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By Spike

It has come to our attention that many people have a deficit for proceeding with small tasks.  I understand that perfectly, because I endure the same deficit.  One of our faithful readers expressed difficulty with understanding measurements.  Another did not know that measurements designated in “spoons” or fractions thereof are specific measurements.  Our English language leaves a lot to be desired with regard to certain descriptive words and phrases.

A “teaspoon” (tsp) is not the instrument with which one stirs tea.  It is a specific measurement equal to 5 milliliters (ml).  A “tablespoon” (Tb) is not the instrument from which one serves veggies at the table.  It, too, is a specific measurement, equal to 15 milliliters or 3 teaspoons.  With each set of measuring spoons, there will be one tablespoon, one teaspoon, one ½ teaspoon and one ¼ teaspoon.  These measuring spoons should be used, rather than trying to gauge the fractional amounts within one spoon.  Sometimes the lid of a vanilla bottle will hold exactly ½ teaspoon or even 1 teaspoons  To find out, take off the lid and fill it with water, then pour it into a measuring spoon.   If it overflows the ½ teaspoons, fill it again and pour it into the 1 teaspoon measure.  If the water reaches the edge of the lid, then it would be okay to use the lid for measuring out 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  A coffee scoop is usually two tablespoons.

When you are directed to add 1 cup of something to your recipe, that is not just a teacup or a coffee cup.  It is a measuring cup, equal to 8 fluid ounces (not 8 ounces of dry weight).  It is the same as one-half pint.  1 cup is equal to 16 tablespoons  (Tbsp) or 48 teaspoons (tsp).  A burgeoning cook should have at least 1 measuring cup that is made of glass or plastic, so that one can see that the measure is accurate.  It is good to have a 1-cup measure and a 2-cup measure (both of glass or plastic).  There is a set of measuring cups that are used mainly for dry ingredients, such as flour, sugar, rice, and the like, that are made of metal.  The set will consist of one 1-cup measure, one ½-cup measure, one 1/3-cup measure, and one ¼-cup measure.  The dry items are put into the cups and filled to the brim.  For accuracy, one could use a knife to draw the edge across the top of the cup to scrape off any excess.

Measuring shortening, peanut butter, and any other substance that does not pour easily, can be tricky.  If ½ cup of shortening or peanut butter is called for, get out your 1-cup glass measuring cup.  Fill it to the ½ cup line with water.  Using a knife or spatula, drop (gently) in globs of shortening or peanut butter into the water until the water reaches the 1-cup line.   Holding your knife over the cup so your substance will not fall out, pour out the water.  You will have exactly ½ cup of substance.  The problem with measuring those kinds of ingredients is that a bubble can form in the center of the glob and you don’t see it.  That gives an inadequate measure.  Using the water displacement method measures the substance by relative weight and will be accurate.  For amounts over ½ cup, use your glass two-cup measure.  If you need ¾ cup of shortening, fill your two-cup measure to the 1 ¼ cup line with water, add your shortening until the water reaches the 2-cup line.   Basic subtraction can tell you how much water to put into the cup.   Cup size minus substance amount will be the amount of water.  (2 cup measure minus 2/3 cup shortening yields a difference of 1 1/3 cup.  Put in 1 1/3 cup water, and add shortening until the water reaches the 2-cup line and that gives you 2/3 cup shortening.) 

To measure sticky substances, such as Karo or molasses, lubricate the insides of the cup with shortening, veggie oil, or veggie no-stickum spray.  That makes it easier to pour the measured sticky stuff without leaving half of it in the cup.  A rubber spatula will finish emptying the cup.

When your recipe requests that you sift the flour, that means that you put flour through your sifter before measuring it.  When you measure sifted flour, do NOT pack it down into the cup.  Do NOT tap the cup on the counter to straighten out the top of the flour for easier reading of the measured amount.  Straighten it gently with your finger.

When your recipe tells you to separate the eggs, it means that you need to have two bowls, a very small one for the yolks, and a bigger one for the whites.  When you break the eggshell, the white comes out first, so you want to start with the bigger bowl. I usually pass the yolk back and forth from one shell-half to the other a time or two, until the white is all out.  If you nick the yolk, be very careful not to get any yolk into the whites’ bowl.  Usually the reason for separating eggs is so that you can beat the whites to incorporate air into them for increased leavening.  A bit of yolk in the whites will impair your ability to do that.  It is not harmful if a bit of white gets into the yolk bowl.  When it is required that the whites be beaten to “soft peaks” or “stiff peaks,” that means you use an egg beater, or an electric mixer that you can hold in your hand.  A fork won’t do it. 

Frequently, a recipe will instruct you to beat the whites to “stiff peaks” and also to beat the yolks until they are “lemony.”  Beat the whites first, and beat the yolks after that – you won’t need to wash the beaters in between.  Yolks, being almost orange in color, do become paler during beating, and will become a light yellow color.  They thicken somewhat, as well. 

Eggs cook at a very low temperature.  That is why it is not a big deal when somebody says “It’s so hot outside you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.”  Of course! When I was a child, I did that, just to see if it was true.  The problem I had was in getting the fried egg off the concrete!  Having very little sense, I did it right by our front entry.

When you make pudding or pie filling and you are instructed to add the egg yolks to the boiling mixture of sugar, milk, and whatever else, keep in mind that eggs cook at a very low temperature.  If you just dump the beaten yolks into the boiling cauldron, you will have boiling stuff with scrambled egg yolk bits in it, and it looks and tastes awful. It is best to take your yolks bowl to the stove, drop in a tablespoonful of boiling stuff into the yolk bowl and beat it with a fork until the yolks have assimilated the boiling stuff.  Then, pour the yolks, all at once, into the boiling stuff and stir like mischief so the egg yolks will warm gradually and thicken the boiling stuff as intended.

