Have you ever walked by the canned milk display at the grocery and wondered what the difference is in evaporated and condensed milk? Are they the same? How about tomato puree vs. sauce or crushed tomatoes? I searched the labels and the internet for the facts for you:

Evaporated milk vs condensed milk  - They both have had about 60% of their water removed . The difference is that condensed milk is always sweetened. It is about 40% sugar. Evaporated milk has no sugar added. By the way, evaporated “filled milk” is evaporated milk with a non-dairy fat like soybean oil put back in. It tastes like the stuff my mother gave me when I was a sick little kid. It should be illegal.

whole milk vs skim and all the rest - You know that skim milk has had all the fat "skimmed" or removed. You also know that 1% is just what it says -- one percent of the jug of milk is fat. 2% is of course two percent fat. Half and Half is 50% milk - 50% cream (fat).  BUT how much fat is in regular "whole" milk? Want to take a guess? I was surprised when my doctor told me it is just a little over THREE percent.  To me there's not a lot of difference in the taste of 2% vs whole milk so we buy 2%. But when you get down to 1% or skim you might as well drink water or squeeze milk out of nuts.

OK-what is "buttermilk"? - When I used to help my Grandmother churn butter, this was the liquid that was left after I churned all morning and the butter was removed. She used it to make biscuits that were wonderful. These days it's made by adding cultures to non-fat milk. It is nearly impossible to find old fashioned churned buttermilk.You can make fake buttermilk by putting a spoonful of vinegar in a cup of milk. Don't let the word "butter" in buttermilk fool you. It's low in fat. It's like when you call a bald fellow "curly". It got the name buttermilk because it was made by churning milk for butter.

What in the world is cream of tartar? It's not creamy at all. It looks like talcum powder. It probably showed up on a MacGyver episode. It is the white stuff clinging inside of the wine barrel after making the beverage. It's tartaric acid and when it's combined with baking soda you get carbon dioxide gas. When you put a pinch in whipping cream or whipped egg white the bubbles hold their shape and it makes them stronger. MacGyver  would probably use it to put out a kitchen fire.

Tomato puree vs tomato sauce vs tomato paste – Basically it has to do with the thickness. Tomato puree is strained cooked tomatoes with no additives. It’s a little thinner in consistency than sauce. Tomato sauce is puree that has other additives. The thickest of course is paste. Personally I like to use crushed tomatoes in spaghetti sauce and chili because it is a true tomato taste. If you saw the movie “Goodfellows” you would have seen the mobsters making pasta sauce with crushed tomatoes. That’s not much of a recommendation but those folks know how to eat. Have you ever seen a skinny mobster?

Sautee vs fry – It appears that there’s not a lot of difference between the two. In sautee the cook will use a higher heat and a smaller amount of oil and cook small pieces of food. More oil is used in frying and the heat is lower. I like to use ghee. That’s regular old cow’s milk with the dairy removed and just the fat left. It comes from India where cows not only roam around the streets but they are put to work making ghee.

Dark brown vs light brown sugar - The difference is molasses. Darker means more molasses and a richer flavor. Dark is about 6 1/2 % molasses while light is about half that amount. If your recipe just says "brown sugar" use the light brown. Dark is better for rich muffins and gingerbread. If you run out of brown sugar just add some molasses to regular white sugar because that's how it's made. Did you know sugar doesn't spoil? My Mother had a box of Royal pudding mix that was handed down from her mother from before WWII. We've never opened it and I still have it. It's a family heirloom.

Pork, mutton, veal etc. - Have you noticed that meat from the lowly cow is called "beef" and even classier cuts are "roast", "steak" and even "filet minion"? Young cows give us "veal" Sheep is "mutton" and even pigs provide us with "pork" and "ham". But no-one has come up with a dignified name for chicken. When you order it in a restaurant you still say, "I'll have the chicken". You never say, "I'll have pig" or "How's the cow today"? Let's come up with a comparable chicken name. Well, there's always "poultry" or "fowl" I suppose but I can't see a change to "Kentucky Fried Poultry" coming anytime soon. Chicken deserves more respect. Turkey too.  I mean they still make the same commitment as the cow or pig. They even give up their unborn young.

What the heck are “giblets”? That is a very cute sounding word for the edible heart, neck, gizzard, liver and other internal turkey organs. The proper way to treat these giblets is to seal them individually in separate zip-lock bags. Then wrap the collection of bags securely in heavy duty aluminum foil and place the entire package in the very bottom of your garbage can.

Don’t even ask me what a gizzard is.

Big Bill with his milk cans