Sunday, 7 November 2010

Weights and measures

My grandmother and her sister ran a small shop, a bit of an "Open All Hours".  They sold something of everything but especially home baked cakes and savouries.  My grandmother was the savoury specialist and her sister, Kate, the pastry cook.  Kate was a great lover of all things sweet and collected recipes almost compulsively.  She copied recipes on to every possible space in her recipe books as you can see.

I learnt what cooking skills I have from Kate and while I was battling with the measurements for the chocolate cake recipe, measuring everything out to the nearest gram, I remembered that she rarely used a weighing scales.  She used spoons to measure out, and judgement, and there I was worrying about precise grams.

I used to have an old recipe book, very old, it must have been given to me by Kate, and inside the front cover was a conversion table for spoonfuls to ounces for various ingredients.  That book is long gone so I was delighted to find, stuck inside the back cover of the recipe book above, a conversion chart for all sorts of things.

A few examples of 1 ounce measurements

3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon jam
3 tablespoons currants
4 tablespoons rolled oats (for your porridge, no doubt)
5 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs

And these tablespoons weren't special measuring spoons, they were normal everyday spoons we used.

Along with these, there were a number of useful amounts, such as 1lb peas is enough for 2 people but 2 lbs spinach is barely enough for three.  A pint of batter will make 16 fairly thin pancakes while half a pound of flour makes 16 fairly big rock cakes.
I could go on for quite a while but I'll spare you.  Suffice it to say, I'll not be quite so precise on my measurements in future.

PS, since I'm back to adjust the weird spacing that Blogger gives me these days, I'll add that on an inside page I found in tiny writing in a top margin:

"1 cupful measures 10 oz.  In America cupful measures 8 oz liquid. 3 teaspoons go to American tablespoon instead of 4." 
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1 comment:

  1. 2 lbs of spinach would last me a couple years. :)

    But I guess that wasn't your point.

    I agree that spoons are best for smaller amounts. That cookbook of your great aunt's is precious.


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