Category Archive for: ‘Pantry Item’
Pantry 101-Baking and Spices 18-27

1. baking soda –
2. baking powder
3. Cornstarch
4. yeast
5. flour
6. corn flour
7. corn meal
8. Salt
9. pepper -white and black
10. Sugar
11. confectioner’s sugar
12. brown sugar
13 light corn syrup
14. vanilla extract
15. ground cinnamon
16 whole nutmeg
17. ground cloves
18. Onion salt
19. dried chopped or minced onions
20. dried basil
21. dried oregano
22. chili powder
23. dry mustard
24. paprika
25. thyme
26. tarragon
27. Lemon Pepper
28. dried dill
29. All Spice
30. bay leaves
31. poultry seasoning
32. beef, chicken and vegetable bouillon
33. cream of tartar
34. unseasoned bread crumbs
35. unsweetened cocoa powder
36. unsweetened baking chocolate
37. chocolate chips

18) Onion salt
When we talk about herbs and spices, if I can’t get them from a wholesale source in bulk, such as , which is a great site for lots of things, I buy McCormicks brand in the store. There is a big difference between McCormicks and other brands. So with that said;


Onion salt is a convenient substitute for chopped onions. It’s useful when you don’t have the time to prepare chopped onions, or want to add onion flavor to a dish without the bulk of additional ingredients. Most onion salt is made with a combination of dehydrated powdered onions and salt, and usually a preservative ingredient that keeps the powder and salt from adhering to each other. This seasoning should be differentiated from onion flakes or onion powder, which do not contain salt.

The ratio of table salt to powdered onion is about three to one. If you are looking for lower salt foods, you probably shouldn’t choose onion salt, since a quarter teaspoon (about 1.4 grams) has almost as much sodium as does regular table salt. Average sodium content in onion salt is about 450 milligrams as opposed to the 575 mg offered in the same size serving of table salt. Alternately, simply remember that onion salt does contain salt and lower additional salt in your recipes when you use it.

In flavor, two teaspoons of onion salt is about equivalent to one small to medium yellow or white onion. But many feel that the seasoning is better than using raw onions because it tends to impart a milder and less sharp flavor than does raw onions. Also if you want to season things like hamburgers, soup, salad dressing, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce or the like, you may not want chunks of onions to change the texture of your dish.

There are also some gourmet onion salts you may want to try. Some feature kosher salt, and a few have organic onions. The more commercially processed onion salts do contain sodium silico aluminate, which concerns some people. It has been potentially linked to greater incidence of kidney disease, and some people fear a connection between consumption of aluminum products and Alzheimer’s. Many of the organic versions of onion salt do not contain any aluminum products, and can be easily found in natural foods stores or online.
One great use for onion salt is for a dip. Most everyone likes my onion dip made by adding about a tablespoon of onion salt (not garlic salt) to a cup of sour cream. You can sprinkle some dried chives or cilantro on for color too.
19) dried chopped or minced onions

McCormick Onions, Chopped 12oz 340g

Use anywhere you would use fresh onion. Reconstitute with ice water to use as garnish on hamburgers, hot dogs or in salads.
1/4 cup dried chopped onion = 1 cup chopped raw onion.
Packaged in flavor sealed bulk container with dual flip top lids for sprinkling or measuring.

This is a key ingredient in Bloody Maries
20) dried basil

A leafy herb from the mint family with a licorice-clove flavor. Basil is usually green, though there are purple varieties, such as Opal Basil. Lemon basil, anise basil, clove basil and cinnamon basil all have flavors similar to their names. Basil is a key ingredient in Mediterranean cooking.

Season: for fresh grown June – September
How to select: Available year round, but true harvest is summer. Look for even colored leaves.
How to store: Refrigerate wrapped in damp paper towels and plastic bag for up to 4 days or stems down in a glass of water with plastic over the leaves for about a week with regular water changing. Store the dried herb for 6 months in a cool dark place.
Matches well with: cheese, chicken, duck, eggplant, eggs, fish, lamb, liver, olive oil, onions, pasta, pesto, pizza, pork, potatoes, rabbit, salads, shellfish, soups, sweet peppers, tomatoes, veal, vegetables, vinegars, zucchini, tomato sauce
Substitutions: 1 tsp dried basil = 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil = 1 tbsp chopped fresh summer savory; 1 tsp dried basil = start with 1/2 tsp marjoram, oregano, thyme or tarragon then add more if necessary;
Remember that dried herbs should be put into a dish early in the cooking process and fresh herbs near the end. Dried herbs are much stronger than fresh.

