Monday, July 19, 2010

memories

We didn't have television when I was growing up in Iowa, so I was glad for any interesting diversion going on in my world:  things like watching Mama "dress" chickens (I never understood why taking the guts out of chickens was referred to as dressing); step on the heads of young pullets to behead them and then watching them flop, headless, all over the yard; and watching my mom run clothes through the wringer of the washing machine.  I had great fun playing with the soap-suds on washday, seeing how high I could pile it on my hands and sometimes fashioning myself a soapsuds beard. 


When I'm cooking and baking, I've noticed that whenever I follow a recipe I meticulously measure the ingredients, using special measuring spoons and cups.  If a recipe calls for a teaspoon of baking powder, I scrape the excess off to make sure it's a level teaspoonful.  

Thinking back to my childhood, I've decided all that precision probably isn't necessary.  

When, as small girl, I watched my mother cook, if the recipe called for a teaspoon of something, she got a regular teaspoon out of the drawer.  Now, there is no universal size for such teaspoons, so I'm sure the amount she used varied, depending on what spoon she grabbed; she never scraped it off to level it, either.  It was the same for a cup:  Mother didn't use a special measuring cup back then.  She used a coffee cup, most of which hold either more or less than the eight ounces that a measuring cup holds.  

Knowing what an excellent cook my mother was, I realize that I could be a lot more casual about my measuring.  Not that I could change, even if I wanted to; it's a habit I somehow picked up the one year I took Home Economics in high school.  The teacher stressed the importance of proper measuring, and I still have to do it that way.  

How about it?  Are you a precision measurer, or a casual one?    

14 comments:

Rachel said...

Precision. And now I blame you. HA!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I guess I'm a casual one although I do have the proper cups and spoons but for the most part I don't level them and if I'm cooking something familiar I really don't measure at all. I didn't take home economics so I didn't get in the habit like you did

I hope your Monday is off to a good start !

Lindie said...

Cooking I just throw things together, baking i'mn more precise.

nerves05 said...

I do the same. I never really took any notice to it till my mom came to live with me and i measure the exact cups of rice i want to cook. She has never done that so she made fun of me for it. Then i noticed i do alot of exact measuring.
Oh well to each their own right? :-)

Barbara said...

When following a recipe, I use all the rules, complete with getting the air out of shortening, etc. But when cooking something of my own creation, I just use my hand for a teaspoon and an old coffee cup for sugar, whatever is handy.

Wil said...

A little of this, a pinch of that. Whatever is handy will do for many measured cooking activities. However, when baking bread, I weigh the flour and measure the leavening; it is then that "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds" takes a flying leap. At least, in my kitchen it does.

Fernan said...

My Frieda learned more about cooking from my Mom in just a few short months than she did from her Ma. And, my Mom put everything together almost by this'n'that by gosh oad golly.
Didn't mater what it was even if we had had it many times before it was always good and better than the last time.
Both wimmin if they didn't have this, she substituted that, for it. Ah yes, viva the pleasures of eating home cooking, always the same/always different.

Toon said...

What is this "precision" you speak of?

m.v. said...

that's how we did it-with regular cups and spoon, never had a problem.

Your son said...

I've been cooking more and more, and I'm pretty precise. But I don't blame you, I blame Alton Brown as pretty much everything I make comes from the show "Good Eats". As someone else already mentioned, baking is a science so precision makes sense. Most other things probably don't need to be exact, but I don't enjoy cooking enough to blow it when I'm trying something....so I follow the recipe.

TARYTERRE said...

Pretty casual. I use a little bit of this. A little bit of that. Just trust my instincts and it all works out. Though, one or two times in my life, I got a little carried away with the hot stuff.

Paula said...

Precision for sure. At my country school we had no choice but to take homemaking four years. Had to baste seams before sewing too.

Debbie said...

Casual, most of the time. I do use a measuring cup once in awhile but not often and I have no measuring spoons.

You brought back some great memories of my childhood. My Mom used an ax to chop the chickens head off and it was fun watching the chickens flopping around the yard without a head but I sure hated plucking those stinking feathers. I was probably 10 or 11 when Mom taught me how to use the wringer washer and I started cooking at a young age.

By the way, your tenderloin looked delicious in the pictures on Rachel's blog.

Lori said...

It depends on what I'm cooking. If it's a recipe I've never done before, then I'll be careful about measuring. If it's something I've made a lot of time, or something I learned to make from experience without even really following a recipe, then I just seem to know what are the proper measurements. As to the term dress, see my word usage blog here:http://i-stand-corrected.blogspot.com/ I'm going to do an entry about it. In short I'll say here that the word "dress" did not originally have anything to do with clothing.

I can remember watching Mom wash clothes in a wringer washer. I thought I was so grown up when I got to help put the clothes through the wringer. (And I can remember the headless chickens running around also!)