Sometimes a recipe will instruct you to “fold in the dry ingredients.”  You have a large bowl of beaten egg whites and you have a bowl of sifted flour and maybe sugar mixed with it.  Take out your ½-cup measure, fill it with the flour, and gently shake it out over the top of the egg whites.  Using a rubber spatula or flat wooden spoon (NOT a fork or regular mixing spoon or wire whisk), moving in a slow, circular motion from top of bowl to bottom of bowl, keeping the blade of the spatula in a vertical position, gradually mix in the dry ingredients you have shaken over the top.  When it is well incorporated, shake another ½ cup of dry stuff into the wet stuff, and  do the folding thing again.  It is very important that you move slowly and gently here, so as not to disturb the little air bubbles in the beaten eggs.  That is the leavening for this cake (or whatever the result will be).  Dry stuff is folded into wet stuff for several different kinds of recipes.  An Angel-food cake ALWAYS has dry stuff folded into the wet stuff.

When your recipe calls for “softened butter,”  that does not mean MELTED.  Those of us who have microwaves often zap stuff too much.   When we melt butter, it changes the arrangement of molecules enough that it won’t properly interact with the other ingredients, thereby ruining your chances of having the desired end result.

When a bread recipe instructs you to put your dough in a warm place to rise, that does not mean that it should be put near a source of heat.  Any place on your kitchen counter or table where it will be relatively undisturbed by air currents (either warm or cold) will be a good place.  Put a folded cloth napkin or tea towel over the dough bowl to keep out any small drafts.  

There are probably enough gravy recipes and/or methods to equal those who make gravy.  I probably wasted a ton of flour trying to learn.  I can’t make it with just anything, but I am very good at making it with the drippings from a turkey or a roast of beef.  When I prepare a beef roast, I season the roast, put it into the oven at 350 degrees F., and after about 30 minutes, I pour over it one cup water with one cube o f beef bouillon, having micro-waved the water and crushed the bouillon cube so that it is dissolved in the water.   When the roast is about done, I get a jar with a lid, and put about ½ cup cold water, then about ¼ cup flour.  Shake that so it is well mixed, and not quite thick enough to be a paste.  When the roast comes out of the oven, I pour the drippings (and the remnants of bouillon) into a saucepan.  Bring it to a boil, and pour the flour/water mixture, through a small strainer, into the drippings.  Using a wire whisk, I stir until it again boils and is thickened.  If not thick enough, I do the jar- water-flour thing again, using smaller amounts.  If too thick, add a SMALL amount of water.  At the end, add a tiny few drops of Kitchen Bouquet, for color and seasoning. 

When I prepare a turkey, I boil the neck, heart, and lungs (NEVER the liver)  with a generous amount of water, one cut-up carrot, one small cut-up onion, and a couple celery stalks with leaves.  After boiling it for about two hours, discard the solids and keep the liquid.  When the turkey is done, pour the drippings into a large saucepan or pot, and add the liquid reserved from the boiling of the neck, etc.  Do the jar-water-flour thing, only make a larger amount, pour it through a strainer into the boiling drippings, and stir with the whisk until it is thickened.  A little bit of Kitchen Bouquet is good here, also.  A bit of garlic salt gives it a little punch.   This gravy method is very mechanical and almost ritualistic, but it works.  I’ll have to get back to you with regard to gravy made after frying chicken (mine, so far, is glorified grease).

When you barbecue, I believe you could make a little sauce by starting with a roux (melt 2 Tablespoon butter, add 2 Tablespoon flour); when roux is smooth, gradually add 1 cup hot bouillon and perhaps a bit of barbecue sauce for seasoning.  If you have barbecued chicken, use chicken bouillon; for barbecued beef, use beef bouillon.  If you don’t like it, just serve it to your children or your guests!!  Some people will eat ANYTHING!!




FONDUE     Back to Top
From fonder - the French word for "melt," the term "fondue" has several meanings. It is basically a casual dining procedure in which the food is dipped (or even cooked) in a single heated pot at the table.

-There are three main types of fondue:

SWISS: Fondue au fromage. This is the classic version in which bread cubes are dipped into a sauce made with cheese (usually EMMENTALER and GRUYÈRE) melted and combined with white wine, KIRSCH and seasonings.

CHINESE HOT POT: Fondue bourguignonne.  In this variation, beef (sometimes seafood or vegetables) are cooked at the table in a pot of hot oil. They are then dipped into various savory sauces.

CHOCOLATE FONDUE: This is the dessert fondue. Chocolate, cream, and
liquors are combined in the heated pot. Fruit and sometimes cake are then
dipped in this rich sauce.


Food Labeling Information

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REFERENCE DAILY INTAKES (RDIs) A new term that replaces the familiar U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (U.S. RDAs). RDIs are based on a population-weighted average of the latest RDAs for vitamins and minerals for healthy Americans over 4 years old. RDIs are not recommended daily intake figures for any particular age group or sex. They are simply average values for the entire U.S. population.The RDI for protein for everyone over 4 years of age is 50 grams and, for those under 4, is 14 grams. For vitamins and minerals, RDIs are:

















Thiamin (B1)



Riboflavin (B2)









Folic Acid









Pantothenic Acid





























A term used to denote recommendations for 26 nutrients for 18 different population subgroups. RDAs are based on information on nutrient allowances for healthy people from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. This information is revised about every five years and is used to determine the Daily Value and Reference Daily Intake figures used on food labels. ~see Daily Reference Values (DRVs), Daily Values (DVs), Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs), U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (U.S. RDAs)



DAILY VALUES (DVs)   Back to Top

A term on new food labels that represents age-adjusted average levels of protein, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate (including dietary fiber and sugars), vitamins and minerals recommended for various groups of people of different ages and sexes as established by the National Academy of Sciences.

