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  #51  
Old 08-23-2018, 11:43 AM
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Of course not. The skosh is a unit of distance. . .
I think you're right. But I can't remember which brand of jeans advertised that their new style had "a skosh more" or where, exactly, they put that skosh.

Google is my friend. It was Levis For Men. But a quick google doesn't divulge where the skosh went beyond "where it counts". There was a related blog screed against making jeans for fat-asses, though, so I've decided to look no more.

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. . . 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.
Oooo! I have to try that. Are the chips the size of rice grains? Lentils?
  #52  
Old 08-23-2018, 11:45 AM
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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.
Thank you! I find this cooking=art, baking=science analogy too strong and scares people off. There is some truth in it, but baking does usually tolerate a reasonable amount of slop, and there certainly is "art" to it, as our ancestors were not using precise kitchen scales and measuring cups to bake their goods. You do develop a feel for it, and the amount of liquid you need to add to a dough may change depending on the humidity of the day you are baking it, so going by "exact numbers" isn't even that exact, unless you're factoring in for that.
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Old 08-23-2018, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
13 centismoots by 19.5 centismoots for your 9"x13" pan.
I find centi- to be an inelegant prefix; everything else is in powers of 1000. So 135 x 195 millismoots, please.

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Oooo! I have to try that. Are the chips the size of rice grains? Lentils?
About half the size of a tab of acid. They were about the thickness and crispness of a kettle-cooked potato chip. I don't know how much trouble it would be to make your own. Maybe sprinkle them on, or stir them in, just prior to serving so they don't get soggy.

And I hope "half the size of a tab of acid" will now be a contender for most unusual measurement seen in a recipe.
  #54  
Old 08-23-2018, 03:41 PM
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About half the size of a tab of acid. They were about the thickness and crispness of a kettle-cooked potato chip. I don't know how much trouble it would be to make your own. Maybe sprinkle them on, or stir them in, just prior to serving so they don't get soggy.

And I hope "half the size of a tab of acid" will now be a contender for most unusual measurement seen in a recipe.
I made my own pickled ginger. Peel the skin, then slice or use peeler to make thin slices. You pickle the slices and boom, pickled ginger. Store bought is way easier and just as good, though.
  #55  
Old 08-25-2018, 02:43 PM
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My grandmother had handwritten recipes calling for "one glass" of this or "two glasses" of that. When my mother and aunt were clearing out her apartment after she died, they *think* they determined the actual glass in question.
  #56  
Old 08-25-2018, 04:04 PM
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A 'glug'. As in add three glugs of of red wine to the ragu.
Justin Wilson used to have fun with wine. If a recipe called for 3 cups of wine, he would carefully measure three cups, then up-end the bottle and add quite a bit more.

Here is him making gumbo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK4umRMJlrs
At 06:10, he adds cayenne pepper sauce: "1 teaspoon, and a little more".
At 08:32, he shows off his ability to measure out a teaspoon of salt with the palm of his hand.

On the subject of coleslaw, one Mexican restaurant in my town serves slaw with a dressing that consists only of oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. I like it better than the anglo versions.
  #57  
Old 08-25-2018, 04:48 PM
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I find centi- to be an inelegant prefix; everything else is in powers of 1000. So 135 x 195 millismoots, please.
Not everything else. I don't recall how popular it was throughout Europe, but in Hungary, deli items were all typically ordered in decagrams. So you'd ask for 20 dekas of salami, 30 deka of cheese, etc. Similarly, shots were served in centiliters, glasses of drinks in deciliters. Nothing inelegant about the "centi-" prefix, and, to me, a centismoot feels more intuitive for describing objects of that scale, just like you normally wouldn't describe it as a 230 mm by 330 millimeter pan. We have lovely system of SI prefixes; we should use them!
  #58  
Old 08-25-2018, 05:28 PM
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For the record, in Japanese "skosh" (the more formal version of which is "skoshi") means "a little" of anything. It can be a little salt, a little bigger, a little further, a little skill with language, pretty much anything. There is always some context to show what kind of measurement is being addressed.

I remember that jeans commercial too and it was the first time I had heard this term used in American English. I think it was some time in the 80s but I'm not sure. I've always wondered how this word passed into our vernacular, and having done so, why it didn't gain more currency. Japanese have adopted so many English words, and continue to do so every day, relatively few words travel in the opposite direction.
  #59  
Old 08-26-2018, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by mbh View Post
Justin Wilson used to have fun with wine. If a recipe called for 3 cups of wine, he would carefully measure three cups, then up-end the bottle and add quite a bit more.

