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Recipes and measurements

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Barb Downunder

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Recipes and measurements

by Barb Downunder » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:49 am

I have always been annoyed in a minor way by silly inconsistencies in the ‘mix and match’ use of ingredient quantities in recipes.
I have just come across this
Add 1 cup plus 100 ml of milk,
seriously? This is high up the list of the most idiotic mix.
Serves me right for buying pancake shake (never had before it just wanted to try)
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Paul Winalski » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:34 pm

That's a phenomenon that I've never encountered. All the recipes I've seen have used either entirely metric measurements or entirely English/Imperial. I agree it's very annoying. In the case you cite, they could have just said a cup-and-a-half. Or 337 ml, if they wanted to be more precise.

-Paul W.
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Jeff Grossman » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:42 pm

Oh, yes, do let me grab up my 337 ml measuring implement!

Anyway, Barb, count your blessings... they could have asked for 0.74 lb. of milk.
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Peter May

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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Peter May » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:31 pm

Paul Winalski wrote: All the recipes I've seen have used either entirely metric measurements or entirely English/Imperial. .


Not guilty; cup measurements are not English/British. Recipes here are now metric, sometimes with Imp equivalents. I
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Peter May » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:37 pm

Barb Downunder wrote:
Serves me right for buying pancake shake


Lunchtime today I was telling a friend about the huge blackberry crop this year and the blackberry/apple crumble we made for dinner with guests last weekend and it was assumed we'd used a crumble mix.

I was amazed because I didn't know there was such a thing as making crumble is so easy.....
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Paul Winalski » Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:02 pm

Peter May wrote:Not guilty; cup measurements are not English/British. Recipes here are now metric, sometimes with Imp equivalents. I


Point taken. Since we're the only folks still too backward to use metric, I suppose we ought to start referring to them as "US measurements" rather than English/British.

It can get worse. One of the timeout intervals in the VMS operating system is measured in microfortnights.

-Paul W.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Jeff Grossman » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:38 pm

Reminds me of a unit of measure for velocity of furlongs per fortnight.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Dale Williams » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:35 pm

I too have never seen "combo" measurements.
But out of curiosity, was all the milk used at once (I have no clue what pancake shake is) ?
It's just that often (usually) when a recipe says X of something plus Y of same thing they are used in different stages.
Still think it's crazy to use 2 different systems, they should have said a cup and a third but might be a little less ridiculous
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Peter May » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:12 am

Paul Winalski wrote: Since we're the only folks still too backward to use metric


You're not alone. We still use miles and mpg on roads. By law draft beer is sold by pint or half pint, and most people use Fahrenheit even though BBC weather forecasts use Celsius. Our newspapers mix and match, and if using metric usually put the imperial measurement in brackets. Milk used to be sold in pints now it's metric but frequently in containers of 568ml, i.e. a pint.

This morning I was struck by this in the Guardian about the world's biggest container ship's maiden voyage "… the Gulsun is 400 metres from bow to stern, more than the length of 36 buses, and can transport 23,576 standard 20ft shipping containers."

Measurements in metres, feet - and buses - all in one sentence
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Ted Richards » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:37 pm

Peter May wrote:This morning I was struck by this in the Guardian about the world's biggest container ship's maiden voyage "… the Gulsun is 400 metres from bow to stern, more than the length of 36 buses, and can transport 23,576 standard 20ft shipping containers."


But how much does the ship weigh in elephants? (or is it blue whales?) :D
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Barb Downunder » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:49 am

Dale Williams wrote:I too have never seen "combo" measurements.
But out of curiosity, was all the milk used at once (I have no clue what pancake shake is) ?
It's just that often (usually) when a recipe says X of something plus Y of same thing they are used in different stages.
Still think it's crazy to use 2 different systems, they should have said a cup and a third but might be a little less ridiculous


All the milk went in at the same time!

Pancake shake is a dry mix, add the milk, shake and make your pancakes. I don’t know what I was thinking, except for ease if we decide to do breakfast fundraisers.

I must spend too much time looking at recipes because I come across odd mixes of measurements frequently. Also as a scientist I probably glom onto it more readily.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Barb Downunder » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:57 am

Ted Richards wrote:
Peter May wrote:This morning I was struck by this in the Guardian about the world's biggest container ship's maiden voyage "… the Gulsun is 400 metres from bow to stern, more than the length of 36 buses, and can transport 23,576 standard 20ft shipping containers."


But how much does the ship weigh in elephants? (or is it blue whales?) :D


And travels at x furlongs per fortnight!

This sort of stuff gets very silly.
Down here people often refer to bodies of water as holding x times the amount of Sydney Harbour, which is of itself a meaningless amount as .....umm a harbour is tidal.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Jeff Grossman » Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:12 pm

Barb Downunder wrote:This sort of stuff gets very silly.