Since they are averages, many Daily Value figures are lower than the familiar U.S. RDAs which represented the highest values for each nutrient. In some cases, DVs are also lower due to new nutritional evidence considered by the National Academy. DVs serve as a yardstick for food comparisons and not as a strict dietary prescription. 



A term that once indicated suggested intake levels for nutrients. U.S.RDAs simplified the RDAs of the National Academy of Sciences by providing a single recommended allowance for the general healthy population. With few exceptions, these allowances were based on the highest RDA for each nutrient-the amounts required for young adult males. Since these values were excessively high for children, women and the elderly, U.S. RDAs have now been replaced by RDIs which represent average RDAs.






A new term similar to RDIs for food components not covered by RDIs. Some DRVs are based on reference calorie intakes of 2,000 (average need by post-menopausal women, women who exercise moderately, teenage girls and sedentary men) and 2,500 calories (adequate for young men) and others on dietary recommendations suggested by some health and nutrition groups. Daily Reference Values are intended to serve as a yardstick for food comparisons, not as a strict dietary prescription. Based on you own calorie intake and activity level, your needs may be more or less than the DRVs. There is no DRV for sugars. Other DRVs are:

Calorie Intake - 2,000*; 2,500 calories,

Total Fat - No more than 30% of total calories (less than 65; 80 grams),

Saturated Fat - No more than 10% of total calories (less than 20; 25 grams),

Cholesterol - Less than 300 milligrams,

Total Carbohydrate - At least 55% of total calories (300; 375 grams),

Dietary Fiber - 11.5 grams per 1,000 calories (25; 30 grams),

Protein** - 10% of calories for those over 4 (50 grams; 63 grams),

Sodium - Less than 2,400 milligrams and

Potassium** - 3,500 milligrams.

*Due to space limitations, food labels will show percentages of DRVs based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Some large labels may also show DRVs (but not percentages) for a 2,5000-calorie diet.

**Listing percentages of DRVs for this nutrient on food labels is optional.





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Check your oven for temperature accuracy. Place an oven thermometer on a pan and set the pan in the middle of the middle shelf. Turn the oven to 350°F and wait about 30 minutes. Check the thermometer and see if it reads 350°F. Make a note of the thermometer's reading. Set your oven to 400°F  and follow the time procedure. Check the thermometer and make a note of its reading. Set your oven to 300°F and follow the time procedure. Check the thermometer and make a note of its

Adjust your baking times in accordance with the real temperatures shown on your notes. If the thermometer's reading were less than your oven's dial setting...Bake for a longer time. If the thermometer's reading were more than your oven's dial settings...bake for a shorter time. You can also change the outside settings to be a little higher or a little lower instead of changing the baking times. Do whatever works best for you. "Make notes of your settings".

  Sometime your oven's temperature setting device will match its real inside temperature on some setting and not on others. It's good to know what the real inside temperatures are for high and low settings.




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 Oven Temperature Conversion Table



Gas Mark Description:

225 F

105 C

1/4 Very Cool

250 F

120 C


275 F

130 C

1 Cool

300 F

150 C


325 F

165 C

3 Very Moderate

350 F

180 C

4 Moderate

375 F

190 C


400 F

200 C

6 Moderately Hot

425 F

220 C

7 Hot

450 F

230 C


475 F

245 C

9 Very Hot




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 US Liquid Measurements Conversion Table





1 gallon

4 quarts

3.79 L

(can round to 4L)

1 quart

2 pints

.95 L

(can round to 1L)

1 pint

2 cups (16 fluid ounces)

450 ml

1 cup

8 fl ounces

225 ml

(can round to 250ml)

1 tablespoon (Tablespoon)

1/2 fl ounces

16 ml

(can round to 15 ml)

1 teaspoon (teaspoons)

1/3 tablespoon

5 ml




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 US Can Size Table

Can Size:


Approx. Cups:

5 ounce

5 ounces


8 ounce

8 ounces



10 1/2 to 12 ounces


12 ounces vacuum

12 ounces


No. 300

14 - 16 ounces


No. 303

16 - 17 ounces


No. 2

1 pound 4 ounces or 1 pint 2 fluid ounces


No. 2 1/2

1 pound 13 ounces


No. 3

46 fluid ounces


Condensed Milk

14 fluid ounces


Evaporated Milk

5-1/3 fluid ounces


13 fluid ounces





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 International Liquid Measurements

Standard Cup:

Standard Teaspoon:

Standard Tablespoon:


250 milliliters

5 milliliters

15 milliliters


250 milliliters

5 milliliters

20 milliliters


250 milliliters

5 milliliters

15 milliliters


250 milliliters

5 milliliters

15 milliliters

New Zealand


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British Measurements


1 UK pint  6 deciliters
1 UK liquid ounces       0.96 US liquid ounce
1 pint 570 milliliters  20 fluid ounces
1 breakfast cup 10 fluid ounces      1/2 pint
1 tea cup 1/3 pint
1 Tablespoon  15 milliliters
1 dessert spoon 10 milliliters
1 teaspoon 5 milliliters 1/3 Tablespoon
1 ounce  28.4 grams (can round to 25 or 30)
1 pound 454 grams
1 kilogram 2.2 pounds


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 Australian Measurements



   Grams       Ounces   
1 cup




1 cup

 biscuit (cookie) crumbs



1 cup

breadcrumbs, soft



1 cup

breadcrumbs, dry



1 cup

cheese, grated



1 cup




1 cup

corn flour (cornstarch)



1 cup




1 cup

  rice bubbles (Rice Krispies)



1 cup

coconut (flaked)



1 cup

dried split peas or lentils



1 cup

dried fruit



1 cup

dates (chopped)



1 cup

flour (plain or self-rising)



1 cup

flour (whole wheat)



1 cup

  golden syrup, honey or glucose  



1 cup




1 cup

nuts (chopped)



1 cup

oats (rolled)



1 cup

rice (short grain)



