Baking 101 – Translating Grandma’s Recipe Cards

How many times have you said you wish your food would come out as delightfully delicious as those dishes your grandma used to lay out on the Sunday dinner table? Try as you might, you just can’t seem to get it right. While some say that today’s ingredients are inferior to those natural ingredients used in generations past, that’s not quite the answer either. Something just gets lost in translation. For example, in looking through grandma’s index card file of all her best recipes, the pie crust calls for a “pinch” of salt and the pumpkin pie is served with a dollop of whipped cream. But what exactly does that mean? What is a pinch and, even vaguer, a dollop? If you are among the millions who haven’t learned the lingo, the following just might help.

Is It a Measurement or an Action?

When it comes to the terms pinch and dash, it’s actually more about an action than a precise amount. Some cookbooks have attempted to quantify these amounts such as in 1/8 or 1/4 of a teaspoon, but it really isn’t an exact science. It’s how you pick up the ingredient between two fingers and toss it into the pot or bowl. It’s an action as well as a measurement! Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pay your bills that way? When questioned why you shorted the amount due, you could say that at least you went through the motions! Actually, there are easier ways to pay your bills in real life if you fall short with a variety of payday or instalment loans like those you can find on LoanPigUSA. Yes, you still need to quantify the repayment, but they help in a pinch – pun intended.

You’ve Been Shorted!

Here are two other terms that really can’t be quantified. You may read that grandma wrote “a dollop of whip cream” or a “smidgeon of pepper.” This could be one of the reasons your recipes are made with the very same ingredients as grandma used but the quantities are off, and sometimes by more than you think. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a dollop is defined as an indefinite amount of soft food or liquid. Again, wouldn’t it be nice to pay your bills in dollops? A small amount to you might be a huge amount to the next person, so if you are having trouble in the translation, trial and error might be best if grandma is no longer among us.

Again, some cookbooks have sought to translate these idioms to quantifiable measurements, but no two people have the same understanding of those terms. A pinch is what they grab between two fingers, but what if their finger sizes are different? One has long, narrow fingers, while the other lady’s digits are short and stubby. This will yield differing amounts, and the terms remain just as vague today as they were when grandma wrote them. What is the best advice you can be given? Season and measure to taste. You can’t go wrong there!

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