Sunday, July 29, 2007

Buying Good Cookware :: Defining Your Blogs Worth: TopSites:

Stainless steel cookware sets and individual pots and pans purchased at the Bargain-Marts may or may not actually be bargains. Sure you will know the price you paid for the product, and how that price compares to the other Marts in town, but did you get a deal? The only way to know the value of your stainless steel cookware set purchase is to know the basics of cookware language. After you get the very basics of cookware terms, you can then make better purchasing choices. In this article we will discuss material thickness and how this improves quality. The information we will cover in this article includes stainless steel cookware, aluminum cookware and cast aluminum cookware whether purchased in sets or individual pots.

Sometimes the Marts due in fact have very good deals on quality cookware products. This may not always follow the brand name rules that at first come to mind. Most brand name products have different product lines, and these lines usually are of different level of quality. The good news is if you buy brand name products, even the low cost lines, you will be getting a product that is normally much better quality that the better or the best of the non-brand name cookware. The brand name producers do not want you to associate their name with low-quality products. If this association happens you will not be a repeat buyer of that brand. If you go into a store or even a web site and the manufacturer’s name is not readily seen or advertised, the buyer should be cautious. Manufacturers of quality products want the consumer to know their name.

Now let get started on some cookware terms and the very basic knowledge you will need to know. As I mentioned above, we will begin with thickness of a pot or pan and the terms used. Metal thickness can be stated in inches (thousandths), millimeters, or gauge. Since many manufactures are now in Europe, they sell to Europe as well to the USA; those brands will be rated in MM or millimeters. Do not let metric measurements scare you; 1.0 MM is 0.0394 inches thick, a 0.5 MM is one half that thick or 0.0197 inches thick and 2.0 MM is twice that thickness or 0.0787 inches thick. The higher the MM rating the thicker the utensil will be. The next term for thickness is called gauge. Gauge can be hard to understand. The measurement in gauge works the reverse of normal thinking. The larger the number of gauge the resulting material will be thinner. A 16 gauge material is 1.3 MM thick, an 8 gauge material is 3.25 MM thick and a 4 gauge material is 5.18 MM thick.

We have now talked about all three measurement systems, inches thick in thousandths, millimeters and in gauge we will see where these units are used. If you are buying aluminum cookware or cast aluminum cookware the thickness will be in gauge. Most stamped aluminum cookware in the mass market is 10 gauge on fry pans and a thinner 12 gauge on saucepans. Better quality aluminum cookware would use a heavier 8 gauge on fry pans and 10 gauge on other pieces. Cast aluminum cookware is equivalent to 6 gauge. Consumers are moving up to more durable fry pans in recent years - either 6 gauge or a very heavy 4 gauge. Bargain basement lightweight fry pans with "generic" non-stick coatings are usually 12 gauge or 14 gauge. This is too thin to provide any length of time in service. The first time the heat is high under these fry pans the bottoms could warp, the contents burn or both. If you are buying stainless steel cookware the measurement of thickness will be in millimeters, (if the manufacturer is in the USA it may be listed in thousandths of an inch). The standard for top of range stainless steel cookware is 0.6 MM. Premium department store brands will have stainless steel cookware in the range of 0.7 MM to 1.0 MM thick. Low end stainless steel cookware is generally 0.5 MM thick. If you have the choice between two pots one is 2.59 MM thick (0.102 inches or 10 gauge) and the second is 5.18 MM thick (0.204 inches or 4 gauge) the best pot for even heat distribution is the 5.18 MM pot.

If you look at the bottom of your stainless steel cookware or your aluminum cookware and you see discolored, almost black shaded areas on the surface. If the pot does not set flat due to being warped, the likely cause is the utensil has had too much heat applied for its’ thickness. Once the utensil is warped it will never be able to transfer heat uniformly.

Dale Crouse is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt; he has been dealing with facts and data for the past 6 years in his work. Linda, his wife started a website selling quality cookware and she wanted to know how the products she sold compared to other “quality cookware”. Dale will be writing additional articles showing how to make the best choices in purchasing cookware from his research. Visit Linda’s website for quality cookware and accessories at

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cooking Has Changed A Lot!

I have a cookbook from my Grandmother dated 1940. If you think cooking is difficult now, just wait for these recipes. These recipes assume a lot. For example:


4 cups water
16 cups flour
1 cake yeast
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon shortening
1 rounded tablespoon salt

That’s it. No mixing instructions. No baking instructions.

How about Fried Carrots?

Boil until tender, and peel the carrots cut lengthwise in thin slices, dip in egg and roll in cracker crumbs, and fry until crisp.

Last one:


2 eggs
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon lard (I guess that they didn’t have a problem with cholesterol back then)
Flour to stiffen.

Again no cooking instructions.

In 1938, this is how they made Hollandaise sauce.

This is called Never-Fail Hollandaise Sauce

½ cup water
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
little onion

Cook water and cornstarch together until clear. Add butter and eggs and stir. Finally add lemon juice and season with salt, pepper and onion.

Here is a look at today’s recipe.

1 cup butter, unsalted
3 egg yolks, large
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
1-2 dashes cayenne or hot pepper sauce

Notice how even the ingredients have changed. There is no water in today’s recipe, but the butter has increased from 4 tablespoons to 16 tablespoons. Cornstarch is not used as the thickener, and the egg yolks increase form 2 to 3. Vinegar and lime are added in the more modern recipe. The first recipe is a little more bland.