21) dried oregano

Oregano is like marjoram, but more pungent and not as sweet. Because of its pungency, oregano requires a bit more caution in its use. Mediterranean oregano is milder than Mexican oregano. Oregano was almost unheard of in the U.S. until WW II soldiers returning from Italy raved about it.

Season: available year-round
How to select: Look for bright bunches without blemishes.
How to store: Refrigerate fresh oregano in a plastic bag up to 3 days. Store dried oregano in a cool, dark place up to 6 months.
Matches well with: artichokes, beans, chicken, eggplant, fish, lamb, mushrooms, pasta, peppers, pizza, pork, potatoes, rabbit, sausages, tomatoes, veal, zucchini
22) chili powder
Chili powder is a generic name for any powdered spice mix composed chiefly of chili peppers, most commonly either red peppers or cayenne peppers, which are both of the species Capsicum annuum.It can be made from virtually any hot pepper including ancho, Cayenne, Chipotle, New Mexico, and pasilla chilis.The spice mix may simply be pure powdered chilis, or it may have other additives, especially cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Some mixes may even include black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, mace, nutmeg, or turmeric. As a result of the various different potential additives, the spiciness of any given chili powder is incredibly variable. As a rule, the purer the chili powder is, the spicier it is.Chili powder has been important ingredient of traditional Indian cuisine.Today they are especially popular in American cuisine, where they are the primary flavor ingredient in chili con carne. The first commercial blends of chili powder in the U.S. were created in the 1890s by D.C. Pendery and William Gebhardt for precisely this dish.
My brother Walt made his own chili powder from hot peppers he grew in his back yard. That powder was the hottest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, bar none. Find a chili powder that you are happen with and can use with confidence. And as always read the ingredients and watch for too many additives, like MSG, Aluminum, etc.

23) dry mustard
Dry mustard (referred to as ground mustard in many recipes) is made from mustard seeds that have been finely ground. When a recipe calls for prepared mustard, use yellow or brown mustard commonly served as a condiment. Dry mustard is a great additive for making a rub for meats or poultry. You can buy brown or yellow mustard seeds and grind your own when you need it.

24) paprika
Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried sweet red or green bell peppers (Capsicum annuum). In many European countries, the word paprika also refers to bell peppers themselves. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika is great for adding color to a dish. It isn’t hot at it can be a little sweet. I got a pound of smoked paprika from The San Francisco Herb Company and I use it in all of my meat rubs and any dish that can use a smoky flavor. Dry products don’t dilute the dish and add strong flavor.

25) thyme
Thyme is one of the best known and most widely-used culinary herbs. It is quite easy to grow and is commonly found as a decorative as well as a functional plant in many home gardens.
You will find thyme a welcome flavor in salads, soups, chowders, sauces, breads, vegetable and meat dishes, and even jellies and desserts.
Thyme is an essential ingredient in bouquet garni, as well as a prime ingredient in the expensive Benedictine liqueur. When cooking with thyme, be aware that one fresh sprig equals the flavoring power of one-half teaspoon of dried thyme.

26) tarragon
Tarragon is one of the four fines herbes of French cooking, and particularly suitable for chicken, fish and egg dishes. Tarragon is one of the main components of Béarnaise sauce. Fresh, lightly bruised sprigs of tarragon may be steeped in vinegar to impart their flavor.Tarragon is used to flavor a popular carbonated soft drink in the countries of Armenia, Georgia and, by extension, Russia.

27) Lemon Pepper
Lemon pepper is a spice which is made by mixing lemon zest with pepper. There are a wide range of uses for lemon pepper, from a spice rub for grilled meats to a zesty topping for pasta. Many markets carry packaged lemon pepper in their spice sections, and it is also relatively easy to make lemon pepper at home. By making this spice at home, cooks can control the ingredient proportions and play around with variations which might include ingredients like white or red pepper.
I use lemon pepper on every piece of meat or chicken I cook. I always have at least 2 large containers of McCormick’s lemon pepper in the house at all times.When I make my pork tenderloins I rub the outside with lemon pepper before I brown the meat.  The same with rotisserie chicken.


