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  • Definitions and other such drudgery

    So, when I got started on this whole idea of creating and putting up recipes and indeed sort of a "cooking manual" for people to use, the idea at first was just to throw my ideas at a verbal wall and see if they stuck there.

    Then I started thinking about it more and realized that, among other things, firm definitions are needed. Any lawyer will tell you that the definitions are utterly crucial in a contract (or, indeed, something like criminal law), and without those we're essentially not speaking the same language. The same goes here, to a lesser degree of catastrophe if something goes wrong, but it still applies: if I'm talking about what I commonly understand to be a spoon and you think that what I mean is not a spoon but a chainsaw, then things aren't going to go well.

    So, as we go along on this journey, I'm going to post definitions of things along with any cautionary information that might be needed for that particular item (don't put a skillet with plastic handles in the oven, for example). Some of this will be translating Yankee into Southern and/or English into American. A lot of it will seem overly simplistic.

    And indeed most of my recipes will come off to a lot of people as almost condescending. That's not really my intent, but I realized that I need to write this on almost a first-grade level in order to be inclusive of everyone. I only wish that someone had taught me stuff around the kitchen at that level when I started cooking on my own because it would have saved me a lot of heartache and ruined meals. Once I started really thinking about how to write up these recipes, I realized that there are just different styles of writing that one has to apply. You can't really write a repair manual for a '68 Chevelle in the style of a children's book...
    You turn the bolt with the wrench marked 5/8
    or the result you get will be something you hate!

    And you can't really write recipes in the style of a romance novel, either...

    He gently lifted the egg out of the perfectly steaming water bath, and its flesh quivered at his touch. The precious yolk, unable to restrain itself any longer, exploded with yellow goodness as soon as he gently touched it with his fork....

    So I have to write these in a fashion that essentially assumes the reader has never been in a kitchen before, and that starts with definitions of things, styles, actions, etc. so that the reader can understand this and apply it in order to cook properly and have a result that they want. If not, they're likely to get frustrated and decide that they "just can't cook" and stop trying. Not a desirable end result for someone trying to teach people recipes so that they can eat well. Personally, I don't believe that anyone "can't cook," they just haven't been taught properly. My great-grandmother had a saying that has always stuck with me since she told it to me as a very young child gripping the nap of her apron in the kitchen: "if you're hungry and you can read, then you can cook." And it makes a lot of sense when you think about it: cooking is just a step-by-step process of transforming material into something edible and, hopefully, tasty.

    So, this thread will be a repository of definitions of actions and things to be used as a reference for recipes everywhere, not just my own.
    It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
    In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
    Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
    Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

  • #2
    Originally posted by Adam View Post
    So, when I got started on this whole idea of creating and putting up recipes and indeed sort of a "cooking manual" for people to use, the idea at first was just to throw my ideas at a verbal wall and see if they stuck there.

    Then I started thinking about it more and realized that, among other things, firm definitions are needed. Any lawyer will tell you that the definitions are utterly crucial in a contract (or, indeed, something like criminal law), and without those we're essentially not speaking the same language. The same goes here, to a lesser degree of catastrophe if something goes wrong, but it still applies: if I'm talking about what I commonly understand to be a spoon and you think that what I mean is not a spoon but a chainsaw, then things aren't going to go well.

    So, as we go along on this journey, I'm going to post definitions of things along with any cautionary information that might be needed for that particular item (don't put a skillet with plastic handles in the oven, for example). Some of this will be translating Yankee into Southern and/or English into American. A lot of it will seem overly simplistic.

    And indeed most of my recipes will come off to a lot of people as almost condescending. That's not really my intent, but I realized that I need to write this on almost a first-grade level in order to be inclusive of everyone. I only wish that someone had taught me stuff around the kitchen at that level when I started cooking on my own because it would have saved me a lot of heartache and ruined meals. Once I started really thinking about how to write up these recipes, I realized that there are just different styles of writing that one has to apply. You can't really write a repair manual for a '68 Chevelle in the style of a children's book...
    You turn the bolt with the wrench marked 5/8
    or the result you get will be something you hate!

    And you can't really write recipes in the style of a romance novel, either...

    He gently lifted the egg out of the perfectly steaming water bath, and its flesh quivered at his touch. The precious yolk, unable to restrain itself any longer, exploded with yellow goodness as soon as he gently touched it with his fork....

    So I have to write these in a fashion that essentially assumes the reader has never been in a kitchen before, and that starts with definitions of things, styles, actions, etc. so that the reader can understand this and apply it in order to cook properly and have a result that they want. If not, they're likely to get frustrated and decide that they "just can't cook" and stop trying. Not a desirable end result for someone trying to teach people recipes so that they can eat well. Personally, I don't believe that anyone "can't cook," they just haven't been taught properly. My great-grandmother had a saying that has always stuck with me since she told it to me as a very young child gripping the nap of her apron in the kitchen: "if you're hungry and you can read, then you can cook." And it makes a lot of sense when you think about it: cooking is just a step-by-step process of transforming material into something edible and, hopefully, tasty.

