Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis

Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis

22 Oct 2020

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Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis

What makes us human? Some would argue that it’s the act of cooking — whether it’s boiling, broiling, roasting, baking, or barbecuing — that separates us from every other species on Earth. 

 In 1999, Harvard professor of biological anthropology Richard Wrangham published an article in the Current Anthropology journal called “The Raw and the Stolen: Cooking and the Ecology of Human Origins. Known as “the cooking hypothesis,” Wrangham’s groundbreaking new theory of human evolution proposed that taming fire to cook food changed the course of human evolution. 

 In his article and his 2009 book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Wrangham argued that cooking allowed our human ancestors to process food more efficiently — and this change had a profound impact on evolution. While all other animals eat raw foods, Wrangham theorized that our ancestors began cooking their food some 1.8 million years ago, a change that gave early man the ability to process food more efficiently. It takes a long time, and a very large jaw and teeth, to grind down raw meat and plant matter. Before our ancestors learned how to cook, Wrangham estimated that half of their waking hours were spent simply chewing enough food to subsist, leaving little time for anything else. Cooking alters the chemical structure of food, breaking down the connective tissues in meat, and softening the cells of plants to release their starches and fats. This makes cooked food easier to chew and digest. This also helpthe body to use less energy to convert food into calories. Once the cooking was introduced, he estimated that our ancestors had an extra four hours in their day — time that could be spent huntingforaging, and slowly beginning to organizinto societiesWrangham explained, “The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology, and society.”  

This higher calorie, higher-quality diet lead to the evolution of bigger brains and bodies, and smaller jaws and teeth—a transformation that gradually resulted in modern man. From the control of fire and the growth in brain size, it’s not such a large leap to the development of dedicated hearths, the introduction of pottery and other tools for cooking, and the domestication of plants and animals.  

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 Wrangham’s theory is, of course, just that: a theory. Archaeological history to support control of fire 1.8 million years ago has not yet been found, but the recent discovery of ash in a South African cave suggests that our ancestors were controlling fire at least 1 million years ago — far earlier than previous evidence suggested. It may be just a matter of time before definitive evidence that proves Wrangham’s theory is found.  

 And If Wrangham’s theory is correct, we truly are what we eat.  

 If cooking is so fundamental to our evolution as people, it is a wonder that we don’t have time to make home-cooked meals with wholesome ingredients. Modern life has created many barriers to our ability to prepare home-cooked meals. What do we do if we don’t have time for home cookingBusinesses like CookinGenie can help you bring cooking where it belongs—in your own kitchen—even when you don’t have time to cook yourself. Check out our menus, and book your Genie today for building healthy eating habits in the family.  


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Understanding USDA Beef Grades_CookinGenie_blog

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When you walk through the meat section at the grocery store, you will often find steaks labeled with a small shield in the right-hand corner, denoting a USDA grade and claiming the steak as prime, choice, or select. But what do these grades really mean? And how should they impact your decisions on what steak to buy, or not to buy?

The first thing to understand is that the USDA has two main objectives when looking at beef: inspection and grading. Inspection is required of all meats that are shipped across state lines, as mandated by the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. Inspection is a safety measure; it does not guarantee quality but simply ensures that the meat is safe for human consumption.

Grading, however, is different. A grade is an assurance of quality you can trust. Within 24 hours of the animal being slaughtered, expert USDA graders examine the meat and assign a grade on the basis of age, color, texture, firmness, and marbling.

Of these grading criteria, marbling, which is the intramuscular fat inside a piece of meat, is the easiest to identify—it’s the white lines that run through a piece of raw steak. Marbling equals tenderness and juiciness. As the steak cooks, the fat melts and makes the steak moist and tender. The more marbling, the higher quality the steak.

With all these criteria in mind, the USDA has eight grades it applies to beef: Prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner. The higher the grade, the more expensive the steak.

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Prime is the highest grade, this meat comes from younger animals, is rich in marbling, juicy, tender, and flavorful. But it is also expensive and can be hard to find.

Choice meat is of excellent quality, with solid marbling and flavor, it offers great value and is readily available. Choice steaks are good candidates for grilling, roasting, or searing.

Select meat is of solid quality and is very economical. Since select meats are a little tougher and drier, they are well suited for moist cooking techniques like stewing and braising.

Standard meat is cheap, tough, and of low quality. Sometimes you will see it as an ungraded store brand meat but typically it’s sold as ground meat or other processed products.

Utility, cutter, and canner meats are rarely ever used in foodservice and are typically used to make pet food and other canned products.

It’s also important to note that grading, unlike inspection, is voluntary and not required by law. So, if you go to a local butcher or farmer, their steak may not be graded, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low quality. When shopping for these steaks, the easiest way to determine quality is to look for marbling.

Here at CookinGenie, we offer a wide range of delicious, creative steak dishes and strive to use butcher-fresh meat graded choice or better. Beneath every dish on the website, you will find a transparent list of ingredients so that you know it is quality you can trust. Browse the menu today to see what amazing steak-night dishes can be prepared in your own kitchen.