Here is him making gumbo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK4umRMJlrs
At 06:10, he adds cayenne pepper sauce: "1 teaspoon, and a little more".
At 08:32, he shows off his ability to measure out a teaspoon of salt with the palm of his hand.

On the subject of coleslaw, one Mexican restaurant in my town serves slaw with a dressing that consists only of oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. I like it better than the anglo versions.
Bill Wharton (aka The Sauce Boss) performs the blues on stage while making a huge pot of gumbo. After the show he feeds the audience.

When he adds his hot sauce, he stops playing for a bit, explaining how precision is important or he'll ruin the gumbo. He very carefully adds exactly one drop. Then he asks the audience if they like a bit of heat with their gumbo. Naturally, everyone screams YEAH!!! So he very carefully adds one more drop. He stirs the gumbo, takes a taste, and screams out for a beer, which someone in the audience passes to him.

Once he is ok again, he says, "now where was I?", grabs the bottle, and upends it into the pot.
  #60  
Old 08-26-2018, 12:54 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".

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?
What was the rest of the reciple? I hope it wasn't
" ... mayonnaise ⅞ cup and 2 tsp of sugar ... "

with the key word faded from frequent folding or such.
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  #61  
Old 08-27-2018, 12:21 AM
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What was the rest of the reciple? I hope it wasn't
" ... mayonnaise cup and 2 tsp of sugar ... "

with the key word faded from frequent folding or such.
Seriously. A cup of sugar seems like an awful lot unless you're making a huge amount of coleslaw.
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  #62  
Old 08-27-2018, 09:30 AM
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What was the rest of the reciple? I hope it wasn't
" ... mayonnaise ⅞ cup and 2 tsp of sugar ... "

with the key word faded from frequent folding or such.
See post #30.
  #63  
Old 08-27-2018, 05:39 PM
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. . . And I hope "half the size of a tab of acid" will now be a contender for most unusual measurement seen in a recipe.
It's got my vote. How does a tab of acid compare to a tictac?
  #64  
Old 08-28-2018, 09:54 AM
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I have a very old mincemeat recipe where everything is measured in "bowls"
1 bowl of this, 2 bowls of that, 4 bowls of the other.

How much mincemeat you end up with is entirely dependent on what size bowl you use.
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  #65  
Old 08-28-2018, 10:04 AM
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I have a very old mincemeat recipe where everything is measured in "bowls"
1 bowl of this, 2 bowls of that, 4 bowls of the other.

How much mincemeat you end up with is entirely dependent on what size bowl you use.
That's actually quite convenient, IMHO. I have a number of recipes that I use myself that are simply based on ratios, and not fixed amounts (which is what this type of recipe is.) Easy to scale up and down.
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Old 08-28-2018, 11:19 AM
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For the record, in Japanese "skosh" (the more formal version of which is "skoshi") means "a little" of anything. It can be a little salt, a little bigger, a little further, a little skill with language, pretty much anything. There is always some context to show what kind of measurement is being addressed.
Heh. And there was me thinking it was a Native American term, coming from near O -just a - skosh.
  #67  
Old 08-28-2018, 11:53 AM
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Thank you! I find this cooking=art, baking=science analogy too strong and scares people off. There is some truth in it, but baking does usually tolerate a reasonable amount of slop, and there certainly is "art" to it, as our ancestors were not using precise kitchen scales and measuring cups to bake their goods. You do develop a feel for it, and the amount of liquid you need to add to a dough may change depending on the humidity of the day you are baking it, so going by "exact numbers" isn't even that exact, unless you're factoring in for that.
People who think cooking is all art are doomed to fail at it, or at best to produce mostly mediocre dishes. Alton Brown and Kenji Lopez-Alt (among others) have debunked all that 'cooking is art' nonsense. While you have more latitude, you still need to pay attention to the basic science behind food prep.
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Old 08-28-2018, 01:28 PM
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My old bread machine has the recipe for its standard loaf on a sticker right on the front. The first ingredient is "1 1/8 cups of water". The machine even came with a clear plastic measuring cup divided into eighths so that you can measure out that last eighth.
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Old 09-07-2018, 06:44 AM
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Units of measure


Reputedly someone somewhere put in print a recipe that called for a lump of butter "the size of a large golf ball". Yup, really.

