Kitchen Glossary: A Work in Progress

Kitchen Glossary: A Work in Progress

Dear Reader,

This page is intended for super-beginners or anyone who is wondering what in the world everyone is talking about when they say simmer. A lot of what I write on this site is intended for super-beginners because I used to be one and I’ve had such a good time and so many memorable hours learning to cook. I really, really don’t want to leave anyone behind. Let me know if you have questions, ok?


In adaptables and basic recipes we’re talking ingredients like butter, cream, oils, nut butters, ghee, renderings from duck or chicken skin, goose, pork (“lard”), bacon or beef (“tallow”).


Often in adaptables and basic recipes you might read a call for “liquid”. What am I talking about? I’m talking water, wine, chicken, beef or veggie stock, milk, juice, liquor .. whatever liquid you have in the house and that you find exciting and appropriate for the recipe at hand.

What means “to simmer?”

When a hot liquid simmers steam rises from it but it doesn’t form bubbles and is not boiling. You want to keep the temperature a bit below the boiling point and hovering around 85-90 °C or 200° F. To do this, start by boiling the liquid and then immediately reducing the heat by about one third to one half or even more if you will be using a lid.

What is cake?

Cake is a collection of wet and dry ingredients which, when combined and heated, rise, dry and transform themselves into something vaguely bread-like and vastly yummier than the individual ingredients eaten separately, alone, with a spoon. Some Germans eat cake with coffee at 4:00 in the afternoon. It’s a good strategy, I think. Who knows what will happen before dinner…?