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Old 11-01-2014, 04:45 PM
 
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So I moved from essentially sea level to a hair under 6000 feet, and am finding that the way I used to cook doesn't work real well here. For example I steamed some broccoli last night, and it was still hard and raw after five minutes. I'm also having issues cooking brown rice - even with more water and time it's not right - and eggs, I can't seem to figure out how to make an omelet.

Please share some tips on how to cook here.
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Old 11-01-2014, 05:03 PM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
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Since the boiling point of water is lower here, you will have to adjust. Because I am always in a hurry, I steam my vegetables in a ziploc cooking bag in the microwave. They need just 3 minutes 15 second for broccoli.

I don't cook brown rice, but here is a tip from someone who does.

I cook omelets just fine, so if you describe the problem, maybe I can help.

Maybe livecontent can chime in here as well. He is the expert.
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Old 11-01-2014, 05:06 PM
 
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Water boils at lower temp at altitude, so you need to adjust for the lower temps.

"steaming" in a pot can be frustrating due to that lower temp. I get around this by using a pressure cooker. With a little experimentation, you'll find the right time to get vegetables done to the consistency you prefer. Especially with artichokes, the pressure cooker is about perfect ... I use a small electric pressure cooker which is perfect for two whole artichokes and 12 minutes from the time the pressure is captured in the vessel works for me. Broccoli and cauliflower also cook well in this.

Cook eggs for a bit longer, perhaps add some moisture to them.

You might consider buying a high altitude cook book so that you have a reference for the changes in many of your other cooking. I depend a lot on using a slow cooker crockpot or pressure cooker at altitude. Brown, basmati, or wild rice all cook at too low a temperature at altitude, so I use the pressure cooker for rice.

PS: I don't have a microwave, but use my woodstove and cast iron cookware for slow cooking of a lot of soups/stews here since I don't buy canned goods (we either freeze, dehydrate, or can our own stuff to our taste without all the excess additives or salt in commercial products). A crockpot is a very useful item at altitude.
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Old 11-01-2014, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
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When cooking cakes or bread from a mix, look at the high altitude instructions. Remember anything that rises needs to be prepared differently. With cake mixes, for example, I always add a tablespoon of flour to the mix. For some recipes you will need to add more baking soda (or is it baking powder?). Oh, and the instructions may have different oven temperatures and baking times for high altitude. Anyway, the suggestion to purchase a high altitude cookbook is a great idea!
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Old 11-01-2014, 06:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarapaca View Post
So I moved from essentially sea level to a hair under 6000 feet, and am finding that the way I used to cook doesn't work real well here. For example I steamed some broccoli last night, and it was still hard and raw after five minutes. I'm also having issues cooking brown rice - even with more water and time it's not right - and eggs, I can't seem to figure out how to make an omelet.

Please share some tips on how to cook here.
I have been here for 36 years. I am originally from New York and I did graduate from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, many decades ago before it became famous--for whatever that means. I just added it to give some credence to my post, ahem...I am not an expert..I AM AN ARTIST!

I had years of cooking experience and being here for some many years, I really do not think much about high altitude cooking or its impact in basic cooking. What I mean is in absolutely all dishes, it is much ado about nothing. Yes, there are some complicated cooking and baking procedures that it will impact but you will never run into that type of cooking in the home unless you are an expert cook/baker and then you will know what it entails.

So, if you using a prepared cake mix, just add the extra flour that is requested. What it does it just reduce the rise because of the lower air pressure. That is the reason water boil at a lower temperature because the pressure is less against the surface.

Unfortunately many cooks are so tied to precise minutes to do this and time to cook this, they never learn to adapt to each situation--they never really know how to cook. You talk about broccoli not done enough at 5 minutes, then cook it a little longer--no big deal. You are simmering the broccoli and the temperature can vary. It is not only the less air pressure that determines time; it can be a solution that can change boiling or the variation in the product you are cooking. So, how could you define exact cooking times and why bother.

I cook rice all the time. With white rice, we were taught to add 2 parts water to one part rice but I have learned that I need 2 1/4 parts water to one part rice. In brown rice, we were taught 3 to 1 but I add 3 1/2 to one. The time it takes depends on how dry the rice is and making an assumption that there is only "one dry" is all wrong because rice can absorb moisture or loose moisture in storage--the same with flour. Age will affect it permeability and the variation in the type of rice changes everything. When it is done, it is done. I have never had problems cooking rice and I do not use a rice cooker. I just put it in the pot and listen and I can tell from listening if it needs more water or it is done but I have much experience.

Cooking eggs over a fire for an omelet would make no difference at altitude unless one was making a souffle omelette which is separating the eggs whites, beating and then adding them to the yolks. You will create a massive omelet that makes a good presentation, so retardation of the rise will be necessary here. Yes, when I went to school and worked in NYC, it was very precise how to make the French Classical Omelet and I got screamed at many times--those old time French Chefs liked to yell and I did my share of the Chef's temper tantrum in my time. Now I do not care about that precision.

