Saturday, November 7, 2009

Measure Twice….

I’ve not much to say today, having been out to the church bazaars, craft fairs and book sale; shopping plumb wears me out. But I thought I would show off the results of a little of my earlier shopping.

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My old red plastic measuring cups were becoming less and less useful, so for my birthday in July I requested a set of stainless steel measures. We started looking for them and I could not find what I wanted although I searched a couple of specialty cooking stores as well as various other places. Finally a month or so ago I decided I’d have to go online, and I found what I wanted but couldn’t quite make up my mind to spend the money. A couple of weeks ago we had occasion to go to City by the Sea and its suburbs, and I did some shopping at the Christmas Tree Shops. There I found the black measuring cups in the photo – made by Farberware and on sale for under $2.00. Too good to pass up! Only a few days later, though, I was notified by Amazon.com that the price of the stainless steel set had gone down, so I ordered them and they swiftly arrived at my door. You can probably see what’s special about this set: it has not only the standard measures of 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup, but also measures for 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup, and (the one I can’t do without) 1/8 cup.

1/8 cup, as Miss Furlong taught us in eighth grade home ec class, is the same as 2 tablespoons. I strongly suspect that knowing that, and that there are three teaspoons to a tablespoon, are some of the most useful facts I learned all that year. There are several recipes I make that call for either white sauce or a roux, and usually that 1/8 cup of flour is the right amount for something that feeds two people.

The first general purpose cookbook I bought for myself was a paperback edition of The Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook. (It was probably the 1959 edition.) Miss Farmer was known as the Goddess of Level Measurements. She may not have been the first to dispense with “butter the size of a walnut” but she certainly popularized the system most American recipes use to this day. I bought the book in a little drugstore in Waltham, Mass. during the summer after my freshman year in college, when I was sharing an apartment with two SDS members. The apartment was on a one-way street leading to the local hospital, and across the street from a body shop and a moving van company; even without a radio we were not deprived of Sergeant Pepper, because the downstairs neighbors played WBZ’s Top 40 well into the night. I know we must have cooked things from that book, but I can’t remember what; the constant noise of sirens, hammers, moving vans and rock’n’roll must have driven them all from my head. But I still remain loyal to the concept of measurement for baking and some cooking, and I wouldn’t think of measuring dry ingredients in a liquid measuring cup or vice versa.

1 comment:

Mompriest said...

fun! I have to have measuring cups like that too. Recently I found some measuring spoons that say, pinch, tad, drop, smidge...(fun - might work with recipes from my great grandmother)...