Understanding USDA Beef Grades

Understanding USDA Beef Grades_CookinGenie_blog

29 Jul 2021

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Understanding USDA Beef Grades

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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30 Oct 2019

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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Prepared Salmon - CookinGenie

16 Sep 2021

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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How Chefs Manage Their Own Business

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If you’re a talented chef, you probably know the rewarding feeling of cooking for friends and family and being met with rave reviews. They might ask you when your restaurant is opening, half-seriously urge you to start a catering business, and proudly proclaim that they would pay good money to eat your food. But even as a chef, the idea of opening a restaurant or catering company is daunting. It certainly is fulfilling to share your cooking with people, but you may not want the risk or commitment of trying to launch your own business.

What if there was an easier way, a way to earn money cooking the food you love, but in a casual setting, without the all-consuming obligation of running your own business? Well, for professional chefs and skilled home cooks alike, CookinGenie is just that.

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With CookinGenie, chefs have a platform to essentially manage their own business but in a flexible manner. CookinGenie allows chefs (genies) to create their own menus, set their own prices, and make their own schedules to fit around their busy lives. They can do all this while building their personal brand and establishing a base of regular clients. At CookinGenie, the genies have total creative control of the food. They can change menu items seasonally and can source ingredients from the local stores they love. To fulfill an order, they arrive at the client’s home, cook a meal, clean up, and earn money sharing their talents with satisfied customers.

This setup is dramatically different from most traditional chef jobs. Typically, the life of a restaurant chef entails working long hours in a hot, sweaty commercial kitchen, all while under the pressure of trying to satisfy a packed dining room. It’s hectic, stressful, exhausting, and often doesn’t pay well. Plus, most chefs in a restaurant are preparing someone else’s menu, either the head chef’s or the owner’s, so it’s hard to let creativity and passion flourish. Although the hours may be a little more normal, working in a catering company offers many of the same challenges.

CookinGenie, on the other hand, provides all the joy and excitement of cooking for others without the serious drawbacks of other chef jobs. The genie decides what’s on the menu and when they want to be available to cook. All of the cooking is done in a relaxed setting in the client’s home; there’s no pressure to keep up with the pace of service. The genie gets the personal satisfaction of interacting directly with the people enjoying the fruits of their hard work, instead of the food being sent out into the void of a dining room. CookinGenie chefs are compensated competitively and even have the opportunity to collect tips from happy customers.

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All told, CookinGenie is a fantastic way to make money and manage your own business as a chef. The flexibility allows chefs to continue other pursuits while also earning extra income as a genie and building a following. From a work perspective, there is simply no beating the creative liberties and stress-free atmosphere CookinGenie provides. In the crazy world of cooking, CookinGenie proves that there really is a better way to be a chef.

If you’re a talented local chef or home cook and CookinGenie sounds great to you, then we’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at: careers@cookingenie.com

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