Cooking Utensils: the Truth Behind the Hype

Using the most suitable cooking utensils can make the difference between a wonderfully planned gastronomic banquet and an awkwardly made excuse-for-food. Or so the celebrity chefs who are sponsored by the major kitchenware companies would have us believe. The question we novice chefs have to ask is, ‘Do the correct tools genuinely make all the difference?’ ‘Does the way you chop, slice, dice and dish out your meat and two veg physically affect the flavour?’

Okay, granted, if you lack the appropriate utensils, it may be tricky to drain your pasta without picking up a couple of third degree burns, and you might find those curly radishes to top your salad bowl difficult to pull off, but is there really an optimal shape and size for food intended for the human mouth? To get a short answer to this question, we need to take a look at Chinese cuisine.

Chinese recipes emphasize the importance of presentation. Eating is a sensory experience. If the food looks, smells and even sounds good (think of sizzling woks wheeled to your table in a good restaurant) we’re salivating even before the first morsel gets anywhere near our mouths. Chinese chefs have long understood that your senses are connected. Your senses all lead to the same place – your brain. And it’s your brain that makes the final assessment. As innumerable sponsored-up-to-their-eyeballs master chefs will fall over each other to inform you, the way you prepare your veggies and present your dishes will have an enormous affect on the way your meal will taste The other definitive feature of Chinese cooking is the way the vegetables and meat are cut. There are strict rules concerning the size and shape of the food on the plate. Each dish should be easy to handle – it should invite you to pick it up… but then again you’ll have to use chopsticks.

Cooking utensils, it would seem, really can transform a mundane meal into a feast… if you know how to use them. Owning the appropriate set of knives to chop and cut, nip and tuck, is one thing; owning the skills to use them is another. However, to develop your technique, you need to own the utensils in the first place. You have to start somewhere, and leafing through a kitchenware brochure at the behest of some celebrity chef or other is as good a place to start as any – the best place to start is from the recipe. After all, the recipe is what you are interested in, and what you and your family is going to end up eating.

What makes a cook into a master chef? The salient factor is their ability to shower their creations with loving care and attention, as anyone who has read an Isabelle Allende novel will testify. Once you have your tools and skills, the possibilities for experimentation and gastronomic exploration are boundless. And you can bet there is a specially designed set of cooking utensils to cope with any culinary creation you might dream up. For the majority of us, one appliance can be adapted to manage a diverse range kitchen tasks, but for the experts there is a specific tool for each and every kitchen task.

This apparently trivial distinction between the two ways of thinking about cooking can have a profound affect on your meals. Take an onion, for example. According to the experts, it should be sliced a particular way to enhance the flavour, although, as we have learnt from the Chinese, the visual result is at least as big a factor in determining how the food will taste. Viewed in this way, slicing the onion ‘after the book’ becomes as important as, say, the amount of oil you add to the pan. It would seem that using the right kitchen utensil in the chef’s domain is imperative. In short, prepping your ingredients by following someone’s mealtime master plan can transform the appearance and flavour of the final dish. Get this right and you are no longer a cook. You are a chef

Selecting The Best Utensil

Selecting the right set of cooking utensils is dependent on the content of each individual recipe. Suggestions for cooking utensils are very often presented within the cooking book or online recipe page and, traditionally, they are accompanied by clear instructions to enable you to choose the right utensil for the right job. Cooking utensils, it would seem, do have a central role to play. Your family is certain to enjoy the excellence of your cooking if it is prepared with skill and loving care, but if not, they may reach for an entirely different set of utensils.

There are many companies that produce fine cooking utensils, but on balance, it is better to start from the recipe book and build up a collection of what you need as needs arise before you start leafing through the pages of glossy catalogues.

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Affordable Web Hosting

These days, with the web hosting market becoming increasingly competitive, it is not hard to find affordable hosting. A simple web search using your favorite search engine will bring up all types of affordable web hosting options.

It is important to do your research before paying for any of these web hosts, however. Companies exist that can offer affordable web hosting to anyone, but they all offer different plans with different capabilities. It does not do you any good to sign up for an affordable hosting plan if it does not give you everything your website is going to need.

The prices for shared server hosting range from about $ 2 to $ 10 / month these days. Most of the affordable web hosting plans in the lower end of that price bracket is perfect for someone who just wants to host a personal website or blog. However, if you are looking for unlimited bandwidth or want to be able to use a specific software package or coding method you might have to pay a couple dollars extra. It is better to stay with the software and coding that you are comfortable with and pay a bit of extra money than it is to try and learn a new method just so you can get a slightly more affordable web hosting plan.

To make an already affordable web hosting plan cost you even less, you can look for coupon codes. Many hosting companies will have a referral program of some sort. Usually these programs work by allowing their customers to create and distribute coupon codes. The new member gets a discount when they use the code, creating a more affordable hosting plan for them. The person who gave them the code usually gets a discount of some sort as well – it may be money credited to their account, or a free month of hosting, or a free upgrade on their current plan.

You can find these coupon codes by simply searching "web hosting coupons" or "[your chosen host] coupons". Just make sure you read the fine print before using any of these codes. The main thing you want to find out is if they are expired or not. Some people will post these codes on their websites and then forget they exist – so when they expire, they never get taken down. You also want to find out if this code will cause your plan to be more affordable indefinitely or if it only applies to the first year of your hosting.

The best web hosting plan for your website might not be the most affordable web hosting plan. A coupon code might be just what you need to make it affordable – but it does you no good if it only makes it affordable for the first year of your hosting. Especially if you need to sign up for more than a year in order to use the coupon (which is often the case). Just make sure that you fully understand what exactly you are agreeing to.

