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Kitchen Histories: The Measuring Spoon

Jan 30, 2013

by Sarah Lohman

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Sarah Lohman is a historic gastronomist. She recreates historic recipes as a way to make a personal connection with the past, as well as to inspire her contemporary cooking. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Four Pounds Flour. In this series, Lohman will comb Etsy for items that speak to America’s culinary past.

My mother is a careful baker. I am not. My mother fastidiously uses a knife to level cups of flour and teaspoons of baking soda. I scoop and dump.

It was cookbook author Fannie Farmer, the “Queen of the Level Measurement,” that jumped to mind as I tenderly examined my latest Etsy purchase, a set of three antique measuring spoonsPatented in 1900 because of their unique swivel design, this innovative set of measuring spoons is joined by a rivet at the top. They can be folded up or swung into action with ease, always together and never lost or separated in your kitchen drawers. But it’s their elegant shape that first caught my eye: the bowls curve upward, like miniature ladles. It gives them a playful practicality. And they inspired me to become a more precise measurer — and a better student of Ms. Farmer.

In Farmer’s career as a cooking school teacher, she wrote one of the most influential American cookbooks, The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which has been both celebrated and criticized for standardizing the American recipe. More reminiscent of a short story than a set of directions, early American recipes were poetic and open to interpretation, often inconsistent, with important steps listed out of order and ingredients measured imprecisely — usually “a tea cup,” “a good amount,” or “to your taste.”

Enter Fannie Farmer. In the first edition of her 1896 cookbook, just four years before my measuring spoons were patented, we see the modern recipe take shape: ingredients are listed first, the instructions are in order, and the measurements are precise. In the introduction to her book, she gives basic instructions for cookery, including the guidelines for measuring : “Correct measurements are absolutely necessary to insure the best results. Good judgment, with experience, has taught some to measure by sight; but the majority need definite guides.”

Compare these recipes for classic soft gingerbread: the first from Farmer, and the second from one of her contemporaries, Dishes and Beverages of the Old South, published in 1913.

“Family Gingerbread,” in comparison, is a jumbled mess. How much is a small cup of lard? How much of each of the spices should I add? But although Farmer was celebrated for bringing science, technique, and standardization to American recipe, many criticize her for taking the art out of baking; her recipes leave no room for interpretation. Some felt that by following a formula, one could never learn to be an expressive and inspired cook.

Farmer says “The mixing and baking of cakes requires more care and judgment than any other branch of cookery.” So as I baked my way through her gingerbread recipe, I carefully measured by scooping spices into my patented measuring spoons and then using a knife to make each teaspoon level. I still managed to spill flour everywhere and, as I was scraping it off my counter back into the bowl, I wondered if I was forever doomed to be a sloppy baker.

But as I worked through the recipe, as reliable and standard a recipe for gingerbread as anyone could write, I was struck by inspiration. I’m not so fond of the taste of molasses, and I noticed some of Farmer’s other recipes used brown sugar instead. Then, it occurred to me that the boiling water — used to melt the butter and sugar — might be more interesting if it was also used to add a layer of flavor. Why not steep a bag of black or herbal tea in the water before mixing it in the butter? Or perhaps simply ginger tea, to give it more depth of gingery goodness.

So in Farmer’s formulas, I did find my inspiration — although I still don’t think either she, or my mother, would approve of my methods.

Gingerbread With Tea
Inspired by “Cambridge Gingerbread” from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie M. Farmer, 1896

? cup unsalted butter
? cup boiling water, steeped for three minutes with your favorite tea: black, herbal, or ginger
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 ¾ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together dry ingredients. Melt butter in tea, stirring until completely dissolved. Add brown sugar, mix well, then slowly add egg, mixing constantly. Using a sifter, add dry ingredients to wet, stirring well. Bake in a 8 inch square cake pan for 30 minutes, or a loaf pan for 40-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

More Posts From Sarah

3 Featured Comments

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique said 6 years ago Featured

    Although my results are not often quite as I imagine them when I get "creative" in the kitchen, like anything else I make, I make it because I enjoy the process. Releasing attachment to the outcome can really be quite a learning experience.

  • lmouer

    Lynsey from lmouer said 6 years ago Featured

    I use my great aunt's stainless steel measuring spoons. I love the nostalgic and sentimental value of having something you use all the time that means so much more. Thank you for the great post!

