What Do Those Cooking Terms Your Grandmother Used Mean?

With the fast food, frozen food era upon us and the costs of such items/indulgences ever rising many are returning to preparing foods from scratch. Some have older cookbooks or hand written recipes that were used by there mothers or grandmothers. What do some of those cooking terms mean? These are some of the definitions I have had explained to me over the years:

This is the technique of brushing, spooning or pouring liquids over meat and poultry, as it cooks to preserve moistness and add flavor.

This term is used when cooking foods, most often vegetables, briefly in boiling water and quickly cooling in cold water, either to remove the skin or extend shelf life. This should be done before freezing fresh vegetables.

Cut In:
The combining of a solid fat, such as butter, with dry ingredients, using two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture is in coarse, small pieces.

This term refers to retrieving flavorful bits of food after meat has been browned. While the pan is still hot, add a small amount of liquid; stir to loosen browned bits. This is often done after frying chicken to prepare made-from-scratch gravy.

A technique used to combine two mixtures, such as egg whites and egg yolk batter. The lighter mixture is placed on top of the heavier mixture, and a rubber spatula is used to gently cut through the bottom and turn mixtures over with a rolling motion until they are just combined.

The technique of cooking food slowly and gently in a simmering, not boiling, liquid that just covers the food; such as when preparing poached eggs.

To mash or strain a food until it is smooth, either with a food processor, sieve, blender or food mill.

To boil a liquid, usually a sauce, until its volume has been decreased through evaporation, resulting in a more intense flavor.

To rapidly cook or brown food in a small amount of fat in a skillet.

Cooking a liquid or food in a liquid with gentle heat just below the boiling point, so that tiny bubbles rise to the surface.

Stirring, whipping or beating foods with a wire whisk. This technique will create fluffier scramble eggs and omelets.


Preparing foods from scratch can be a cost effect way to feed a larger family. Many singles and couples that prepare TV dinner meals will find those same meals can be prepared from scratch with less sodium content ; a plus for hypertensives and diabetics.

A great parent/child activity is cooking. If you've never tried the recipes in those wonderful cookbooks you collected from your parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles now is a great time to get them out, dust them off and get cooking. Hopefully the definitions presented here will help you understand the terms in the instructions.

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