You Probably Have a Favorite Burner, But You Might Be Using It Wrong

iStock.com/mbolina
iStock.com/mbolina

Lately, there’s been a fun debate on social media over which burner people prefer when using a four-burner stove. It’s one of the strange quirks of adulthood that we tend to have a “favorite” and “least favorite” burner. (Anybody out there use the back left? Yeah, we didn’t think so.)

It might surprise you, however, that the arrangement of differently-sized burners isn’t random. Each one has an intended purpose, depending on the meal you’re cooking, and it's placed there for a reason.

The largest burner is called a “power burner,” and it’s specifically designed for searing meats and boiling water quickly. The medium-sized burners are “all-purpose” or “standard” burners. And the smallest burner, which is known as a “simmer burner,” is designed for low-flame cooking (think delicate work like tempering chocolate).

You’ve probably noticed that, on many stovetops, your simmer burner is placed somewhere in the back while the power burner sits up front. (The standard burner is a wildcard.) There’s a safety reason for this arrangement: When you’re cooking, you rarely want to reach over an open flame. Items that are simmering generally require less attention than items being cooked on a power burner, so the simmer burner often gets relegated to the back of the stovetop. (Think of the arrangement as mealtime triage.)

Believe it or not, a lot of thought has probably been put into this placement. The ergonomics of stovetop design is a real (and surprisingly complicated) field. Have you ever placed a pan on an electric stove and turned the knob only to realize 10 minutes later that you twisted the wrong control? “The four-burner stove problem is an outstanding issue in ergonomic design,” researchers complain in the journal Ergonomics. (Most ergonomic studies, however, focus less on the arrangement of the burners and more on where the control knobs should be located—and which hotplate those knobs should control [PDF].)

And it turns out that the stovetop isn’t the only surprise lurking in your kitchen. You know that drawer underneath your oven? It’s not there for storing stray pots, pans, and cookie sheets. Depending on the model, that might be a warming drawer. You may be able to use it as a drawer for proofing dough (a.k.a. a "proving drawer" for fans of The Great British Baking Show) or as a space to keep cooked meals warm before suppertime.

As one owner’s manual reportedly states: “The warming drawer is designed to keep hot foods at serving temperature. Always start with hot food. Cold or room-temperature foods cannot be heated, warmed, or cooked in the warming drawer. Bacteria will grow very rapidly in food that is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Microwave Your Food Safely With This Soft Silicone Lunch Box

ParentDiary
ParentDiary

Even if the contents of your lunch are healthy, the container you pack it in may pose a threat to your health. Heating up some plastic food storage containers can release harmful chemicals, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics warns families to avoid putting such products in the microwave or dishwasher. (And there's still some debate as to what constitutes a microwave-safe plastic.) But the All-Silicone Lunch Box, a storage product currently raising money on Kickstarter, is strong enough to stand up to a range of temperatures, allowing you to safely put it in the freezer, the microwave, and the dishwasher.

This lunch container is made from silicone instead of plastic, making it a safer choice for kids and adults. The flexible box is easy to seal, open, and wash (either by hand or in the dishwasher). And whether you're using it to store leftovers in the freezer or heat up your lunch in the office kitchen, the All-Silicone Lunch Box is designed to maintain its shape and not leech anything unsavory into your food.

After originally releasing a single-compartment box, ParentDiary has now developed a lunch box with dividers, too. The container is now available with three compartments (perfect for snacks or bento boxes), or two compartments (with each side just big enough to fit half a sandwich).

The All-Silicone Lunch Box has over a month left to reach its $4000 funding goal and has raised $1000 so far.

Pledge $12 or more on Kickstarter by May 19 to reserve your own lunch box, with shipping set for June. For more packed lunch inspiration (including some other great silicone options), check out these products.

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The Joy of Breakfast: Bob Ross Cereal Is Here to Make Mornings a Little Happier

FYE
FYE

Bob Ross's sunny disposition is the perfect match for breakfast. The painter and television personality already has his own toaster, and now Food & Wine reports that he's also inspired a breakfast cereal.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Cereal channels the many landscape paintings Bob Ross produced on his television series, The Joy of Painting. It's loaded with toasted oat bites and colorful marshmallows shapes. There are seven distinct marshmallow pieces—happy little trees, happy little accidents, almighty mountains, guiding stars, rainbow hearts, charming little cabins, and lovely little bushes—but like a good artist, you may need to get creative to figure out which shape matches which description.

While starting your day with a bowl of Bob Ross cereal, you can further awaken your artistic side by looking at the back of the box. The package features a cutout “positivity paint palate” with inspirational quotes from the painter. Reading them first thing in the morning is the next best thing to watching reruns of the The Joy of Painting on YouTube.

Bob Ross: The Joy of Cereal is now available from FYE for $10 a box. For Bob Ross merchandise with an even longer shelf life, check out these products.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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