Lifestyle: how to cook pasta

Yet more lifestyle self-tutoring shared by the tutor, who wondered yesterday if he was cooking pasta correctly.

When I was a kid, someone told me to add oil to the water when cooking pasta. My wife, however, says not to.

Apparently, my wife was right. (When is it else-wise?) Here are some tips I picked up, yesterday, from my research about cooking pasta:

  1. Don’t add oil to the water.
  2. Don’t put in the pasta until the water is boiling fiercely.
  3. Add salt when the water starts to boil.
  4. Cook the pasta in a big pot, with abundant water. (My wife says so as well.)
  5. Don’t rinse the pasta after it’s cooked.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: stainless steel pots and heat conduction

Yet more lifestyle self-tutoring: the tutor shares a find from cooking.

I don’t like getting burned, so use oven mitts whenever something might be hot.

Yesterday, I was boiling water to cook pasta. I used a higher-quality pot than I usually do: Normally I just use the ordinary pots, leaving my wife to use the “better” ones.

I had the lid on the pot so the water would boil faster. When I could hear the water boiling, I looked at the lid – specifically, at its metal handle.

The lids of the pots I normally use have wooden handles, so are safe to grab even when hot. However, since this pot’s handle is metal, I wondered if it would be safe to touch. Beneath it, of course, was boiling water – would the lid burn me?

Reaching out, I gave the handle a light touch and found it to be safe. Surprised, I lifted the lid off, added the pasta, and continued cooking. Yet I wondered how the handle could be cool, when in contact with a lid above boiling water.

Today, research tells me that stainless steel has poor heat conductivity – meaning its temperature doesn’t rise or fall easily, even when around ojects hotter or colder.

I placed the lid back on the pot after reducing the heat. The handle did become noticeably warmer later, but still safe to lift the lid off quickly.

The pot doesn’t say its metal on it; I surmise it must be stainless steel.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: hamburgers in the oven?

More lifestyle self-tutoring: the tutor shares a quick fix he tried a few days back.

Being the house-husband, I cook the dinners most weekdays. I tutor right after school, so try to have the kids’ dinner ready to serve when they get home. In addition, eating dinner right after school prevents them from having after-school snacks, which I’m not convinced would be as healthful as a meal.

The result is that I try to make dinner so it will be ready just before I leave to pick them up from school. It’s risky, since time can run short, which happened a few days back.

I had the burgers shaped, then went to put them on the grill, which I’d left to heat up. However, after ten minutes, it still wasn’t hot enough to cook the burgers. I didn’t realize that, with winter weather here, the grill needs more time to prepare.

What to do – collect the kids with no dinner ready, or improvise? I wondered if the burgers could be baked in the oven. I quickly found this recipe, which I didn’t follow. However, I took from it the idea of baking the burgers for about half an hour at 330F. Hastily I turned the oven to 330F, lined a pan with foil, laid the burgers in it, seasoned and sauced them, then put them in the oven.

The burgers turned out well. The only “complaint” I received was that they were harder to eat because they weren’t flat like they would have been from the grill. The flavour was approved, though.

Good luck with it, should you decide to try:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: why North Americans refrigerate their eggs, but many Europeans don’t

Cooking means constant self-tutoring. The tutor researches why some Europeans don’t refrigerate their eggs, while here, we do.

In the UK, for example, hens are vaccinated against salmonella so that it doesn’t contaminate the eggs internally. With no salmonella to incubate, the eggs needn’t be refrigerated.

For eggs in the US, however, the general case is that refrigeration is depended upon to prevent salmonella’s incubation to dangerous level, in case it’s present.

I don’t know for sure which side Canada is on, but at you are advised to store eggs in the fridge.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: bread machine gingerbread

More lifestyle self-tutoring: the tutor shares his experience making gingerbread with a bread maker.

I’m a gingerbread fan. It’s a comfort food, for me. With Christmas approaching, gingerbread is perhaps even more topical.

Some weeks ago a thought came to me: “Gingerbread. Does that mean you can make gingerbread in a bread maker?”

I went to the internet to find out. Sure enough, many recipes appeared. I used this one from

The loaf I got was gingerbread – less like cake than I’d imagined. However, it didn’t last long; I have no doubt it will quickly disappear when I make it again.

