Thursday, November 29, 2012


Pinch, Dash, or Smidgen?

What's that supposed to mean, Jonathan Gold? The esteemed food-interested-person made a weights and measurements quiz for the LA Times. Semi-talented home chefs who can bake a mean box cake should expect to score around 30%, don't worry about it.

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60%, yay.

Can I ask an off-topic question? (sure, rimy, nobody's stopping you) Does anyone else do something a little bit sort of well (for example, I cooked an amazingly yummy dinner last night), then all of a sudden want to change your career to the profession involving that something (now I want to go to culinary school and travel the world as a chef-in-training!)?

Other examples: Paint a good picture --> Become an artist!
Sew a dress --> Become a fashion designer!
Write a pretty good poem --> Devote your life to poetry!

I feel like I go through this cycle a lot.

(sorry for the randomness, just have been thinking about it a lot)


@rimy Yes. This defines me. I comfort myself (and stop myself from pursuing every flight of fancy) by telling myself that as soon as it stopped being a hobby, I'd probably get sick of it just as much as I'm sick of my current job. Not that I hate my job, but it was at one time a passion and now it feels much more routine. I think that's normal.

barefoot cuntessa

@rimy Just so you know, if you go to culinary school it is much more likely you will end up 26 with back and neck problems looking into psychology graduate programs that you can't afford. Not that I would know anything about that.


@rimy Me too!! I learned to code javascript and made a quick text-based adventure game now am pretty sure that I was secretly destined to be a game developer, even though I love what I do now and would not want to leave my job/city.

Also, maybe for five minutes I wanted to be a personal shopper because I went to a store one time (I don't shop often) and saw some clothes that didn't fit my taste and decided it would be so much more efficient to shop for a bunch of people who liked a variety of things.

Enthusiasm: it's a blessing and a curse.


@barefoot cuntessa But I work a low-grade dead-end office job / occasionally dream of opening a tiny, teeny tapas restaurant/bakery called Shit on Bread (needs to be renamed)(but will serve only bread topped with various things) / I want to be Anthony Bourdain, basically? sigh
(obviously it's a slow day at the office today)


@adorable-eggplant I prefer to think of it as "ambition"

Derbel McDillet

@rimy Game developing = not as awesome as it sounds. My brother has been in the industry for years and cycles between making great pay and having a fun work environment to being laid off for extended periods of time because the industry is project-based. Most recently he lost his job at a company that imploded very publicly in a way that ruined his and most of his coworkers' credit. With every new position, he has had to move to a new location with very little idea of how long it might last.

@rimy I totally do this. "Maybe I'll start sewing awesome dresses and be fabulous and ..."

And then I get back to my senses and realize that no, sewing dresses will get tedious after a few years and what if NOBODY WANTS TO BUY THEM?


@AconyBelle Sorry to hear about your brother's experience. That sounds really tough/frustrating. Yeah. I cannot deal with project-based jobs. Some of the neat stuff in my field is done that way, but, nope, not for me.

@S. Elizabeth Maybe do them on commission? I have a friend who bakes on commission, and if she's not in the mood, she'll turn a project down.

@rimy What about hosting an awesome dinner party? Or having your friends put in a certain amount for a fixed menu, and then go all out and do courses and shit. That could be a fun challenge/creative outlet without a whole life re-write.

lavender gooms

@AconyBelle Was it perhaps a certain studio that is named after a number between 30 and 40? And could perhaps be taken as a cautionary tale of just why you shouldn't suddenly switch careers to something you're interested in but don't necessarily know much about?

Derbel McDillet

@lavender gooms Good guess! A lot of the former employees are still dealing with really dire financial circumstances. My brother was lucky enough to get a new job in a city relatively close by, but his commute is over two hours each way and they are having trouble moving to the new city based on how damaged his credit score is now. And here's where I find out if my sister-in-law is a 'pinner!

lavender gooms

@AconyBelle I live in RI. Definitely still a hot topic in these parts.

Derbel McDillet

@lavender gooms Yeah, it was all pretty shocking. The employees had no idea until they didn't receive their direct deposits.


@AconyBelle Oh dear.

@lavender grooms If I really were planning to switch I'd do a ton of research, but the odds are slim of that ever happening because I love what I do (and went to grad school to be in this field) so it'd be silly to walk away. Still, that probably won't stop me from continuing to learn new code languages and maybe also developing a table top rpg on the side. That's mostly because I secretly don't know what to do with downtime and like to have a million projects going at once.

@rimy I hesitate to call myself ambitious only because it reminds me of my second favorite quote from Paradise Lost: "While they adore me on the throne of hell, with diadem, and scepter, high advanced, the lower still I fall, only supreme in misery; such joy ambition finds!" [sorry for the lack of line breaks and gloominess of the quote, but I love it so dang much]


Surprise ending.@y


Also What's that supposed to mean, Jonathan Gold? = my mom is from the midwest and likes her coffee SO WEAK that it looks like tea when she pours it out.


But that's insane! When you have winters this long with so little light, coffee and booze are about the only things to get you through.
I've been walking around with my left eyelid twitching for weeks now, but I'm not giving coffee up. No way.


@rimy This explains so much about the way my husband makes coffee. (He's a midwesterner, I'm from the pacific northwest. At least he likes our coffee better.)


@rimy My grandma would say that it looked like "scared water". She (and the rest of my midwest family) liked her coffee STRONG.


@rimy I frequently tell my mom there's no coffee in her coffee, or that she likes drinking coffee-flavored water. Because I'm a mean son.


@rimy My husband's family jokes that his grandma has been using the same bean to make her coffee since they moved into the house in the 80s.


@NeverOddOrEven I cannot with Minnesotans and their watery brown what even is this? I feel like I don't even feel the coffee hit when I drink that stuff.

