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Old 08-22-2018, 08:56 AM
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Most unusual measurement you've seen in a recipe


Last weekend I was making some coleslaw to take to my wife's family reunion. The recipe is one that has been in the family for years - she got it from her mom or aunt, who got it from their mother, etc. One of the ingredients for the dressing for this slaw is "7/8 cup and 2 tsp sugar".

That just struck me as such a bizarre measurement. First of all, how would I even measure out 7/8 cup? I have 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 3/4 cups, but no 7/8. Second, wouldn't it be easier to just make it "1 cup minus 1 tsp", or even easier "1 cup"? I mean seriously, at that point does one tsp of sugar make that much of a difference?

What's the most unusual measurement you've come across in a recipe?
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:02 AM
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:17 AM
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Nitpick : 7/8 cup + 2 teaspoons is 1 cup minus 4 teaspoons.

Alton Brown had a recipe that called for 1 bottle and 1 tablespoon of beer, but that was obviously a joke.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:26 AM
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Nitpick : 7/8 cup + 2 teaspoons is 1 cup minus 4 teaspoons.

Alton Brown had a recipe that called for 1 bottle and 1 tablespoon of beer, but that was obviously a joke.
You're right. I was thinking of a stick of butter or marge divided up into eighths, but that's only a half cup not a full cup. 7/8 cup is a cup minus 2 Tbsp. So much for trying to do the math in my head.
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:16 PM
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I have gotten some unusual measurements on recipe sites that have a calculator where you can re-calculate the ingredients depending upon what fraction of the original recipe you want to make (half the batch, one quarter of it, a double batch, etc.) Sometimes I've ended up with something like 1.4 eggs.
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:22 PM
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:23 PM
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Sometimes I've ended up with something like 1.4 eggs.
Have your .4 child crack it. Easy peasy.
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:23 PM
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I think it's a little weird. One of my recipes call for 1 and 1/2 tablespoons, but I don't have a half tablespoon measure so I just add a teaspoon instead.

Last edited by furryman; 08-22-2018 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:35 PM
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I heard this one second-hand years ago. "An egg of butter" - a lump of butter the size of an egg. I believe from a Martha Washington cookbook, though I'm unsure. Obvious once explained, but not necessarily one I'd have figured out. And eggs were smaller then, so that has to be noted.

I think JKellyMap wins, though. I'm going to have to click that link to find out what it means.

edit: Clicked the link, but now think it should be disqualified, given its nature.

Last edited by Tzigone; 08-22-2018 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:43 PM
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I have had a need for a 'knob of butter'? It's been a family joke for years now. If any one requires butter, we say "would you pass me a knob of butter, please sir?"
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Old 08-22-2018, 02:45 PM
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Last weekend I was making some coleslaw to take to my wife's family reunion. The recipe is one that has been in the family for years - she got it from her mom or aunt, who got it from their mother, etc. One of the ingredients for the dressing for this slaw is "7/8 cup and 2 tsp sugar".
You put sugar in coleslaw? Nearly a cup ? Dear Lord, how much were you making?

j
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:08 PM
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I heard this one second-hand years ago. "An egg of butter" - a lump of butter the size of an egg. I believe from a Martha Washington cookbook, though I'm unsure. Obvious once explained, but not necessarily one I'd have figured out. And eggs were smaller then, so that has to be noted.
Fannie Farmer standardized this as a quarter pound of butter. As matter of fact, Farmer standardized just about every measurement used in the US today: cup, half cup, teaspoon, etc.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:09 PM
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You put sugar in coleslaw? Nearly a cup ? Dear Lord, how much were you making?
Different person, but I'm a southerner, and we put sugar in coleslaw. No idea how much, though. Don't eat it and don't make it.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:25 PM
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You put sugar in coleslaw? Nearly a cup ? Dear Lord, how much were you making?

