This is my 200th post here at Food & Fire. Can you believe it? Yeah, me neither. A lot of things have changed since March of 2008 – new theme, bigger and (I hope) better pics, a subscription service, and the ability to print individual posts. A lot of things haven’t changed – the blog is still mostly about live fire cooking, I still love my Big Green Egg, we still eat with a camera at the kitchen table, and my dear wife still encourages (tolerates?) all of this food foolishness.
For my 200th post, rather than a specific recipe, I’d like to talk about something I’ve been working on for a while – the whole idea of going by feel when cooking.
While I’ll often follow a recipe exactly the first time I make it, after that I try to cook more by feel – “guesstimating” quantities by eyeballing them rather than whipping out the measuring spoons. I’m not to the point where “glops” are going to replace tablespoons in my written recipes, but getting to know how much of something you have without measuring really helps to make cooking faster and more fun. This also allows me to adjust the recipe based upon our personal tastes – you already know about my penchant for Penzey’s spices and hot sauce!
When you don’t have time (or inclination) to reach for a measuring spoon, a timer, or a thermometer, here’s an alphabetical list of other ways to measure:
About a beer – a measure of time, as in “How long until the coals are ready?” “Oh, about a beer.” Roughly 20 minutes.
Dash – the amount you can pick up with your thumb and first 2 fingers, about 1/8 teaspoon.
Dollop – the amount of sauce or thick liquid that you can get out of a container with a dining spoon, about 1 1/2 teaspoons.
Glob – the amount of sauce or thick liquid that you can get out of a container with a serving spoon, about 1/2 cup.
Glop – the amount of sauce or thick liquid that you can get out of a container with a soup spoon, about 2-3 tablespoons.
Glug – from the sound liquid makes when pouring out of a bottle, about 2 tablespoons.
Handful – depending on whose hands you’re using, 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
How Long Until Sunset – important to know so you don’t end up grilling in the dark.
Pinch – 1/2 a dash, or the amount you can pick up with your thumb and forefinger.
Shot – as in shot glass, 1 1/2 ounces, or a healthy glug.
Squeeze – 1 squeeze of a lemon or lime wedge gets you about 1/2 teaspoon of juice
Smidgen – 1/2 a Dash, about 1/32 teaspoon.
Spoonful – see Glop.
Do you want to measure out 2 cups of chopped onion? I sure don’t, so I’m slowly but surely converting my recipes to call for whole units rather than a specific amount.
Apple – 1 large apple yields about 1 cup chopped
Bacon – 1 slice cooked yields about 1 tablespoon crumbled
Cheese – a 4 ounce chunk yields about 1 cup shredded
Eggs – 1 large, uncooked is about 3 tablespoons
Garlic – 1 medium-size clove of garlic yields 1 teaspoons minced
Lemon juice – 1 lemon yields about 3 tablespoons of juice
Lime juice – 1 lime yields about 2 tablespoons of juice
Onion – 1 medium onion yields about 1/2 cup chopped
Orange juice – 1 orange yields about 4 tablespoons of juice
Potatoes – 3 medium white or russet yield about 2 1/4 cups peeled and diced or 1 3/4 cups mashed
Tomatoes – 1 medium yields about 1 cup chopped
Put your open hand, palm down, about 5 inches from the grate and see how long you can comfortably hold it there (comfortably being the operative word, no G. Gordon Liddy’s here, please):
2 to 4 seconds – high heat, 450°F to 550°F.
5 to 7 seconds – medium heat, 350°F to 450°F.
8 to 10 seconds – low heat, 250°F to 350°F.
Is it Done Yet?
These aren’t the optimal temps for tasty chow, but when in doubt, the USDA says cooking to these minimum temps will keep folks from getting the gleep:
Chicken – 165°F, juices will run clear and the legs wiggle freely in the joint.
Steaks & Roasts – 145°F, has a large pink center, yields only slightly when pressed.
Fish – 145°F, flesh is opaque and flakes easily.
Pork – 160°F, brown/gray center, no pink.
Ground Beef – 160°F, uniformly brown throughout, no pink.
Many thanks to all my readers! I appreciate your support and comments. Here’s to another 200 posts!