Lemon & Lime Juice Measurements

Nearly all the recipes posted here (except for Thai recipes), lemon and lime juice measurements are commonly ‘juice from 1/2 lemon’ or ‘juice from two limes’. For the readers, this works well if you have regular size lemons and limes where you live.

Here in Thailand, however, lemons are not that common, and limes are small, just a bit bigger than a golf ball. So for those viewers in Thailand that want to use a recipe that calls for the juice of a lime or lemon, use this as a guide, you can still use fresh limes and lemons, BUT measure the quantities.

These are average amounts:

1 lemon yields: 3 tablespoons of juice.
1 lime yields: 2 tablespoons of juice.

Minimarts, not all are the same…

I am not talking about 7-11’s or Family Mart’s, I am talking mom and pop minimarts. Not only do they have day to day items you may need, some can be quite surprising with what they offer.

When you get settled into where you are living, go out and check the local minimarts. Nearly all have the basics, cooking oil, sardines, eggs, soap, shampoo, evaporated milk, and coffee (and beer). Depending how rural you are, you may be able to walk to many minimarts or may need to ride a scooter to the ones 1-2 kms away, check them out, it is worth it.

I like to use several minimarts for common items, you are helping each of the families. On a clear day, I will ride my scooter for 1 km to get beer, soap, shampoo, even eggs, but they do not have evaporated milk. So at the minimart right across the road, I get milk, evaporated milk, yogurt (used is many recipes I cook), plus sugar, salt, and the common items when it is raining.

I found one minimart, that is almost on par with a 7-11, flour, baking powder, several types of cooking oil, plastic-ware for storage containers, etc. Any items in the minimarts is just a few baht more than what you would pay for in a Tesco, so use the local minimarts and save yourself a trip to town or to a Tesco. The few baht extra would cost you that in petrol, traffic, time, and on the plus side, you are helping the locals, not a corporation.

Flour Measurements

When baking it is always best to weigh your flour than using a cup measurement. Humidity is a big factor, weighing the flour provides the most accurate way to measure. I use a digital scale for all flour measurements when making bread.

All Purpose Flour

1 cup = 128 grams = 4.5 ounces
3/4 cup = 96 grams = 3.38 ounces
2/3 cup = 85 grams = 3 ounces
1/2 cup = 64 grams = 2.25 ounces
1/3 cup = 43 grams = 1.5 ounces
1/4 cup = 32 grams = 1.13 ounces
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) = 16 grams = .563 ounces

Bread Flour

1 cup = 136 grams = 4.8 ounces
3/4 cup = 102 grams = 3.6 ounces
2/3 cup = 90 grams = 3.2 ounces
1/2 cup = 68 grams = 2.4 ounces
1/3 cup = 45 grams = 1.6 ounces
1/4 cup = 34 grams = 1.2 ounces

Rye Flour

1 cup = 102 grams = 3.6 ounces

Zip Lock Bags

This may seem like an odd post but I thought this was warranted. Zip lock bags were not available in the town near us for about 3 years, now they are stocked and we get them often. These surprisingly are labeled as 1 Gallon bags, with expanding bottoms as well. Only this size is available here, smaller sizes would be nice but I won’t complain as I have them now.

If you are grinding your own meat, these are a bonus to you, put the meat in, roll up, seal, and label. I keep these at 500 grams of ground beef or pork per package.

Think of marinating some meat for the grill or cooking later, add everything to the bag and the meat, squish it up a bit to mix it in, roll to get all the air out, seal, and refrigerate, easy.

If you buy vegetables on sale, such as bell peppers, dice the peppers and bag what you think would be needed in a recipe and freeze.

Very versatile.

Grams to Pounds

When I started this site it was mainly aimed at expats living here in Thailand so measurements for meat, pasta, cheese I give in grams as that is how we buy it here. Smaller liquid and dry measurements are given in cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons.

To remove any confusion I use the following for meat, cheese, and pasta, think of the following when you read a recipe that states, say 500 grams of beef:

500 grams = 1 pound (actually it is 1.10 pounds, no one will complain).

Once you think like that, easy to remember, the recipes are much easier to follow.

For baking of pastries and bread, weight measurements are more accurate than cup or spoon measurements and may be listed by weight, I have a digital scale for this.

Chili Powder & Red Chili Paste

Chili Powder – When I first started cooking here one of the first things I made was a pot of Chili, good wholesome chow. I make mine with red kidney beans, ground pork or beef, tomato juice, cumin and chili powder. I needed to get chili powder so I went to Tesco in town and bought a small bottle of chili powder, very finely ground, and I would say it is on par with what is sold as chili powder in the states. Worked well.

I have started using a lot of chili powder so I decided to buy it in bulk in a bag. This is not a fine powder, it is course but on the package is “Chili Powder”. So I picked up three of these bags, got home and poured them into a container for the spice and dry goods cabinet. It will clear your sinuses just smelling it! This is real chili powder.

A few days later I made homemade Chorizo, recipe was followed exactly (I always follow exact before I start tailoring things around) and I made 6 patties. The next day I fried 2 to go with my breakfast of eggs and toast. Let me just say, HOT! Great flavor, but very hot.

So my advice is to check the chili powder if you buy a new brand. My tummy cannot take the really hot stuff anymore so I use the good hot brand I bought, I just use less of it in recipes. If not using the fine powder type chili powder and using this type of chili powder, cut back on the amount used until you get a taste of dish you are making, then adjust as needed.