    So, this thread will be a repository of definitions of actions and things to be used as a reference for recipes everywhere, not just my own.
    Well, I don't know about the recipes yet; to me, a good recipe is one that is as precise as a chemistry experiment: if you follow the directions, it will turn out right every time.

    OTOH, I think you have a real future as a writer of Harlequin romances.
    "Since the historic ruling, the Lovings have become icons for equality. Mildred released a statement on the 40th anniversary of the ruling in 2007: 'I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'." - Mildred Loving (Loving v. Virginia)

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
      Well, I don't know about the recipes yet; to me, a good recipe is one that is as precise as a chemistry experiment: if you follow the directions, it will turn out right every time.

      OTOH, I think you have a real future as a writer of Harlequin romances.
      I rather liked reading about the quivering egg!
      Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
      Robert Southwell, S.J.

      Comment


      • #4
        Cooking dish

        Any sort of vessel that is designed to take the heat of cooking constitutes a cooking dish. They come in every imaginable size and shape and are made from a variety of materials: Pyrex glass, cast iron, various forms of porcelain ... the list goes on and on. And they are all sorts of sizes and shapes, from muffin tins to the "standard" 9"X13" casserole to bundt cake forms, circles, squares, rectangles, deep dishes, thin dishes; you name it, and chances are that it's out there as a form of cooking dish.

        The trick is to know what is safe for the heat and what is not. Lots of things serve double-duty: Corningware has an entire product brand of things that are "oven to table," able to take the heat of a 350° oven and yet attractive enough to sit on a nicely-prepared dinner table without looking like some piece of out-of-place farm equipment or something.

        Use caution here! Not every bit of glass is oven-safe nor are all serving dishes capable of taking the heat of cooking. Usually, cooking dishes will be marked on the bottom somewhere as "oven safe" or the like. Pyrex will always have its stamp on the bottom. Never, ever put regular glass in an oven or on a stove! Glass can literally explode, not just crack and fall apart, if it's exposed to heat that it's not designed to take. It's an unlikely scenario, but it can happen and I've seen it happen, so be careful with anything you have around heat. Also, oven-safe does not necessarily equate to stovetop safe. Pretty much all Pyrex can be used on a stovetop if you so choose (and that's a relatively rare circumstance), but in my experience stuff like Corningware does not do well on a stovetop at all. If you don't know about something, don't use it. If it's no good for oven use, then using something in an oven will result in, at best, a ruined meal and a huge mess to clean up. At worst, it'll involve your local fire department and possibly your insurance adjuster and/or the county coroner determining that smoke inhalation was the cause of your death.


        Broadly-speaking, you want to try to use the smallest cooking dish that will accommodate what you're cooking. You don't really want a 9"X13" casserole to cook a single chicken breast. If that's all you have, then that's all you have and you can still cook with that oversized dish, but it's not the most-preferred method. At the same time, don't "crowd" your food with a dish that is too small if you can avoid it. Generally speaking, you don't want your food touching the sides of your dish. Sometimes this is just part of cooking: pretty much any casserole will necessarily touch the side of the casserole dish, for example. But if you're cooking a chicken breast, you don't really want that jammed up against the side of the dish, mostly because the heat dispersal won't be even and you'll almost certainly get a result that is an uneven cooking.


        One final note: lots and lots of cooking stuff these days comes with some manner of non-stick coating, commonly known by the trade name of Teflon, though there are all sorts of other kinds of similar products that accomplish the same thing. IF YOU HAVE PET BIRDS, NEVER USE THESE ITEMS IN YOUR HOUSE! All of these non-stick items will release a very, very tiny amount of some of the chemicals used to create the non-stick properties when they are heated. It's a miniscule amount and harmless to human beings, but even the tiniest amount is lethal poison to most domesticated birds. There are countless sad stories out there of someone's beloved parrot who dropped dead after someone fried up an egg in a non-stick skillet or whatever. The people involved didn't know any better (it's not like there's some smell to tell you that something's wrong) and poor Polly keeled over in her cage without warning.
        Last edited by Adam; Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 3:11 PM. Reason: typing goof
        It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
        In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
        Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
        Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
          Well, I don't know about the recipes yet; to me, a good recipe is one that is as precise as a chemistry experiment: if you follow the directions, it will turn out right every time.

          OTOH, I think you have a real future as a writer of Harlequin romances.
          Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
          I rather liked reading about the quivering egg!
          ::takes bow::


          Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week. Be sure to tip your waitresses....
          It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
          In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
          Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
          Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

          Comment


          • #6
            Stock

            Stock is a liquid that is formed by simmering unused (and possibly undesirable) parts of a meat or vegetable in water and then straining out the solids, leaving elements of the flavor of the item being simmered and, usually, some of the fats from that item.