BTW, it's generally easier using metric measures if it involves small quantities.
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Old 09-09-2018, 12:02 AM
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I'd like to see a reference to "cubic millifurlongs".
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Old 09-09-2018, 12:09 PM
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One of my professors used to measure the sugar for his tea in "barn-attoparsecs".
  #72  
Old 09-10-2018, 04:57 PM
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My wife has a recipe for eggplant chutney that calls for "one bottle of oil and two bottles of vinegar". She asked her Indian friend what size is a jar in India and friend had no idea.
  #73  
Old 09-10-2018, 10:19 PM
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At 06:10, he adds cayenne pepper sauce: "1 teaspoon, and a little more".
Aw. That reminds me of my grandmother on my dad's side. Nana was a school cook for a long time, and she took it very seriously, like any chef. She loved showing me that trick with measuring salt.
  #74  
Old 09-10-2018, 11:26 PM
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I'd like to see a reference to "cubic millifurlongs".
My personal favorite measurement is the femtoliter. That's a cubic micron, but really, I like "femtoliter" better.

A human red corpuscle is about 60 fl in volume.
  #75  
Old 09-11-2018, 07:45 AM
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My grandmother had handwritten recipes calling for "one glass" of this or "two glasses" of that. When my mother and aunt were clearing out her apartment after she died, they *think* they determined the actual glass in question.
Are you, by any chance, of Jewish descent?

‘Glasses’ seem to have been a common unit of measure in some Jewish recipes, as the glass in question was the glass that had contained a memorial candle. By the same, mass-produced candle, and there was the measuring glass.
  #76  
Old 09-11-2018, 08:54 AM
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I recall a folk recipe that instructed you to add "a mouthful" of some ingredient. I was never sure if you had to actually measure it with your mouth, or it was just a quantity suggestion.
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Old 12-22-2018, 07:23 AM
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This one wasn't unusual, but I did have to read it twice before it made sense. My wife had an old recipe card out that she had written years ago for chili. And one of the ingredients was

1 no 2 can tomatoes

The way I read it the first time was as if she couldn't decide how many cans she needed. One. No, two!
  #78  
Old 12-22-2018, 08:57 AM
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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.
I just read Fannie Farmer's Wiki entry, and I'm confused. Prior to her, did cooks all across America (nay, the world) just wing it? How did anyone ever bake (where precise measurements are necessary to create chemical reactions)?
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Old 12-22-2018, 09:39 AM
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This discussion reminds me of a book I once read. The protagonist is a gourmand who had, in his youth, spent some time in a Spanish boarding house, and he'd developed a fondness for the landlady's sausage. Cut to an unknown number of decades later, and the gourmand is a man of means with connections. He's spent much of his life trying to track down the recipe, to no avail, until fate puts him into contact with the landlady's son, who will not give up the recipe, despite offers of outrageous sums of money. After a plot point which indebts the son to the gourmand, the recipe is exchanged, with solemn vows of secrecy.

At the end of the book, in an appendix, the author reveals that the son died from a fascist bomb and so the gourmand is no longer bound by the debt of secrecy. The author reveals the recipe, and it involves "some" goose, "some" pheasant, "some" onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, red wine, etc. All dependent on the weather, the eater's tastes, etc.

If I ever have a lot of money, I'm going to pay a professional chef to whip me up some saucisse minuit.

Last edited by HeyHomie; 12-22-2018 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:12 AM
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When I was cooking for a retirement home, the corporate offices had gotten the brilliant idea of selecting home-cooking recipes from online recipe sites for us to cook for the residents. It was a pain in the ass because these recipes were designed to feed 4-6 people and we had to multiply them to feed however many people we needed to feed (around 80 in my location). My fellow cooks and I ended up scratching our heads over how to properly multiply "3/4 of a pinch" of something in one recipe.
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Old 12-22-2018, 11:48 AM
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Most weird measurements in recipes don't give me cause for hesitation, but I inherited a number of recipes from my late Kiwi mother-in-law that called for a "dessert spoonful" of one ingredient or another.

Do New Zealanders eat their desserts with the same size spoon as we do here? I have no idea.

