Remember those antique cookbooks with spurious measurements? "Take up some meat and put with it a goodly portion of flour..."
How much is "some"? What is a "goodly portion"?
Remember "a knob of butter"? Or butter "the size of a walnut" (or an egg)?
Very cute. Vivid, even. But just the kind of recipe writing that puts the qualms in an uncertain cook. An uncertain cook brought up in the 20th century.
Because after the loosey-goosey recipes of the antique books, came the scientific purity, the home-economist accuracy of the Mrs. Beetons, the Fannie Farmers, even the Irma Rombauers. Wow. Way to make a cook feel uptight. Get it right, or be wrong!
Are you comfortable with the quantity "a little"? How about "enough"?
The hardest one for insecure beginners is "to taste." As in "salt to taste." Maybe even harder is "correct the seasonings." What? Grade them true or false? Send them to the time out room?
That's what measuring spoons are for.
But jeepers, what a drag to rely on them so blindly.
Finally, I believe, we've gone past the obsessive reliance on mechanized portions. I mean, it wasn't that long ago that cookware catalogs were flogging their scientifically machined measuring spoons, lest we accidentally get one grain too many of paprika in the stew. Aren't we over that yet?
Now we cook by glugs (thank you, Jamie), dribbles, gloodges, blurps, sprinkles, and the ever-reliable dash, pinch and smidge.
Dr. Biggles invented his own portion, called the "once around" or the "twice around." It refers to how much oil he wants in the skillet, and how you get it in there. Pour, circularly. Get it?
You'd think we were now in a free-for-all zone, anything goes (as long as it's good, moderate, and reasonable).
Well. The tablespoons have turned.
We once again have a tool to measure our madness, it seems.
Zoomie found these measuring spoons on a recent trip back East, and couldn't resist bringing a few home.
She is a consummate host. The spoons were party favors at a simple, sumptuous lunch she held for me and Moonbear a little while ago (and how do you measure "a little while"?).
I know Zoomie meant the spoons as a spoof.
But. Isn't it comforting somehow to know how much of a dash to add?