            Stock and broth are often used interchangeably, but they really are two different things. Chicken stock, for example, is just chicken bits simmered in water. Chicken broth, however, will have other elements added in, usually vegetables, herbs, and/or spices.

            One way or another, people don't make nearly as much broth and stock as I think that they should, given how easy it is to do. Honestly, there really shouldn't even be a market for ready-made broth in the grocery, and yet there it is, with Swanson or whoever making a ton of money off of it every year.

            It's wisest in your kitchen to have a ready amount of broth and stock for cooking, and I've been doing this since long before any of this sodium business came up: for I don't know how long, decades at least, I have made turkey broth after Thanksgiving, which I then freeze in ziploc bags and use the next year to baste the bird. Among the many things that I have learned along the way about sodium is that pretty much every manufacturer of commercial broth and stock out there uses boatloads of salt to add flavor to the product, which really isn't necessary if you're making the stuff at home. This is why it's all but impossible to get a soup that isn't absolutely loaded to the gunwales with salt: they're all made with commercial broth that has a bunch of salt in it already. Make the stuff yourself, and you can have whatever flavor you want and you can avoid the salt to a huge degree.

            My grandmother, and possibly yours, had a few "stock pots" that she would use regularly. I don't mean large cooking vessels, but instead just something into which she would save chicken bones, leftover bits of steak with gristle, etc. that she would then keep in the refrigerator. Could be just a bowl or a small saucepan or even just a baggie of some sort; doesn't really matter so long as you're saving the stuff and generally under refrigeration. She would let these fill up over a week or so and empty each one respectively into a pot and simmer them for a while. As such, she always had a ready supply of beef stock or chicken broth or whatever when she needed it to cook. Just pull it out of the freezer and thaw it and it's ready to go.
            It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
            In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
            Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
            Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

            Comment


            • #7
              Broth

              Broth is a liquid that is made from simmering items over a period of time to create a desired flavor. It will typically include something that will render fats (chicken, beef, ham) as well as different vegetables and/or herbs and spices.

              Many people recoil at the word "fat" as if it were a bad thing. Sure, some fats are not the best thing for us, and fat people are called fat generally in a derisive manner. But for these purposes, "fat" is simply a scientific term meant to describe hydrocarbons that are formed from growth (vegetable fats) or from mere existence (bacon fat).

              Broth can be made from all sorts of liquids. Plain water is the most common, but one can add/use wine, vinegar, other broth/stock, whatever to accomplish the desired goal. In the end, it's all about the flavor that you want, and you can make any amount that suits you: make a gallon and use it in bits and pieces later, or make just a few ounces to use some day. The key point here is flavoring up the broth as you see fit, which is what differentiates broth from stock.
              It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
              In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
              Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
              Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
                I rather liked reading about the quivering egg!
                The Quivering Egg has to be the name of Adam's book, either a cookbook or a purple page-turner, or some combination.
                • "Florida is where Woke goes to die." — Ron DeSantis.
                • "The woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters." — Elon Musk, clarifying Fauci:
                • "Put aside all of these issues of concern about liberties and personal liberties and realize we have a common enemy and that common enemy is the virus." — Dr. Anthony Fauci, misquoting Pogo.​​
                • "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up."— Barack Obama's 1st Rule of Joe Biden.
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                • "The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn't originally a climate thing at all.... We really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing." — Saikat Chakrabarti, then AOC's Chief of Staff.
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                Comment


                • #9
                  Mandoline

                  A device used to slice items in the kitchen, usually vegetables, and usually very thin.


                  This is a mandolin:

                  mandolin.jpg


                  This is a mandoline:

                  mandoline.jpg


                  This is a Mandalorian:

                  mandalorian.jpg



                  It's important to know the differences between these items. The first is a musical instrument, somewhat similar to a lute, often used now in Southern country and rock music.

                  The second is a kitchen implement that is very useful for producing food, but not particularly useful as a musical instrument.

                  The third is a mercenary bounty-hunter and assassin, and is not in the least bit musical at all.



                  It is strongly recommended that one not attempt to strum a mandoline, as the likely outcome is severe lacerations of the fingers requiring a great deal of medical attention.

                  Attempts to strum a Mandalorian almost always result in a swift but very painful death. Very few in the universe have attempted this and lived to tell the tale.
                  It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
                  In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
                  Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
                  Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I needed that chuckle.
                    "Since the historic ruling, the Lovings have become icons for equality. Mildred released a statement on the 40th anniversary of the ruling in 2007: 'I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, Black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.'." - Mildred Loving (Loving v. Virginia)

                    Comment

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