Letting strangers cook in your kitchen

30 Oct 2019

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Letting strangers cook in your kitchen

We have spoken about the idea of having someone come to your home to cook for you. How do you ensure that this is safe for you & your family? The idea of allowing someone you do not know into your home and preparing food for you and your family feels intrusive. So today we are going to discuss why those fears exist, how other industries have overcome it. As well as some practical advice for you so you can feel safe while you make good choices for your family. Overall though, if you do your homework and follow some basic safety precautions there is no reason you should feel hesitant to enjoy services like in home cooking.

So, what are the safety concerns of bringing a CookinGenie into your home? Common concerns are theft, personal safety, and food safety. Let’s explore a few other emerging industries that pushed our comfort boundaries when they first entered the scene and examine how they put our fears at ease.

Getting in a stranger’s car. Isn’t this the EXACT thing that mothers in the 80’s warned their children about? Then Uber and Lyft hit the scene and the world transformed. What makes them safe? Geolocation, background checks, driver reviews, and customer reviews. In today’s digital age this dual rating system protects the buyer and the seller by giving each a chance to rate each other. Encouraging everyone to keep things on the up and up.

Allowing Strangers in our home. Another one our mothers warned us against. It’s not a bad principle, unless your refrigerator breaks, or your washing machine, or you need cable installed, or you have a clogged pipe. When something goes wrong, we shift our fears and let a stranger in. Why? Because we trust people who are vetted by reputable firms or reviewed by our trusted circle. Online ratings help.

Staying in a stranger’s home. This is how campfire stories start. You should never ever stay in someone’s home. Especially if the owner is not there. Unless it’s and AirBnB. Suddenly the world shifted again when AirBnB started allowing property owners to rent out their residences to weary travelers. Especially for families, having a cost-effective alternative to a hotel with all the comforts of home solved a problem for traveling families. So what do they provide to make this once taboo idea feel safe and even luxurious? Boundaries. In every AirBnB booking there are house rules. Clear written boundaries for both parties to agree- encouraging open communication and enforced with a dual rating system.

So how do you decide if you want someone to come to your home & cook for you? Common questions may be – is this person insured? Is he or she background checked? Is this person rated highly? Is this person local?

Do your due diligence & you will start feeling comfortable soon. Our Genies are background checked, know about cooking & are from your locality. You feel comfortable with your favorite babysitter? This is no different.


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30 Oct 2019

Gig economy is a term that has been gaining in popularity for the past few years. Also sometimes referred to as the freelance economy. It’s describing a new financial path where workers support themselves with a variety of short-term projects or jobs that do not provide traditional benefits such as healthcare or retirement. This phrase gained traction around the financial collapse in 2009 when many unemployed workers made their way by “gigging” or working as many small jobs as they could to string together an income.

By 2015 the gig economy had shifted again. With the rise of technology and the emergence of companies such as Uber & Lyft. Public opinion on this type of work changed. Now it’s drawing a larger pool of people by offering things like flexible hours. It tends to attract professionals who want location freedom and the ability to set their own schedule. Then there are people who only occasionally gig to earn a few extra dollars. This has been a lucrative avenue for those who have a regular income but don’t mind taking on an extra task to make a little extra green. This has become common for retirees who might rent out a spare room with AirBnB every now and then, or a commuter who can pick up an extra passenger using one of the many ride hailing apps.

Factors of a gig economy

A gig economy can benefit both individuals and businesses by making work more adaptable to the needs of the consumers. It allows people to both specialize in something and move between industries along with their interests. The benefits of a gig economy include cheaper and more readily available services.

Gig economies tend to thrive in urban environments and America is one of the leading countries with a growing freelancer economy. Some estimates say as much of ⅓ of the workforce is working in a gig capacity already. With the spread of high-speed internet this is allowing more and more people to work remotely with an independent contract. It’s attractive for businesses too as they can hire someone more specialized for the work they need to get done. By not having to only hire from a local pool of professionals they have many more choices of who they’d like to work with.

Challenges with the gig economy.

As many positives as there are associated with this growing trend, there are also challenges. For some workers it can be feast or famine as your next job or contract is dependent on you finding your next client or project. Of course, all industries go through cycles of growth and decline, this can be particularly difficult for those who gig. Some workers complain that there is a lack of work life balance. Then of course there is a lack of benefits, and retirement.

There is certainly a lot to consider when entering this new market. While for some professionals it can offer lucrative earnings and freedom, with others it can lead to challenges and insecurity. What do you think about cooks entering the gig economy?

References:
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/gig-economy.asp

https://www.ft.com/content/b5a2b122-a41b-11e5-8218-6b8ff73aae15

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29 Oct 2019

Food waste is a growing problem in America. According to a recent study, the average American family of four discards nearly $1600 in discarded produce alone annually. That’s right this post is ode to all those banana’s who never became banana bread. That number is not including dairy, meat or grain waste which are also high on the list. What would it mean for your family to have $133 more in your bank account every month? Factor in dairy, meat, and grain waste and that number climbs much higher.

The waste is also an environmental problem. It contributes to the releasing of dangerous gases as it decomposes in landfills. It’s estimated that one third of all food grown is lost or wasted. In fact, some food is left to rot in fields, shipped to feed livestock, or sadly shipped directly to landfills because it’s not cosmetically pleasing to average Americans. That’s right, we only buy pretty tomatoes. If a fruit or vegetable looks strange, grows oddly or has a blemish, consumers won’t purchase it – even when it’s perfectly fine to eat.

