Helpful Hints

Ever been stuck on something while cooking or baking, and your Mom isn’t home, and no one is answering your desperate calls? This page is the answer. I’m doing what I can to collect as many helpful hints together in one place, but if you have something to add, please send me an email (talesfromakitchen@gmail.com) or Tweet @kitchentales!

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CONVERSIONS

This is just a generic list of conversion. If you have some complicated math I recommend using Google. Typing in “3 tbsp in ml” often yields good results.

1 cup = 250ml = 8 fl oz
1 tsp = 5ml
1 tbsp = 15ml

A really nifty conversion poster I found online (and plan on ordering soon to adorn my kitchen wall): The Common Cook’s How-Many Guide to Kitchen Conversions

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INTERNAL TEMPERATURES OF COOKED MEAT

I find the one thing I am constantly looking up is the internal temperature of cooked meat. When cooking meat whole (like a pot roast, whole chicken, turkey, etc) it is easiest to use a meat thermometer to read the internal temperature, rather than relying on time. This does two things – the first, it makes sure your meat is actually cooked. Cooking times can and often do vary. The second thing measuring the temperature does is helps ensure you do not overcook your meat. There is nothing worse than following the cooking temperature and time directions on a recipe, only to end up with overcooked and dry meat. Here is a handy chart for you to use; you can also find information about safe internal cooking temperatures online here.

MEAT (beef, pork, lamb, veal, etc.) TEMPERATURE
Beef, veal and lamb (pieces and whole cuts)
Medium-rare 63°C (145°F)
Medium 71°C (160°F)
Well done 77°C (170°F)
Mechanically tenderized beef (solid cut)
Beef, veal 63°C (145°F)
Steak (turn over at least twice during cooking) 63°C (145°F)
Pork (ham, pork loin, ribs)
Pork (pieces and whole cuts) 71°C (160°F)
Ground meat / meat mixtures (burgers, sausages, meatballs, meatloaf, casseroles)
Beef, veal, lamb and pork 71°C (160°F)
POULTRY (chicken, turkey, duck) TEMPERATURE
Pieces 74°C (165°F)
Whole 85°C (185°F)
Ground poultry (chicken, turkey) 74°C (165°F)

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SUBSTITUTIONS

– Coriander leaves = fresh cilantro. (NOTE: Fresh cilantro cannot be substituted for dried ground coriander. They have very different flavours.)

– Scallions = you can use green onions, usually just the white part.

– Chives = you can use green onions, usually just the green part.

– Mirin (sweet Japanese wine) = dry Sherry, OR 1/4 tsp sugar + 1/4 cup dry white wine

– Eggs =
1/4 cup milk (or water) + 1 tsp baking powder + 1 tsp vegetable oil
OR
1/4 cup apple sauce + 1/2 tsp baking powder
OR
1 cup milk + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
(all of these replace one egg, and should be left to sit for 1 minute before adding to recipe).

– Butter = for dairy free options, margarine usually works just fine. The one exception I have found to this is good shortbread cookies really do need real butter.

– Milk = my favorite non-dairy option is plain rice milk. I’ve found that the vanilla rice milk does well in baked goods, as it adds some nice vanilla flavor.

– Buttermilk = 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 1 cup regular OR soy milk. It might curdle and get chunky – that is ok. Buttermilk is slightly soured milk after all.

– Self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp white table salt (fine)

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OTHER MISCELLANEOUS TIPS

– If cooking with spicy peppers, wash your hands in cold water. Washing in hot water opens the pores and allows the spice to penetrate deeper into your skin. After about 20-30 minutes you can wash thoroughly with warm water and soap. You can also purchase medical gloves from many places and wear them while cooking with spicy peppers (or garlic, or anything you don’t want to smell on your hands all day).

– Keep ginger root in the freezer; it preserves the flavor really well, and is easy to grate. There is also no need to peel ginger- once you grate it the peel is kind of moot point.

– If you need to chop sausages for a recipe, put them in the freezer for 30 minutes; they are easier to cut and maintain their shape better. Alternatively you can bake sausages for a few minutes and then chop.

– How to cut spring rolls – use scissors. Seriously. (After they are cooked.)

– How to chop an onion: leave the root on! Cut off the top, flip on it’s end and cut in half, leaving the root attached. A) it gives you something to hold onto, B) it helps keep the juices in and keeps you from crying as quickly. Cut lengthwise towards the root, turn onion, and cut widthwise. You can also run onion under cold water before chopping, and light a tall candle next to the chopping board to help with crying.

– Neat trick to separate egg whites and yolks, especially if you have to do a lot, shown in this video.

– To peel lots of garlic cloves easily, take a dry(er) garlic head, break off the loose skin, and put the head (whole) into a stainless steel pot. Put on the lid, and give it a good shake. The peel and skin will loosen, the head will break apart, and you’ll have peeled garlic ready to go. Works better on garlic that has been sitting out for a few days and is not as soft and springy. If your garlic is still newly bought and still soft/springy, it will just take more shaking and won’t work quite as well, but will still clean most of the cloves.

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3 thoughts on “Helpful Hints

  1. Other Random Hint – when measuring honey or molasses in a tablespoon/measuring cup, first coat the spoon/cup with oil and then pour in the honey/molasses. It will just then easily pour out, and it is easy to wash.

  2. Here is another hint: to get rid of the smell of garlic or onions smell off of your hands – rub them on the stainless steel of your sink. Contribute by Teri

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