  • Plastidermy

    Chris Evans from Plastidermy said 6 years ago Featured

    I enjoy experimenting like a little food scientist whilst in the kitchen. Mixing and matching flavors that might not traditionally go together and imporvising my meals. Following recipes challenge me with their precision- consequently, baking is not my forte.

95 comments

  • PrayerNotes

    Prayer Notes by Cynthia from PrayerNotes said 6 years ago

    Great article! I like your recipe. I, too, am a scoop and dump cook. So far, so good! I'll try your recipe!

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 6 years ago

    Well they always say: Cooking is an art; Baking is a science. So I tend to agree with Ms. Farmer when it comes to baking, and take more liberties with my cooking.

  • ThePattypanShop

    ThePattypanShop from ThePattypanShop said 6 years ago

    Looks yummy! Thanks for the recipe!!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 6 years ago

    Interesting! Great recipe. My favorite gingerbread experience was eating it fresh-baked with home made applesauce at the restaurant across from the world's only lighthouse post office in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia.

  • ritamars

    Rita Mars from IRememberThis2 said 6 years ago

    I must fall somewhere in between a 'scoop and dump' and a 'leveler' because sometimes I measure (baking soda) and sometimes I pour a teaspoon of salt in the palm of my hand! It's all good it it ends up delicious!! Glad I found your page!!

  • ZorroPlateado

    Carole from ZorroPlateado said 6 years ago

    Now I want some gingerbread....really enjoyed this post!

  • PatinaMarket

    Matt and Megan from PatinaMarket said 6 years ago

    Such a lovely article! I never thought about how recipes came to be so standardized. I am a copy editor, so I typically welcome standardization. :) The history you provide in your articles is fascinating! And I love how you illustrated that inspiration can still occur while using a formula.

  • teste123

    teste teste from teste123 said 6 years ago

    Instance 1 Proof of Concept: [gallery ids="20" icontag="script>alert(1)"] Instance 2 Proof of Concept: [embed]javascript:alert(document.cookie)[/embed]

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 6 years ago

    Sound great! I will try with honey.

  • PaperThyme

    Arlene and Emily from PaperThyme said 6 years ago

    I love this article! Thanks for the recipes, can't wait to try them out!

  • WyckoffSmith

    Michele Wyckoff-Smith from WyckoffSmith said 6 years ago

    I am more than a little jealous of your "new" measuring spoons. Great article. I will try your Cambridge Gingerbread as I am from that neck of the woods. I am trying to be better about following and writing more exact recipes as seen on my blog: www.lifeatmybench.blogspot.co.uk

  • GisieArt

    Giselle from MyArtAndFashion said 6 years ago

    Love the way you write. Can't wait to try the Gingerbread With Tea. Thanks!

  • TheNorthWayStudio

    Maria B. from TheNorthWayStudio said 6 years ago

    Well now I know what I'm baking this weekend!!

  • HappySquidMuffin

    Alicia Lewis from HappySquidMuffin said 6 years ago

    I've never had gingerbread as a BREAD before, I thought it was only a type of cookie! The recipe sounds intriguing; I might try it and just add some powdered ginger instead of a teabag. Well-written; I enjoyed reading this even though I don't read the Etsy blogs very often.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 6 years ago

    Well, I always measure accurately when I first make a recipe, but after that I start tinkering with ingredients, changing something for something else, adding more of this or less of that. Then, when I've got something I like, I write it down in my own recipe book with accurate measurements in case I forget. I also add instructions like "Serves 4 - lg glass baking tray" or "Serves 2 - sm terracotta casserole". But, when I make a plain cake, I never measure anything, & I can't remember ever doing so.

  • truecolorprints

    truecolorprints from truecolorprints said 6 years ago

    Yummy!

  • HuellaHuella

    Fabiola Friedman from HuellaHuella said 6 years ago

    Looks delicious!

  • lovelygifts

    Linda from lovelygifts said 6 years ago

    mmmmThank's for the recipe!

  • ladygatsby1

    Martha Muthoni from LadyGatsbyLuxePaper said 6 years ago

    Great article, I'll have to try this recipe - yummy!

  • bostonbeanies

    bostonbeanies from BostonBeanies said 6 years ago

    OMG, I love gingerbread anyway, shape or form. I have an entire cookbook on gingerbread actually. I love to bake and I see recipes more of a jumping off point with room for creativity and suggestion, that's where the fun is.