But look at the difference is instructions. Today’s recipe:

1. Heat the butter in a heavy saucepan until hot and foamy, but not browned.
2. Ladle off the clear butter and place in a container.
3. In a small stainless steel bowl, whisk or beat the egg yolks with the vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, salt and cayenne until foamy.
4. Place the bowl over a pan of low-simmering water and whisk quickly to thicken the egg yolks. Do not let the mixture get too hot, as the eggs will scramble.
5. When the yolks start to thicken, remove the bowl from the heat and slowly whisk in the clear butter.
6. Return the bowl to the saucepan and heat over very low heat until the mixture is slightly thickened. Adjust the seasoning with salt and hot sauce if desired. Serve immediately or let stand over warm heat.

Why the difference? This is just my opinion. In the 30’s and 40’s, women played a different role in society. You went to school, got married and raised a family. You learned how to cook as a matter of course, while you were growing up. Families lived in close proximity to each other. Mom and Grandma were close enough to run over to their house for information.

Today, you may live across the country or the world. You are expected to, as the commercial used to say, “Bring home the bacon and cook it up in a pan”. A lot of women don’t learn to cook in their childhood. Women are expected to work outside the home, raise a family, feed the family, wash the clothes and in her spare time to volunteer for a worthy cause. More and more frequently, you will see more prepared food in the market, frozen entrees, quick and easy this and that.

But, cooking is truly a skill. After working eight hours outside the home, it’s hard to come home and create a masterpiece. But on the weekends, the wonderful weekends, cooking is your time to relax, be creative, be in control of what your family digests. The sense of satisfaction when you put that dish on the table and everyone starts to ooh and ah, and then to say mmmm and yum that feeling is hard to beat.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cooking Substitutes

Cooking Substitutes

· 1 cup sifted all purpose flour = 1 cup unsifted all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons or = 1 1/4 cups sifted cake and pastry flour.

· 1 cup cake and pastry flour = 1 cup minus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour.

· 1 cup sifted self-rising flour = 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour plus 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.

· 1 tbsp cornstarch (for thickening) = 2 tbsp flour or = 2 tsp quick cooking tapioca.

· 1 tsp baking powder = 1/4 tsp baking soda plus 3/4 tsp cream of tartar.

· 1 tsp double-acting baking powder = 1 1/2 tsp phosphate baking powder or = 2 tsp tartrate baking powder.

· 1 cup butter = 1 cup margarine (hard/brick type) or = 1 cup shortening.

· 1 cup liquid honey = 1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid.

· 1 cup corn syrup = 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid.

· 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed or = 1 1/3 cups brown sugar.

· 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk = 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar in a 1 cup measure plus add milk to make the 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes.

· 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt.

· 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup plain yogurt.

· 1 cup milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water.

· 1 cup skim milk = 3 tbsp skim milk powder plus 1 cup water.

· 1 cup cream = 3/4 cup milk plus 1/4 cup butter.

· 1/2 cup oil = 1/2 cup melted butter or = 1/2 cup solid shortening, melted.

· 1 ounce chocolate (1 square) = 3 tbsp cocoa plus 1 tbsp butter or shortening.

· 1 package active dry yeast = 1 tbsp active dry yeast or = 1 cake of compressed yeast.

· 1 whole egg (approximately 1/4 cup) = 2 egg yolks plus 1 tbsp water. Omit the water for custards and similarly textured food.

· 1 cup meat stock (eg. beef broth) = 1 cup consomme or canned meat broth.

· 1 cup meat stock = 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup hot water or = 1 tsp instant bouillon.

· 4 cups chicken stock = 1 4 to 5 pound chicken, boiled for stock or = 4 cups canned broth or = 4 tsp instant chicken bouillon. Another cooking substitution would be 4 instant bouillon cubes plus 4 cups of water.

· 1 cup tomato juice = 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water.

· 1 cup tomato sauce = 1/2 cup tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water.

· 1 cup ketchup = 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tbsp vinegar.

· 1 clove garlic = 1/8 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 tsp garlic salt.

· 2 tbsp fresh chopped green or red pepper = 1 tbsp dried pepper flakes.

· 1 tsp dry mustard = 1 tbsp prepared mustard.

· 1 small onion = 1/4 cup chopped or = 1 tbsp dehydrated minced onion or = 1 tbsp onion salt.

· 1 tbsp fresh herbs (eg. parsley or basil) = 1 tsp dried.

· Juice of 1 lemon = 3 to 4 tbsp bottled lemon juice.

· 1/3 cup rum = 1 tbsp rum flavoring.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The 10 Worst Days to go Grocery Shopping

Supermarket managers across the country developed this list of the worst days to go grocery shopping. Here are the days when your store may not be as well-stocked and well-staffed as it should be:

#1 Labor Day weekend

#2 Sundays

#3 Saturdays

#4 Memorial Day weekend

#5 Afternoons between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

#6 Thanksgiving Eve

#7 The day after a major disaster Such as an earthquake, tornado, hurricane or snowstorm.

#8 Christmas Eve

#9 Fourth of July Especially if it falls on a weekend.

#10 The day after Thanksgiving