Good luck to anyone who tries it:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: cooking: why scald the milk?

For me, learning to cook means constant self-tutoring. The tutor shares his findings about why a recipe might ask you to scald the milk.

A gingerbread recipe I’m considering, asks me to scald the milk. Wondering why, I’ve researched possible reasons:

  1. To kill bacteria. Perhaps not so important here and now.
  2. To infuse the milk with the flavour of whatever you stir in after scalding.
  3. Important to this case: Apparently, the whey in milk can inhibit dough from rising properly. However, if the milk is scalded first, the whey won’t interfere.

Reason 3 makes sense to me; I’ve never used milk, making bread. So I guess if you do, scalding it might be necessary.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: comfort foods: stove-top rice pudding

Lifestyle can mean constant self-tutoring. The tutor shares a recipe he loves.

I’ve been a house-husband since September, so have begun cooking in earnest. Although I’m no match for my wife – yet – I’ve found some great recipes she doesn’t make. One is stove-top rice pudding.

To me, rice pudding might be the ultimate comfort food. My wife argues you can’t serve it for dinner, but I would. Anyway, it’s popular as a between-meals snack when I make it.

The recipe I use is here, from It’s really easy, even for me, and can conveniently be made while you’re cooking something else. CAUTION: Potentially, there are a couple of tricky timing issues with it. However, if I can pull it off, virtually anyone can.

My young son’s complaint about this rice pudding is that it has “too many raisins…too much flavour.” I love kids:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Cooking: oven French fries

Experimenting with cooking is self-tutoring. The tutor discusses making French fries in the oven.

I wanted to make French fries, but don’t have a fryer. I looked up the oven method on the internet.

I admit I didn’t follow any recipe specifically.

Some of the fries I cut too finely, so they burnt up after about 35 minutes. The ones that didn’t burn turned out very well. Put it this way: there were no leftovers.

Going forward, I think cutting the fries 0.5″ square will prevent burning.

For three (very) large potatoes, I use 4 to 5 tablespoons of oil. In a bowl, I toss the cut potatoes in the oil, then salt liberally. I continue tossing, then salt liberally again. Next, I lay the cut potatoes out flat on baking sheets.

I imagine baking them for about 40 minutes at around 450F (232C).



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Cooking: temp of a warm object

Cooking means constant self-tutoring. The tutor speculates about the actual temperature of a warm object.

Yesterday I took a glass casserole dish of mac and cheese from the oven. Its baking temp was 177C.

An hour later, most of the mac and cheese had been served from the dish. Moving it, I was surprised how warm it still was to the touch.

Yet, how warm was it? I didn’t have a convenient way of measuring, so I opened a browser tab and found, whose members seem to agree that about 60C is dangerous to touch for more than a second or two.

The casserole dish wasn’t hot; rather, just surprisingly warm. I’d estimate it was about 40C.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: meal planning, part 0

Cooking keeps me self-tutoring. The tutor mentions a meal that was indispensable last school year.

Most weeks, I don’t work outside the home, but my wife does, and my kids go to school (grades 8 and 10 this fall). Increasingly, therefore, my role is domestic – cleaning and so on – of which meal planning can be the most challenging.

Although many people don’t like to admit it, we’re about to embark another school season. With relief from the higher evening temperatures, savvy, proactive sorts are already cooking meals to freeze for easy thaw and serve a few months from now, when life will be busy.

A standby meal for us last year – one the kids really enjoyed – was fresh bread with canned beans. Three to five hours before they needed it, I’d put the ingredients in the bread maker and start it up. Often I’d also open the cans of beans, put them in the pot, and leave them there without the heat on.

When the three needed dinner, I’d often be tutoring. No problem: my wife would just turn the dial on the stove, then take the finished bread from the bread maker. Dinner in five!

Beans and bread, eaten together, are complementary proteins, which means you get the protein benefit of eating meat.

My wife loves to cook, and doesn’t prefer shortcut meals. However, with her job and the children’s activities, she’s pushed more in that direction.

I’ll be sharing more of our meal solutions:)


Mader, Sylvia S. Inquiry Into Life, 11th ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.