Indeed.

Although it somewhat depends on the era. For example, do you know how Gabriel Fahrenheit (working in the early 1700s) actually chose the numbers for his thermometer? Well, zero was the temperature of a particular salt-water-ice mixture that was popular in Chemistry circles of the day, while 100 was his wife's body temperature! (...early instruments were none too accurate...) Hence, common and useful numbers got to be 32 and 98 and 212.

Compare that to Anders Celsius, working only 20 years later, who took the freezing and boiling points of water as his 0 and 100, and figured out the rest from there. Though, nota bene, he wanted the scale to work downward => 100 cold, 0 hot!
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Bill Spohn » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:36 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:
Point taken. Since we're the only folks still too backward to use metric, I suppose we ought to start referring to them as "US measurements" rather than English/British.-Paul W.


You are not alone in your reactionary stand - Myanmar and Liberia stand with you.....

In old recipes you find measurements that don't mean much any more - a teacup full, or jigger, or a gill, and in one of my incarnations I dealt with medieval recipes that probably had little meaning 20 miles from where they were written down. They tended to be just a list of ingredients without amounts noted - they left that up to the individual cook.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Peter May » Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:36 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
In old recipes you find measurements that don't mean much any more - a teacup full, or jigger, or a gill,


A tea-cup makes (a little) more sense than just 'cup' to me, as there are tea cups and coffee cups, and the latter is much smaller

I thought jigger was in common parlance in the US as a bartender's measure, a small metal container that the spirit is first poured in when constructing a cocktail.

A sixth of a Gill was a legal measure for spirits in England (in Scotland it was a more generous fifth of a gill) until we joined the EU and changed to metric. I never understood it, but when you saw your Scotch just covering the bottom of your glass, you understood the popularity of ordering 'a double'.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Jeff Grossman » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:17 pm

A jigger is still in common use. 1.5 ounces.

A teacup is the same as a gill: 1/4 of a pint. (Depending on which way you face the Atlantic, either 4 ounces or 5 ounces.) A fifth or sixth of such is a small drink, indeed.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Barb Downunder » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:48 am

And tonight’s foray in the kitchen reminds me of the perils of stating
2 carrots/onions/potatoes etc. reminiscent of how long is a piece of string and brings back the memory of the embarrassment of the teaching staff who ended up with onions the size of softballs for us to practise our dicing skills.
Of course experienced cooks will have some sense of what size is appropriate, but those newer to cooking could end up with a dish totally out of balance.
The recipe I am using comes from a long established bakery and was published in a reputable foodmag in the last few years
It calls for in part
2carrots, 200g potatoes , 2 onions, 1 cup padded peas, 1 cup corn kernels. Gack.
Seriously the potential for achieving the desired outcome is debatable.
I have eaten the dish and have a concept of how much of each vegetable appears in each pie so am comfortable going with it and making it my own anyway.
It also is going to make way too much sauce for the 6 individual pies containing 4 scallops each ie around 6 cups of vegetable plus 1.5 cup liquid to sauce.
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Paul Winalski » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:59 pm

Another hazard to the practice of not specifying the size of the item in a recipe is that item sizes can change over time. Case in point: the boneless chicken breast.

One of my most treasured recipes is for ning mon gai--Cantonese lemon chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are battered, deep-fried, sliced crosswise into chopstick-friendly chunks, then covered with an exquisite lemon-based sweet-and-sour sauce. The recipe was published in the New York Times in 1976, and calls for the boneless breasts of two chickens. Back when the recipe was published, you'd get the chicken breasts by buying 2-1/2 to 3 lb frying chickens and cutting away the breast meat. Nowadays boneless, skinless chicken breasts are ubiquitous in US supermarkets, but they're from the "oven stuffer roaster"-type birds--nearly twice the size of the frying chickens the recipe author had in mind. If you use the two whole chicken breasts called for in the recipe, you end up being short on batter, and the chicken breasts don't fry properly--they're too thick. If you're using the packaged "boneless, skinless chicken breast" you need only one, not two, whole breast, and you need to slice them in half lengthwise so that they'll fry properly all the way through.

I, of course, discovered this the hard way . . . .

-Paul W.
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Bill Spohn » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:38 pm

More examples of old nomenclature that baffles today.

A 'slow' oven - I thought they all just sat there - never had one that went anywhere slow or fast.... Apparently means something around 300 F.

Found this list:

Very Slow Oven = 200 – 250F
Slow Oven = 250 – 350F
Moderate Oven = 350 – 400F
Quick or Hot Oven = 400 – 450F
Very Hot Oven = 450 – 500F

Not sure whether fuel (gas, electric, wood) has any effect on these terms.