j
Cole slaw does tend to be sweet, so I could see having sugar in the dressing, but nearly a cup does seem like a lot. I hope the recipe uses more than one head of cabbage.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:31 PM
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I think it's a little weird. One of my recipes call for 1 and 1/2 tablespoons, but I don't have a half tablespoon measure so I just add a teaspoon instead.
Then you're 1/2 of a teaspoon short. A teaspoon is 1/3 of a tablespoon, not 1/2.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:37 PM
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Yep, southerners put sugar in coleslaw. Think of KFC coleslaw that's how it supposed to taste. I add sugar to taste. I think a cup may may be a bit sweet for me. Southern cookery is an enigma sometimes.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:41 PM
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Cole slaw does tend to be sweet, so I could see having sugar in the dressing, but nearly a cup does seem like a lot. I hope the recipe uses more than one head of cabbage.
Yeah, I was imagining 20 cabbages and mixing it in the bathtub.
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Old 08-22-2018, 03:58 PM
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I have family recipes from the 19th and early 20th century that uses smidges pinches dashes ect

my favorite is "pour ingredient in until it reaches desired consistency"

the recipies usually come with the qualifier "it never exactly taste the same way twice "
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:18 PM
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I have family recipes from the 19th and early 20th century that uses smidges pinches dashes ect
A friend of mine has a set of measuring spoons that includes spoons for one pinch, one smidge, one dash, etc. I was upset that there was no spoon to measure one skosh, though.

Last edited by Ponch8; 08-22-2018 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:37 PM
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I have my mother's recipe books. There are many in there that call for "1 can of tomatoes" or the like. No size, mind you. It can be frustrating.
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Ponch8 View Post
A friend of mine has a set of measuring spoons that includes spoons for one pinch, one smidge, one dash, etc. I was upset that there was no spoon to measure one skosh, though.
A skosh is just a touch more than a tad.
A measure of fun
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Old 08-22-2018, 04:54 PM
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I was upset that there was no spoon to measure one skosh, though.
For that you need the Japanese set. No, really, "skosh" is from Japanese.
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Old 08-22-2018, 05:25 PM
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You put sugar in coleslaw? Nearly a cup ? Dear Lord, how much were you making?

j
Ditto to the posts that it's absolutely not unusual. I have a recipe that was from a now-defunct neighborhood restaurant that was famous for its coleslaw, and it starts with two heads of cabbage, 3 cups of mayo, and 1 cup of sugar (and ends with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tablespoons of celery seed.)

I prefer the no-mayo, tart vinegary styles of coleslaw, roughly shredded, but for pleasing crowds, just dump all that sugar in it and chop it finely, and everyone loves it.
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Old 08-22-2018, 05:34 PM
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Yep, southerners put sugar in coleslaw. Think of KFC coleslaw that's how it supposed to taste. I add sugar to taste. I think a cup may may be a bit sweet for me. Southern cookery is an enigma sometimes.
They thought it was a bit sweet too, hence taking the 2 tbsp out
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Old 08-22-2018, 05:36 PM
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A friend of mine has a set of measuring spoons that includes spoons for one pinch, one smidge, one dash, etc.

Those are actually pretty common - Amazon has many like this. I don't understand the point, I don't think these measuring spoons actually correspond to what recipes mean by pinch, dash or drop. And I've never seen "tad" in a recipe.
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Old 08-22-2018, 05:46 PM
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Those are actually pretty common - Amazon has many like this. I don't understand the point, I don't think these measuring spoons actually correspond to what recipes mean by pinch, dash or drop. And I've never seen "tad" in a recipe.
I think they're meant to be "cutesy" more than anything else. "Tad," "pinch," "drop," "smidge," are not standardized measurements, to my knowledge.
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Old 08-22-2018, 05:55 PM
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Oh, and not exactly a measurement, but the proper size for the dough circle for making pierogi, according to my family's recipe, is a cleaned-out tuna can. Mom keeps one in the same pantry drawer as her measuring cups etc., for exactly that purpose.
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Old 08-22-2018, 06:17 PM
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I heard this one second-hand years ago. "An egg of butter" - a lump of butter the size of an egg. I believe from a Martha Washington cookbook, though I'm unsure. Obvious once explained, but not necessarily one I'd have figured out. . . .
I think walnuts of butter were also used.

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I have family recipes from the 19th and early 20th century that uses smidges pinches dashes ect

my favorite is "pour ingredient in until it reaches desired consistency"

the recipies usually come with the qualifier "it never exactly taste the same way twice "
The medieval quote would be "until it be enough".

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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
I think they're meant to be "cutesy" more than anything else. "Tad," "pinch," "drop," "smidge," are not standardized measurements, to my knowledge.
They're not standardized, but they'll comfort people who aren't used to judging pinches and dashes. They can use the spoon and not be wrong.