Until tomorrow –


Pantry 101-Baking and Spices 13-17

1. baking soda –
2. baking powder
3. Cornstarch
4. yeast
5. flour
6. corn flour
7. corn meal
8. Salt
9. pepper -white and black
10. Sugar
11. confectioner’s sugar
12. brown sugar
13 light corn syrup
14. vanilla extract
15. ground cinnamon
16 whole nutmeg
17. ground cloves
18. Onion salt
19. dried chopped or minced onions
20. dried basil
21. dried oregano
22. chili powder
23. dry mustard
24. paprika
25. thyme
26. tarragon
27. dried dill
28. bay leaves
29. poultry seasoning
30. beef, chicken and vegetable bouillon
31. cream of tartar
32. unseasoned bread crumbs
33. unsweetened cocoa powder
34. unsweetened baking chocolate
34. chocolate chips

13) Light Corn Syrup

A thick sweet syrup which comes in both light and dark varieties, made from processed cornstarch. Light corn syrup has been clarified, while dark corn syrup has had coloring and caramel flavoring added. So you don’t need dark corn syrup. I made some homemade Worcestershire sauce last week and it called for light corn syrup and molasses.

Ingredient :
Used in cookie, caramel, glazes, sauces, cake icing, pies, candy

Season: available year-round

Substitutions: 1/2 cup sugar + 2 tbsp water = 1/2 cup light corn syrup; 1/2 cup honey = 1/2 cup light corn syrup

14) Vanilla extract
Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavor compound vanillin. Pure vanilla extract is made by extracting from vanilla beans in an alcoholic solution. In order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the FDA requires that the solution contain a minimum of 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon[1]. Double and triple strength vanilla extracts are available. Natural vanilla flavoring contains real vanilla bean but no actual alcohol. Imitation vanilla extract is usually made by soaking alcohol into wood, which contains vanillin.

So, now that you know why winos buy cheap vanilla extract and drink it, I’ll tell you which ones you should buy. Don’t ever buy Imitation vanilla extract, it sucks. Buy the best vanilla you can find. It is cheap and you don’t use much. I even make my own by soaking a couple of vanilla beans in a good vodka for a couple of months. The best store bought vanilla extract I’ve ever had my mother gave me for my birthday. It is Sonoma Syrup Co. Special Blend. Pure Vanilla Bean Extract “crush” Madagascar bourbon & tahitian vanilla with vanilla bean seeds. It is 8 oz she got from the HomeGoods store for $12.99. It has a big, pure flavor and doesn’t water down the things you put it in.

Vanilla is used in pastries, cookies, cakes, sauces, drinks and lots of other stuff. There really isn’t a substitute so you should have some on hand.

15) Ground Cinnamon info from
Cinnamon is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree. There are many different species, between 50 and 250, depending on which botanist you choose to believe. The two main varieties are Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum. The first, cassia, we will consider separately in its own section. C. zeylanicum is also known as Ceylon cinnamon (the source of the its Latin name, zeylanicum), or ‘true cinnamon’ which is a lighter colour and possessing a sweeter, more delicate flavour than cassia. A native of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) the best cinnamon grows along the coastal strip near Colombo.
In ancient Egypt cinnamon was used medicinally and as a flavouing for beverages, It was also used in embalming, where body cavities were filled with spiced preservatives. In the ancient world cinnamon was more precious than gold. This is not too surprising though, as in Egypt the abundance of gold made it a fairly common ornamental metal. Nero, emperor of Rome in the first century AD, burned a years supply of cinnamon on his wife’s funeral pyre — an extravagant gesture meant to signify the depth of his loss.
Cinnamon was known in medieval Europe, where it was a staple ingredient, along with ginger, in many recipes. Since most meals were prepared in a single cauldron, casseroles containing both meat and fruit were common and cinnamon helped bridge the flavours. When crusaders brought home sugar, it too was added to the pot. Mince pie is a typical combination of this period which still survives.
The demand for cinnamon was enough to launch a number of explorers’ enterprises. The Portuguese invaded Sri Lanka immediately after reaching India in 1536. The Sinhalese King paid the Portuguese tributes of 110,000 kilograms of cinnamon annually.
The Dutch captured Sri Lanka in 1636 and established a system of cultivation that exists to this day. In its wild state, trees grow high on stout trunks. Under cultivation, the shoots are continually cropped almost to ground level, resulting in a low bush, dense with thin leafy branches. From these, come the finest quills.