1 cup

rice (long grain)



1 cup

salt or crystal sugar



1 cup

castor sugar (superfine)



1 cup

soft brown sugar (packed)





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Metric Spoon Conversions

1 Tablespoon peanut butter 20 2/3
1 Tablespoon baking powder, bicarb soda, cream of tartar, gelatin, rice or sago 15 1/2
1 Tablespoon cocoa, cornflour, custard powder or nuts 10 1/3
1 Tablespoon golden syrup, treacle, honey or glucose 30 1
1 Tablespoon sugar or salt 20 2/3
1 Tablespoon yeast, compressed 20 2/3
1 Tablespoon = 20 ml
1 teaspoon = 5 ml


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Substitutions & Equivalents

Have you ever been right in the middle of a recipe and you realize you are missing one of the ingredients which you 'thought' you had? Here are a few ideas, which may help you to 'save the day'.


Flours~      Back to Top

US & UK all-purpose and plain flour can be interchanged without any adjustments. US cake flour is lighter however, and can be substituted with 1 cup minus 3 Tablespoon of all-purpose/plain flour, and add 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch or potato flour to make the full cup. Self rising flour can be made by substituting 1 cup of all purpose/plain flour minus 2 teaspoons, and add 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to make the full cup. US whole wheat flour is interchangeable with UK whole-meal flour.


Dairy Products~     Back to Top

Evaporated milk & Condensed Sweetened milk are both sold in cans. Both are similar in consistency and color, but they are not the same. Condensed Sweetened milk (such as Eagle brand) is mixed with sugar and a higher concentrate of dry milk. A recipe for a homemade version of this can be found by doing a search on our website.

Recipes calling for buttermilk or cultured milk can be made by creating your own 'sour milk' substitute. Add one Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of sweet milk, then let stand for about 5 minutes. Use as directed in your recipe, and you won't be able to tell the difference.

The table below will give you an idea of the percentage of milk fat in each type of milk product.


Dairy Product           US               UK       

Whipping Cream



Whipped Cream



Clotted Cream



Double Cream



Heavy Cream



Half Cream 'Half & Half'



Single Cream 'Light Cream'  



Quark (or Quarg) Is a soft, unripened cheese with the texture and flavor of sour cream. Quark comes in both low-fat and nonfat. The calories are the same (35 per ounce) in both types, the texture of low-fat Quark is richer than that of low-fat sour cream. It has a milder flavor and richer texture than low-fat yogurt. Quark can be used as a sour cream substitute to top baked potatoes, and in a variety of dishes including cheesecakes, dips, salads and sauces.



Sugars & other Sweeteners~    Back to Top

US superfine sugar can be used in place of UK castor sugar. These sugars are finer than regular granulated sugar. Most times, you can use regular granulated sugar in place of castor sugar with no ill effects. UK/Australia/New Zealand icing sugar can be used in place of US confectioner's/powdered sugar. You will occasionally find one of these which contains 5% cornstarch or cornflour.

Sugar or golden syrup can by substituted for US corn syrup. You will find that corn syrup comes in two forms- light and dark. Dark corn syrup is similar in texture and flavor to molasses, and can be used in place of molasses if needed. Many times recipes will list light corn syrup as 'Karo' brand syrup. Golden syrup is a thick, light brown byproduct of the sugar cane refining process. Many times recipes will list golden syrup as 'Lyle's' brand syrup, or 'Chelsea' brand syrup. Light corn syrup is an acceptable substitute, or a homemade version can be quickly mixed up by mixing 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water, then boiling for 1 minute. Be certain to cool your homemade version before using it in any recipe. You may also find blackstrap molasses listed in a recipe or two, and may substitute black treacle for it if needed.


Leavening Agents~     Back to Top

Baking soda is made from 'sodium bicarbonate'. Recipes listing this as an ingredient always contain some type of acidic ingredient, because this is what activates the baking soda.

Baking powder is made from a powdered acid and baking soda, and can be activated in a recipe without adding any other acidic ingredients. A substitute for baking powder can be made as follows:


Baking Powder Substitute~    Back to Top

Mix 1/4 teaspoons Baking Soda plus 1/2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar This mixture can be used to substitute 1 teaspoons baking powder.

Eggs are often times used as leavening agents in recipes, and so it is important to never add or remove eggs from the recipe until you know if this is why they have been included in the recipe. An egg substitute which can be used in a pinch is as follows:


Egg Substitute~    Back to Top

For use in baking only, soften 1 teaspoons unflavored gelatin in 1 Tablespoon cold water. Add 2 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoons boiling water and mix. This mixture may be used to substitute for 1 egg when baking.

Another good egg substitute to use in baking only, is to use 1 heaping Tablespoon Soy Flour dissolved in 2 Tablespoon water. This mixture may be used to substitute for 1 egg when baking.


Starches~   Back to Top

US cornstarch and UK cornflour may be interchanged. Potato flour is a starch as well and may be substituted for cornstarch. US cornflour is actually finely ground cornmeal, and this may be confusing in many recipes. Double check with the author of your recipe if you are in doubt as to whether your recipe calls for US or UK cornflour. Generally, US cornflour/cornmeal is used in larger amounts as a major ingredient in a corn bread type recipe, or as a coating for fried/baked meats or vegetables. UK cornflour/cornstarch is used in small amounts as a thickening agent in baked goods or puddings and gravies. If your recipe calls for cornstarch/cornflour as a thickening agent, you may substitute twice the amount called for in flour, and get the same results, if the recipe is being heated to a boil. Flour will give a cloudier result however, so if you need a clear result, do not use it as a substitute.

