quantifying – weighing – counting & more

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Units

Everything is denoted in the international metric system i. e. we’re using:

  • millilitre resp. litre for quantifying
  • gram resp. kilogram for weighing
  • millimetre resp. centimetre for measure of length
  • … and natural numbers as well as rational numbers & fractional numbers for counting
    (just to show my solid mathematical background!).

Yes – I know: there is the absolutely handy use of the “cup”. For a rough conversion I suggest:

  • 1 cup flour is about 130 g (or even easier to convert: 150 g)
    100 g flour is about 2/3 cup
  • 1 cup sugar is about 200 g
    100 g sugar is about 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup “liquid” is about 250 ml
    100 ml “liquid” is about 2/5 cup (let’s say about 1/2 cup).

If you love details: there are exhaustive charts in moment in a jelly jar – a private food blog.
If you love more details on historical facts & different cups in UK & US: approach trustingly your Wikipedia.

 

How to measure?

Although I’ve got a background in science requiring a love of details when experimenting & documenting I never was in my kitchen as painstakingly precise as in the lab. Home cooking is a relaxing affair: so we should be relaxed when measuring whatever… i. e. if weighing 250 g flour it might result in 260 g… which doesn’t matter in general.
In practise I use:

  • my scales (of course, however, no microscales covering 0 – 10 g or so)
  • my measuring jug (for millilitres as well as cups!)
  • a tablespoon (about 15 ml – in short in my recipes: tbsp)
  • a teaspoon (about 5 ml – in short in my recipes: tsp).

…and concerning the amounts in recipes:

  • example:
    1.500 g potatoes mean “whole potatoes with skin”
    1.000 g apples mean “whole apples with skin & core & seeds”

It’s always the “brutto” as you buy in the food store (or wherever) – unless explicitly otherwise noted!

 

Temperature

All temperature information is in ° Celsius.

(If you like to convert:
Take the Fahrenheit value, subtract 32, divide by 2, add 10% (subtract if negative).
Take the Celsius value, subtract 10% (add if negative), multiply by 2, add 32.)

 

Equipment

Well… I don’t have a well-equipped kitchen offering all imaginable electrical or non-electrical features & gadgets for cooking & baking. Actually it’s more a minimalistic operation:

  • some stainless steel pots
  • some non-stick baking dishes
  • some earthenware casseroles
  • a wok (!)
  • a ceramic coated non-stick frying pan
  • a knife set (from a vegetable peeler to a big Japanese cook’s knife)
  • some wooden boards for cutting & chopping
  • very few special tools like a garlic press, a parmesan grater, an egg slicer etc.
    (I lack a lot of special tools – not to mention one of these new fancy spiralizers for vegetables. Well: most of the time you can manage by using all-purpose tools!)
  • a hand-held mixer, a simple hand-held blender & an electric blender
  • well… my last acquisition is a “slow cooker” (inspired by many recipes I found recently in lots of food blogs – let’s see what happens with my new kitchen toy!)

You see: you won’t need lots of special & expensive equipment for home cooking! So there is no need to clutter your kitchen boards & cabinets with specialized items you’ll use only once a year or less.
(Of course there is an Italian espresso automat I feed continuously with beans & water to produce best espresso – remember: I can’t survive w/o espresso!)

By the way amounts of butter/oil/etc. are always consistent with my equipment (non-stick pans need far less fat than non-non-stick pans!).

 

Stove & Oven

I never used anything, but electricity for cooking & baking. Gas was never a (technical) option, so I don’t have any experience with gas. Consequently all my recipes always refer to electrical stoves & ovens especially all notes concerning baking & cooking times, turning off the heat in advance etc.

Furthermore I always turn on the ofen fan (if not: I’ll state this in the recipe explicitly!):

  • All temperature values refer to fan use.
  • If you don’t use a fan, just add about 20° Celsius to the target temperature.

 

Confession about Cooking Times

I have trouble with specifying cooking times in my recipes!

Ok: If we’re talking about how long to bake some cake or roast poultry it’s fine – I can state (rather!) exact times.

However, if it’s about preparation times it’s just difficult:

  • When preparing something in my kitchen I’m always occupied with other household tasks in parallel e. g. unloading the washing machine or filling the dishwasher.
  • Furthermore I try to take lots of pictures which is somewhat time-consuming e. g. when arranging the food beforehand.
  • Sometimes I clean & trim vegetables very fast because I’m familiar with the task – sometimes I start from scratch with some very new approach.
  • Sometimes I need a coffee break or prepare a sandwich to prevent me from starving during the day.
  • I cannot estimate how much time you’ll need for some preps because I don’t know your experience & your equipment.

In short:
Any preparation time is an educated guess based on the net time I needed in my kitchen.

 

Organic & Whole-grain Food

I use organic food if available.
(As a rule organic eggs are always in my pantry as well as most of my herbs & spices are organic. Vegetables & meat depend on supply.)

