I love to cook and bake. Cooking is a necessity of course: I made it my job to feed my family and I take pride in trying to provide a healthy, home-cooked meal almost every day. Baking is more for fun, and for special occasions (because what you bake, you’ll have to eat and that is not always fitting in the ‘healthy’ part of my mission). In this day and age, I usually browse the world wide web for new, cool recipes. In addition, I have a significant amount of cookbooks and I keep all approved and tried-out recipes on hand-written cards and in binders.
A problem arises when I use my Dutch recipes. Besides the fact that some of the ingredients are not available on this side of the ocean (at least not on this beautiful island in Maine), I also have to convert measurements and temperatures.
Measurements I am familiar with like grams and deciliter all of a sudden have to become (the so vague to me measurements) ‘cups’ and ‘tablespoons’.
Of course I have my tools: a nice set of measuring cups both for fluids and solids and a set of different measuring spoons. One could argue that it is just a matter of getting used to when using different units of measurements, and that is no doubly true. However, I do think that measuring with a scale is so much more accurate than in a cup or with a teaspoon. How full is the cup? How packed down is the flour, sugar, baking powder? How carefully did you scrape it off? With the help of a digital kitchen scale, I can scoop out my flour and measure till the nearest gram. Try that with a cup!
Right before Christmas, my daughter was helping me bake some cookies. She loves the scale and the little enjoyment that comes from scooping in just enough sugar to make the scale stop at exactly 150 grams.
Before we transferred the sugar to the bowl, we measured it again in cups, because this recipe needed to be written down for her best friend, the American way: in cups, spoons and ounces.
Not an easy task, as the 150 grams of sugar doesn’t completely ‘translate’ into 1 or 3/4 cups. It was ‘one full cup and a little bit’ at the best. While cutting and measuring the butter, I noticed that on the package it is labeled in (16) ounces, and each conveniently separate wrapped stick (4 in total) has measurements on it in teaspoons, tablespoons and cups. But what if the wrapper isn’t perfectly centered? Or the stick got dropped to the floor and one end got terribly dented (don’t ask: it did happen!) Not a very accurate way of measuring, I think.
And let’s talk for a second about ounces. Ounces, that might be the worst measurement unit of all. Is it fluid ounces or solid? What is the difference (I know, one for mass, one for volume) and why is abbreviation oz. and not oc. or ou. or even os.? How many ounces go into a cup, and how can that even be accurate (water and oil do not have the same density, right?) And as for dry measurements, I found that 3 teaspoons is about one tablespoon or 1/2 ounce and that 1 ounce is approximately 28.3 grams; how does this even make sense? I dare you to try it. Do 3 teaspoons of flour indeed equal one table spoon and half an ounce, so 14.15 grams? And how about 3 teaspoons of baking soda? Sugar? Butter?
In the table below I did my mini research study. See for yourself.
* According to the lines on the wrapper
I tried to carefully scrape the filled teaspoon without pressing it down. Subsequently I carefully transferred three teaspoons worth in the tablespoon. Despite my careful measuring, I wasn’t always able to exactly get a tablespoon. Sometimes it was a wee bit more, sometimes a wee bit less. As for me: I asked for a new scale for Christmas as the old one was becoming a little finicky, but who can blame her after 10 + years of faithful gram duty in the land of the oz.?