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Cooking/Baking Helpful Hints

How to Convert Liquid Measurements

1. Three teaspoons = 1 tablespoon.

2. Four tablespoons = 1/4 cup or 2 fluid ounces

3. Eight fluid ounces = 1 cup.

4. Two cups = 1 pint.

5. Two pints = 1 quart or 32 fluid ounces.

6. Four quarts = 1 gallon or 128 fluid ounces.

7. Three and one-half gallons = 1 barrel.

8. Two barrels = 1 hogshead.

Liquid Measurement Conversion

Fluid Ounces  U.S. Measurement

1/6                     1 teaspoon

½                      1 tablespoon or 3 teaspoons

1                       2 tablespoons

2                       ¼ cup or 4 tablespoons

4                       ½ cup or 8 tablespoons or ¼ pint

6                       ¾ cup or 12 tablespoons

8                       1 cup or 16 tablespoons or ½ pint

10                      1 ¼ cups or 20 tablespoons

12                      1 ½ cups or 24 tablespoons or ¾ pint

14                      1 ¾ cups

16                      2 cups or 1 pint

18                      2 ¼ cups

20                      2 ½ cups

24                      3 cups or 1 ½ pints

28                      3 ½ cups

32                      4 cups or 2 pints or 1 quart

Solid Measure Conversions

Ounces  Pounds

4                       ¼

8                       ½

16                      1

20                      1 ¼

24                      1 ½

28                      1 ¾

32                      2

36                      2 ¼

40                      2 ½

48                      3

64                      4

72                      4 ½

80                      5

Baking Substitutions

Instead of 1 Cup You can Use

self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt

cake flour = 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

light-brown sugar = 1 cup white granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses

molasses = ¾ cup dark-brown sugar plus ¼ cup water

whole-wheat flour = 7/8 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons wheat germ

On Cilantro: Choose leaves with a bright, even color and no sign of wilting. Cilantro may be stored for up to 1 week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Or place the bunch, stems down, in a glass of water and cover with a plastic bag, securing the bag to the glass with a rubber band. Refrigerate, changing water every 2 or 3 days. Just before using cilantro, wash and pat dry with paper towels. Both the leaves and relatively tender stems can be used in fresh or cooked dishes.

You'll get added flavor as well as protection from discoloration if you sprinkle avocado with lime juice instead of lemon juice.

Always add extracts and other flavorings to the butter, rather than to other ingredients in a recipe. Butter picks up flavor more readily.

To cut calories, use applesauce in place of one third to one half of the shortening or butter in brownies, muffins, and simple cakes.

A medium garlic clove, minced, equals about 1/8 teaspoon.

The best way to grill food is the two-step method, that is, to precook by microwave and to finish on the grill. This not only speeds grilling but also ensures succulence. For example, lay chicken pieces skin-side down in a microwave-proof dish. Cover with wax paper and microwave at 100 percent power, allowing 6 minutes per pound and turning and rearranging chicken at halftime. Refrigerate until ready to proceed, then grill chicken 5 minutes on a side.

Sliced fruit will not turn brown and will look fresher if you place the slices in a bowl of cool water that has 2 vitamin C tablets dissolved in the bowl of water...

Buttermilk Substitution: BUTTERMILK OR SOUR MILK 1 cup = 1 cup plain yogurt OR 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1 cup (let stand 5 minutes) OR 1 3/4 tsp cream of tartar plus 1 cup milk

Reheating Corn Tortillas

There are several methods for reheating corn tortillas: dry heat (gas flame), moist heat (steamer and microwave) and oily heat (dry-frying).

Dry heat: This method works only if your tortillas have been made that day. Heat the tortillas directly over the flame (or on a griddle or skillet), flipping them until toasty and pliable.

Moist heat of a steamer: This is easier for larger quantities of corn tortillas, especially if you need to hold them hot for a little while. Pour 1/2 inch water into the bottom of the steamer, then line the steaming basket with a clean, heavy kitchen towel. Lay the tortillas in the basket in stacks of 12 (a small vegetable steamer will accommodate only one stack; a large Asian steamer will hold three or four stacks). Fold the edges of the towel over the tortillas to cover them, set the lid in place, bring the water to a boil and let boil only for 1 minute, then turn off the fire and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. If you wish to keep the tortillas hot for up to an hour, slip the steamer into a low oven or reheat the water periodically.

Moist heat of a microwave: This easy method works best with no more than a dozen tortillas. Drizzle a clean kitchen towel with 3 tablespoons water and wring the towel to even distribute the moisture. Use the towel to line a microwave-safe casserole dish (8 or 9 inches in diameter is best). Lay in a dozen tortillas, cover with the towel and the lid, then microwave at 50 percent power for 4 minutes. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. The tortillas will stay warm for 20 minutes.

Oily heat: Though it's not much a part of home cooking, street vendors of seared-meat tacos reheat fresh tortillas with the heat of a slightly oily griddle — they're not so much frying the tortillas (which would mean completely submerging the tortillas in oil) as griddle-heating them with a tiny bit of oil.

When just-baked tortillas come off the griddle or when they've been reheated, they're traditionally kept warm in a tightly woven basket (chiquihuite) lined with a cloth; some have lids, others don't. In the Yucatan, they use hollowed-out gourds. And in modern households, they use Styrofoam containers — which are so efficient that they now come in many decorated styles. If you're having a party, hold hot tortillas in an insulated chest (like an ice chest) lined with a towel.

(Just a hint: When you bake a Ham or Turkey in the oven use a deep enough baking pan that you can add about one inch of water to the bottom of the pan. you can even add seasonings to the water like I do when I make Spanish Turkey.

Saving Burnt Meat

Now I need to let you know I went to do something in another room and when I came back to the kitchen the meat was burning big time. Smoke was everywhere and it smelled of burnt.

What you do is immediately grab the pan, take it to the sink, and add water. But be careful that it does not splatter on you and burn you.

Then loosen the meat carefully with a bamboo or wooden spatula or spoon. Pour the meat and burnt juice into a colander in the sink. Then wash and/or pick off all the burnt sections. Wash the pan, add the clean meat to the pan, and continue on.

If the burnt food is a soup, stew, potatoes, or something like that, just pour the food into another pan, but leave the stuck part in the old pan. Do not try to get it out or the burnt part will go too. You have no idea how many times I have burned something and then salvaged/changed it into a scrumptious meal. 

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