Let me begin this post by admitting that math is, actually, my strong suit. As far back as I remember I always did much better with math and reasoning skills than language. And I’ve been proud of my keen ability to calculate – it sure comes in handy! I can quickly compute what “40% off” means or how many cups of broth I need when I multiply a recipe by four. Maybe I like math because it is black and white, things can be explained in concrete terms and there is always a “right” and a “wrong” answer.
That being said I do not judge anyone who isn’t proficient at mathematics. Everyone’s brain is different. That said, I do believe that learning some basic calculations can help immensely when it comes to cooking and baking. For example, there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon – so if you see a recipe written that asks for four teaspoons, you will know that you can measure one tablespoon + one teaspoon. If you triple four teaspoons, this is equivalent to four tablespoons. No need to one-by-one measure out twelve teaspoons! And yet, when I had my catering business, I’d see my workers measuring teaspoon by teaspoon 99 times out of 100!
For those of you who can use a little extra help with kitchen calculations – here are some tools I use to measure (as pictured above):
Metal Measuring Cups
These are for dry ingredients like flour or sugar…NOT LIQUIDS people. Scoop stuff into the metal cup, level it off with a knife and voila! (background left)
Oxo 2 oz LIQUID Measuring Cup
This is my favorite little gadget, a tsp/tbsp LIQUID measuring cup with a lip. I use this one daily – especially when making salad dressings or crackers. It’s easy to see where two tablespoons will be (look at the meniscus of the liquid) and it saves me messing around with a teaspoon or tablespoon. Our supermarkets carry this little cup-it’s a 2 ounce size. (rear center)
Pyrex LIQUID Measuring Cup
This is my older-than-the-hills pyrex measuring cup for liquids such as oil, water, and the like. I actually have four versions of this glass measuring cup (1 cup, 2 cup, 4 cups and 8 cups) and I use them all. (right front)
Metal Measuring Spoons
Ta da, finally – my metal measuring spoons tablespoon, teaspoon and fractions thereof. (front left)
I really don’t like plastic cooking utensils and I use metal or glass whenever I can. Just one of my hangups – but to me they clean much more easily and don’t hold onto odors.
And here are the basic equivalents you should memorize or post somewhere until you learn them by heart:
3 teaspoons = 1 Tbsp = ½ ounce
1 cup = 8 ounces = 16 Tbsp (½ cup = 8 Tbsp)