It's not very odd, but I ran across a recipe for carrot cake that called for a certain number of tablespoons of egg. I wondered if it was a way of ensuring that the eggs were beaten before they were added to the batter. I made sure there were enough tablespoons of egg and then threw in the rest. An extra half egg in a cake will cause no harm, at least not in anything as thick as a carrot cake.
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Old 08-22-2018, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
I think they're meant to be "cutesy" more than anything else. "Tad," "pinch," "drop," "smidge," are not standardized measurements, to my knowledge.
I see pinch quite often. It's less than 1/8th of a teaspoon (but more than 1/16th). You know - the amount (of salt) you'd pinch between your fingers. I don't have my cookbooks here, but I think Betty Crocker uses it quite often.
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Old 08-22-2018, 07:59 PM
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You put sugar in coleslaw? Nearly a cup ? Dear Lord, how much were you making?

j
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tzigone View Post
Different person, but I'm a southerner, and we put sugar in coleslaw. No idea how much, though. Don't eat it and don't make it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
Cole slaw does tend to be sweet, so I could see having sugar in the dressing, but nearly a cup does seem like a lot. I hope the recipe uses more than one head of cabbage.
OK, so here's the recipe.
1 head of cabbage, shredded
2-3 green bell peppers, chopped
2 onions, sliced

Dressing:
1 cup vinegar
3/4 cup salad oil
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp + 7/8 cup sugar

Combine dressing ingredients and heat to boil*. Pour over veg's, stir and refrigerate.


* Warning, boiling vinegar will stink up the whole house.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:19 PM
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I see two kinds of cole slaw around here. The more common kind is mayo-based, and I would call it "creamy," bland but not sweet. The other kind, the kind served with fish boils, is a sweet & sour, vinegar-based recipe, with no mayo at all.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:21 PM
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I think it's a little weird. One of my recipes call for 1 and 1/2 tablespoons, but I don't have a half tablespoon measure so I just add a teaspoon instead.

That's four and one half teaspoons.

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
16 tablespoons = 1 cup
2 cups = 1 pint
2 pints = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon

At work I scoop cookie dough and muffin batter with numbered scoops. As the number gets bigger the portions get smaller. The numbers are based on how many scoops make a quart.

So a #8 would be 1/2 cup, because you get eight one-half cups from a quart.

A #30 would be not quite 6.5 teaspoons, and so forth.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:30 PM
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I was upset that there was no spoon to measure one skosh, though.
Of course not. The skosh is a unit of distance.

On the subject of coleslaw, the best I ever had was at a restaurant in the main terminal at Sea-Tac Airport. There were little chips of fried ginger in it; yummy.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:41 PM
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I see pinch quite often. It's less than 1/8th of a teaspoon (but more than 1/16th). You know - the amount (of salt) you'd pinch between your fingers. I don't have my cookbooks here, but I think Betty Crocker uses it quite often.
Well, yes, all those terms are used reasonably often. My point was that it's not an established, fixed measurement, and the spoons are being "cutesy" about it, making them actual measurements. A "pinch" can be a "dash" can be a "tad" can be a "sprinkle," etc.

Last edited by pulykamell; 08-22-2018 at 08:42 PM.
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:43 PM
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Love to see a smoot in a recipe sometime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot
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Old 08-22-2018, 08:44 PM
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My dad had an old US Army issue cookbook that called for 100 pounds of potatoes, peeled, cut and boiled for potato salad.
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Old 08-22-2018, 09:15 PM
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Love to see a smoot in a recipe sometime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoot
That'd be tough. Units of length don't show up in recipes very often. When they do it's usually something like "grease a 9" x 13" cake pan". A smoot x smoot-and-a-half would make for one big cake.

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My dad had an old US Army issue cookbook that called for 100 pounds of potatoes, peeled, cut and boiled for potato salad.
When my curling club hosts tournaments we cook for all the participants; sometimes that means multiplying recipes by 30 or more. I remember starting once with "brown 70 pounds of ground beef".
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Old 08-23-2018, 12:01 AM
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My sister and I laugh about a recipe we inherited that calls for a "39-cent container of Cool Whip."
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Old 08-23-2018, 01:06 AM
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I saw one that called for 3/4 of a medium onion. Why not one small onion, or half of a large onion?
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Old 08-23-2018, 04:16 AM
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OK, so here's the recipe.
1 head of cabbage, shredded
2-3 green bell peppers, chopped
2 onions, sliced

Dressing:
1 cup vinegar
3/4 cup salad oil
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp + 7/8 cup sugar

Combine dressing ingredients and heat to boil*. Pour over veg's, stir and refrigerate.


