Tricks of the Trade – Weights and Measures
With bakers, it is another story. They might have the recipes memorized, but most of them still have to measure. Baking is as much science as it is art, and they don’t count eggs, they weigh them. (I don’t bake much any more, I get enough calories in my regular cooking, thanks.) But even for us regular, non-baking cooks, stepping up our measuring habits in the kitchen and picking up a few fairly inexpensive tools can make our lives a little more pleasant.
An early purchase of mine was a kitchen scale. After some dithering at the store, I got a simple, manual model that I’ve been happy with for ten years. The thing I like best about the scale is that I can put one bowl on it and often measure everything in that one bowl.
Another time saver I’m glad I got was a shot glass. It has the markings for most units of measurement right on it, and you can measure small quantities of soy sauce and vinegar, for example, in one go, without dirtying multiple spoons.
One really handy thing to have is a kitchen conversion chart taped to the inside of a cupboard door to use for converting things like liquid teaspoons into ounces, or ounces into grams. I ended up making one that I feel is perfect – you can download either the PDF or Word document here.
The other measuring essential I think we should adopt from the pros is measuring scoops, as opposed to cups. This might be just a matter of my own preference, but I have found that when baking, in particular, they are quicker to use partly because they are easier to tip over the container when you are leveling the top off, and they go in more easily – you don’t need to knock them around inside the container to get the excess off before pulling them out. Does that make sense? And my scoops, the set I have with my baking things, have spoon measures on the handles. Hey, handy!
Every year new gadgets come out – some are good, most useless. Occasionally it is good to look them over – that glass bowl with the measuring marks on it might be just the thing you’ll use every day.
Date: March 9, 2010