Today’s lesson: Read twice and measure once.
Everyone knows the saying measure twice and cut once. It’s used in both the building and sewing worlds and rightly so (or sew if you want a pun). I can say I’ve had a few experiences where I made my cut too small and had to go back to get more fabric (and wash it) before I could continue my project. Well today, I propose a new rule of measurement specifically for the kitchen: read twice and measure once.
Just what did I do to give me this idea? Well, it all started back in August when I was grocery shopping. For some reason I was in the baking goods aisle which reminded me that I hadn’t made my fruitcake yet. As we all know, fruitcake tastes better after it’s aged a little…no, not the thirty years that you’ve been playing “pass the fruitcake” with your family, but certainly longer than the couple weeks it would get if you made it in December. Now, last year, I promised myself that I’d make my cakes earlier this year than last year hence why I thought of it and picked up my fruit in August. Now it’s early October and I finally got around to it.
I thought I was on the ball. Last night, I measured out all my fruit and got the butter out of the fridge so I wouldn’t make the same mistake as last year. This year, I was going to do it right. So, this morning when I started mixing (my butter was perfect, by the way) I read my recipe: 1/2lb. dark sugar (brown sugar) (1lb brown sugar = 2 1/4 c) and confidently measured 2 1/4 cups into my bowl. As I measured it out, I thought to myself that I’d have to get more brown sugar to make my chocolate chip cookies and the banana bread I had in mind. Wait a minute, it called for 1/2 lb. of sugar not 1lb! Oh yes, there I was trying desperately to scoop 1 1/8 cups of sugar back out of my bowl before I added anything else.
If only that were all of it! I may have been a little careless in my frustration and accidentally knocked over my beaters which somehow managed to turn on and wound up flinging butter (my perfect butter!) everywhere. By the time I got my beaters turned off, I’d also managed to eject them and landed their ends in some of the wayward butter. Sigh. So, after cleaning up the butter and putting as much of my no-longer-perfect butter as I could back into the bowl, I finished removing the excess sugar – harder now because I’d just flung butter through most of it and proceeded to finish mixing in the rest of my ingredients…while reading twice before I measured.
They’re steaming on the stove now and I’ve already managed to run out of water once before the one hour mark. Next year I will do better. Next year, I will soften my butter before starting. I will read all the measurements (twice) before adding them. I will make sure I check the water levels regularly while steaming. I will make sure I have the cheese cloth or unbleached cotton to wrap them in before I start mixing ingredients. Next year, I’m going to do it right and if I don’t may I at least get it wrong in a way that will be entertaining.