* Warning, boiling vinegar will stink up the whole house.
(a) that's not coleslaw, it's cabbage candy

(b) overdo the boiling and it's cabbage taffy/toffee

There's a phrase over here: Salad dodger. It implies overweight through unhealthy eating. Just in case you ever need to know and make the assumption that it means exactly the reverse.

j
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Old 08-23-2018, 04:20 AM
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There's the fairly standard "enough dry spaghetti to fit in a circle formed by one's thumb and forefinger" for a meal for two.
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Old 08-23-2018, 04:41 AM
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There's the fairly standard "enough dry spaghetti to fit in a circle formed by one's thumb and forefinger" for a meal for two.
Which I had heard before; but seeing it written down made me think - that's a self regulating measure. Because if you assume - and I think it's reasonable - that a big person (I mean big in frame) needs to eat more than a smaller person, this adjusts the amount of pasta accordingly. In it's own small way, that's quite brilliant.

j
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Old 08-23-2018, 07:43 AM
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I've had people ask for the recipe after a meal. I write it down, they look at it, laugh, then ask for more details. So, I get out my recipe book and show them; "sauté some onions and celery, chop and add some zucchini". No specifics, season to taste.
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Old 08-23-2018, 10:51 AM
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A community cookbook fundraiser included layering ingredients until “the bowel is full”.
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Old 08-23-2018, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
That'd be tough. Units of length don't show up in recipes very often. When they do it's usually something like "grease a 9" x 13" cake pan". A smoot x smoot-and-a-half would make for one big cake....
Fit for a graduating class at MIT!
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Old 08-23-2018, 11:01 AM
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I saw one that called for 3/4 of a medium onion. Why not one small onion, or half of a large onion?
Actually, I just disregard sizes of onions in recipes and go by feel, because what exactly is a "large onion"? The large onions at my store are enormous. From experience, I'm sure the recipes aren't talking about these, but they never seem to have a definition that is convenient to reference.

Apparently, looking it up, it seems like 4, 8, and 12 oz are the ballpark weights for small, medium, and large. The onions at my grocery are at least 16 oz (weighing the one intact one I have, it's 18 oz.)
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Old 08-23-2018, 11:05 AM
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That'd be tough. Units of length don't show up in recipes very often. When they do it's usually something like "grease a 9" x 13" cake pan". A smoot x smoot-and-a-half would make for one big cake.
13 centismoots by 19.5 centismoots for your 9"x13" pan.
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Old 08-23-2018, 11:09 AM
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I heard this one second-hand years ago. "An egg of butter" - a lump of butter the size of an egg. I believe from a Martha Washington cookbook, though I'm unsure. Obvious once explained, but not necessarily one I'd have figured out. And eggs were smaller then, so that has to be noted.
My wife once read a recipe requiring an egg of oil. It specifically said to poke a hole in an egg, pour out the insides, fill the empty eggshell with oil and then pour it into the recipe. Something about how it had to have exactly the same amount of oil as eggs.
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Old 08-23-2018, 11:26 AM
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A 'glug'. As in add three glugs of of red wine to the ragu.
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Old 08-23-2018, 12:07 PM
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They're not standardized, but they'll comfort people who aren't used to judging pinches and dashes. They can use the spoon and not be wrong.
Yeah, I'm actually somewhat annoyed by the habit people have of referring to cooking as an art and baking as a science. I've had to talk more than one person new to baking down off a ledge because they freaked out not knowing how much a dash is and afraid their cake will blow up in their face. If having a measuring spoon marked Tad calms their worries enough that they actually start baking stuff, I'm all for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
My wife once read a recipe requiring an egg of oil. It specifically said to poke a hole in an egg, pour out the insides, fill the empty eggshell with oil and then pour it into the recipe. Something about how it had to have exactly the same amount of oil as eggs.
Someone should show that recipe writer a scale and blow their mind.
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