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Standardization - trinalin thinks things through — LiveJournal
The strangest things come into my head while I pootle about in the kitchen or while doing housework. (Or while driving or while just sitting there doing nothing, if I want to be perfectly honest with myself.) So today, while I was making my No Pudge Fudge Brownie, I got to thinking about way back when they didn't have standard tablespoons or other measuring equipment. This particular recipe doesn't require standards of any sort. It's 2 parts brownie mix to one part vanilla yogurt. For a 2 point (WeightWatchers) brownie, it's 2 Tbsp of mix to 1 Tbsp of yogurt. And I once made a double sized one as I was finishing off the mix (and yogurt).

But if you think back to the days of your grandparents and great grandparents (or even further back for some of you) you get to a time when one person's tablespoon wasn't necessarily the same as someone else's. Where mom's "dash" and Aunt Edna's "dash" weren't the same, thus their cherry cobbler's never quite tasted the same. My Grandma Anderson was one of those who never used any sort of standard measuring devices for her most popular recipes. So when I decided to do the family cookbook several years ago, I ended up following her around the kitchen one day while she was making some of her popular dishes (tapioca pudding, an all day ordeal, and, while we were waiting for it to cook, stewed 'maters and fried taters). She'd pour something into a bowl then, before she could lose her rhythm, I'd quickly pour it into a measuring device and record the amount before letting her put it where it needed to go. In this way, I was able to quantize her recipes. And I even once made her tapioca pudding - which was nearly right! I was so proud. :-)

Nowadays, standardization is almost taken for granted. We in the sciences love the standardization of things (though I would love it if the USA finally came into the 21st century and embraced the Metric system). It's even given lay people comfort in strange places. I mean, if you go anywhere in the world and order a Big Mac from a McDonald's, chances are it's going to taste the same. (OK, maybe that's not as comforting for some as for others... I tend to avoid McDonald's when I'm out of the country. But by golly, when I do, rarely, get a hankering for a Big Mac, it doesn't matter which MD's I go to, I know it'll taste the same.)

So, um, this concept rambled on for much longer while I was making the brownie (and making it doesn't take a whole lot of time - shows just how quickly my brain processes strange thoughts). Just be glad that I'd rather get back to watching Babylon 5 than writing more of my standardization thoughts (or rather, my thoughts on unit conversion and proportions, which quickly supplanted the standardization thoughts) in the journal. :-)

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: "Pawn Shoppe Heart" by The Von Bondies

5 comments or Leave a comment
judiang From: judiang Date: March 11th, 2004 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Huh? :)
trinalin From: trinalin Date: March 11th, 2004 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Big Macs are those hamburger thingies that you can buy from this fast food restaurant chain called McDonald's. I think the whole ideal will catch on in a big way. ;-)
antikythera From: antikythera Date: March 11th, 2004 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Scientist that I am, my cooking measurement system consists of three units: 'a cup', 'a spoon', and 'some'. ^__^
hergrace From: hergrace Date: March 11th, 2004 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah Science

This came up for us when I was helping Xian with his science project (which concerned baking, in particular flour types and leavening). Because it was 'science' we had to convert all measurements to metric. And while we didn't necessarily *measure* metrically (even though most of my measuring tools *will* go that way), it was a challenge to rewrite the recipes for the report in that way.

It also gave us a serious problem to ponder. When you're transcribing a recipe, is it better to measure by mass or volume? We take for granted the fact that we measure flour by volume while the Brits (and probably most other countries) measure by mass. Fortunately, I don't think he lost points for measuring by volume...
samantha2074 From: samantha2074 Date: March 11th, 2004 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heretic! Heretic! "Season to taste" is the creed I live by.
5 comments or Leave a comment