We Hear You, Cathy


In the cartoon strip “Cathy” by Cathy Guisewite for March 23, Cathy was filled with questions while reading a book called “Easy Gourmet.” We understand her frustration, and here are some answers.

*What’s “heavy cream”? Essentially the same as whipping cream. Half-and-half is light cream.

*How do you get the seeds out of a tomato? Cut the tomato in half (across the equator, Cathy) and squeeze each half until most of the juice and seeds come out.


*For “one cup of arugula, chopped” do you measure a cup of arugula and then chop it or chop until you have a cup? In a carefully written recipe, “one cup arugula, chopped” would mean that you measure a cup of arugula and then chop it, while “one cup chopped arugula” would be measured after chopping. But since leaf vegetables are hard to measure consistently until they’re chopped, this recipe probably (and sloppily) means to chop and then measure.

*How many teaspoons in an ounce? Six; three teaspoons to a tablespoon, two tablespoons to an ounce.

*How many ounces in two-thirds of a cup? A cup holds 8 ounces, so 5 1/3 ounces. Which would be 10 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons, by the way.

*Is a fluid ounce different from a dry ounce? Yes. A dry ounce (usually just called an ounce) is a measure of weight, 1/16 pound. A fluid ounce is a measure of volume, 1/16 pint. (A fluid ounce of water happens to weigh exactly an ounce and many ingredients used in cooking are pretty close.) American recipes refer to fluid (that is, volume) ounces except when an ingredient is bought by the (weight) ounce, such as nuts or baking chocolate packaged as 1-ounce squares.

*What’s orange zest? The orange part of the orange peel, which contains the flavorful orange oils. Many recipes call for zest instead of peel because the white part of the peel is bitter.

*Why would I need a ricer if I’m not serving rice? A ricer is a hand-squeezed device that presses a baked potato through holes. This is called “ricing” the potato, but it’s actually mashed (though with a lighter texture than mashed potatoes).


*What’s “clarified” butter? We regret to say it’s pure butterfat; “clarification” is the removal of water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter is used for frying at high temperatures because the milk solids would burn. In some countries, such as India, butter is automatically clarified as soon as it’s made because it keeps better.