Friday, January 14, 2011

Notes and Hints

This is a list that will be updated as I think of things to add!

I want to let everyone know that, as a rule, I don't add extra salt as I am cooking. Some dishes DO need salt added to them to taste "right". So feel free to salt any of the recipes that I have left salt out of.

Most of my recipes are very "open ended". I specify ingredients, but most of the time, no amounts or quantities. I grew up in a big family- six kids, and there were almost always neighbor kids eating with us. I raised seven kids myself. I am learning how to cook for two and four people these days. So, here are some of my rules for estimating how much to cook:

Potatoes- Count on one potato per person, plus "one for the pot" for every four people. (1.25 potatoes per person)

Carrots- one and a half carrots per person

Pasta- one regular "handful" (about 1/2 cup) per person, plus an extra handful for those you know will eat a lot... (i.e. teen boys, husbands) and of course, "one for the pot" for every 4 people. (4 people will use 2 1/2 cups dry pasta, most varieties)

Ratios... my "rules of  estimating" (above) are my own ratios, that I have worked from for the last 40 or so years. Other helpful ratios are:
Rice: 1 part rice to 2 parts water.
Oatmeal (rolled oats) 1 part Oats to 3 parts water

One of my favorite truisms: Baking is Science, Cooking is Art. This means you follow the recipe in baking, or you will more than likely end up with a failed outcome. With cooking, you can pretty much do anything you like. I have yet to come across a recipe that I didn't "tweak" in some manner while preparing it.

*To keep rice from being sticky, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar to the water it is cooked in.

*When cleaning up anything flour based, be sure to use COLD water. Using hot water turns the flour to paste, but cold water lets it rinse off.

*Use COLD liquid to dissolve cornstarch before adding it to sauces as a thickener. Using hot liquid causes lumps. Cornstarch needs to cook for at least one minute after adding in order to thicken.

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