Cinnamon is good for a lot of things. It has been proven to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. I like to add a teaspoon to my cereal in the morning for medicinal reasons. Here again it pays to get the best. I buy cinnamon sticks from Sri Lanka and grind them myself in the food processor as needed. If you get pre-ground cinnamon it contains large amounts of by-products like sawdust.

16) Whole nutmeg
I don’t know why, but I hate nutmeg. Unfortunately it is an important ingredient in a lot of recipes. I think I don’t like it because it is often over used or used in too large a quantity. Buy the whole nuts that come with a little grater and store the nut in the grater. It will last forever. Or get a bottle of nuts and use your microplane to grind it when needed.

17) Ground cloves
Don’t buy pre-ground, buy whole and grind it as needed. It will be fresher and last longer. Looks like you will need a dedicated coffee grinder for spices and a microplane. We’ll talk about that later.

The clove tree is an evergreen which grows to a height ranging from 10-20 m, having large oval leaves and crimson flowers in numerous groups of terminal clusters. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and gradually become green, after which they develop into a bright red, when they are ready for collecting. Cloves are harvested when 1.5-2 cm long, and consist of a long calyx, terminating in four spreading sepals, and four unopened petals which form a small ball in the centre.

According to FAO, Indonesia produced almost 80% of the world’s clove output in 2005 followed at a distance by Madagascar and Tanzania.

Cloves can be used in cooking either whole or in a ground form, but as they are extremely strong, they are used sparingly. The spice is used throughout Europe and Asia and is smoked in a type of cigarettes locally known as kretek in Indonesia. The largest brand of kreteks in the United States is Djarum, who sells the iconic Djarum Black. Cloves are also an important incense material in Chinese and Japanese culture.

Cloves have historically been used in Indian cuisine (both North Indian and South Indian)as well as Mexican cuisine (best known as “clavos de olor”), where it is often paired together with cumin and cinnamon.[1] In the north Indian cuisine, it is used in almost every sauce or side dish made, mostly ground up along with other spices. They are also a key ingredient in tea along with green cardamoms. In the south Indian cuisine, it finds extensive use in the biryani along with cloves dish (similar to the pilaf, but with the addition of local spice taste), and is normally added whole to enhance the presentation and flavor of the rice.

Large amounts should be avoided in pregnancy. Cloves can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, and should be avoided by people with gastric ulcers, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. In overdoses, cloves can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Severe cases can lead to changes in liver function, dyspnea, loss of consciousness, hallucination, and even death. The internal use of the essential oil should be restricted to 3 drops per day for an adult as excessive use can cause severe kidney damage.

I don’t use cloves very often, mostly for decorations, because they smell great stuck in an orange. I’ve seen them used stuck in a ham for presentation, but if you are going to drop anything from this list, cloves are a good candidate.

You may have noticed that I changed a few of the ingredents on the list from yesterday. I dropped powdered ginger. I’ve never used it. I know it is used in cookies and oriental cooking but I prefer fresh. I also added minced onions and onion salt. Well go over their uses tomorrow.

Have a good day, we’ll be cooking soon.

Pantry 101-Baking and Spices 6-12

Yesterday we did Baking and Spices (dry goods) 1-5. I left out two very important items from the list and I’m going to insert them to the #6 & 7 slot.

6) Corn flour – from–38299/corn-flour.asp

Is a type of flour milled from dried kernels of yellow corn. It is similar to cornmeal except that it is ground to a finer consistency than cornmeal. It is used to make cornbread, muffins, pancakes, polenta, and tortillas. Corn flour is very useful for gluten-free quick breads. Because corn flour contains no gluten, it must be blended with wheat flour when preparing yeasted breads.

There are several other popular varieties of corn flour available and some may be more regionally popular than others. Harinilla is a variety of corn flour made from blue corn. It is often used for a number of Mexican dishes including tortillas, tamales, and dumplings. The blue corn is treated with a lime solution, which expands the kernel, allowing it to be removed from the hull. If harinilla is not available, blue cornmeal can be substituted, but it should be milled in a food processor to produce a flourlike consistency. Harinilla is also known as “blue corn flour” and when it is used for preparing tortillas, it is called “Harina Azul”.

