Have you ever noticed that some of those old family recipes never taste as good as you remember from your childhood? There's a reason for that; Our pinches or dashes are not the same as our grandmothers'.
Not only did those early cooks have a way with measurements, they didn’t waste a thing. This is why I'm the proud owner of a recipe for giblet pie, handed down from a well-meaning relative. I also inherited a recipe that calls for one quart of nice buttermilk. If anyone knows where I can find buttermilk that plays nice please let me know.
I especially like old time recipes for sourdough biscuits. Here’s a recipe found in The Oregon Trail Cookbook:
"Mix one-half cup sourdough starter with one cup milk. Cover and set it in the wagon near the baby to keep warm ... pinch off pieces of dough the size of the baby's hand."
Early cooks didn’t have the accurate measuring devices we have today and had to make do with what was on hand—even if it was the baby.
If you’re in the mood to drag out an old family recipe this Thanksgiving, here are some weights and measures used by our ancestors that might help:
Pound of eggs=8 to 9 large eggs, 10-12 smaller ones
Butter the size of an egg=1/4 cup
Butter the size of a walnut=2 Tablespoons
Scruple= (an apothecary weight=1/4 teaspoon
Old-time tablespoon=4 modern teaspoons
Old-time teaspoons=1/4 modern teaspoon
2 Coffee Cups=1 pint
As for the size of the baby, you’re on your own.
*Weights borrowed from Christmas in the Old West by Sam Travers
Tell us about a family recipe you inherited.
Wishing you and your family a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving!
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