Food is a basic necessity of life. Food provides the nutrition that we need to maintain our bodies. The old saying "You are what you eat" is correct. The combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber found in the foods that we eat determines whether we will be healthy or sick. Food must be prepared under hygienic conditions with the freshest natural ingredients to get the greatest benefits.
I learned to cook when I went to college. I lived in a dormitory that only served one meal on the weekends (Sunday dinner). You would go hungry if you did not cook something or go out to eat. As a college student, I did not have much free time or money, so I started looking for economical recipes that did not take too much time away from my studies. At the same time, I had been spoiled by the tasty dishes prepared by my mother, and I was not ready to settle for ham sandwiches. Every time that I went home during school breaks, I would ask my mother how she prepared the dishes that I liked.
After college, I was a bachelor for several years and I had more time for food preparation. Living in cities with large ethnic populations, I learned to appreciate international cuisine. Many of my favorite recipes have their origins in far-away places around the world.
I have always had a full working schedule and not too much time to cook. I like to use canned or frozen products to save preparation time. Why should I spend two hours boiling beans when I can buy a can very cheaply? Most of my recipes can be made in half an hour or less, although some dishes require longer preparation time.
If you work with recipes from European cookbooks you are going to need to buy a kitchen scale because Europeans use metric units: grams for solids, milliliters for liquids, and degrees Celsius for temperature. American recipes generally use cups, ounces, and degrees Farenheit. The ounces may refer to weight. There are 16 ounces in a pound. Ounces may also refer to fluid ounces, and there are 8 fluid ounces in a US cup.
Scales can be mechanical or electronic. Mechanical scales have a dial with ounces (oz.) and grams (g.), whereas the electronic scales convert at the push of a button between pounds (lb.) ounces and grams.
Sometimes recipes specify weights in grams and oven temperatures in degrees Celsius (°C). These tables have the weight corresponding to the volume of some common ingredients and typical oven settings.
|All-Purpose Flour||1 cup||120|
|Baking powder||1 teaspoon||4|
|Butter||8 tablespoons (1/2 cup)||113|
|Vegetable oil||1 cup||198|
|Cool oven||200 °F||90 °C|
|Very slow oven||250 °F||120 °C|
|Slow oven||300–325 °F||150–160 °C|
|Moderately slow||325–350 °F||160–180 °C|
|Moderate oven||350–375 °F||180–190 °C|
|Moderately hot||375–400 °F||190–200 °C|
|Hot oven||400–450 °F||200–230 °C|
|Very hot oven||450–500 °F||230–260 °C|
|Fast oven||450–500 °F||230–260 °C|