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.”

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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Why Do We Say ‘Spill the Beans’?

This is a Greek tragedy.
This is a Greek tragedy.
anthony_taylor/iStock via Getty Images

Though superfans of The Office may claim otherwise, the phrase spill the beans did not originate when Kevin Malone dropped a massive bucket of chili at work during episode 26 of season five. In fact, people supposedly started talking about spilling the beans more than 2000 years ago.

According to Bloomsbury International, one voting method in ancient Greece involved (uncooked) beans. If you were voting yes on a certain matter, you’d place a white bean in the jar; if you were voting no, you’d use your black bean. The jar wasn’t transparent, and since the votes were meant to be kept secret until the final tally, someone who accidentally knocked it over mid-vote was literally spilling the beans—and figuratively spilling the beans about the results.

While we don’t know for sure that the phrase spill the beans really does date all the way back to ancient times, we do know that people have used the word spill to mean “divulge” at least since the 16th century. The Oxford English Dictionary’s earliest known reference of it is from a letter written by Spanish chronicler Antonio de Guevara sometime before his death in 1545 (the word spill appears in Edward Hellowes’s 1577 translation of the letter).

Writers started to pair spill with beans during the 20th century. The first known mention is from Thomas K. Holmes’s 1919 novel The Man From Tall Timber: “‘Mother certainly has spilled the beans!’ thought Stafford in vast amusement.”

In short, it’s still a mystery why people decided that beans were an ideal food to describe spilling secrets. As for whether you’re imagining hard, raw beans like the Greeks used or the tender, seasoned beans from Kevin Malone’s ill-fated chili, we’ll leave that up to you.

[h/t Bloomsbury International]