More equivalents:

wineglass = 1/4 C.
jigger = 1.5 fluid ounces
gill = 1/2 C.
teacup = scant 3/4 C. (scant refers to being slightly less than the quantity listed)
peck = 8 quarts
dessert spoon = 2 teaspoons
spoonful = 1 tablespoon, mounded
salt spoon = 1/4 teaspoon
dash = 1/8 teaspoon
pinch = 1/16 teaspoon (or what will fit between thumb and finger when pinched together)
saucer = 1 cup, slightly mounded
butter the size of an egg = 1/4 C.
butter the size of a walnut = 2 tablespoons

All of that gets us back into Victorian era kitchens, but before that, not as much was closely measured.

“Take 1 egg, 1 cupful of molasses, 1 cupful of sugar, 1 cupful of butter and lard mixed, some boiling water, 1 tablespoonful of saleratus dissolved in the water, 1 tablespoonful of ginger, and flour enough to mold out rather soft. Roll out thin and bake in a quick oven.”

Although this recipe appears to call for equal amounts of some of the ingredients, the measurements were intended to be taken differently. For instance, 1 cup of sugar would be a larger amount than 1 cup of butter, because a sugar measurement was supposed to be level, but butter was measured as a scant cup. Baking powder or soda was measured by the heaping spoonful (which meant that the top was to be rounded up as much as the bottom of the spoon), but spices were measured by the level spoonful. Cooks of the day just “knew” these things.


This may amuse some: http://www.godecookery.com/goderec/goderec.htm and a glossary of cooking terms http://www.godecookery.com/glossary/glossary.htm

And while I, as a medievalist, could spend hours going through books on the subject, I'll just refer you to one -

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/db2e/b ... 4aa0f0.pdf

If you take time to have a good look, hopefully some will find it pretty interesting. Some interesting bits of chronology from it:

812 Anise, coriander, fennel, flax, fenugreek, and sage are
among the plants to be grown on Charlemagne’s farms.
827 North-African Arabs invade Sicily, and introduce the
Persian plant spinach and many other foodstuffs to the
island.
857 Thousands die in the Rhine Valley from ergotism, a disease caused by the consumption of rye bread made
from grain infected with the ergot fungus. Symptoms
include diarrhea, seizures, headaches, nausea, vomiting,
hallucinations, mania, and psychosis.
1071 Two-pronged fork reaches Venice from the east via
Byzantium
1110 Les Halles, until the twentieth century the central food
market of Paris, is established by Louis VI of France.
1123 Smithfield meat market, later the site of the famous
Saint Bartholomew’s Fair, is established in London.
ca. 1350 The oldest German cookbook, Daz buoch von guoter
spise (The Book of Good Food), is written in Würzburg.
1375 The French cookbook Le Viandier (The Provisioner)
by Guillaume Tirel, called Taillevent, cook of King
Charles V of France, is written.
1383 The Bavarian brewery Löwenbräu is founded in Munich.
1390 The English cookbook The Forme of Cury (The
[Proper] Method of Cookery) with recipes from the
kitchen of King Richard II of England is written.
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Jenise

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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Jenise » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:17 pm

Cool stuff, Bill. Not sure I've heard those oven references before, or if I did it made sense to me as a very inexact cook who considers recipes guidelines and not mandates. (And as the owner of a Viking pro range, I'd be in even more trouble if I wasn't like this.)

I was ruminating on this the other day as I pretty much grew up in full Betty Crocker mode: using recipes of which I'd say 90% of them cooked everything, from cakes to chickens, at 325 or 350. EVERYTHING. If you deviated, it was up or down from there, sometimes hotter starts where after 15 minutes you "lower the temperature to 325". I guess those were the days when women were otherwise not trusted to not burn down the kitchen. Anything over 400 wasn't safe for us scatterbrains!

And now 400 is my default. I like to live dangerously. :)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Bill Spohn » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:23 pm

Jenise wrote:
And now 400 is my default. I like to live dangerously. :)


:mrgreen:

It even gets hard with current British recipes - gas mark conversion table I use when translating recipes. Your 400 F comes off as 'moderately hot'


Fahrenheit Celsius Gas Mark Terminology
275 degrees F 140 degrees C 1 Very Cool or Very Slow
300 degrees F 150 degrees C 2 Cool or Slow
325 degrees F 165 degrees C 3 Warm
350 degrees F 177 degrees C 4 Moderate
375 degrees F 190 degrees C 5 Moderate
400 degrees F 200 degrees C 6 Moderately Hot
425 degrees F 220 degrees C 7 Hot
450 degrees F 230 degrees C 8 Hot
475 degrees F 245 degrees C 9 Hot
500 degrees F 260 degrees C 10 Very Hot
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Re: Recipes and measurements

by Jenise » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:33 pm

Oh, gas marks! Takes me back to that pathetic little stove I had when I lived in Macclesfield. I think I remember finding that I only needed gas mark 5, and that some things cooked faster than others. :)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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