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Understanding USDA Beef Grades_CookinGenie_blog

29 Jul 2021

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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Personal Chef or Caterer - Who to choose - CookinGenie

25 Feb 2022

You’ve decided that you’re going to throw a dinner party. It’s time to gather up your friends and family to spend some quality time together over a good meal. No one wants to spend their entire evening and lead up to the party worrying over the menu, shopping, and preparing the food when they could be focused on other things. So, that means you’ll want to bring in some help to provide the meal part of the dinner party, but who do you choose? Your options include personal chefs and catering services. Do you know how you should make your choice? Let’s break down the similarities and differences between the two services and help you make your plans for a fun dinner party.

Personal Chef Services

Personal chef services mean that you’ll have a trained chef come into your home and prepare your meal, in the same manner, they would if they were in a restaurant. It brings the restaurant experience into your home. Typically, when you book a personal chef service, they shop for fresh ingredients to make the dish you select, arrive at your home to prepare the menu item using your kitchen, and then clean up after they’re done. As a result, your food is fresh and hot when you sit down to eat. When it comes to a dinner party, you can select as many dishes as you’d like, such as appetizers, the main course, and even dessert, based on the menu each chef offers.

Catering Services

A catering service offers the benefit of experience. Most catering companies are very familiar with providing food for parties of all sizes, and they often do it well. They employ chefs to create meals in their kitchens, and then the food is delivered to the party hot and ready to eat. Catering companies often have an extensive menu to select from because of the way that the food is prepared in a commercial kitchen in advance of the party date. Typically, a catering company will arrive at your party and set up the food in the area you select. You may find that they need to set up chafing dishes or other warming trays to keep the food warm while the party is in full swing. You can also pay for servers in case of a much larger dinner party, but that’s not always included in the cost of your meal.

(Also Read – Personal Chef Vs. Private Chef Vs. Catering Services: Which Option Is Right For You?)

Benefits of Personal Chef Services Over Catering

Both personal chef services and catering offer you the benefit of being more present at your dinner party. They both free you from being in the kitchen while your friends and family have a great time. You’ll be able to chat and enjoy yourself. However, some benefits come from personal chef services above a catering service. With a personal chef service, you know precisely who is preparing your meal as you get to handpick them. You also have peace of mind that the ingredients are fresh and the meal is made that day. You have no fears about something being prepared in advance, sitting in a freezer, and then being dethawed for your dinner party. The personal part of the title of a personal chef means that you get that personal touch when it comes to your food preparation from start to finish. Your food will be piping hot and ready to be enjoyed right from the kitchen. Since a critical component of a dinner party is the meal, it can be vital to pick the right menu prepared fresh in your own kitchen. It’s a great way to make your friends and family say wow after the party is over.

(Also Read – Why Should Busy Families Hire a Personal Chef?)

Cost Comparisons

You may be thinking that you’re going to choose a catering service over a personal chef solely because of the cost. People often believe that catering services are affordable while personal chef services are meant more for black tie affairs and the wealthy. While a personal chef service seems like an expensive extravagance, you’d be surprised to learn that the cost isn’t prohibitive. Of course, the price of the different dishes will vary based on the ingredients involved, but it’s all upfront when you book. There are no surprise costs or fees as you’ll be able to see the prices per serving on the website—no contacting different services for quotes. So not will these charges be around the same as you’d expect to pay at your favorite restaurant, but you’ll save time by being able to see the costs online.

(Also Read – How to Save Hours Per Week with a Personal Chef?)

CookinGenie Difference

The CookinGenie difference turns an evening of uncertainty into an evening of confidence. You know that you can count on a great experience thanks to the CookinGenie platform. The booking process is streamlined and very user-friendly. Your chef will arrive in a timely fashion and prepare the menu you’ve requested. That means no shopping, cooking, or kitchen cleanup for you. Plus, you and your chef are protected through CookinGenie if something does not go as expected during your evening. So choosing CookinGenie has some great benefits.

Using CookinGenie

CookinGenie was designed to be used by anyone wanting to place a reservation with a personal chef on the website. The user-friendly nature makes it fun and easy to plan your dinner party. You can scroll through the different chefs and the different menus they offer. You can easily see prices and the available dates for each chef to make picking out the details for your party easy. Once you decide on the date, chef, and menu, you enter your details and payment information. That’s it. The food aspect of your dinner party is complete leaving you to plan out all the other little details that help make a dinner party a must-attend event.

Are you convinced that CookinGenie is the right choice for your upcoming dinner party? Check out the different menus you can plan using our personal chefs. Your guests will be amazed at the restaurant-quality meal while you’ll be able to sit back relax during your own party. Put entertaining back into your dinner party. Just book and be ready for a fantastic time with your friends.

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Who decides what we eat - CookinGenie

04 Nov 2020

A few years ago, an infographic went viral that showed how most of the world’s food brands are owned by just a handful of corporations. 

Image Source: visualcapitalist

Around the same time that this infographic started circulating, a study found that nearly 60% of the calories in the modern American diet come from processed foods.  

 How did we get here with our food 

 In the early years of our countryhome cooked meals & fresh cooked meals were the ways to eatWe plucked our own chickens, grew our own vegetables, made our own bread. We ate whole foods made from scratch. There were innovations—a company called Van Camp sold canned beans to the Union Army during the Civil War, Clarence Birdseye introduced frozen foods in the 1920s—but for the most part, we knew where your food came from or at least knew the local farmer or butcher who provided our ingredients. 

 It was post World War II that our food supply really started to change. Food manufacturers who had secured government contracts during the war saw their profits plummet. To make up for lost wartime revenue, they started introducing new food innovations designed to appeal to housewives’ demand for convenience, like Minute Maid concentrated orange juice, Duncan Hines cake mixes, and Minute Rice.1 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

The way Americans shopped for food was changing, tooTurn-of-the-century housewives bought their food from the freestanding grocer, butcher, and dry goods stores. They’d hand their shopping list to the store clerk, and the clerk would pick all the items for them. The first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis in 1916, and this new store model—where consumers roamed through the store picking out their own items from the shelf—quickly caught on. According to the National Women’s History Museumbetween 1948 and 1958, the number of supermarkets in the United States doubled to over 2,500 and for the first time, it was cheaper to buy processed food than fresh.   

 Suddenly there were lots of money to be made in packaged convenience foods and the mergers and acquisitions began. Large companies started gobbling up smaller brands, and the steady consolidation of the industry continues to grow. In the last 20 years, there have been 9,007 mergers and acquisitions in the food, beverage, and grocery space, according to The Food Institute.  

 Industry watchdog Food & Water Watch says that all this consolidation means that these companies have an outsized influence on the food choices, diets, and working conditions of people around the world — not to mention the impact they have on the environment. Reduced competition gives these corporations control of the market price that farmers get for their crops and livestock. It’s led to the decrease of family farms and the growth of factory farms, ecologically damaging farming practices, and more and more unhealthy processed foods on grocery store shelves.  

(Also ReadAvoid wasting food: save $1600 per year)

Amidst all this, what can we do to eat healthy? We love eating out and that will always remain an enjoyable experience. But the sure shot way to eat healthily is to have more home cooked meals. Meal prepping can also be an effective strategy. But if modern life gets in the way of fresh cooked meals or meal prepping, consider businesses like CookinGenie. CookinGenie can send a Genie (culinary experts ranging from classically trained chefs to specialized home cooks) to your house to make home-cooked meals for you and your family. Click here to view our menus and book your Genie today & enjoy fresh cooking from wholesome ingredients.  

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