Arrowroot is a white powder extracted from the root of a West Indian plant. It looks and feels like cornstarch. Arrowroot has no flavor and may also be used as a thickening agent for sauces, pies, puddings and glazes. Arrowroot mixtures thicken at a lower temperature than mixtures made with flour or cornstarch. Mix arrowroot with cool liquids before adding hot liquids, then cook until mixture thickens. Remove from heat immediately to prevent mixture from thinning. 2 teaspoons of arrowroot can be substituted for 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch. Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and prevents ice crystals from forming on homemade ice cream.


Fats~    Back to Top

A 'stick' or 'cube' or 'square' of butter or margarine is equal to 1/2 cup US or 4 ounces or approximately 100 grams. There are 8 Tablespoon to each 1/4 pound 'stick' of butter or margarine. Many times manufacturers mark the paper wrapper with measurements so you can slice off the exact amount of butter or margarine needed without the use of a measuring spoon or measuring cup.

Shortening is a solid, white colored fat made from hydrogenated vegetable oil. (A common US brand is Crisco, and this may be used to name this ingredient in many US recipes.) Shortening is sold in both plain and butter flavors in the US. Many times you may substitute butter or margarine for shortening in recipes, but this will result in a different flavor due to the fact that vegetable shortening has a very bland, nondescript flavor.

Another substitution which may be used is Lard. Lard is rendered and clarified pork fat. The quality of lard depends on the area of the pig which the fat came from. The very best is 'leaf lard' which comes from the fat around the animal's kidneys. Unprocessed lard has quite a strong flavor and a soft texture. Lard can be processed in many ways, including filtering, bleaching, hydrogenation and emulsification. In general, processed lard is firmer (about the consistency of shortening) and has a milder, nutlike flavor. Lard can also have a longer shelf life than butter, margarine or shortening. Lard is richer than many other fats, and therefore makes extremely tender, flaky biscuits and pastries. It's a flavorful fat for frying and is widely used throughout South America and many European countries. When substituting lard for butter in baking, reduce the amount by 20 to 25 percent. All lard should be tightly wrapped to prevent absorption of other flavors. It may be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, depending on how it has been processed. Always check the label for storage directions.

Copra is a solid fat derived from coconuts. It is fairly saturated and used in recipes where it is melted, combined with other ingredients and left to set. This is sometimes referred to as coconut or palm leaf lard.

Deep frying requires fats/oils with heat tolerant properties. Butter and margarine, as well as lard & olive oil are not good candidates for this type of cooking. Canola, Vegetable, Corn and Peanut oils are widely used for deep frying.


Chocolates~   Back to Top

In recipes calling for unsweetened baking chocolate, you may substitute 3 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 Tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil, for each 1 ounce square. US dark chocolate and UK plain chocolate are the same, the darkest, sweetest of eating chocolates. This chocolate is also referred to as 'bittersweet', 'semi-sweet' or 'sweet dark'. US milk chocolate and UK milk, or plain chocolate are also the same. When following a recipe, please remember that chocolate chips contain an ingredient which slows the melting process, and bar chocolates do not contain this same ingredient. 'Bitter' chocolate is a term used in the UK for high quality plain chocolate.


Candy Temperatures    Back to Top

When making candy it is very important to get your candy to the right temperature. Here are the temperatures and cold water tests for the stages of hardness.

Stage of Hardness         


        Sugar syrup dropped in cold water:

230 to 234 degrees

  Forms a soft 2 inch
Soft Ball   234 to 240 degrees   Forms a soft ball that flattens on its own when removed
Firm Ball   244 to 248 degrees   Forms a firm, but pliable ball
Hard Ball   250 to 265 degrees   Forms a rigid ball
Soft Crack   270 to 290 degrees   Separates into hard threads
Hard Crack   300 to 310 degrees   Separates into hard brittle threads





The reason you cry when cutting onions is because of the oil in the skin of the onions.  Refrigerating onions before cutting can help keep the oil from squirting into your eyes.

Make sure your knife is sharp – a sharp knife will help to reduce the discomfort by making clean cuts instead of mashing the onion.

The three basic cuts for onions: 

Hamburger slices

Chinese Cut



Hamburger slices: Turn the onion so that the cut surface is away from you as you slice.

For the Chinese Cut:  Remove the top and bottom of the onion, slice through the middle of the onion from top to bottom and lay the two halves on a cutting board with the cut side down.  Then slice the halves vertically about 3/8” apart.  Scrape the onions into your pan without lifting then from the cutting board.

Diced:  This method causes the greatest eye irritation.  Peel the onion and remove the top.  Leave the bottom (root end) on the onion. Slice in half from top to bottom.   Lay the two halves on the cutting board with cut sides down.  Using the tip of a VERY sharp knife, make vertical cuts almost to the root end.  The finer chop you want, the closer together you make the cuts.  Then start cutting crossways to produce the dices.  If your knife is sharp, the onion will stay together.  A dull knife causes the dice to tumble apart, releasing the irritants.

Onion tears  are caused by tiny droplets of a chemical in the onion juice released into the air when the onion is cut.  This chemical irritates the eyes, not the nose.

Any action you take that cuts down on the amount of chemical, such as the previous hints of peeling under running water or chilling the onions helps.

An old German lady told me to hold the bread between my teeth and breathe through my mouth.  This could help keep the chemical away from the eyes.

I put the chopping board on top of the stove and turn on the vent fan to suck out the vapors.  Or you can just cut the onion into a bowl on the stove with the fan running.

When done chopping, run your wet hands all over the faucet to remove onion odor.