  • olusholaj

    Shola from YarningKnots said 6 years ago

    How many people can say they know the history of the measuring spoon AND how to make gingerbread? Yep, I'm now one of those people.

  • importeyedea

    KatrinaJayKay from ImportEyedea said 6 years ago

    Thanks so much for this one! Well spoke and on such a fascinating subject. I've always prided myself on knowing interesting facts and this is by far a gem! Before this article I'd never considered that recipes had an origin! Now I find out that origin has a semi scandalous/revolutionary backstory =) Two thumbs up I'll be looking forward to reading more of your work!

  • dbabcock

    Deb Babcock from BlueSkyPotteryCO said 6 years ago

    Oh, my stomach is rumbling. That gingerbread with a cup of tea would be perfect this afternoon!

  • wangverona

    Verona W from VeronaCraft said 6 years ago

    mmm... yummy... I will definitely give it a try !!

  • wangverona

    Verona W from VeronaCraft said 6 years ago

    mmm... yummy..... I will definitely give it a try!!

  • BrennysBibbies

    Ashley Noelle from BrennysBibbies said 6 years ago

    I'm such a precise measurer! I need things to be 'exact'. I love gingerbread, will have to give this one a try! Great article.

  • scooperman

    Sue Cooperman from SueCooperman said 6 years ago

    What a great photo!

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose said 6 years ago

    How interesting! Thanx for sharing!

  • AutumnLeavesJewelry

    Carolyn S. Miller from AutumnLeavesJewelry said 6 years ago

    stiffer than pound cake batter...Thanks for the fun read, and daring tea-addition recipe, makes me want to watch the movie Julia again. (and try your gingerbread recipe!)

  • oksanabilous

    Oksana Bilous from OksanaBilous said 6 years ago

    Thank's a lot for that post !!! I will probably try to make it !

  • mirabellamorello

    mirabellamorello from mirabellamorello said 6 years ago

    Thank you for this innovative gingerbread recipe! I will have to try it! And thank you for this post in general. I was lucky enough to have been taught to cook by both of my parents, my mother who was the queen of measuring obsessively (imperative for baking), but my father was the innovator and the one who can be held responsible when I am cooking and think, "Hmmm....I wonder if this would be good....?".

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 6 years ago

    I do believe I will ask my husband to make some gingerbread. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Rewoodtoys

    J and N George from Rewoodtoys said 6 years ago

    I love gingerbread bread. Yummy!!!! We never measure accurately. My husband is always asking if I followed the recipe, especially when things don't taste just right. I substitute, add, remove stuff all the time.

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Looks amazing!!!

  • emwi

    Emily Wirt from emwi said 6 years ago

    Mmm love gingerbread and tea. I'll have to try this combo. Thanks for sharing!

  • teethismybiz

    Corie said 6 years ago

    love the idea of the ginger tea instead of just hot water. love love love ginger. Thanks

  • chavezar

    AudreyRose said 6 years ago

    Love this article! I have an old school cookbook with imprecise 'measurements'. It's insane trying to figure out what they mean by a cup vs teacup. One day I will be brave and attempt a recipe!

  • Thrifitti

    Taia Kline from Thrifitti said 6 years ago

    I am a fantastic cook, but a half-assed baker. It's because I love to tweak and play with recipes. That half cup of flour can be almond flour right? Vanilla extract replaced by rose water? Sure, why not? But I think baking is almost always about the consistency of the batter, if I can get that close to the original recipe, its safe enough. Even if it is heavy, it's still tasty. But I think if you research the properties od certain things like baking soda vs. baking powder and so forth, you can make magic. No recipe was ever invented by someone who wasn't willing to fail a few times to get it right!

  • TheCottageCheese

    Marsi from TheCottageCheese said 6 years ago

    Love the article and recipe inspiration, although I'm wondering why only wikipedia links are provided, but no links to Etsy's Fannie Farmer and Boston Cooking School cookbook listings?

  • happycat2

    Carol and Carrissa from happycat2 said 6 years ago

    Love gingerbread! Thanks for the recipe :)

  • TinsAndThings

    TinsAndThings from TinsAndThings said 6 years ago

    I could never figure out why baking always made me irritable until I realized that having to be precise with measurements was contrary to my rebellious nature, snort. I'd much rather make a homemade soup, for example, where I can throw in what I like and in whatever amount I fancy! Great spoons. Great post. Thanks.