I don’t use whole-grain/wholemeal food (e g. flour, rice, pasta etc.) if not explicitly stated in a recipe. Therefore all cooking times refer to non-whole-grain/non-wholemeal food: if you like to use whole-grain/wholemeal products instead you’ll have to adjust the cooking times by yourself.

Well… in this context:
I don’t use any processed food like (almost) totally fat reduced dairy products or so as well as lactose/gluten/fructose-free denoted products especially processed for the sake of whatever. (Of course: there are lots of products that are lactose/gluten/fructose-free by nature & origin… in short: I don’t care about any lactose/gluten/fructose!) If anyone has got special food intolerances pls keep in mind to change any recipe accordingly by yourself.

 

Frozen Food

I rely on frozen food when fresh products aren’t available. Fresh peas are only on market during June & July – therefore I buy frozen peas for the rest of the year. The same is valid for raspberries & blueberries etc.

Fish & seafood comes frozen when fresh products aren’t available.

 

 

Ingredients

I like to summarize some information on basic ingredients valid for all recipes.

 

Salt

I use sea salt in general; I also have a salt-herbs mill (once an useful present combining salt with Mediterranean herbs I fill up again & again).
I don’t quantify salt in my recipes because each person likes or dislikes salt individually – I prefer always less salt.
So feel free to use as much salt as you like.

 

Pepper

I use mixed peppercorns (black pepper, white pepper, green pepper, red pepper…) & grind freshly in my pepper mill. If you prefer very finely ground pure white pepper only, use as you like.
Concerning quantities: pls refer to “salt”!
(In contrary to salt, however, I like ground pepper – lots of it!)

 

Mediterranean Herbs (& more)

I’m talking of:

  • Basil
  • Rosmary
  • Thyme
  • Bay leaves
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley
  • Chives

From spring to autumn I grow these herbs – or some of them – on the window sill in my kitchen.
(I tried to grow the herbs in the garden, but unfortunately some garden species like ants & greenflies were attracted as if there were hidden magnets… so now it’s the window sill!)
If fresh herbs aren’t available I use the dried version.

 

Spices

Over the years I assembled quite a lot of spices – most of them of the organic version.

When you need some spice – which isn’t sitting in your kitchen pantry – as a rule there’s always at least a  a small container or screw-top jar on offer although you’ll need only a pinch or so. Spices are very long-lasting if you keep them dry & cool & dark: so clear some kitchen cabinet to start your own assembly… and stay away from spices in paper sachets if not able to rescue the remains in a container.

 

Oil

I use:

  • olive oil extra virgin (mostly from Italy)
  • peanut oil
  • Asia oil (peanut oil flavored with lemongrass, ginger, coriander, chili, pepper…)
  • dark roasted sesame oil
  • … and all oils (or special vinegars) coming as a present from time to time.

 

Vinegar

I only use balsamico (balsamic vinegar – very dark & very rich).

Years ago I used to mix my own home-made vinegar (I’m not a real vinegar lover!) by combining white or red wine with very few vinegar concentrate & lots of dried Mediterranean herbs – until I discovered the smooth taste of balsamico.

 

Flour

I use all-purpose flour (if not explicitly noted otherwise).

 

Sugar

I like fine white sugar or icing/powdered sugar for baking & desserts – alongside I use brown sugar.
If there is no reference to icing/powder sugar or brown sugar it’s always fine white sugar.

 

Pasta

It’s always Italian pasta (durum wheat) w/o eggs.

 

Rice

It’s Himalayan Basmati rice from India or Yasmine rice from Thailand – each is a long-grain rice used for cooked rice as well as fried rice.

For any risotto (or paella etc.) I use Arborio rice from Italy (a short-grain rice).

 

Eggs

It’s always organic free-range eggs (medium size).

For conversion: 4 small eggs (XS) make 3 medium eggs (M) make 2 big eggs (XXL).

 

Poultry

I prefer free-range poultry (organic – if available).

 

Dairy Produkts

I prefer:

  • milk with 1,5% fat
  • plain yogurt with 3,5% fat
  • Greek yogurt with 10% fat
  • sour cream with 20% fat
  • creme fraiche with 30 % fat
  • whipping cream with 32% fat.

 

Shredded/Grated Cheese

I mainly use:

  • Gruyère (I always shred by myself on my square grater)
  • Parmesan (I always grate by myself…)
  • Pecorino (I always…)

Well: there are also packaged Parmesan shavings available – as well as very fine ground Parmesan!

…& pls stay away from any packaged low-calorie “shredded mixed cheese”!

 

Bacon

I use either South Tyrolean Bacon or Pancetta – both sliced very, very thinly.

 

Onions

I like to use spring onions: they are always in my kitchen!
Spring onions may also be labelled “green onions” or “scallions”. Depending on the season they resemble sticks or end in a bulb.
(My reason for using spring onions is mainly that you can portion far better than with bigger onions.)
So it’s always spring onions unless explicitly otherwise noted (like red onions or Spanish onions).

 

 

to be continued

 

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