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Outbreak AMA

A bowl of uncooked yellow eye beans on a slate table
My pantry, overflowing with beans, turns out to be a good thing.

It’s hard to focus on new blog posts in the middle of a pandemic. So I’m stealing an idea from Youtube: It’s time for a Quarantine Q&A!1

Any questions?

What cooking questions do you have? (I’ll take non-cooking questions, too, if they’re not too out there.)

Leave your questions in the comments section below, and I’ll answer them (and use them in a follow-up Q&A post.)

Hand Washing from AB

As a bonus, my food hero Alton Brown has a new video out on how to wash your hands:

Video: ABs Handwashing Tutorial [YouTube.com]

His command to “Wash your CHICKENY HANDS!” keeps running through my head – but in a good way.

We’ll get through this together.

John Green, paraphrasing Robert Frost, said:

“The only way out is through. And the only way through is together.”

Stay safe out there, everyone.

  1. We’re not literally quarantined. Just trying to be socially responsible and practice social distancing, staying home as much as possible. Who knew that buying lots of Rancho Gordo beans and bags of Jasmine rice meant I was prepping for a pandemic?

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Filed under: Ramblings


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Did you know that an Instant Pot can be used as an autoclave?

    I found this on the science journal PLOS ONE at https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0208769

    A cross-disciplinary panel did a study, and found that the basic IP-DUO8 was effective at sterilizing a variety of instruments and media, including inactivating the hardest-to-kill Geobacillus stearothermophilus endospores. (These are apparently the acid test for autoclaving.) Several brands were tested, but only the IP could pass all of their testing.

    Although the IP took somewhat longer than a full-on autoclave, it is a fraction of the price ($4000 for an autoclave), compact, and readily available everywhere. It is ideal for field laboratory use, or for emergency situations in field-like hospitals, the like of which we will be seeing everywhere soon.

    Stay well, and sterilize everything..

  2. Chris says

    I’ve looked at Rancho Gordo beans, but have not ordered because the shipping cost puts them just a bit beyond what I want to spend on beans. What’s your approach to keep orders financially reasonable?

    • I don’t worry about the price – Rancho Gordo beans are a splurge, one I’m willing to pay extra for.
      That said, ordering $50 worth of beans gets me free shipping, so I *do* place fewer, larger orders.

  3. Linda B says

    Long time lurker here, born in OH, but escaped as soon as I could. Love your site.

    And I love the Ohio trivia. If we live long enough to get back there, we will be checking out your favorite Eastern European butcher shops. (None of those where I grew up.)

    We are also blessed to have many pounds of Rancho Gordo beans in the pantry right now. Who knew bean club was a pandemic semi antidote?

    Tonight we had Rancho Gordo large French white beans (Mogette) for dinner. You have not posted about these particular beans. So, flying blind, I soaked them for 6.5 hours, in which time they swelled up considerably. You didn’t have a recipe for these specific beans. From what I saw on the web they should have cooked in around 1.5-2 hours on the stovetop. Ha, it was more like 3-4 hours, just in case any other Rancho Gordo mogette folks are reading. Added (previously sautéed) mirepoix the last 20 minutes and served with merguez. Satisfying dinner even though I forgot the tomatoes to add the last minute acid.

    Love your bean recipes and your pressure cooker recipes. Stay the course!

  4. Rita says

    Loved it! Thanks for passing AB’s video on, Mike! I picked up a few tips and the timing in AB’s method is easier to keep track of than singing “Happy Birthday.” On the other hand my singing voice just might traumatize those little viri into total submission.

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