The coffee they make in my office area is dreadful- Folgers, weak, made in a Mr. Coffee coffee maker. OMG, that brand of coffee maker makes coffee taste awful. I don't know if the plastic leaks flavor, or if the water is so hot the grounds are boiled, or the coffee over draws or what. Ugh.

Anyway. I have an espresso maker in my office.


My coworker reuses coffee grounds, and thinks cafetieres (french presses) are horribly wasteful because you can only use the grounds once. She isn't from the midwest, and I don't want to say where she is from, for fear of being accused of stereotyping..


@spanglepants This. I had a friend make up a pot by rerunning the brew cycle over grounds she already used. It was a group bruch and we were like "Girl, hand over the coffee machine."

Sunny Schomaker

@rimy I am a Midwesterner from a long line of Midwesterners, and for me, it is 2 tablespoons or GTFO. Although I did have a boyfriend who complained about the strength of my coffee.


Guys, I'm pretty sure he means half as much WATER, not half as much coffee.


@rimy My mom (from Minnesota) refers to this as "Lutheran church basement coffee." Not necessarily restricted to the midwest, but definitely to churches.

Better to Eat You With

@rimy Yeah, I can't even imagine living here without absurdly strong coffee. And I actually like my town.


@rimy That's what could be called "farmer's coffee". In honor of the midwestern farmers who sit in the town diner chatting and drinking coffee all day long,since they can't farm in the off season. One of my favorite imaginary pranks has always been to switch out their diner coffee with "real coffee" and watch them start sweating until they have to run home. Some day....


@rimy My long line of Midwestern ancestors, whose families previously came from Denmark and Sweden, all like their coffee strong. Maybe it is the remnants of cold winters in Northern Europe, but my grandmas both only drink straight black coffee and I have been mocked for adding milk. My sister, who doesn't drink coffee, gets even more teasing than I ever did. We think she might be adopted.


On the cupcake question, I was like "fuck that, I'm not multiplying by some weird number, I'll just make three batches to have all my bases covered". The quiz marked it wrong but then the comment was like, "yeah, you'd totally make three batches". I demand a higher score!

Jane Marie

@sintaxis ditto


@sintaxis This! I ended up clicking 2.33, because I figured that technically that was right, but for real? Consider first the fact that no-one has 1/3 of a muffin tin, and then reflect on how precisely you'd add 2.66 eggs to your batter.

Beatrix Kiddo

@weathering You could use one row of a muffin tin! The eggs are the ridiculous part. I don't know anyone who'd try to make 2.333 batches of anything.


@Beatrix Kiddo Not that I'd actually do this, but you could just add 2 eggs, beat the third one, measure its volume, and take 2/3 of that. (I would absolutely make a 1/3 batch of something if I really wanted that thing and only had 1/3 of the required amount of a crucial ingredient. But historically, I've always just thrown in the whole egg, and it's been fine.)

Beatrix Kiddo

@Canard You COULD...but I just can't imagine myself ever doing that. I'd rather just be imprecise and use the whole egg, too.


@Beatrix Kiddo oh, my brother does this. it's completely ridiculous.

Beatrix Kiddo

50%! And I thought I knew how to cook.


@Beatrix Kiddo you do. You just don't know how to measure.

Beatrix Kiddo

@PistolPackinMama This is probably why I'm not much of a baker (or a drinker of yards of beer).


@Beatrix Kiddo I bake weekly and cannot measure for shit, but my bread tastes crazy good, so I don't think I'll bother to learn.

For me, it's mostly about rough ratios and batter/dough feel, rather than precision. The humidity on a given day, the wonkiness of my oven, all those are things that cannot be accounted for when following a recipe to the .000001th of a teaspoon.


How can you complain about measuring flour by volume and not weight, and then measure coffee grinds by volume and not weight? It is a ground up thing, it has the same issues! (If you're going to be all anal about it, which, gross.)

Also - just keep a variety of different measuring devices around! Sometimes when I make stuff I'll even end up measuring some stuff in grams and some in ounces, depending on whatever has rounder numbers? I mean, there's a reason my scale has a "g / oz" button (and not because i'm a gangsta from emerald city).

@leon s Because the grind of the coffee actually does impact how strong it is because a fine grind has a greater surface area. It's MUCH more accurate to measure by volume for ground coffee because a pound of finely ground coffee and a pound of coarsely ground coffee will yield very different results.


@S. Elizabeth - AHHH brilliant! That make so much sense thank you! The more you know (CHIMES)


70%! And I'm not even American! (By which I mean, mostly, I don't use cup measures so how the hell would I know how many tablespoons there are in one?) Pretty snidey attitude that quiz had, I thought.


@spanglepants Yup. True dat. I bake all the time and found myself annoyed as hell.


As a Northeasterner who grew up in a family where coffee was so strong that my father's doctor forced him to quit when he retired because he'd permanently damaged the lining of his throat (3 tablespoons per cup, 10 cups a day, is TOO MUCH), I feel sorry for the Midwest :(

I only scored a 40% as a relatively competent cook, but I got the beer question and the Douglas Adams questions correct, so I feel my core values are still in good shape.




I am not caffeine-adjusted and get super-jittery (and also simultaneously exhausted) when I drink, like, half a cup.


I got a 60%, but that's mostly because I like musicals and sci-fi.

Marquise de Morville

@Ophelia I got 30% only because I like sci-fi. Also, I can't deal with non metric units. SI all the way.


I am disproportionately stoked to report that I ACED THAT SHIT. WOOT!


hahah its so cultured to make fun of people from the midwest. at least were nice


When they say add a 'smidgen' theyre calling for an amount similar to the size of a small pigeon, everybody knows that.


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