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.

(Also ReadWhat Makes Bibimbap The Ultimate Korean Feast?)

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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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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birthday party at home - CookinGenie

25 Oct 2021

Birthday parties are fun for young and old. However, having a birthday party at your house for your parents, children, yourself, or other loved ones may seem like a hassle, but you can plan a perfect birthday party for the next big occasion if you follow these tips.  

How To Plan a Birthday Party? 

It can seem overwhelming at first when planning a shindig at your home, even if it’s just a small intimate party for close family and friends. Here are some considerations to keep in mind during the planning process. 

Date and Time – 

One of the first things you should consider is when you should plan to have your party. It can be helpful to get in touch with family and friends you’re thinking of inviting to work on finding the perfect date and time. However, it may not be possible for larger parties to reach out to everyone personally to get everyone’s schedule. In these cases, you may want to send out a survey in an email to get an idea of when most of your guests will be able to attend. Ultimately, you may not be able to find a date and time that works for everyone. 

Tip: Setting an actual time for the start and end of the party can be helpful. Creating a start time makes it easier for everyone to know when the food will be served, while the end time can help you guide stragglers out at the end of the night. 

Guest List

Concurrently to determining the date and time, you’ll also want to consider your guest list. Even with small gatherings that only include family, it can be beneficial to get a headcount of who’s invited and who’s going to be able to attend. You’ll also want to determine if your guests can bring a plus one, which can dramatically impact your guest list. 

Tip: Respectfully request an RSVP by a particular date before your party. You’ll be able to finalize your headcount better for how many people are planning on coming.  

Budget

Another essential factor you’ll need to consider early on in the planning stages is your budget. You’ll want to sit down and think about how much you’re willing to spend for the party and then look at the different options available to you to fit your set budget best. There are some great options at every budget level for planning a birthday party at your home.  

Break down your budget by the different things you want to offer at your party, such as food, party bags, entertainment, decorations, and so on. The great thing about having a party at home is that venue is one of the costs you don’t have to think about when deciding how much you want your budget to be overall. Plus, think outside of the box. For example, you can save by picking up your party decorations at a dollar store while spending more money on wow items like the cake. 

Tip: Get an idea for your budget by multiplying how much you want to spend per person by how many people you’re inviting.   

Theme

Themes are a fun idea for parties of any age. Of course, it can be fun to create a theme on your own, but if you are worried about the celebrated person not liking the theme, you may want to consider letting them help brainstorm a theme.  

Tip: Pinterest can be a great place to get ideas for themes if you’re stuck. 

Invitations 

Once you’ve picked out a theme and got your guest list together, it’s time to create the invitations. You can go old school and pick up paper invites that fit the theme you picked to mail out or hand deliver to your guest list. Paper invitations can be fun to introduce some potential themes, such as a murder mystery birthday party. 

Electronic invites can also be fun, and they are often the easiest way to get an accurate headcount since it’s straightforward to click whether or not the person will attend the party. Some electronic invitation sites even send reminders out to get any straggler RSVPs. 

Tip: Be clear on your invites about the details, such as the RSVP deadline and if guests can have a plus one.  

Food

Food is often the centerpiece of the occasion. No birthday party, or really any kind of party, is complete without food. An option that you should explore is CookinGenie for your next birthday party. It’s easy to set a menu, figure out how many portions you need to order for your guest list, and have a personal chef handle the cooking in your kitchen. Then you have no worries about the food getting cold as the catering company brings it to your home. 

Tip: Explore CookinGenie.com to learn more about the different offerings that you can have for your party. 

Party Bags

Goodie bags are a great touch no matter the age of the person you’re celebrating. Giving out party bags is often associated with children’s birthday parties as a fun way to end the event. A small bag with toys, stickers, candy, and other little items is given out as the kids leave to thank them for coming. The same can be done for adults with a fun token of appreciation that commemorates the event.  

Tip: Have these waiting at the door for when your guests leave.   

After the Party

Yes! You had a successful birthday party for one of your favorite people. Everyone had an excellent time at the party you planned. Once the party is over, that means it’s time to clean and organize. Did you know that by utilizing CookinGenie, you’ll save yourself some time? Not only does your personal chef for the birthday party prepare a fantastic menu, but they also clean up the cooking area, getting it back to how it was before they arrived. That means you can focus on tackling cleaning up elsewhere. 

Check out CookinGenie today while planning your next birthday party or other home events. See what loyal CookinGenie clients already know: affordable personal chefs coming to your home has never been easier. 

