Cooking Tips

A Beginner's Guide to Cooking  

1.What You Should Know About Cooking on High Flame

If you are a beginner or have not been doing much cooking, one of the things you should know is that if the flame is relatively high that doesn't necessarily mean your food is going to get cook faster; in fact, it usually gets burn. Food generally cooks from inside out as opposed to outside in; but if you are not aware of this, you might have the tendency to judge the readiness of the food based on it's outer appearance. When you prepare food on a high flame, sometimes this only cause it to burn or get crusted on the outer surface, giving it this false appearance of a well done piece of meat, for example. However, when you get to the middle of it, you will find that that piece of meat is still raw or uncooked on the inside. You may also use a tenderizer or try slicing the meat into thinner pieces if it's too thick.

If you have a piece of meat that is very tough and you need to prepare a meal but just don't have enough time on hand, instead of trying to have it done as quickly as possible over a high heat or flame, why not use a Pressure Cooker instead? The best way to cook a tender piece of meat on stove-top for example, is to gauge the flame between medium and low and allow it to simmer from inside out in a timely fashion. If you watch carefully, you will notice the juice or liquid from that piece of meat gradually changing from bloody to pink to clear. This is one way of confirming that the inner portion of the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Grilling at High Temperatures - The Danger

Grilling protein at high temperatures for too long, according to some researchers, will increase the formation of cancerous substances on the outer surface of the meat. Thus, it's better to cook or microwave the meat for a couple of minutes, prior to barbecuing. As long as the fluid is released from the meat and discarded, this will decrease the likelihood of you introducing carcinogenic substances into your body. Another precautionary measure that you may also take, is to remove the skin of the grilled meat before serving. However, again, the best way to lower the risk, is to cook at lower temperature and remove the meat from the the heat source when it is medium rare as opposed to well done.

2.The Importance of Knowing Basic Measurements 

For those who are interested in learning how to cook, most likely you will be preparing meals based on recipes you found online or in cookbooks, initially. However, these meals will not turn out tasty enough or well seasoned, if you don't follow the instructions correctly or fail to use the correct portion of  each ingredient as specified by each recipe. For this reason, it's very important that you know the basic measurements. As time goes by, or the more you cook, you will be better able to use your own judgement.

Some Basic Measurements

You may find the following conversions for common units of mass (weight) and volume useful. For example, 1 ounce = 0.06 pound. Therefore, 2 ounces would = 2 x 0.06 pounds, and 16 ounces = 0.96 pounds (rounded off to 1lb).

Units of Mass (Weight)

Metric Unit                   Equivalent Metric Unit                     Equivalent English Units
Kilogram (kg)                1,000 gram (g)                                35.3 oz
                                     1,000,000 mg                                  2.2046 lb

gram (g)                         0.001 kg                                        
                                      1,000 mg                                        0.353 oz

milligram (mg)                0.000001 kg                                   
                                          0.001                                       0.0000353 oz


Units of Volume 
Metric Unit                    Equivalent Metric Units                     Equivalent English Units
Liter(L)                          1000 mL                                          1.057 qt

millimeter (mL)                0.001 L                                         0.001057 qt
 or cubic centimeter (cc)


Measuring Cups

Don't take it for granted that everyone knows exactly what a cup of water is, or even the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. I remember giving someone a meal recipe which required 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of certain ingredients. Unfortunately, the meal didn't turnout right, simply because the person got confused with the measurements. Instead of using a measuring cup they used a drinking cup of water, and a tablespoon of  all the specified ingredients.

For those who are learning to cook/bake for the first time, just to let you know that measuring cups are very important pieces of apparatus you should have in your kitchen. Not only do they allow you to follow the instructions of other's recipe correctly, they also allow you to experiment with different measurements of certain ingredients. Say for example, the first time you baked a cake or prepared a certain meal, you weren't satisfied with how either of these turned out, the next time around you can always increase or reduce the measurement of a certain ingredient or of all the ingredients until you  have achieved you preferred outcome or taste.

Measuring cups are relatively inexpensive, you can purchase them at Kmart, Target, Amazon, etc, or even at your local Supermarkets and Dollar Stores. For example, for only a $1 you can one get the following set of eight pieces:-
1 Cup/235ml
1/2 Cup/120ml
1/4 Cup/60 ml
2/3 Cup/158ml
1 Tablespoon (Tbs)/15ml
1 teaspoon (tsp)/5ml
1/2 teaspoon (tsp)/2.5ml
1/4 teaspoon (tsp)/1.25ml
As you can see, the above measuring cups also give you the equivalent measurements in millimeter.

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