Finally settled on about a tablespoon, and that seems to work.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:37 PM
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Kiwis eat their desserts with tablespoons? Man, they must really love their sweets, down there!
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:52 PM
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Kiwis eat their desserts with tablespoons? Man, they must really love their sweets, down there!
LOL, well, if my husband was representative of Kiwis in any way, yes, they do love their sweets! But I would love to learn a more exact measurement in terms I recognize for what was meant by that recipe notation.

I saw it used in Australian recipes, too, though mostly just those offered by the older folks.

My reasoning is that a dessert spoon is generally the larger spoon in a set of cutlery, the ones we commonly use for soup. Teaspoons are the ones we usually use to stir our coffee. When serving desserts that require a spoon, I've always set out the larger spoon. So... there ya go.
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Old 12-22-2018, 12:59 PM
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Huh, around here, desserts are always eaten using teaspoons. And a tablespoon is much larger yet than even a soup spoon.
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Old 12-22-2018, 01:01 PM
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Huh, around here, desserts are always eaten using teaspoons. And a tablespoon is much larger yet than even a soup spoon.
But Miss Manners says...

never mind.
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Old 12-22-2018, 05:42 PM
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Okay, this was from a preschooler so it's not a real recipe, but I still like it: "A cup of degrees."
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Old 12-22-2018, 07:19 PM
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What, you prefer to measure your degrees by weight?
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Old 12-22-2018, 08:25 PM
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This discussion reminds me of a book I once read. The protagonist is a gourmand who had, in his youth, spent some time in a Spanish boarding house, and he'd developed a fondness for the landlady's sausage. Cut to an unknown number of decades later, and the gourmand is a man of means with connections. He's spent much of his life trying to track down the recipe, to no avail, until fate puts him into contact with the landlady's son, who will not give up the recipe, despite offers of outrageous sums of money. After a plot point which indebts the son to the gourmand, the recipe is exchanged, with solemn vows of secrecy.

At the end of the book, in an appendix, the author reveals that the son died from a fascist bomb and so the gourmand is no longer bound by the debt of secrecy. The author reveals the recipe, and it involves "some" goose, "some" pheasant, "some" onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, red wine, etc. All dependent on the weather, the eater's tastes, etc.

If I ever have a lot of money, I'm going to pay a professional chef to whip me up some saucisse minuit.
Dunno why you felt the need to be coy about the book. Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout.

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Old 12-22-2018, 09:31 PM
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I just read Fannie Farmer's Wiki entry, and I'm confused. Prior to her, did cooks all across America (nay, the world) just wing it? How did anyone ever bake (where precise measurements are necessary to create chemical reactions)?
They learned from their parents, and probably used the same dishes as their parents. So they used half of the wine glass of this and 1/3 of the earthenware bowl of that. Baking doesn't need to be all THAT precise, and you do get a feel for what the batter looks and feels like.

I do most of my sugar cooking (things like making jelly, or lemon curd, or the hot sugar syrup that's the base of buttercream frosting) by eye and experience, because it's a PITA to get a thermometer into the shallow amount of hot sugar, and I haven't yet found a candy thermometer accurate enough to be worth the effort. So the first couple of times I make the dish I meticulously pour out bits into cold water until it's the "medium ball" stage (or whatever) and the 5th time, I cook it until it looks right.

Quote:
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Most weird measurements in recipes don't give me cause for hesitation, but I inherited a number of recipes from my late Kiwi mother-in-law that called for a "dessert spoonful" of one ingredient or another.

Do New Zealanders eat their desserts with the same size spoon as we do here? I have no idea.

Finally settled on about a tablespoon, and that seems to work.
I once measured all my volume measurements against each other. That is, I tested that the tablespoon held 3 times, the volume of the teaspoon, and that the right number of tablespoons filled the cup, and the right number of cups filled the larger measuring cups, etc. (I threw out one "tablespoon" as a result, too, because it was only 2 teaspoons. Everything else proved to be accurate, or at least, they all agreed with each other.) While I was doing that, I also measured the teaspoons and dinner spoons that I eat with. The teaspoon proved to be remarkably close to a true teaspoon, and the dinner spoon was about 1.5 teaspoons. My dinner spoon looks similar to the spoons I am often given for dessert. Take that for whatever it's worth.
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Old 12-22-2018, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Aspenglow View Post
Most weird measurements in recipes don't give me cause for hesitation, but I inherited a number of recipes from my late Kiwi mother-in-law that called for a "dessert spoonful" of one ingredient or another.

