cautious enthusiasm.

“Its use as an insecticidal soap has great potential,” said Duane J. Gubler, a former C.D.C. chief of vector-borne diseases.

One proposed use is in soaps that people in tick-infested areas could shower with, repelling and possibly killing ticks that try to attach to them.

Joel R. Coats, a specialist in insect toxicology at Iowa State University, said his lab had tested nootkatone and found it to be “an impressive repellent but a weak insecticide.”

It repels ticks even better than synthetics like DEET, picaridin or IR3535 do, Dr. Coats said, and it is their equal at repelling mosquitoes.

Unlike citronella, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil and other repellents based on plant oils, he added, nootkatone does not lose its potency after about an hour, but lasts as long as the synthetics.

But although it can also kill insects, he said, doing that takes so much of the chemical that it may not be practical.

“Most plant terpenes will kill bugs if you go to a high enough dose, but I haven’t seen any data that supports using it as an insecticide,” Dr. Coats said, using a term for aromatic oils exuded by many plants to repel invasive insects. “I’ve seen lots of data on it as a repellent.”

Mikkel Vestergaard-Frandsen, owner of the Vestergaard company, which makes insecticide-impregnated nets to fight malaria, said he was interested in the compound, but wanted to know more about it.

Because babies sleep under the nets, any insecticide in them must be very safe.

In many areas, mosquitoes have developed resistance to the pyrethrin-based insecticides now used in nets, which are synthetic versions of a chemical found in chrysanthemum flowers.

A version of nootkatone that can linger in netting fabric for years would have to be developed, but good repellents usually dissolve too quickly for that, he said.

The C.D.C. discovered nootkatone’s repellent properties almost 25 years ago as part of a search for new tick-control compounds to fight Lyme disease, Dr. Beard said.

They investigated cedar bark and chips “because there are all these folk tales that cedar repels insects — and people keep their clothes in cedar chests,” he said.

Cedar wood itself had very little effect on ticks, he said, but Oregon State University scientists working with the agency found the terpene oil of the Alaskan yellow cedar to be powerfully repellent. The Latin name of the tree is Cupressus nootkatensis, which comes from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people of Canada.

It is “not known in great detail” how nootkatone works, Dr. Beard said, but it appears to activate octopamine receptors, which in insects send electrical impulses from one nerve cell to the next. Unable to turn off the signal, the bugs twitch to death.

In mammals, adrenaline — which is chemically related to octopamine — performs the same function. But the compound does not trigger adrenaline receptors.

Later the agency realized that the same chemical, originally derived from grapefruit rinds, was used as a flavoring and in perfumes.

The C.D.C. licensed its patent to a Swiss company, Evolva, which isolates the chemical from fermenting yeast.

But doing the safety studies required for E.P.A. registration was too expensive until the 2015-2016 Zika epidemic came along, Dr. Beard said.

That epidemic prodded Congress to appropriate money for mosquito control, and the C.D.C. transferred some of it to BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which contracted with Evolva to finish the research.

Zika funding “was the key to moving the boulder up the hill,” Dr. Beard said. But since nootkatone works well on both insects, he added, “it wasn’t a bait-and-switch.”

Source : The New York Times

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