Masa harina is corn flour that is ground from dried hominy. White or yellow corn is used for making hominy, which is also known as “posole” or “pozole”. The corn is boiled in a solution containing powdered lime and is then washed, dried, and ground to form the masa harina. It is used in preparing corn tamales and tortillas. Blue corn is used to make harinilla and is not used for masa harina.

Cornstarch is obtained from the white heart of the corn kernel. Cornstarch is a tasteless, very fine powder that is very useful as a thickener, having double the thickening properties of regular flour. It is widely used for thickening sauces, gravies, and puddings. It is best to stir it into water first before it is added to other foods, so that it can be more easily incorporated without creating lumps. In England, cornstarch is referred to as corn flour or cornflour, while in the United States corn flour refers to whole corn kernels that have been finely ground.

7) Corn Meal

A flour-like substance that has larger granules than regular flour and is produced from grinding dried kernels of yellow or blue corn. Yellow or blue cornmeal can also be ground to a finer consistency and sold as gluten free flour that is used to make cornbread, muffins, pancakes, polenta, and tortillas. Cornmeal is very useful for gluten-free quick breads. Baked goods have a course, gritty texture with a granular crumb and a flavor of sweet corn. Freshly ground cornmeal is best, especially if it is stoneground, because it has more flavor than cornmeal ground using other methods. Because cornmeal contains no gluten, it must be blended with wheat flour in order to form a bread loaf.


Corn Meal








Corn Meal when added to a fried food dredge gives a great crunch to the food.

8) Salt

Believe it or not I could go on for a long time about salt. Salt is very important to our bodies and very important to cooking. I would never recommend buying any regular “table salt” ever! Morton’s is the most common table salt. It is fine grained so you tend to use more. It has iodine and aluminum added to it to make it flow and not clumb. Don’t by it for any reason. Instead buy Kosher or Sea salt. You can now find kosher salt in almost every store in the spice department. Pour some into a nice glass open bowl and pinch or spoon from it when you need salt. It has large crystals and a stronger salt taste so you don’t need to use as much. For specialty occasions I use other salts, like black seas salt, pink sea salt, and the ultimate salt in my opinion is Fleur de sel.
“Fleur de sel (“Flower of salt” in French) is a hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans. Traditional French fleur de sel is collected off the coast of Brittany (most notably in the town of Guérande – Fleur de Sel de Guérande, hand harvested from salt marsh water being the most revered), Noirmoutier, and also Camargue, and is slightly grey due to the sandy minerals collected in the process of harvesting the salt from the pans. Fleur de sel is one of most expensive salts in the world and is usually sold in jars as it is slightly damp.

A great source of all forms of salt that Jughandle highly recommends is

Also known in Portuguese as “flor de sal”, the hand-harvested variant from the Algarve region of Portugal is becoming known, as it is of similar quality to the French fleur de sel.[citation needed] In addition, it has the advantage of being pure white and usually sells for half the price of the French fleur de sel.
Fleur de sel is best used similarly to fresh herbs, sprinkling it onto food just before serving” – from Wikipedia

9) Pepper – from

The world’s most popular spice, a berry grown in grapelike clusters on the pepper plant (a climbing vine native to India and Indonesia. The berry is processed to produce three basic types: black, white, and green. Black is the most common; when picken the berry is not quite ripe, then dried until it shrivels and the skin turns dark brown to black. Black is the strongest (slightly hot with a hint of sweetness) flavor of the three. Tellicherry and Lampong are among the best black peppercorns. White peppercorn, less pungent, has been allowed to ripen, then the skin is removed and the berry dried. White peppercorns are smaller, have a smoother skin and a light-tan color with a milder flavor. The green peppercon is the soft, underripe berry that is usually preserved in brine. It has a fresh flavor that is less pungent than the berry in its other forms.

Ethnicity: India, Indonesia Ingredient

Season: available year-round

How to select: Black and white are available whole, cracked, and ground. Green peppercorns are packed in brine and are available in jars and cans.

How to store: Whole: store in a cool, dark place for about a year. Ground will keep its flavor for about four months. Green peppercorns packed in brine should be refrigerated once opened and will keep for 1 month; packed in water will keep for a week.

How to prepare: Whole peppercorns freshly ground with a pepper mill deliver more flavor than preground.