Do New Zealanders eat their desserts with the same size spoon as we do here? I have no idea.

Finally settled on about a tablespoon, and that seems to work.
The "dessert spoon" measure is 10ml, or two teaspoonfuls (or 2/3 tablespoon).
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Old 12-23-2018, 07:23 AM
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They learned from their parents, and probably used the same dishes as their parents. So they used half of the wine glass of this and 1/3 of the earthenware bowl of that. Baking doesn't need to be all THAT precise, and you do get a feel for what the batter looks and feels like.
This guy has a YouTube channel celebrating the 18th century life style. There is come crafting but it is mostly cookery and the recipes from the period are awfully vague, even the baking. He generally tries to standardize them, guessing if necessary (It says a handful of fennel; we'll try two tablespoons.) but like you said, even for something needing some precision like bread making, experience makes up for vagueness.
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Old 12-23-2018, 07:44 AM
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My cooking style does not rely on strict measuring. I tend to add seasonings and ingredients until Edesia puts her hand on my shoulder and says "Abbastanza, figlio mio..." Adjusting the recipes will often improve the dish.
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Old 12-23-2018, 09:09 AM
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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.
1 tablespoon is three teaspoons. So 1.5 tablespoons is 4.5 teaspoons.

Someodd measurements may have originated when there were metric/American conversions. I have directions for a crumble streusel topping that came from a German woman who used metric. 250 grams of butter is about 8.75 ounces. And 300 grams of flour is about 10-1/2 ounces.

Last edited by Baker; 12-23-2018 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 12-23-2018, 09:33 AM
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Dunno why you felt the need to be coy about the book. Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout.

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Old 12-23-2018, 10:42 AM
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This guy has a YouTube channel celebrating the 18th century life style. There is come crafting but it is mostly cookery and the recipes from the period are awfully vague, even the baking. He generally tries to standardize them, guessing if necessary (It says a handful of fennel; we'll try two tablespoons.) but like you said, even for something needing some precision like bread making, experience makes up for vagueness.
And even making a basic loaf of bread doesn't need anywhere near that much precision. I could do it without any measurements, and I bet I could teach most people who to do it in a couple of tries. Bread can take a wide range of hydration and yeast levels and still come out as good bread, as long as you knead it well to develop the gluten (or give it enough time to develop the gluten itself in no-knead recipes), and are patient to make sure you get good rises.

In the five years I lived in Hungary, my stove had only two settings: I and II. I have no idea to this day what temps they were supposed to correspond to, but I'm guessing something like 325 and 450, plus or minus 25 degrees or so. You get used to it and figure it out rather quickly if you have to cook every day. One is a "slow oven"; the other is a "fast oven." And, yes, you can set it between the two if you want, but there are no temps associated with it, and I never bothered getting a thermometer for it.

Last edited by pulykamell; 12-23-2018 at 10:44 AM.
  #96  
Old 12-23-2018, 10:43 AM
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Not so much a weird measurement as a weird way of expressing it: yesterday, my niece was making "fried" ice cream pie, and the recipe called for half of a 1.5 quart container of vanilla ice cream. That's 0.75 quarts, or 3 cups, but the recipe author apparently wasn't up to doing the math.

For my part, my recipes tend to involve measures of "enough" and "until it smells right". I do make an effort to use actual standard measurements when I write recipes for others, but they're usually just an approximation of what I use.
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:57 AM
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We have a recipe for ginger cookies (lebkuchenherzen) that informs the cook as follow:

Quote:
Originally Posted by recipe
Stir in as much of the remaining flour as needed until you get a soft dough (feels like a baby's bottom)
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:12 AM
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We have a recipe for ginger cookies (lebkuchenherzen) that informs the cook as follow:
Quote:
Originally Posted by recipe
Stir in as much of the remaining flour as needed until you get a soft dough (feels like a baby's bottom)
Your kitchen doesn't have a reference baby?
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:14 AM
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Your kitchen doesn't have a reference baby?
Babysitter, LSD, microwave...
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:24 AM
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I have an old french cookbook which calls for a "thumbnail" of butter (une vignette de beurre) in the crepe recipe.

Of course, for all I know that could be a perfectly normal measurement in France.
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