Sources: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2013/01/28/whats-your-beef-prime-choice-or-select?page=1

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A friend of mine recently ordered delivery of groceries to her home. The person delivering presented her a business card and offered his services as a home cook. Not only was he willing to purchase her groceries, but he was also willing to prepare her food. Talk about full service! We wanted to applaud this gentleman for combining his talents with a secondary service that his customer base would benefit from. Not only can he expand the services he offers, but he can also reach a wider base of people who could benefit from his services.

The gig economy is growing with no signs of slowing down. We think we’re going to see more and more of this kind of crossover opportunity. It makes sense to diversify. By offering more than one service you become more valuable to your customers, and your service becomes even more individualized and personal based on your knowledge of their preferences. It also opens the door to additional profits. It allows you to offer a secondary service to the families that you cook for already and creates an endless stream of new individuals who might be looking for a home cook but never considered one before.

Maybe you’re working as an Uber Driver or a Task Rabbit already and you have a dream of becoming a cook. But the enormous amount of training or investment to open your own business is daunting. Alternatively, starting from the ground up with an entry level job at a restaurant usually means years of hard work & inflexible hours just to gain a base level of knowledge. But becoming a home cook is a new emerging opportunity that is gaining in popularity each year. Just as people are willing to outsource their cleaning, or their grocery shopping many busy families and professionals don’t have the time or expertise to cook quality meals each day.

Many home cooks start small, by apprenticing with an experienced cook. Going with them to jobs teaches them how to speak to clients, plan menus, and execute dishes in a time efficient manner. It can also teach them how to overcome some of the common quirks that come with cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Some start by portion sharing with friends and family. Meaning just preparing a double batch of whatever you cook for your own family and selling the bonus portion to friends and family. Some start by delivering meals or offering pick up services with a set menu and build a clientele with a Facebook group.

Then there are businesses like ours. We take experienced cooks and home cooks alike and introduce them to the world of being a home cook. We can help you with advertising, building a clientele, and growing your business. We can help you build your own reputation, while earning a decent wage.. The possibilities are endless in a gig economy, but everyone has to start somewhere. If you want to cook fresh meals to help out busy folks who want to eat food made in their own kitchens, send us a note. We are here to help!

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These days, lots of us are looking for a better way to get more healthy protein in our diets. We love eating pork, beef, chicken, and other meats, but let’s face it, they’re not always the healthiest. Luckily, there’s one source of protein you already know that’s tasty, widely available, and incredibly healthy. That protein, of course, is salmon. That’s right, flaky, delicious, and beloved by many, salmon is also a true powerhouse health food. And if you’re looking for a healthy protein to include into your diet more regularly, look no further than salmon.

Health Benefits of Salmon

Salmon is full of all sorts of healthy nutrients. It’s one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which are considered essential fat to include in a healthy diet. Omega 3 fatty acids can help promote heart health, lower blood pressure, and even reduce your risk of cancer. Salmon is also high in other important vitamins such as B vitamins and potassium. Plus, a single 4-ounce serving of salmon may have as much as 25 grams of protein. All told, consuming salmon 2-3 times a week can have health benefits ranging from weight loss, reduced inflammation, improved brain health, and more.

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All of these health benefits of salmon come with a relatively low-calorie count and mostly unsaturated fats, making it a healthier choice than many other meats. Plus, salmon is delicious and versatile, as it can be prepared many different ways and still have great taste.

Salmon Prepared the CookinGenie Way

If you’re looking to incorporate more salmon into your diet, look no further than CookinGenie. If you’re not used to cooking with salmon, you may not be sure what to do with it, or if you cook with salmon often, you may just be out of ideas. That’s where CookinGenie comes in. Our talented genies currently offer more than 15 different dishes using the superfood salmon! And these dishes are as unique as the genies themselves, showcasing its delicious versatility with a wide variety of preparations.

Genie Rashidah Shabazz serves salmon 3 different ways on her menu, including a citrus-ginger salmon and  lemon-balsamic salmon, so you could take your salmon to the far east or to Italy.

Our genie Lashondre’a Lenor offers a creative twist, quite literally, on salmon by serving a stunning entrée of braided salmon, which a whole side of salmon, expertly braided and roasted just like a loaf of challah bread. But if you’re in the mood for something more classic, like a simple, wholesome entrée of seared salmon with rice pilaf and green beans, she has you covered there too.

But it’s not all whole salmon either, genie Vanessa Calhoun serves a delicious Salmon Croquette, which is tender shreds of roasted salmon, rolled up into balls, breaded, and fried into a crispy, addicting snack.

Finally, if you’d like salmon on a salad, look no further than genie Courtney White, who serves a flaky filet of salmon on top of a classic Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons.

These are just a few of the delectable salmon dishes CookinGenie has to offer. They’re just as healthy as they are delicious, to see all of the amazing ways you can enjoy salmon with CookinGenie, check out our menu and book a genie today!

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-salmon#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

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