Matches well with: cheese, eggs, fish, game, lamb, pork, poultry, salad, sausages, soup, steaks, strawberries, tomatoes, veal

You should stock at least both black and white pepper, and you really only need whole corns. Invest in grinder, pepper is always better freshly ground.

10) Sugar
Here we are just talking about white plain sugar. You should have a 5 lb bag around at all times. When you store your flours and sugars it is always good to put them in an airtight container like Tupperware or Rubbermaid. They will keep a long time.

11) Confectioner’s sugar
Sure, this is still sugar but in a completely different form. Known as powdered sugar, 10x sugar, icing sugar, it is all the same except confectioner’s sugar has corn starch added. It is used to make icing, to add as a topping on pancakes, deserts, etc. You really only need a small bag or box unless you are making butter cream icing or fondant. In a pinch you can make powdered sugar by grinding in a blender 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of corn starch.

12) Brown sugar
Here we go on a very hot topic. I’m going to give you all the info I have on the subject and also tell you that I buy light brown sugar or raw and organic. That way I avoid the chemicals.

Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content or produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar.

Brown sugar contains from 3.5% molasses (light brown sugar) to 6.5% molasses (dark brown sugar). The product is naturally moist from the hygroscopic nature of the molasses and is often labelled as “soft.” The product may undergo processing to give a product that flows better for industrial handling. The addition of dyes and/or other chemicals may be permitted in some areas or for industrial products.  (Jughandle says always read the label)

Particle size is variable but generally less than granulated white sugar. Products for industrial use (e.g. the industrial production of cakes) may be based on caster sugar which has crystals of approximately 0.35 mm.

Manufacturing Process

Many brown sugar producers produce brown sugar by adding cane molasses to completely refined white sugar crystals in order to more carefully control the ratio of molasses to sugar crystals and to reduce manufacturing costs. This also allows the production of brown sugars to be based predominantly on beet sugar. Brown sugar prepared in this manner is often much coarser than its unrefined equivalent and its molasses may be easily separated from the crystals by simple washing to reveal the underlying white sugar crystals; with unrefined brown there is inclusion of molasses within the crystal which will appear off-white if washed. This is mainly done for inventory control and convenience.

The molasses usually used is that obtained from sugar cane, because the flavor is generally preferred over beet sugar molasses. Although in some areas, especially in the Netherlands, sugar beet molasses is used. The white sugar used can be from either beet or cane as odor and color differences will be covered by the molasses.

Brown sugar can be made at home by mixing white granulated sugar with molasses, using one tablespoon of molasses for every cup of white sugar (one-sixteenth or 6.25% of the total volume). Thorough blending will yield dark brown sugar; for light brown sugar, between one and two teaspoons of molasses per cup should be used instead. It is, however, simpler to substitute molasses for an equal portion of white sugar while cooking, without mixing them separately.

When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” it is usually referring to light brown sugar; dark brown sugar should be used only when specified.  This is relevant primarily when baking recipes sensitive to moisture and density (such as cakes), because of the difference in moisture content between the two types. In other applications, substituting dark brown sugar over light brown will yield a deeper flavor with more caramel, much like adding molasses would do.

Nutritional value

Brown sugar has a slightly lower caloric value by weight than white sugar due to the presence of water. One hundred grams of brown sugar contains 373 calories, as opposed to 396 calories in white sugar.  However, brown sugar packs more densely than white sugar due to the smaller crystal size and may have more calories when measured by volume. One tablespoon of brown sugar has 48 calories against 45 calories for white sugar.

Brown sugar is reputed to have some value as a home remedy for menstrual cramps, though this is likely untrue.

John Yudkin, in his studies (cited in “Pure, White and Deadly” – UK title) that rats fed brown sugar, as opposed to white sugar, suffered all the same ills from such consumption as did the control group fed white sugar, while their offspring did not exhibit the same abnormalities related to the offspring of the rats fed on white sugar. This led to the conclusion that there are some trace nutritional aspects he was unable to detect in brown sugar that made it less harmful than white sugar, though the impact could only be detected in their offspring. Nutritionally, apart from pure carbohydrate, he was not able to detect any nutritional component to white or brown sugar, and such pure carbohydrate is on the list to avoid (therefore the term nutritional is suspect in this case) in the World Health Organization and FAO study on obesity and chronic preventable diseases. Note this study does state that carbohydrates in their intrinsic or unrefined form are nutritionally highly beneficial and should make up 55-75% of our diet, but they are fundamentally different from extrinsic carbohydrates such as both white and brown sugar.