3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon

4 teaspoons = 1/4 cup

5 1/3 tablespoons = 1/3 cup

8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup

10 2/3 tablespoons = 2/3 cup

12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup

16 tablespoons = 1 cup

1 tablespoon = 1/2 fluid ounces

1 cup = 8 fluid ounces

1 cup = 1/2 pint

2 cups = 1 pint

4 cups = 1 quart

2 pints = 1 quart

4 quarts = 1 gallon



1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cornstarch 2 tablespoon flour
1 cup self rising flour 1 cup all purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water
1 cup buttermilk 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 cup milk (you should let it stand for 5 minutes before you use it)
1 teaspoon lemon juice 1/2 vinegar
1 cup sour cream 1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh herbs 1/2 to 1 teapoons dried crushed herb
1 cup corn syrup 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water




Baking & Cooking Substitutions: Instead of ~ Use     Back to Top


Baking Mix (Bisquick®) 2 Cups Mix ~ 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1/3 cup shortening until mixture looks like fine crumbs.

Baking Powder 1 teaspoon ~ 1 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Balsamic Vinegar 1 Tablespoon ~ 1 Tablespoon sherry or cider vinegar

Bread Crumbs Dry 1/4 cup ~ 1/4 cup finely crushed cracker crumbs, corn flakes or quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats

Broth, Chicken, Beef or Vegetable 1 cup ~ 1 teaspoon chicken, beef or vegetable bouillon granules (or 1 cube) dissolved in 1 cup boiling water

Buttermilk 1 cup ~ 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup.

Capers 1 Tablespoon ~ 1 Tablespoon chopped green olives.

Semisweet baking 1 ounces ~ 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate plus 1 Tablespoon sugar

Semisweet chips 1 cup ~ 6 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped

Unsweetened baking 1 ounces ~ 3 Tablespoon baking cocoa plus 1 Tablespoon shortening or margarine

Cornstarch 1 Tablespoon ~ 2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour or 4 teaspoon quick-cooking tapioca.

Light Corn Syrup 1 cup ~ 1 cup white sugar plus 1/4 cup water

Dark Corn Syrup 1 cup ~ 1 cup light corn syrup; 3/4 cup light corn syrup plus 1/4 cup molasses; or 1 cup maple-flavored syrup.

Eggs 1 large ~ 2 egg whites; 1/4 cup cholesterol-free egg product; 2 egg yolks (for custard or puddings); or 2 egg yolks plus 1 Tablespoon water (for cookies or bars)

Self-rising flour 1 cup ~ 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt

Garlic (finely chopped) 1 medium clove ~ 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/4 teaspoon instant minced garlic

Gingerroot (grated or finely chopped) 1 teaspoon ~ 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

Herbs (chopped fresh) 1 Tablespoon ~ 3/4 to 1 teaspoon dried herbs

Honey 1 cup ~ 1-1/4cups sugar plus 1/4 cup water or apple juice.

Leeks (sliced) 1/2 cup ~ 1/2 cup sliced shallots or green onions.

Lemon Juice (fresh) 1 Tablespoon ~ 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice or white vinegar

Lemon Peel (grated) 1 teaspoon ~ 1 teaspoon dried lemon peel

Milk (regular or low-fat) 1 cup ~ 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water; or nonfat dry milk prepared as directed on package

Molasses 1 cup ~ 1/2 cup honey (flavor will be milder).

Mushrooms (fresh) 1 cup cooked, sliced ~ 1 can (4 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained.

Mustard 1 Tablespoon ~ 1 teaspoon ground mustard (dry)

Oil (For cake and cookie recipes) 1 cup ~ 1 cup applesauce

Orange Peel (grated) 1 teaspoon ~ 1 teaspoon dried orange peel.

Poultry Seasoning 1 teaspoon ~ 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme plus 3/4 teaspoon ground sage

Powdered Sugar 1 cup ~ Mix 1 cup granulated sugar in blender

Pumpkin or Apple Pie Spice 1 teaspoon ~ Mix 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Red Pepper Sauce 3 or 4 drops ~ 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne).

Sesame Seed 1 Tablespoon ~ 1 Tablespoon finely chopped blanched almonds.

Sour Cream 1 cup ~ 1 cup plain yogurt

Sugar, Brown (packed) 1 cup ~ 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 Tablespoon molasses or dark corn syrup

Sugar, Granulated (packed) 1 cup ~ 1 cup light brown sugar (packed) or 2 cups powdered sugar

Tomato Paste 1/2 cup ~ 1 cup tomato sauce cooked uncovered to reduced to 1/2 cup

Tomato Sauce 2 cups ~ 3/4 cup tomato paste plus 1 cup water

Tomatoes (canned) 1 cup ~ About 1-1/3 cups cut-up fresh tomatoes, simmered 10 minutes.

Whipping Cream (whipped) 1 cup ~ 1 cup frozen (thawed) whipped topping or 1 cup prepared whipped topping mix.

Wine, Red 1 cup ~ 1 cup apple cider or beef broth

Wine, White 1 cup ~ 1 cup apple juice, apple cider or chicken broth

Yeast (regular or quick active dry) 1 Package ~ (1/4 ounce) 2-1/4 teaspoon regular or quick active dry or 1 package (0.6 ounce) compressed cake yeast.




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The best way to thicken gravies, sauces, soups, etc., is to make what the French call a "roux". 

Start with equal parts butter (or olive oil or vegetable margarine if watching cholesterol, but butter tastes better!) and all-purpose flour.  (Don't use whole wheat or other grains; it won't work.)   

Melt the butter, being careful not to burn it.  Keep the heat on low and whisk in the flour a little at a time.  Make sure there's no lumps and keep stirring so it won't burn.  As soon as all the flour is incorporated, I find that a wooden spoon works best for stirring. Keep it on low heat and keep it moving or it will burn.  What you are looking for is a nice golden color (or let it get darker to add color to dark gravies).  And you will know when it's done when, believe it or not, it will smell like popcorn. 

Turn it off and remove it from the heat as soon as it smells like popcorn. This may sound like a lot of work, but you can make a bunch and keep it in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or freeze it indefinitely. When you're ready to thicken, always add hot roux to cold liquid or cold roux to hot liquid.  Either way will work; just whisk the roux into some of the liquid and then whisk that mixture into the rest.   You will have no lumps!  