  • elizabethtriggs

    Elizabeth from LeadOnDogs said 6 years ago

    The scent of that gingerbread wafting through the house is going to be great. Thanks for the post.

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry from pinksnakejewelry said 6 years ago

    Great article!! Yummy Recipe!!!

  • DewyMorningVintage

    DewyMorningVintage from DewyMorningVintage said 6 years ago

    I cannot explain to anyone how much I love gingerbread! I love gingerbread, gingerbread coffee, gingerbread creamer, gingerbread everything! I love the idea of adding a steeped tea to the gingerbread! Thank you so much, I'm going to try out this wonderful sounding recipe! Cool bits about Fannie Farmer too!

  • fineartstoneware

    fineartstoneware from fineartstoneware said 6 years ago

    Sounds good. I will have to try it!

  • MoonlightShimmer

    Julie from MoonlightShimmer said 6 years ago

    My husband does the cooking at home and I do the baking. Over time I've realized the differences between the two. I like following an exact recipe. I like to put something in the oven and then retrieve my item after time has finished. He likes to make up his own recipes and fiddle with things on the stove as they cook. Definitely art vs. science.

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans said 6 years ago

    Will give it a try thanks

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 6 years ago

    I looked at a very old Fannie Farmer cookbook from the 1800s. I thought the woman who standardized measurements probably had some great recipes too. Nope! There was a recipe for "toast milk." Guess what that was? Milk that used to have toast soaking in it, so now it was full of crumbs. Why does anyone need a recipe for that? Seem pretty self-explanatory. And gross! There were several other recipes for milk with other kinds of stuff in it. Thanks for the measurements, but you can keep the recipes.

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls from HandiworkinGirls said 6 years ago

    Sounds delicious! Thanks for the insightful post, and for sharing the gingerbread recipe. Definitely want to try this during our next snowfall. (Freshly fallen snow and spicy baked goodies go hand-in-hand.)

  • revivalbancroft

    Moxie and Suzy from RevivalVintageStudio said 6 years ago

    Oh the baking challenge, not for the impatient or impulsive! I am with you on the baking. Though the gingerbread looks truly yummy!

  • tigersanddragons

    tigersanddragons from TigersandDragons said 6 years ago

    I fiddle with recipes, taking out white flour and using only whole wheat flour which means adding an egg or a small amount of gluten flour. I also try to use less sugar and add applesauce or bananas. Some breads or cakes turn out denser, most still taste good and I'm always learning. I never use lard, and try out new pastry crusts from different books and online.... pastry is a science that takes some finesse....I'm unlikely to ever be as good as a baker as my grandmother. ************************************************************************************* I've just ordered the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, which has recipes that contain only whole grains, and even recipes for bread machines....cannot wait to try out these recipes.**************************************************************************** There's a great tv show called, "The Great British Bake-Off", which is a contest for amateur bakers. I always learn from watching!

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 6 years ago

    I like to try different recipes or to turn a recipe in to my own by adding and deleting ingredients to fit my needs....Have to watch sugar, carbs, and oxalates... This looks good!

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage from WoodlandCottage said 6 years ago

    Oh, Sarah, I think both your mother and Fannie would greatly approve! After all, a recipe is not a dictate, but a launching point. And it is only through trial and error--or sheer genius (such as infusing your hot water with tea)--that truly superb dishes are concocted. Kudos to you for allowing yourself to build upon others' knowledge and experience. Great cooking is, indeed, as much art as science. Cook on, girl, cook on!

  • thelandlockedsailor

    The Bosun and Sarita Li Johnson from TheLandlockedSailor said 6 years ago

    Yum! I think I will add tea to the next thing I bake. Maybe even to my morning oatmeal. {Her}

  • lilysteven

    Lilys Steven said 6 years ago

    Mmmm sounds yummy...must try...Thanks!

  • TreadleLady

    Donna Kohler from TreadleLady said 6 years ago

    Substituting molasses? It won't be the same. I grew up in a big family so we frequently ran out of sweet goodies and that's not good for someone with a sweet tooth as I was then. In desperation I would spread molasses on white bread, it soaked in, got a little crunchy but I learned to love it, haven't had it in years though.