 

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01 Nov 2021

For some, going through the motions of getting to work and clocking out is as much effort as they want to put into their job. Often, they don’t feel that connection with their coworkers that makes them want to do more than the bare necessities to get their paycheck. For managers and leaders that want to inspire their employees to feel more like a family and a true team, it’s important to implement a workplace that has a more personal touch. One excellent way to do that is to organize team dinners to celebrate work anniversaries and other events.  

Why does Team Dinner Matter? 

There is something special about food and the act of sharing food. Throughout the past, there have been rules about breaking bread and how it can be a bonding action to the point where it could bring opposing parties together. Team dinners can be an amazing opportunity that offers more benefits than meets the eye. It can be more than a meeting outside of work hours to have a meal.    

Increase Retention by Developing Friendships  

One of the biggest expenses that companies can have is turnover. Having to go through the motions of recruiting new talent only to have them leave later on is expensive. It’s also can be costly when you consider that your loyal employees can often start to feel burnt out by having to pick up the slack for open positions or helping out with new trainees. It can turn into an unhealthy cycle. Celebrating work anniversaries and other work events with dinner parties thrown at your home can help to make your existing employees feel seen and important. It’s great for their morale while also being great for increasing your employee retention. 

Foster Highly Engaged and Productive Teams 

It’s hard to be dispassionate about the people that you work with when you know each other on a more personal basis. You can create a team that’s engaged and productive when you find ways to build a team spirit. Each member of a team will be more willing to work with each other and ensure that their work helps to support each other. It’s easy to put off working on a task or not put your best effort in if you don’t care about the next person that will be working with the product you created, such as a report or data collection. Creating camaraderie can help people feel more involved and want to be productive.   

Exchange Ideas 

You may find that your team has great ideas, but sometimes, these ideas can be lost in the shuffle at work. Organizing a team dinner can be an excellent place to talk about work with the exchanging of ideas. You may find that team members in a different area that have other tasks may have ideas that impact other portions of the team. In a regular work setting, these ideas might never see the light of day, but you’ll be creating a more comfortable setting where it can be discussed. 

Communication Links  

Communication is a skill that a lot of people feel is easy, but good communication can be hard. It takes practice. There is more to communication than meets the eye. Active listening is essential with communication. Hosting team dinners for work anniversaries and other occasions is the perfect opportunity to work on the communication skills among everyone in a more relaxed setting. 

How To Turn Team Dinners into a Meaningful Experience  

Food Tours 

You can make your dinner about more than just a mandatory meeting outside of work, but make it fun. Food tours are a great way to incorporate a fun element that turns your dinner into a worthy occasion to celebrate a work anniversary or other event. Food tours are when you take a particular country’s food and create dishes that only come from that area. Often, during food tours, you learn a little about the culture of the area along with getting to try out the most popular dishes from the area. Sometimes, the food tour may be a specific region in a country, like creating dishes from Tuscany, or from around the country.   

Personal Chefs 

Personal chefs can be a great idea for your at-home work dinner. It’s hard to handle ice breaker games, friendly chats, and relaxing with your coworkers when you’re trying to handle all of the cooking. Utilizing a personal chef allows you to host your dinner without being absent from all of the festivities. Why miss something fun by being trapped in the kitchen? You could get takeout, but why risk the food being cold when personal chefs are a comparable option price-wise with all of the benefits of your food being cooked in your very own kitchen. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. 

Team Building Activities  

As your team is sitting around eating dinner, it’s the perfect time to enjoy team-building activities. The food and conversation can help to relax your team members while they get to know each other better. Throwing in some team-building activities can be a fun way to spend time with everyone in a more personal setting without work tasks hanging over everyone’s head. You get the benefit of helping your group of workers feel more like a team while enjoying themselves. Some fun team-building activities include two truths and a lie, office trivia, blind drawing, virtual escape rooms, and you could even have a murder mystery or similar games. Any activity that makes you come together to problem solve, work as teams, or learn more about each other can be good activities to enjoy during your time outside of work.  

 CookinGenie can be an excellent way to explore the possibilities that are available when it comes to team dinners. It can be stressful enough getting your home ready to host a team of coworkers in your personal space, so why add to your to-do checklist before the event? When you use CookinGenie, you free up a lot of time to handle all the other last-minute tasks. Your private chef will do all of the shopping, meal prep, and even clean your kitchen after they are done preparing your dinner choices. What could be easier? Check out the CookinGenie website today to find your new favorite personal chef to cook for your upcoming work dinner party or other events. 

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