Converting Weight to Measure

Weigh Measure

How do you convert solid coconut oil weight to fluid ounces?

In order to know how many fluid ounces there are for a given weight of coconut oil, or any other ingredient, the first thing you need is a conversion factor.  It turns out that the USDA has a very helpful tool, called their Nutrient Database (

To use this, click on the link above, and then click the "Start your search here" link.  In the search box, enter the ingredient you are looking for and then select from the possible matches given.  Sometimes it will be entered slightly differently in the database.  For example, "coconut oil" shows a list of possible matches including "Oil, Coconut".  Click on that and you will see all sorts of nutritional information for different measures.  What you are looking for is the column that says "1 cup".  Right below the title you will see how much one cup of coconut oil weighs in grams -- 218 grams per cup which is equivalent to 27.25 grams per fluid ounce (218 / 8).  If the recipe you have uses metric weights, then simply divide the specified weight by 218.  For example, if it calls for 200 grams of coconut oil, then 200 / 218 = 0.917 cups, or about 7⅓ fluid ounces (7 fl oz + 2 tsp).

If your recipe gives the weight in ounces, then you will need to know how many ounces weight equals 218 grams.  The conversion factor is 28.35 grams per ounce weight.  You can calculate 218 / 28.35 = 7.69 ounces weight per cup, or if you are near your computer simply enter "218 grams in ounces" into your favorite search engine and it will give you back the same answer.  Now, if your recipe calls for 6 ounces weight, say, divide 6 by 7.69 and you get 0.78 cups or about 6¼ fl oz.

Using the USDA Nutrient Database, you can get conversion factors for all sorts of ingredients: all-purpose flour = 125 grams/cup; table salt = 292 grams/cup; eggs, whole, raw, fresh = 243 grams/cup or 4.86 large eggs; and so on.

Of course, the easiest way is to buy an inexpensive digital kitchen scale such as this one from Starfrit, keep it on the counter, and then you can just weight out ingredients when needed.

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward

A Handful of Beans

Boiled Red Kidney Beans

Why isn't it safe to cook kidney beans in a slow cooker?

Kidney beans contain a toxin called Phytohaemagglutinin, also known as Kidney Bean Lectin, that, if the beans are not cooked properly, can cause extreme nausea, cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.  The symptoms typically start within 1 to 3 hours of ingestion and can last for up to 4 hours, or longer.  Only a few raw beans are enough to bring on symptoms.

The good news is that the toxin is destroyed by heat.  The bad news is that not all slow cookers reach a high enough temperature to do that.  In fact, under-cooking the beans can actually increase the risk from the toxin. 

For safety, raw kidney beans need to be soaked overnight, drained and then cooked in boiling water (212°F or 100°C) for at least ½ hour.  No references that I found specify if longer cooking is needed at higher altitudes, but it won't hurt to extend the time.

After the required cooking time, the drained beans are safe to a use in slow cooker recipes.  Note that commercially canned beans have already been cooked sufficiently to destroy the toxin and can be used in slow cooker or other recipes.

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward

Greek-Style Ribs

There used to be a restaurant in Saskatoon called Cousin Nick's that specialized in Greek fare.  One of our favorites when we visited was their Greek Ribs, so imagine my surprise when I got the owner's cookbook, only to discover that some of the ingredients and methods were far from traditional.  What surprised me most was the inclusion of oyster sauce.  From an umami point of view, it makes perfect sense, but I'm not sure the ancient Greek table included that ingredient.Greek-Style Pork RibsThe recipe in the cookbook doesn't specify quantities, just sprinkle on this and brush on that, so here is my attempt to quantify it.

Cousin Nick's "Classic" Greek-Style Ribs - Serves 4

3 - 4 lbs Pork Back Ribs (1 rack)
2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Seasoning Salt
2 tbsp Dried Oregano
6  tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
1   Lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C).
  2. Remove the tough membrane from the inside of the ribs (see note)
  3. Cover a rimmed baking pan with heavy duty foil to make clean up easy.  Spray lightly with cooking spray and place the ribs on with the inside facing up.
  4. Sprinkle with half of the Worcestershire sauce, seasoning salt and oregano.  Flip the ribs over and repeat on the other side.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  6. If using balsamic, mix it with the oyster sauce.
  7. Remove ribs from the oven, turn inside surface up and brush on half of the oyster sauce.  Flip ribs over and brush oyster sauce on the other side. Return the ribs to the oven for 2 -3 minutes or until the oyster sauce starts to thicken and glaze the ribs.
  8. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from the lemon.
  9. Remove the pork from the oven and cut into individual ribs, or into 2 or 3 rib pieces.  Put into a serving dish and sprinkle liberally with lemon juice, turning the ribs to be sure they are evenly covered.

Note on removing the membrane from inside the ribs
While this step isn't strictly necessary, it does make for an easier-to-eat product.  The membrane is part of the abdominal wall and can be quite tough to chew.  To remove it, start by getting a couple of pieces of paper towel.  Slide a narrow knife just under the membrane on the inside of the ribs as close to the small end as possible.  Rotate the knife so that the back edge of the blade turns away from the meat in order to open up a pocket, then turn the blade flat and pull it out.  You should now be able to pinch the membrane and lift while holding the rack down with your other hand.  As soon as enough membrane is loose to hold it with the paper towel, do so as it makes your grip easier.  Lift and pull the membrane back.  If it tears, you may need to use your knife to get started again, but with practice you will be able to take it off in one piece.

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward

Oeuf Poché sur son Lit de Tomates

One presentation trick I really like is food served with a soft cooked egg so that when the yolk is pierced it becomes part of the sauce for whatever is underneath.  Restaurant Sorza, 51 rue saint Louis en L’Ile, Paris, serves a dish they call "oeuf poché, confit de tomates"  or "poached egg & confit of tomatoes" that uses this idea.  This is my take on that dish.  Served with some baguette, it makes a light lunch for three or four, or dinner for two.

Oeuf Poché sur son Lit de Tomates

Oeuf Poché sur son Lit de Tomates (Poached Eggs on a Bed of Tomatoes)

6   Plum Tomatoes, concasséed
4 tbsp Sun-dried Tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
 tsp Salt, or to taste
¼ tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
4 tbsp Olive Oil
¼ tsp Ground Herbe de Provence (see Note)
3 or 4 lg Eggs
  1.  Combine all of the ingredients except the eggs, and store in a non-reactive bowl in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.  The taste should be slightly acidic, as the egg yolks will help to balance the flavor as they mix with the tomatoes.  If desired, add more olive oil to taste.
  2. Prepare one poached egg per person for a lunch portion, or two for a main dish.
  3. While the eggs are poaching, use a slotted spoon to divide the tomato mixture among plates.  If desired, save the liquid for a dressing for an accompanying salad.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs from the poaching liquid, gently pat dry with a towel and place on the tomatoes.  Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately.

A Note regarding Herbe de Provence - as I have said previously, traditional Herbe de Provence does not contain lavender, which is likely an affectation for the North American palate.  To make your own mixture at home, combine equal parts of dried thyme, marjoram and savory, basil and/or oregano, plus half as much dried rosemary, or more to taste.  Grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle just before use.

Due to the volume of questions received, not all can be answered, nor can we guarantee we will answer questions immediately
© Lost Hobbit Enterprises 2004 onward