Additionally, families are purchasing food with every intent to use it, but life gets in the way. We’ve all done it. Making dinner was too much work so we grabbed dinner on the way home. Fast forward to the weekend and you’re dumping soggy lettuce out of your crisper drawer before you head to the grocery store to stock up for a new week.

There are lots of creative solutions out there. Some families have taken to composting, or meal prepping to try to cut down on food waste. There is one more solution on the table that more and more families are considering. That is hiring a CookinGenie – someone who shops & cooks your favorite foods – right in your own kitchen.

So how does that address the issue of food waste? Our Genies approach food purchasing, prep, and waste differently. They can use leftovers to cook for the next family on their schedule.

Many times, food waste is a result of not knowing how to create a meal around unused portions. Half an onion and some chicken bones? A family would dispose of that. An experienced cook would make chicken stock for a later meal. Hire our genies allow him or her to shop for highly consumable food items in bulk, he or she will only serve you the food you and your family will want to eat. This is the best use of all the food purchased, effectively reducing food waste immensely. Not to mention cost effective, even with the cost of hiring a person you will most likely end up saving money instead of throwing it away in the form of food that has gone bad and eating meals out. Remember if you are spending less than $1600 a year on this service, you’ll be saving money. Just something to chew on. We look forward to cooking for you & your family once our lives return to normal from the current COVID-19 crisis.

References:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/americans-waste-nearly-a-pound-of-food-each-per-day-study-finds/

Households Lose Up to $1,600 a Year in Food Waste, U of G Study Reveals

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How to Cook Meat Safely - CookinGenie blog

28 Sep 2021

There are many foods that can cause illness when handled incorrectly, but one of the most common instances of serious foodborne illness comes from the undercooking or mishandling of meat. Raw meat is often full of fecal matter from the animal, which can contain a host of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. Because of this, it is crucial to handle raw meat carefully and cook it to a safe temperature to kill as many pathogens as possible. If not, an undercooked piece of meat can easily get someone sick.

While this may sound simple, there are some intricacies to cooking meat safely, and not all meats are safe to eat at the same temperature. Here are some of the key things to remember when cooking meat and how some of the most popular meats need to be cooked in order to be safe to serve.

Keep raw meats separate from other foods—including other meats

It’s common sense that the juices from raw meat should stay away from fresh produce but it’s also good practice to keep raw meat away from other raw meat. As you’ll see with the minimum required internal temperatures, not all meats are safe at the same time. Chicken, for example, needs to be cooked more than steak. So, if you get the juices from raw chicken over your steak, the steak may be cooked all the way through, but the residual juice from the chicken may not be.

Also be sure to use separate cutting boards and utensils for different kinds of meat, wash your hands after handling raw meat, and disinfect any surfaces the meat may have come into contact with.

Minimum required internal temperatures

Poultry, like chicken and turkey requires the most cooking, while pork, beef, lamb, and seafood requires less. Note that ground meat of any kind requires more cooking than a whole piece of the same meat. This is because ground meat, with an increased surface area and the potential to come from more than one individual animal, has more exposure to bacteria. To take the temperature of a protein, insert a clean, sanitized thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and wait for the thermometer to read a temperature. For many meats, the meat needs to hold that temperature for a given period of time before it’s considered safe.

Also note that after you remove your meat from the heat, it will continue to cook for several more minutes in a process known as carry-over cooking, which will raise the internal temperature 5-10⁰F, so if your meat is a couple degrees under the minimum required internal temperature when you measure it, it’ll be safe to serve by the time you eat it.

The following are the minimum required internal temperatures for different proteins.

Poultry—Including whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck: 165⁰F for at least 15 seconds

This also includes any stuffing inside of a bird (think thanksgiving) as well as any casseroles, stuffed pastas, or stuffed chicken breasts. When temping whole birds, make sure to insert the thermometer underneath the thigh, which is the thickest part of the bird.

Ground meat—Including beef, pork, lamb, veal, and ground seafood: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Note that a medium burger is 140-145⁰F, and a well-done burger is 160⁰F.Eating a burger less than well-done could increase your chances of getting sick, which is why restaurants have the note at the bottom of their menus denoting the increased risk of foodborne illness from consuming undercooked meat.

Injected meat/brined meat—Including brined hams and roasts injected with flavor: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Eggs that are meant to be held hot: 155⁰F for 15 seconds
Eggs that are to be served immediately: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

Chops/steaks of red meat—Including beef, lamb, veal, and pork: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

All of these meats will be a little pink at this temperature, but they’re safe to eat. A medium-rare steak is between 130-135⁰F, so there is a higher risk associated with eating steak under medium.

Whole roasts of pork, beef, veal, or lamb: 155⁰ for 4 minutes

Make sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Because roasts are much bigger, the temperature needs to hold much longer to ensure it’s cooked through.

Whole seafood—Including whitefish, shellfish, and crustaceans: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

This applies to whole pieces of fish and shellfish/crustaceans such as shrimp, crab, and lobster. With bivalves such as mussels or clams, there is no need to measure temperature, they are safe when the shells open.

The bottom line

Overall, cooking meat to safe temperatures is a very simple, but very important task in the kitchen. Having a digital thermometer makes everything easier. If you’re unsure of how the meat needs to be cooked, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and slightly overcook a piece of meat than to get someone sick. When you book a chef from CookinGenie, you can trust that they’ll cook your meat so that it’s not only safe to eat, but also delicious.

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