Red Chili Paste – Paste is used to make coconut curries, and for where I live in the south, paste can be used to just flavor a dish, no coconut milk involved. Every mom and pop minimart that has fresh vegetables will more than likely have chili paste, this is homemade and in small bags, usually for 5 Baht/bag. However, there is a difference in ingredients for curry type, and the non curry type, so be clear on which one you are getting for the intended use.

Cooking and Baking

Cooking – think making a skillet dish, an omelet, baking stuffed bell peppers, that is using a recipe.

Baking – think dinner rolls, hamburger buns, breads, pastries, this is using a formula, and there is a difference between a recipe and a formula.

Stated often in the recipes I have listed here on this site is what I call variants, things you can to change up, optional items. And as I state many times, recipes are not set in stone and can be changed on the taste of the user or with what is available or on hand at the time.

Cooking, just volume measurements are adequate and perfectly fine.

Baking, one can get away with volume measurements, but the preferred method is by weight. Digital scales are very reasonable in cost and very accurate. If you have a pastry or bread formula in weight and volume, use the weight measurements if you have a digital scale.

With baking formulas, unless one is a very experienced baker, always follow the formula, reducing one ingredient may have serious affects on another ingredient, and these affects are never good and the end product you are making will not turn out well.

Information provided courtesy of good friend, Garland Davis, US Navy Cook (Ret).
United States.

Stock or Broth?

Odd question that I never really gave any thought to, what is the difference between stock and broth? This was brought to my attention today by a good friend and respected cook, there is a difference.

I made a chicken pasta dish yesterday, 8 Dec 2016, and I mentioned I boiled the chicken quarters then returned the bones to the pot to simmer longer. As it turns out, I made what I will call chicken broth stock.

Broth is from simmering meat, such as chicken thighs and legs.

Stock is from simmering bones, such as the thigh and leg bones I put back into the pot.

Tesco sells chicken carcasses for the sole purpose of making stock which is used in many Thai soups. Chicken carcasses are a common item in Tesco and other grocery stores. In the large cities, one can get pork bones at Tesco also for the purpose of making pork stock.

Anytime I boil chicken, and it is often, I pour the water used through a strainer and reserve the liquid in the fridge for use in recipes, if I have the time, then I continue to simmer the bones for several more hours as well. When I list chicken stock as an ingredient on this site, it will be noted as fresh or from the powder for this very purpose. But what I have been calling stock is actually broth, but for the sake of this site and the recipes listed here, I use the word stock mostly, but feel free to use broth or stock, both are flavorful additions to the dish being prepared.

For the pot of water, I normally just add a onion cut in half and peppercorns, feel free to add some carrot, celery, etc. If you are going to simmer chicken, then skin on and bone in to get the most flavor.

Information provided courtesy of good friend, Garland Davis, US Navy Cook (Ret).
United States.

Electric Meat Grinder

I ordered an electric grinder through Lazada (lazada.co.th) and I am more than happy with it. Where I live, ground beef is not available (I can get large chunks of beef, just not ground), I can get pork but it just minced meaning a larger grind, and ground chicken, just unheard of. I used a manual grinder when I was growing up, used it to grind a lot of deer, make hash, and even ground up some fish. Since I do not have a counter that I can clamp a manual grinder to or even a table that I can do that with, I went with a counter top electric model, and I am more than impressed. When my wife seen it in action, she was impressed as she is used to mincing pork with a cleaver. The grinder I have now is rated at 1 kilo per minute to grind with the smallest die.

This will be a very welcome addition to the kitchen, now we can buy pork loin or shoulder and grind ourselves, we can order beef and grind ourselves, and the same with chicken.

There is a few things to keep in mind however when it comes to using a meat grinder at home.

1. Most important step you can do is the sterilize the grinder parts before each use. Even if you have washed all the parts the day before, sterilize the parts before you put it together and use again. Since the grinding process creates heat, not a lot, but there is heat, that becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. With a properly sterilized setup, you minimize any bacteria from your grinder, nothing we can do about airborne bacteria. Best way, and I know a lot of you will cringe at this is to use 3-4 liters of water (drinking water, not tap water) and 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach. (Yes, your kitchen may smell like a swimming pool for a few minutes, this is perfectly safe to do.) Add the parts of the grinder that you can remove and add to the water/bleach for at least one minute, then you can remove the parts, rinse with drinking water, rinse completely, dry the parts, then you can assemble the grinder and you are ready to use.

2. Never bring home a sack of meat from the store or market and expect to grind it right then, the meat needs to be prepped and chilled, and the grinder parts sterilized.

3. You need to cut the meat into strips or chunks in order to feed into the hopper, and all silver tendon removed from beef or pork. Once you have the meat ready, place back in the fridge to keep it cold until you have sterilized and assembled the grinder.

4. The grinding process does create heat, so unless you are going to take fresh ground beef as soon as it is ground and cook something, place it back into the fridge to cool it until you are ready to use. I use large zip lock freezer bags and place 500 grams of ground meat in a bag and freeze it for later use.

Now we only buy pork, beef, and chicken from the local market, no need to go into town as we can not only grind the pork, but we can now grind beef and chicken as well. Remember, the more times a product has to be handled (such as grinding the meat for say Tesco) the more it adds to the cost. Buy the meat in large chunks for pork and beef, and you just saved money.

Non Stick Cooking Spray

Many recipes call for the use of a non stick spray for baking dishes, slow cookers, etc. The most common would be PAM. PAM is mostly canola oil and some other ingredients that will leave a reside on dishes.

You can make your own cooking spray, which is done by many chefs, all you need is three items: a food safe spray bottle, olive oil, and water, that is it.

1 part olive oil
4 parts water

Shake and use, it is just that simple.