Learning to Cook · Miss Mary

Learning to Cook, Mixing and Measuring

Get the printable list 2016 LTC Cooks Tools List

Cooking, roasting, grilling, and baking are different processes that we undertake in our kitchens to put breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the table.  There’s a science to all of this, I don’t know all of it, but within the last few years I’ve been more interested in the interactions of ingredients.  I wish I had known about the 10 Secrets to Making a Cake years ago.  What do all of the components actually do when you put them together?  I never remember Mrs. Price, my Home Economics teacher, discuss any of these secrets.

Measuring tools are essential to a good meal.  I admit when I’m making dinner, unless it’s baking, I eyeball it a lot.  You can’t do that with complicated recipes such as certain French recipes – Coq Au Vin comes to mind.  This is where the adage comes in, “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing”, said Julia Child.  Once you make a few vinaigrette’s you’ll find that you will be able to instinctively create them knowing what herbs, vinegar’s, oils go together and taste good enough to share when you’ve made them.

In the link, the 10 Secrets to Making a Cake, they suggest you weigh your flour.  The ONLY time I do that, is when I am using a recipe by Creative Director Peggy Porschen, based in Belgravia, England, or making fresh Italian Sausage.   Here’s a sample of one of Peggy’s recipes.  The way in which she makes a cake is different but tastes amazing.

2016 LTC measuring scaleJust after I received her book, I had to pick up a digital scale.  And here it is.  I place a sheet of wax paper on the scale and then place the sugar, flour, butter, …. on to measure it.  It will measure in grams and pounds.

imageThe scale is not the only measure.  You have dry measures and liquid measures.  They are not the same.  The Pyrex liquid measure measures by volume – liquid.  The dry plastic or metal measures such as the 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup measures, are used for flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, sugar, where you have the capacity to “pack” the ingredient if the recipe calls for it.  Flour is not one of those items you pack.  Example: 1 cup of all-purpose flour sifted into a cup and leveled weighs about 100 grams, whereas 1 cup of all-purpose flour scooped from its container and leveled weighs about 140 grams.  BIG DIFFERENCE!

Also, measuring with one cup is not preferred as you can be off by as much as 23% per the Science of Good Cooking, p.4.  I’ll fess up here, I always used the Pyrex liquid measure.  My mother only used one method and didn’t inform me of any other.  It wasn’t until watching the Food Network that I learned there are better methods.

2016 LTC mixer2016 LTC mixing bowls 2If you’re not using a Stand Mixer, mine is a Kitchenaid – I’ve had this for 10 years, you’re probably using a mixing bowl.  I happen to  have the glass stacking bowls and have had these for years.  I recall years ago I used a huge handled plastic bowl that finally became a pain to use.  I remember  using a plastic green bowl that the rim finally broke.  I even had metal bowls.  I’m quite satisfied with my nesting bowls.  One of them, the medium sized, is missing because I probably dropped it.  I also think that the glass nesting bowls are pretty good deal.  They are not overtly expensive.

I LOVE my Kitchenaid.  It is the workhorse in my kitchen next to my wire whisk and hollow-edged knife.  I had a Sunbeam, that was my mother’s, that lasted for YEARS until I couldn’t find beaters for it any longer.  The Sunbeam could not do what the Kitchenaid is doing for me today without rocking and rolling all over the counter top.  Something had to give.  If you are looking to change your mixer, save your pennies, ask for it for your birthday or Christmas.  It will pay you back with great creations.

Measuring spoons are very standard.  There is a type that is an all-in-one, not may favorite.

So learn this now:  1 Tablespoon = 3 teaspoons; 4 Tablespoons = 1/4 Cup.  Knowing this will help you when you are scaling a recipe up or down.

Not until about 5 years ago did I switch to dry and liquid measures.  It has made a perceivable difference in how I bake.  You just have to see for yourself the difference in the quality of the meal you’re making to measure it’s success.

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