Traveling in Mexico: Internet Cafes in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa

INTERNET CAFES IN THE ZONA ROSA

While you're tooling around Mexico, you'll want to stay connected. Mexico City has excellent internet café facilities even for those who Spanish is not the greatest. English is spoken in many internet cafés in the Zona Rosa and Historic District. Here are some of your e-café options.

Café Internet Victal

Address: Hamburgo No. 108 local 101 at the corner of Genova

Phone: 514 – 4161, 672 – 3821

With a going rate of 20 pesos per hour, this is one of the cheapest full-service Internet cafés in the area. Chats, computer games, and office programs (word, Excel, etc.) are also available. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful. The Victal is open from 9am to 9pm Monday through Saturday and is open on Sundays half a day. There are many computer-related services available – if it has to do with computers, they can probably do it or have it. Getting into the place is tricky at first. From the corner of Genova walk down Hamburgo about a quarter of a block. Enter the building through an arcade doorway and go up to the second floor. The entrance will be there but you'll have to look closely for the signs. The only visible signs from the street are above your head at the second story level with no clue for finding the entrance. You may have a short wait to get onto a computer but this place is worth the trouble.

Coffee Net – Zona Rosa

Address: Florencia No. 35 Local E (between Hamburgo and Londres)

Phone: 533 – 0844, 533 – 1760

An Internet café – cafeteria featuring a variety of gourmet sandwiches, salads, gourmet coffes and cappuccinos. The hourly rate is 25 pesos. Services are acceptable quality but a bit costly. Centrally located with good quality but pricey food.

Coffee Mail

Address: Amberes No. 61

A 24 pesos hourly rate internet café with standard fare. Similar in structure and price to Coffee Net but with less selection of sandwiches, coffees and foods. Regular customers typically come in to check or send e-mails. Other services are available but not heavily used.

Café Internet Red 2000

Address: in the Insurgentes metro station plaza

Phone: no phone

After exiting the metro at the Insurgentes station, this Internet café is in the outside plaza surrounding the station entrances. Long distance phone services are available through the internet. Rates are: 15 minutes 8 pesos, 30 minutes 16 pesos, 45 minutes 24 pesos, one hour 30 pesos. Only sodas and packed snacks are available.

Conecte Cafe

Address: Liverpool No. 140 (near Amberes)

Phone: 587 – 6179, 587 – 7737

A very well run internet café with full computer services including scanner, photoshop, translations, printing, Microsoft office and MP3 software available, all at reasonable rates. The internet use rate is 20 pesos per hour but there are only a few computers. Located across from Harmon Hall and Quick Learning building. There is also another Zona Rosa location at Genova No. 1. 71 on the first floor near Londres.

NOTE: There are other Internet cafés around the Zona Rosa area with varyingly higher prices for similar services.

In the Historic District:

LAFOEL Internet Service

Address: Doncelles No. 80 first floor (two blocks from the cathedral)

Phone: 512-3584, 521-2978

Open Monday to Friday from 9 am – 8 pm and Saturdays from 10 am – 5 pm. Rates for services are: 10 pesos for 15 minutes, 20 pesos for 30 minutes and 30 pesos for one hour. Conveniently located near the Zocalo but a bit on the high side for service costs. Okay just to check mail or send a quick message though. They also rent computer equipment. Just be sure to confirm the rates before signing anything or leaving the promises with equipment.

Finally, be sure to check out my other articles in the two continuing series: Teaching English in Mexico and Traveling in Mexico. If you would like more information, have questions or comments, the author can be e-mailed, see below.

Is it Possible to Control Blood Sugar Levels Without Medicine?

Scientists have advanced knowledge about the proteins that help control blood sugar, or glucose, during and after exercise, and this knowledge could lead to new drug therapies or exercises more effective for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes and other health problems associated with high levels of blood sugar.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body is not produced by properly stimulating the transport of glucose, a type of sugar inside the cells as an energy source. Too much glucose in the bloodstream can cause a variety of medical problems including Type 2 diabetes, said Gregory Cartee, a professor in the School of Kinesiology and principal investigator of the study. Katsuhiko Funai is the co-author, graduate student and researcher in the School of Kinesiology.

Insulin and muscle contractions are the most important stimuli that increase glucose transport into the interior of muscle cells. The cells can then use glucose for energy, said Cartee. But scientists do not know exactly how this works.

The group reacted Cartee watched two different proteins that were considered important in stimulating the transport of glucose by two different enzymes, linked also with the transport of glucose. The goal of this study was to understand the contribution of the two proteins, called AS160 and TBC1D1 in skeletal muscle stimulated by insulin.

“Trying to rule out or determine what proteins are important in the exercise,” said Cartee.

The results indicate that the protein TBC1D1 was the most important for the transport of glucose stimulated by exercise and suggested that the second protein, AS160, may be less important for this effect of exercise. Give attention to the protein works best, in this case the TBC1D1, scientists can develop methods for making proteins that work best for people with insulin resistance, Cartee said.

Insulin resistance is a major health problem affecting millions of people, he said.

“Almost all people with diabetes have Type 2 muscle resistance to insulin,” said Cartee. “This does not cause diabetes by itself, but it is an essential component that contributes to type 2 diabetes. This affects millions of people. Even people who are not diabetic insulin resistance is linked to numerous health problems. “

In the longer term people who have insulin resistance or whose muscles do not respond normally to insulin are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, said Cartee.

“Apparently the muscles have the machinery to respond to exercise even if they do not respond normally to insulin. If we knew how the exercise could develop more effective protocols for exercise, “he said. “In other cases of people who can not exercise, we could design a drug therapy or something else to control insulin.