quantifying – weighing – counting & more

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Everything is denoted in the metric system. We are talking about metre (meter), kilogram & litre (liter).
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: 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 relaxed 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:

  • scales (no microscales!) & measuring jugs
  • a tablespoon (tbsp – about 15 ml)
  • a teaspoon (tsp – about 5 ml).

…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 your trusted 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… Trust me: your day-to-day business can be managed smoothly by using all-purpose tools!)
  • a hand-held mixer, a hand-held blender & a stand-alone blender (all electric)
  • a slow cooker.

You see: you won’t need lots of specialized & expensive equipment for home cooking! There is no need to clutter your kitchen boards & cabinets with cute 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 refer to electrical stoves & ovens.

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 15-20° Celsius to the target temperature.

…& I use always the nice effect that an electric cooking plate or oven remains hot even if you switch off the energy. My rule: you may switch off a cooking plate up to 5 min earlier & an oven up to 10-15 min earlier. (I don’t refer to this in my recipes!!! If I recommend to bake a cake for 40 min you may be sure that I switch off the oven after 35 min… w/o opening the oven – of course!)

 

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!) good average times.

However, if it’s about preparation times…

  • 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.
  • Sometimes I clean & trim vegetables very fast because I’m familiar with the beast – 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.
  • …& finally: I cannot estimate how much time you’ll need for some preps because it depends on your experience & your equipment.

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

 

Organic 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.)

 

Whole-grain Food

I don’t use whole-grain/wholemeal food (e g. flour, rice, pasta etc.) except 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 come frozen when fresh products aren’t available.

 

Ingredients

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). In general 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/black pepper only, use as you like.
Salt & pepper are always to taste!

Mediterranean herbs cover basil, rosemary, 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.

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 a small container or screw-top jar on minimum 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 small glass container.

I use oils like olive oil extra virgin (mostly from Southern Europe), 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.

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.

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

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

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

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 a classic short-grain rice like Arborio rice from Italy or so.

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).

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

For dairy produktI prefer:

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

For shredded/grated cheese I prefer:

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

Pls stay away from any packaged low-calorie “shredded mixed cheese“. Always.

In general I use South Tyrolean bacon sliced very, very thinly (Pancetta if available).

I like to use fresh spring onions: they are always in my fridge! Spring onions may also be labelled “green onions” or “scallions”. Depending on season they resemble sticks or end in a bulb.
(Spring onions can be portioned far better than classic bigger onions – less waste.)
So it’s always spring onions unless explicitly otherwise noted (like red onions or Spanish onions).

 

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