If your roux is really dark, it may take a little more to thicken the same amount of liquid as a lighter roux would have thickened, but if it's really light you may have to cook the sauce for awhile to cook out the "starchy" taste. Don't be afraid to experiment.  Recipes are simply guidelines and rules are made to be broken!




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CAKEY/SOFT: Omit granulated sugar. Use 3/4 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and 3 eggs. Drop well-rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with back of spoon dipped in water. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. For a more rounded cookie, do not flatten. Bake 9 to 11 minutes.

CHEWY and THIN: Reduce granulated sugar to 1/2 cup and increase packed brown sugar to 1 cup.

CHEWY and THICK: Use half the butter called for in the recipe. Drop well-rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in preheated 350 F. oven 9 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Store in airtight containers to prevent drying out.

CRISPY: Use 2-1/2 cups flour, 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, and 1 egg. Drop rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with bottom of glass dipped in water. Bake in preheated 375 F. oven for 9 to 11 minutes.

PUFFY: Reduce butter to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening.





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It's easy to make pan cookies with refrigerator cookie dough!

1) Preheat oven to temperature shown on chart below.

2) Cut ends off package and cut wrapper along seam to open. Remove dough.

3) Press dough onto greased metal pan or glass dish. (See chart below.)

4) Bake until edge is set and center is still slightly soft.

5) Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into bars or wedges. (For baking sheet and pizza pan cookies, upon removing from oven, cool for one minute and carefully loosen cookie with spatula.)

6) Store in a tightly sealed container or in baking pans, sheet, or dish covered tightly with plastic wrap or foil.



1 package (18 ounces) refrigerator cookie dough:

13 x 9-inch  baking pan or dish 375 F. 10 to 16 minutes.

Baking sheet or 10  to 12-inch pizza pan 375 F. 10 to 13 minutes.

9-inch tart or spring-form pan 375 F. 20 to 24 minutes.

11 x 7-inch baking dish 375 F. 22 to 24 minutes




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For easier clean up when making cookies, line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.




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Cookie Dough

Most cookie dough, except bar cookie batters and meringue-type mixtures, can be refrigerated or frozen before baking.

Just pack your favorite dough into freezer containers or shape slice-and-bake dough into rolls and wrap. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Before baking, thaw the frozen dough in the container in the refrigerator. If it is too stiff to work with, let the dough stand at room temperature to soften.


Short-term Cookie Storage

Be sure to cool cookies completely before you store them. Place the cooled cookies in storage containers with tight-fitting lids or plastic storage bags. Separate layers with sheets of waxed paper. Keep crisp cookies and soft cookies in separate containers. Also, keep spicy cookies separate from delicately flavored ones. Store frosted cookies in a single layer. If you allow the frosting to dry, you can stack them. Just remember to place waxed paper between the layers.

For short-term storage, keep cookies up to 3 days at room temperature. Bar cookies can be kept in their own baking pan with a tight covering of plastic wrap or foil for a time. If a cookie filling or frosting contains cream cheese, sour cream, or yogurt, store them in the refrigerator.


Long-term Cookie Storage

For longer storage, place completely cooled, unfrosted cookies in bags or containers that are intended for freezer storage. Use a sheet of waxed paper between layers. Seal, label with contents and date, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw cookies in the container about 15 minutes before serving. If cookies are to be frosted, thaw them before spreading icing.





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Peanut Snowmen

Turn purchased peanut butter sandwich cookies into Peanut Snowmen by dipping the cookie in melted white candy coating. Melt the candy coating over low heat. If the candy coating is too thick, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons of shortening. Heat and stir until shortening is melted.

Add candy decorations for eyes and buttons and mouth before the coating dries.

The hats are made out of gumdrops. Sprinkle your work surface with a little granulated sugar. Flatten a large gumdrop to a thin oval shape that is about 1-1/2x1 inches with a rolling pin. You also may need to add a little sugar to the surface of the gumdrop to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. With your fingers, shape the oval into a cone and pinch the edges together. Roll up the bottom edge of the cone to form a hat brim.

After the candy coating has set, attach the hat with additional candy coating.





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Tips on How to Avoid Flat Cookies

1) Don't omit nuts. If you must, add 1-2 tablespoons extra flour.

2) SOFTENING BUTTER: Soften butter at room temperature or in the microwave. One stick of cold butter taken directly from the refrigerator may be softened on Defrost (30%) Power for 10 to 15 seconds. Check; if necessary, microwave 5 to 10 seconds more. Let stand until ready to use. Butter should be softened just until it yields to light pressure.

3) MELTED BUTTER: Using melted butter makes a flatter cookie with a shiny surface and a slightly crackled appearance. The cookie browns evenly. Using melted butter is acceptable but not suggested.

4) UNSALTED BUTTER: You may substitute unsalted butter, or omit salt from the recipe.

5) When using margarine, do not soften. Use directly from the refrigerator.

6) Use a good grade of margarine; avoid tub and light margarine.

7) Don't overbeat.

8) Use ungreased baking sheets.

9) Allow baking sheets to cool between batches. Chill baking sheets briefly in the refrigerator or freezer to hasten cooling between batches.

10) Wipe baking sheets clean of grease or wash and dry between batches.

11) Add 1 to 2 tablespoons extra flour on humid or rainy days.

12) Allow cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

13) EGG SUBSTITUTES: Acceptable. Liquid egg substitutes may be used. Follow manufacturer's directions for amount to substitute.

14) EXTRA LARGE EGGS: Not recommended. Extra large eggs cause a flatter cookie than standard. If extra large eggs have already been added to the dough, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons extra flour.

15) NO EGGS: Acceptable. Omit eggs and use 2 tablespoons water. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Do not overbake. Store tightly sealed to prevent drying. Makes a cookie that is chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside.

