After watching DVDs of Good Eats this past week I ventured to the library to see what else they had. Lo and behold (you know you're pushing 40 when you use such dad-blurned phrases like "Lo and behold") they had more Good Eats and also some dusty VHS tapes of Jeff Smith. Say what you will about the poofta, his shows were entertaining, if not exactly instructional if you tried to follow his directions in making the dish (there's a story here of ten pounds of russet taters but that's for a day when you're near comatose and begging for anything to push you over the edge).
The Jeff Smith show was a dandy (DANDY!) trip down memory lane, reminding me of Justin Wilson a.k.a. the Cajun Chef. He did this thing where he poured a pile of salt in his palm and declared (or rather he DE-clared) it a teaspoon, each and every time pouring it into the measuring spoon just to show you, the ney-saying viewer at home, that he was right. So in my impressionable youth I measured out a teaspoon and poured it into my palm, looked at it, and decided I could do the same thing. And I still can, checking myself every now and then to make sure the teaspoon hasn't grown or shrank in my mind over the years.
So when I was making a pie crust this evening and I measured out a teaspoon (very important to measure in baking so no cheating, no matter how big your ratings) and then, just to check, poured it out in my palm. And ifn' it didn't look suspiciously big. Now 'round this here house we have three sets of measuring spoons. We don't need 'em all but since we like to flaunt our wealth I like to have an extra set or two just laying around in case company comes over. So I picked up one of the other two sets and gosh darn it ifn' teaspoon #2 didn't fit fully inside teaspoon #1. Set #3 is a different shape so a comparison wouldn't be so easy. A challenge.
In honor of Good Eats it was time for SCIENCE! Water would be too squishy so I chose salt as my means. Carefully I poured a teaspoon of salt into #1 and leveled it off. Then I poured it just as carefully into teaspoon #2... emptied #2, and then managed to pour off another half teaspoon. YIKES! The teaspoon was actually a teaspoon and a half! I checked the imprint and sure enough, it said 5ml, 1 tsp, Made in India. HARUMPH! I ran the test against #3 and it was the same size as #2.
Because I am the ultimate dork (well, I guess if I was the ultimate I'd have taken pictures and taken extensive notes) I brought down the scale set from my son's room, similar to that shown above but less expensive... we put our money in measuring spoons, not fancy scales. #1 weighed out 10 grams of salt. #2 and #3... 7 grams. THOSE INDIANS HAVE TRICKED US AGAIN! How many marriages have been crushed by arguments over bad cooking when it wasn't the cook but rather the measuring device?!?!?! I've had the occasional "this is kinda salty" comments when I knew I was following the very same recipe but figured maybe I blacked out and dumped in extra salt. Finally the truth has been revealed. I'll most certainly be up the rest of the night checking the tablespoons, quarter teaspoons, measuring cups, gradiated bowls, kids medicine cups and syringes, and everything else. Should I find that those 6 oz Dixie cups hold a mere 5.5 oz I'll post an immediate update.