Months ago, I met this so-called trained chef at a store and I told her about a preparation for eggplant. She responded in asking about what is the recipe--I told her I just gave it to you. She wanted to know exact measurements and time--she was no chef. I would have fired her in my kitchen because when you are told to make a preparation or a sauce, Bernaise or Espagnole--you know how to make it for any amount and you better know how to do it.

There are professional cook books that list the preparation and the names associated; There are no amounts or time just the preparation involved in sometimes technical language. I had these books in the hotels I worked and when I was told to make something then I knew. However, I go way back in the classical kitchen of very famous NYC hotels where I worked and the chefs were mostly French trained--that was many years ago.

So, with all this discourse I am saying forgetaboutit; throw away your need to be so precise in time and amount. Let down your hair and become free of the shackles of perceived orthodoxy in cooking because there is no orthodoxy. Learn how to cook by closing the cookbook. I have many cookbooks and use them for only ideas--I never follow any recipe. I just combine ideas and create as I go. Of course I have had training and I can cook and bake without any recipe. For example, I can make pie dough easy just knowing what it entails. Actually in the industry it is known as 3-2-1 dough because all pie crusts are just a variation of 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part liquid. I just know the technique to put it together.

Today, I had some tofu in the my kitchen and I wanted to cook some lentils with pasta. I sauteed diced onions, peppers and carrots in olive oil sunflower mix, reduced red wine, tomato paste, concasse of tomatoes; added the cooked lentils. seasoned with oregano, garlic, basil, cumin, thyme, anchovy fish sauce, some hot pepper sauce. I now had the sauce. I cooked some Mostaccioli. I added the tofu to my mixer; added some eggs, olive oil, fish sauce, salt, onion powder; garlic powder, shredded parmesan and asadero cheese. Put in all together with the sauce and pasta in a large casserole baking dish and topped it with the tofu egg mixture. Topped it with some reserved shredded cheese mixed with breadcrumbs and herbs. baked to brown.

It looked like a Greek Moussaka which I do know how to make without a recipe. It was fantastic and everyone was amazed and wanted the recipe. They were annoyed--I had no recipe. I only used what I had and just created. The knowledge is how long you cook the ingredients; how much of this and that; how long you bake and what temperature. You just figure it out with experience.

It is not what you cook or how you cook...it is who you cook for--my little petunia! Food is the the instrument of love...I love to cook...I cook for love and love makes me cook!

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 11-01-2014 at 06:43 PM..
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Old 11-01-2014, 08:42 PM
 
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Livecontent wrote:

"It looked like a Greek Moussaka which I do know how to make without a recipe. It was fantastic and everyone was amazed and wanted the recipe. They were annoyed--I had no recipe. I only used what I had and just created. The knowledge is how long you cook the ingredients; how much of this and that; how long you bake and what temperature. You just figure it out with experience."

Suffice to say that you speak from the view of a real chef ... and with all your training and experience, you are in a world apart from 90% of the people in the real world today when it comes to cooking. You know how to balance flavors, how to enhance the synergy of all the ingredients, and you've mastered the cooking techniques to bring it all together to a final result. Quantities, time, temps, techniques are all tools at your disposal.

I cook as you do, having a slightly different motivation than yours; ie, I love to eat. Good food, not prepared convenience stuff. Folks share our table and frequently ask my recipes ... and I have none. I've progressed to a point where I even produce most of my main ingredients from our farm/ranch/greenhouse production of beef, lamb, pork, poultry, vegetables, and herbs because what I raise is a better quality and I can process it myself to my own specifications. Some years, even the limited amount of flour I use is milled from my own HRWW production. I can only relate what I threw into the process if I remember it all when asked about a recipe.

But:

One has but to look at the contents of a typical supermarket basket at checkout these days to see what passes for the food intake of so many people these days. Few actually "cook" food anymore, let alone use any creativity in the process. And many are slaves to what is in their cookbooks; some will learn the concepts and move on to actually create dishes rather than simply replicate what was in a cookbook as they gain confidence in their results.

Hence my suggestion that a starting point for a newbie cooking at altitude would be to use a cookbook written for cooking here.

Gotta' start somewhere ... my bet is that even you, Livecontent ... were dependent upon pro cookbooks until you mastered your profession by many repetitions of cooking the same items over and over again until they were no challenge to you anymore and you could be creative in the many and slight variations that yielded interesting (and no doubt, very tasty) results.

Last edited by sunsprit; 11-01-2014 at 09:01 PM..
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:13 PM
 
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Yes, I would agree that a high altitude cookbook could work. Today it is not necessary to buy any cookbook as the web offers so much with videos You could find all you need about high altitude from the web. All the cooking shows have video sites and American Test Kitchen is very good. One can actually get part of good culinary education from watching these videos. Part of our education at the CIA was watching cooking in demonstration kitchen and these online videos are much better.