Natural brown sugar is a name for raw sugar which is a brown sugar produced from the first crystallisation of the sugar cane. As such “natural brown sugar” is free of additional dyes and chemicals. There is more molasses in brown sugar, giving it a higher mineral content. Some natural brown sugars have particular names and characteristics, and are sold as Turbinado sugar, Muscovado, or Demerara sugar.

Turbinado sugar is made by crushing freshly cut sugar cane to obtain a juice, which is heated and evaporated to a thick syrup, which is then crystallized. The crystals are then spun in a centrifuge (thus “turbina-“) to remove the excess juice, resulting in the characteristic large, light brown, crystals.

Muscovado (also moscovado) is an unrefined, dark brown sugar that is produced without centrifugation and has much smaller crystals than turbinado sugar. The sugar cane extract is heated to thicken it and then pan-evaporated in the sun and pounded to yield an unprocessed, damp sugar that retains all of the natural minerals.

Demerara (also spelled “demerera”) sugar’s name comes from the Demerera River area of Guyana, where sugar cane was grown. Demerara is another unrefined, centrifuged, large-crystalled, light brown, cane sugar; it is slightly sticky and sometimes molded into sugar cubes. Some Demerara is still produced in South America, but most is now produced in Mauritius, an island off Africa.

That’s good enough for today, here is the revised list of dry goods.
1. baking soda –
2. baking powder
3. Cornstarch
4. yeast
5. flour
6. corn flour
7. corn meal
8. Salt
9. pepper -white and black
10. Sugar
11. confectioner’s sugar
12. brown sugar
13 light corn syrup
14. vanilla extract
15. ground cinnamon
16 whole nutmeg
17. ground cloves
18. powdered ginger
19. dried basil
20. dried oregano
21. chili powder
22. dry mustard
23. paprika
24. thyme
25. tarragon
26. dried dill
27. bay leaves
28. poultry seasoning
29. beef, chicken and vegetable bouillon
30. cream of tartar
31. unseasoned bread crumbs
32. unsweetened cocoa powder
33. unsweetened baking chocolate
34. chocolate chips

Pantry 101-Baking and Spices 1-5

Today I’m going to start discussing what staples to always have on hand.  We’ll start with Baking and Spices.  Even if you don’t “cook” or “bake”, you will need these things, trust me for just a little longer.  There are a lot of items here so I won’t talk about them all at once.  But you need to know why you use things to be able to properly apply them when you don’t have a recipe and are just winging it.  That is when you know you are a cook.

Here goes: Baking & Spice Staples

1. baking soda  –
2. baking powder
3. Cornstarch
4. yeast
5. flour
6. salt
7. pepper
8. peppercorns
9. sugar
10. confectioner’s sugar
11. brown sugar
12 light corn syrup
13. vanilla extract
14. ground cinnamon
15. whole nutmeg
16. ground cloves
17. powdered ginger
18. dried basil
19. dried oregano
20. chili powder
21. dry mustard
22. paprika
23. thyme
24. tarragon
25. dried dill
26. bay leaves
27. poultry seasoning
28. beef, chicken and vegetable bouillon
29. cream of tartar
30. unseasoned bread crumbs
31. unsweetened cocoa powder
32. unsweetened baking chocolate
33. chocolate chips

Most of these “dry” staples will last a long time if unopened, but if you open them use them or throw them a way every couple of years.  I removed pancake mix from this list because of a potential toxic mold that can grow in it.  Besides, pancake mix is easy to make and better than store bought.

Let’s start at the top:

Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which means they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to ‘rise’. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.
1) Baking Soda

Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey, lemon), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat!

2) Baking Powder

Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch). Baking powder is available as single-acting baking powder and as double-acting baking powder. Single-acting powders are activated by moisture, so you must bake recipes which include this product immediately after mixing. Double-acting powders react in two phases and can stand for a while before baking. With double-acting powder, some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is added to dough, but the majority of the gas is released after the temperature of the dough increases in the oven.


How Are Recipes Determined?

