Here”s a blog I wrote way back in 2008. I thought possibly those who weren”t followers of P&P yet might enjoy reading it. And since I”m smack in the middle of packing up my house to move, this might make things easier.
I love to read old recipes and imagine the pioneer women cooking up a batch of Hopping John or Son-of-a-Biscuit Stew or Molasses Cookies
on their wood stove. I can just see them getting out their ingredients and setting to work building a fire and getting it the right temperature.
Old-time recipes called for a smidgen of seasoning, a pinch of this, a dab of that, or a dollop (usually butter) the size of a walnut. And sometimes the recipe called for a dash of something or “enough flour to make a stiff dough.” I”m guessing that housewives pretty much cooked by trial and error and adjusted things to suit them because it would be extremely difficult to know what these measurements meant.
Is a smidgen more than a dash or a dab? And how much is scant of something?
My mother rarely used a recipe. She”d get out her ingredients and start mixing things together until it looked, tasted, or felt right. I used to love watching her cook. It was an amazing sight. And boy, did her dishes taste wonderful! She must”ve had the pioneer spirit instilled in her.
FOR THE RECORD, THAT TALENT WAS NOT PASSED DOWN TO ME!!
I can cook just enough to get by.
But to demonstrate what I”m talking about, here”s an old recipe for Gingerbread:
½ cup sugar
2 dollops of butter
1 cup syrup
Enough flour for a soft dough
1 ½ small spoon soda
Smidgen of cinnamon, ginger, cloves
Pinch of salt
1 cup hot water
Mix all ingredients together and bake in a medium oven.
* * * *
As a side note, pioneer women gauged the heat of an oven by holding their hand inside and counting. If she could hold her hand inside for a count of 40, it was right for baking bread. A count of twenty would be sufficient for baking cakes and pies.
And exactly how long should I leave my hand inside to bake a potato or lasagna?
So, I”m wondering how many of you could cook using the smidgen, dab, dash, dollop, or pinch measurements. Aren”t you glad our recipes read much clearer today?