My favorite activity in retirement is to roam the Ethnic Supermarkets in the area. H-mart is great and a new one at 92nd. and Sheridan. The seafood at H-mart is fantastic. There is a Vietnamese Market at Sheridan and Alameda. There is abundance of markets at Federal and Alameda and in olde town Westminster. I also like Pacific Ocean on Alameda or in Broomfield at 112th.

I do not shop at Whole Foods and Vitamin Cotttage--too pricey as they cater to yuppies with deep pockets. Much of it I can get cheaper at real authentic markets. Sprouts is good for produce. I like to find where the new poorer immigrants shop because they have value. When I was young, it was the Italian Markets but today they are too expensive and I have already experienced much of what they offer.

The Asian Markets, Chinese, Laotian, Japanese, Vietnamese give me a challenge to understand more; try something different and fuse Asian cooking into my food palate. Latino Markets are also interesting in the West Side and North Denver. I am finding the growing Polish and Russian Markets also inviting. I like to go to the older areas of the city down on Federal, East and West Colfax--anywhere that has not become too clean, too sterile, too phoney, and too expensive. I like the odors and atmosphere that the patina of time that brings to the buildings and the people. I love places where English is not readily spoken. It all reminds me of the old established markets of older more established cities.

When I got to Denver, Market Street was still a Market Street, Blake had food wholesalers and Denargo Street Market was operating. I also had the opportunity to experience the wholesale food manufacturers and slaughter houses north of city bordering Adams County. There was still some food brokering activity at the Denver Stockyard Exchange Building.

I first read cookbooks as a Teenager and I remember going through Joy of Cooking by Julia Child. Little did I know then I would meet her and was surprised by her humor. Craig Claiborne, The Food Editor of the NY Times, was one of my favorites authors and he spoke at my CIA graduation.

Livecontent

Last edited by livecontent; 11-01-2014 at 09:43 PM..
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Old 11-01-2014, 10:41 PM
 
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we've kinda' sidetracked this thread, Livecontent ...

but I'm right on the same page with you re food sourcing in the Denver metro area.

When I got to Boulder for school, we used to head down to Larimer/Lawrence/Market streets to all the food suppliers there. What really got our attention was the ready availability of broken cartons/cases or foodstuffs that were no longer saleable to the restaurant trade. There were suppliers of every type of food item one could imagine, including locally processed lox which could be had by the end slices that weren't up to normal presentation quality for a fraction of the price of the prime stuff. We ate very well on a poor student's budget and a trip or two to Denver each month. The key, of course, was that we were all scratch cooks and didn't use anything that wasn't cheap fresh/frozen/dried.

My first Denver shop was just south of Alameda at Federal. The Vietnamese restaurants in the area and the food stores there were always an interesting experience, and I learned an entirely new set of vege's and bought lots of seafood there.

Times have certainly changed in the regional food supply biz. I watched Fred Knoebel expand to Nobel/Sysco Foods, now Sysco, and the demise of the slaughter/packing houses in the Denver area. The last I had contact with was Litvak Packing, later Champion Boxed Beef. Now it seems all the red meat plants (such as King Sooper's plant in Denver) in the area bring in cryovac'ed portions for final processing, although the Greeley Monfort plant still operates under it's new owners (sure miss being able to get the wrong sized portion cuts from their outlet store in Greeley ... used to buy Cheeksmeat by the carton or beef cuts that were partial cuts not up to the restaurant requirements ... for cheap). Strear/Longmont Foods now long gone, too, in Longmont, for fresh turkey.

But you've pointed out the exciting edge of the retail food biz that survives in the area. Well worth shopping there for foodies, you can get better pricing and a lot of stuff that isn't gonna' show up in the mainstream supermarkets of the area. One does, of course, have to adjust to a different standard of presentation there.

For convenience, when I'm traveling for my biz, I can usually make it to Pacific Ocean in Broomfield or to their store on Alameda. Thankfully, my freezer/refrigerator works well in my RV and I can bring home fish and other foodstuffs ... vege's, spices, seasonings, fish sauce, rice noodles, etc.

Of course, some of the local Farmer's Markets are worth taking a look into. One learns to shop the real producers rather than the resellers for the best local fresh stuff.

Always fun ... OP, if you've not looked into these aspects of the Denver food scene, do yourself a favor and check them out. You might save some money and have some wonderful dining experiences to explore. Staples like rice and peas and lentils and beans are a lot less expensive in those places and there's a host of foreign flavors in even these basics that are worth your time.

Last edited by sunsprit; 11-01-2014 at 11:00 PM..
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Old 11-02-2014, 06:30 AM
 
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I am not as good as livecontent in the kitchen, but I do have a lot of experience. There is a slight adjustment to the altitude, but the adjustment to different equipment (oven and cooktop) is far greater.

As far as brown rice, get a rice cooker. I bought this one at Target and it has been great. I especially like that I can set the timer for when I want the rice done and then concentrate on prep and cooking.
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:46 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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I'm not the greatest cook in the world, but I agree with some of livecontent's postings. Just cook the veggies a little longer. After while, you get used to it.

Most comprehensive cookbooks give you general high altitude directions, e.g. add more of this, less of that, etc.
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