16) ONE EGG: Acceptable. Cookie and is crispy on the outside, softer inside.

17) EGG WHITES ONLY: Acceptable. Substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg.

18) Preheat oven fully at the correct temperature. Use a mercury-type oven thermometer to check oven temperature about once a month.

19) Use unsifted all-purpose flour. If the flour has already been sifted, add 2 tablespoons more flour. (Most flour sold in the supermarkets today is marked "Presifted," so there is no need for sifting.)





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Tips for baking the best chocolate chip cookies:
Use butter that is soft, but still a cool room temperature, rather than runny.

Chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator after mixing, up to three days, so it is firm when you drop the batter on the baking sheet. Do not freeze.

Use cool baking sheets, never hot ones just out of the oven or the cookie batter will separate and puddle.

Use vegetable shortening (Crisco) or a vegetable cooking spray, like Pam, for greasing the baking sheets.

2 tablespoons of dough will make a 3-inch cookie and 3 tablespoons of dough will make a 4-inch cookie.

To judge when a cookie is perfectly done, press gently on the center. It is done if it springs back. The edges will not be brown. Do not overbake or they will be dry (you want moist and chewy); cookies set up as they cool.




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Cool Your Cookie Sheets
It's important to allow cookie sheets to cool between batches. A hot cookie sheet may cause the cookies to spread too much. And, the cookies may brown too much around the edges. For spritz cookies, it's very important to cool the cookie sheet to room temperature before pressing the dough onto them. If the sheet is warm, the cookie press won't release the dough properly.

Using Spoons
When making drop cookies, use a spoon from your flatware, not measuring spoons. The deeper bowl of a measuring spoon makes the dough difficult to remove. Push the dough off of one spoon with another spoon or a small spatula. For even baking, keep the dough mounds even in size.

Using a Food Scoop
For evenly shaped, evenly baked drop cookies that are all the same size, use a food scoop. They work like ice cream scoops and come in various sizes. The higher the number, the smaller the scoop.

Removing Bar Cookies from the Pan
To make it easier to remove and cut bar cookies, line the baking pan with foil. Here's a simple tip: Tear off a piece of foil that's large enough to extend over the edges of the pan. Invert the baking pan on the countertop and shape the foil over the baking pan until it fits. Turn the pan upright, then place foil inside, smoothing it to fit inside the pan. If your recipe says to grease the pan, grease the foil lining instead.

Meringue cookies
Here's a simple tip that allows you to easily remove delicate meringue cookies from the cookie sheet: Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use the food-safe parchment paper instead of brown paper grocery bags because they may contain recycled materials. After baking, transfer the meringue cookies to a wire rack for cooling.

Cookie Doneness Test
Check cookies for doneness at the minimum baking time called for in the recipe. A kitchen timer is a helpful reminder. When the cookies are done, remove them from the cookie sheet immediately unless directed otherwise in the recipe. Some cookies are left on the cookie sheet for a specified amount of time to let them set.

Use a spatula
Use a spatula to transfer hot cookies to a wire rack for even cooling. Wire rack can be easily cleaned. Let the cookies cool completely before storing.




Using the right utensil to correctly measure recipe ingredients is important for consistent results.

Measuring liquids
To measure liquid ingredients, such as milk, use a glass or clear plastic measuring cup with a spout plus a rim above the last mark that guards against spilling. Set the liquid measuring cup on a level surface. Then, bend down so your eyes are level with the marking on the cup. For measuring liquid, such as vanilla, in a measuring spoon, fill the spoon to the top, but don't let it spill over.

Measuring dry ingredients
To measure dry ingredients, such as flour and granulated sugar, use nested metal or plastic measuring cups. The top edge of the cups are flat to allow excess dry ingredients to be leveled off. To measure flour, stir flour in the canister to lighten it, then spoon into the cup. Use the straight edge of a metal spatula or knife to level the top. Don't pack the flour into the cup or tap it with the spatula or on the counter to level. Granulated and powdered sugar are measured the same way as flour. However, to measure brown sugar, press it firmly into a dry measure so it holds the shape of the cup when it's turned out.



Cookie Sheets
Choose cookie sheets with very low sides or no sides at all. The pan should be dull finished and of a heavy gauge aluminum. Use lighter colored cookie sheets since dark-colored ones sometimes cause the bottoms of cookies to overbrown. Cookie sheets with a nonstick coating let you skip the greasing step, although the dough might not spread as much, giving you thicker, less crisp cookies. Only grease the cookie sheet when the recipe instructs you to, otherwise the cookies may spread too much and become too flat.

Use rectangular and square cake pans to bake bar cookies and brownies. Other types of cookies won't bake as evenly in a pan with an edge.

Cookie sheets that are insulated often will give you pale cookies with soft centers. If you are making cookies with a large amount of butter, such as sugar cookie cutouts, the butter may melt and leak out before the dough is set. And, if you bake cookies on an insulated cookie sheet long enough to brown them on the bottoms, the rest of the cookie may get too dry.

Cookie dough may be prepared using either a handheld electric mixer or a standard mixer. Portable (handheld) electric mixers are perfect for light jobs and short mixing periods. If you use a handheld mixer, you may need to stir in the last amount of flour by hand because the dough is too stiff for the mixer to easily handle.

It's a good idea to check your oven temperature occasionally. A temperature that's too low lengthens the baking time, causing cookies to have a coarse texture and be dry. A temperature that's too hot will cause cookies to brown too quickly. The oven should be preheated at least 10 minutes before baking cookies.

To check the accuracy of your oven temperature, set the temperature at 350 degrees F. and let it heat at least 10 minutes. Place an oven thermometer near the center of the oven. Close the oven door and let it heat at least 5 minutes. If the thermometer registers too high or too low, reduce or increase the setting by the number of degrees difference. If the oven is more than 50 degrees off, have the thermostat adjusted.







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