HERITAGE MEASUREMENTS - Deciphering Grandma's Recipe Book

Truth is, most old recipes were not much more than shopping lists with cursory prep notes. Detailed instructions were not considered necessary because it was understood that whoever cooked the food already knew the basics. Measurements are time/country/food specific.

Did you know some culinary historians say we Americans measure with objects(as opposed to weight) because of our pioneer heritage? Conestoga wagons had plenty of cups & spoons but very few reliable scales. Scientific oven temperatures and exact measurements had no place in pre-industrial kitchens...which explains why food was commonly *served forth* when it was *done.*

Standard measurements and detailed cooking instructions were a by-product of the Industrial Revolution and are commonly attributed to Fannie M. Farmer, principal of the Boston Cooking School."

Up until the 1950's both the US and Britain used the same basic measurements. The US ones were called US Standard and the Britain ones were called Imperial, some of the measurements differed slightly in actual size, weight, or volume but utilized the same names. Britain did not go metric until officially until the early 90's as a result of the EU sanctions.

1 wineglass 1/4 cup
1 jigger 1.5 fluid ounces
1 gill 1/2 cup
1 teacup a scant 3/4 cup
1 coffeecup a scant cup
1 tumbler 1 cup
1 pint 2 cups
1 quart 4 cups
1 peck 2 gallons - dry
1 pinch or dash what can be picked up between thumb and first two fingers; less than 1/8 teaspoon
1/2 pinch what can be picked up between thumb and one finger
1 saltspoon 1/4 teaspoon
1 kitchen spoon 1 teaspoon
1 dessert spoon 2 teaspoons or 1 soupspoon
1 spoonful 1 Tablespoon more or less
1 saucer 1 heaping cup (about)
Very slow oven below 300 degrees F.
Slow oven 300 degrees F.
Moderately slow oven 325 degrees F.
Moderate oven 350 degrees F.
Moderately hot oven 375 degrees F.
Quick oven 375 - 400 degrees F.
Hot oven 400-425 degrees F.
Very hot oven 450-475 degrees F.
Extremely hot oven 500 degrees F. or more
1 penny weight 1/20 ounce
1 drachm 1/8 ounce
60 drops thick fluid 1 teaspoon
1 ounce 4-1/2 Tablespoons allspice, cinnamon, curry , paprika or dry mustard
or 4 Tablespoons cloves or prepared mustard
or 3-1/2 Tablespoons nutmeg or pepper
or 3 Tablespoons sage, cream of tartar or cornstarch
or 2 Tablespoons salt or any liquid
1 pound 2 cups liquid
or 4 cups flour
or 8 medium eggs with shells
or 10 eggs without shells
or 2 cups granulated sugar
or 2-1/3 cups packed brown sugar
or 3-3/4 cups unsifted confectioner's sugar
or 4-1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
or 4 cups grated cabbage, cranberries, coffee or chopped celery
or 3 cups corn meal
or 2 cups uncooked rice
or 2-3/4 cups raisins or dried currants
Butter the size of a egg 1/4 cup or 2 ounces
Butter the size of a walnut 1 Tablespoon
Butter the size of a hazelnut 1 teaspoon

Special Measuring Methods:

"Correct measurements are absolutely necessary to insure the best results.
Good judgment, with experience, has taught some to measure by sight;

but the majority need definite guides."

Tin, granite-ware, and glass measuring-cups, divided in quarters or thirds, holding one half-pint, and tea and table spoons of regulation sizes,—which may be bought at any store where kitchen furnishings are sold,—and a ease knife, are essentials for correct measurement. Mixing-spoons, which are little larger than tablespoons, should not be con-founded with the latter.

Firmly packed: With a spatula, a spoon, or by hand, the ingredient is pressed as tightly as possible into the measuring device.

Lightly packed: The ingredient is pressed lightly into the measuring device, only tightly enough to ensure no air pockets.

Even / level: A precise measure of an ingredient, discarding all of the ingredient that rises above the rim of the measuring device. Sweeping across the top of the measure with the back of a straight knife or the blade of a spatula is a common leveling method.

Rounded: Allowing a measure of an ingredient to pile up above the rim of the measuring device naturally, into a soft, rounded shape.

Heaping / heaped: The maximum amount of an ingredient which will stay on the measuring device.

Sifted: This instruction may be seen in two different ways, with two different meanings: before the ingredient, as “1 cup sifted flour”, indicates the ingredient should be sifted into the measuring device (and normally leveled), while after the ingredient, as “1 cup flour, sifted”, denotes the sifting should occur after measurement.

Measuring Ingredients.

Flour, meal, powdered and confectioners’ sugar, and soda should be sifted before measuring. Mustard and baking powder, from standing in boxes, settle, therefore should be stirred to lighten; salt frequently lumps, and these lumps should be broken. A cupful is measured level. To measure a cupful, put in the ingredient by spoonfuls or from a scoop, round slightly, and level with a case knife, care being taken not to shake the cup. A tablespoonful is measured level. A teaspoonful is measured level.

To measure tea or table spoonfuls, dip the spoon in the ingredient, fill, lift, and level with a knife, the sharp edge of knife being toward tip of spoon. Divide with knife lengthwise of spoon, for a half-spoonful; divide halves crosswise for quarters, and quarters crosswise for eighths. Less than one-eighth of a teaspoonful is considered a few grains.

Measuring Liquids.

A cupful of liquid is all the cup will hold.

A tea or table spoonful is all the spoon will hold.

Measuring Butter, Lard, etc. To measure butter, lard, and other solid fats, pack solidly into cup or spoon, and level with a knife.

When dry ingredients, liquids, and fats are called for in the same recipe, measure in the order given, thereby using but one cup."

Recipes by Gina - Recipe of the Moment

Turkey Tetrazzini

"Turkey is one of the most versatile meats to use up as leftovers. Besides making a great sandwich or soup, try a casserole or a cold salad. Using spices and sauces to reinvent your turkey can be fun. Here are a couple of recipes for your leftover turkey."
  • Heat olive oil in skillet, saute mushrooms just until tender, add onion and garlic, sauteed for one minute.
  • Combine dry milk, cornstarch, chicken broth, salt, pepper, onion powder and nutmeg with cold water in a large saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
  • Arrange noodles in a 2-quart shallow baking dish.
  • Spread mushroom mixture over the noodles; top with a layer of turkey.
  • Pour sauce over all then sprinkle with cheeses and paprika.
  • Bake turkey tetrazzini at 350° for 30 minutes, or until hot & bubbling.
For per order assembly; noodles, sauce and fried mushrooms can be made ahead and kept warm. Layer ingredients, using 6 oz of turkey per order in individual dishes.  Microwave for 3 minutes and finish in the oven until hot & bubbling about 6-8 minutes. Serve with garlic bread and garden salad to start.