Some recipes call for baking soda, while others call for baking powder. Which ingredient is used depends on the other ingredients in the recipe. The ultimate goal is to produce a tasty product with a pleasing texture. Baking soda is basic and will yield a bitter taste unless countered by the acidity of another ingredient, such as buttermilk. You’ll find baking soda in cookie recipes. Baking powder contains both an acid and a base and has an overall neutral effect in terms of taste. Recipes that call for baking powder often call for other neutral-tasting ingredients, such as milk. Baking powder is a common ingredient in cakes and biscuits.

Substituting in Recipes

You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda (you’ll need more baking powder and it may affect the taste), but you can’t use baking soda when a recipe calls for baking powder. Baking soda by itself lacks the acidity to make a cake rise. However, you can make your own baking powder if you have baking soda and cream of tartar. Simply mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda.
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There should be a date on the box of each.  If your soda or powder is more than 2 years old throw it out and buy more, it’s pretty cheap.

3) Cornstarch

Cornstarch is just what it sounds like: starch derived from corn. It is ground from the white endosperm at the heart of a kernel of corn.  It is so fine that if you pinch a little your fingers will squeak.   Cornstarch is used as a thickening agent in cooking, a health-conscious alternative to talc, and the main ingredient in a biodegradable plastic. It is also mixed with sugar to make powdered sugar.

In the kitchen, cornstarch can be used as a binder for puddings or similar foods, or as a thickener for sauces, stews, and similar dishes. A simple pudding can be made with milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Cornstarch can form unappetizing clumps in hot water, so if you need to thicken something that is already cooking on the stove, mixing a bit of cornstarch in a glass with cold water before adding it to the pot is advised.

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I also use cornstarch to coat fish fillets before pan searing as a lighter substitute for flour.  It allows you to get a nice brown crust with out being heavy.

4) yeast
I think most everyone knows that bakers yeast is a dried active fungi culture that is used in making breads, beer and wine.  But, did you know that there are thousands of different yeast cultures in the air?  As a mater of fact the sour taste of Sourdough bread comes from yeast that is picked up from the air into the “starter” batter.  That’s why the sourdough in San Francisco for example is usually better than other places.

Yeast physiology can be either obligately aerobic or facultatively fermentative. There is no known obligately anaerobic yeast. In the absence of oxygen, fermentative yeasts produce their energy by converting sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol). In brewing, the ethanol is used, while in baking the carbon dioxide raises the bread and the ethanol evaporates.”

That means when you soften dried yeast in 105 deg F water and add sugar as a food source, the culture becomes active and starts to reproduce.  The by-products of the reproduction are carbon dioxide and alcohol.  In baking the carbon dioxide trapped in the gluten web of the dough makes the bread rise and the alcohol evaporates.  In beer or wine making the alcohol is dissolved in the liquid and the carbon dioxide gas dissipates into the air.
5) Flour

Flour is a very important pantry staple.  You will use it in everything from, cookies to fried food to gravy.  Try to buy whole grain flours but you’ll probably need some white flour too.  There are white whole grain flours that are good.  You will want bread flour for making things that you want to rise, like bread, rolls, etc.  Bread flour has more gluten in it which forms long strings that stick together and trap the carbon dioxide in it making it rise.  Plain flour, either whole grain or white, can be used for anything else.  For example you’d want to use a low gluten flour like plain or cake flour to make a nice flaky biscuit or pie crust.   Everyone has their favorite brand, and some brands work better in different parts of the country.  I use White Lily brand because Darlene swears by it.  After we all stock our pantries we will share our biscuit making techniques and we’ll all become biscuits experts.   Trust me guys, nothing will impress a date more that when you knock out a batch of biscuits for breakfast or dinner.

I also recommend getting some rice flour and some rye flour too.  The rice flour is great for making tempura batter and the rye flour make and interesting savory pancake.  We’ll discuss recipes later.

I’m going to stop here for the day because I want to elaborate on the next few ingredients.


What to Keep in the Pantry or “Pantry 101”

One of what I consider to be important topics for the healthy life, is what to keep stocked in your pantry so that you can cook something good when you need to. I will break this down into 5 catagories:

1. Baking and Spices
2. General & Condiments
3. Refrigerator
4. Freezer
5. Fresh items to keep on hand

Obviously there could be a discussion on each item in each category and we may go there, but to start I will list the items and tell you why you need them. Then we will search together for the best brand or type of each item to buy.

I got this list from the following page if you want to do your home work.

Tomorrow we’ll start on the 1st list – Baking & Spices