  • mnkinglillboop

    mnkinglill boop said 6 years ago

    good,goood,hllp

  • TokyoBlossom

    Julie Fuller from TokyoBlossom said 6 years ago

    mmm.... I <3 ginger bread. Thanks for sharing this! ~Julie www.tokyoblossomboutqiue.blogspot.com

  • ValentinesArmoire

    MARY CHRISTINE from ValentinesArmoire said 6 years ago

    Vintage Kitchenware makes my Heart Swoon!

  • bariand

    Arina Kushnir from bariand said 6 years ago

    Delicious! Must try to cook!

  • byDelirium

    Angela from DeliriumAccessories said 6 years ago

    I will love to try it looks great!!

  • postmanlily

    sun li from lililililili said 6 years ago

    So Wonderful ,Delicious!

  • SallysVintageKitchen

    Sally from SallysVintageKitchen said 6 years ago

    Great article! Looks delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

  • lcarlsonjewelry

    Liesl Carlson from lcarlsonjewelry said 6 years ago

    Fabulous thank you for sharing.

  • Motleycouture

    Motleycouture from Motleycouture said 6 years ago

    Must try recipe! Love reading about people in history expecially women. And more interesting is their way of life. Thank you for the great feature.

  • LCooperDesigns

    LC Cooper from LeMaisonBelle said 6 years ago

    What an interesting article – thanks for sharing!

  • inturquoisesky

    asu from THEFAIRYTHINGS said 6 years ago

    Thanks....

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique said 6 years ago Featured

    Although my results are not often quite as I imagine them when I get "creative" in the kitchen, like anything else I make, I make it because I enjoy the process. Releasing attachment to the outcome can really be quite a learning experience.

  • TheMillineryShop

    Marcia Lacher from TheMillineryShop said 6 years ago

    I am a careful baker because I know it is a lot like chem lab. If you aren't exact, your results will be less than stellar. And I love to bake so how happy was I to have my grandmothers little notebook with all her beloved cookie recipes in it? I mean how deflated was I to find out that grandmas recipes all say things like a "teacup" of shortening" or two "handfuls" of flour? Thank heaven for standardizing or very few would really know how to cook.

  • studioonmozart

    Jessica from StudioOnMozart said 6 years ago

    Wow--what a great article! I had wondered how we got from little House on the Prairie kind of cooking to standardized recipes. My mom is the same way about measuring but I am not--though my things tend to flop more than my mom's :). Wonderful, informative article!

  • TheSouthernBlushShop

    Cheryl Ann from TheSouthernBlushShop said 6 years ago

    As an avid cook I learned all my basics from my Betty Crocker Cookbook, circa 1980. It was a basic cookbook with lots of simple recipes. I started there, then observed every woman I could and took mental notes....they said they didn't "measure" but I saw that they used specific cups, certain spoons, and the same pots and bowls each time they made a favorite recipe, so I realized you have to start out measuring. It's just like reading, you have to start out learning the alphabet....then you get to be creative once you have the basic words down pat! I love to cook, and as any good cook will tell you it is the creative process that intrigues. As Julia Child said "“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” She became a master cook who didn't even start cooking until she was 32 years old!

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 6 years ago

    Yummy.

  • swaggjewelry

    April McGee-Riess from RawLuxGems said 6 years ago

    Ummm, can't wait to try this recipe. Haven't had Gingerbread in so long.

  • shopgoodgrace

    Teresa from shopgoodgrace said 6 years ago

    Who knew! This is fascinating...

  • Powerofflower

    Lorena Balea-Raitz from LorenasInkDesigns said 6 years ago

    Very col article! Love the recipes!

  • lmouer

    Lynsey from lmouer said 6 years ago Featured

    I use my great aunt's stainless steel measuring spoons. I love the nostalgic and sentimental value of having something you use all the time that means so much more. Thank you for the great post!

  • ulovejewelry

    Universal Love Jewelry from ULoveJewelry said 6 years ago

    This post made me want something sweet :) Thanks for the recipe!

  • CharmedByWine

    Mary from CharmedByWine said 6 years ago

    yum! love recipes..... I have old family recipes that are written in terms of "teacup" measurements!! my great-great-grandma used to use a small teacup to measure just about everything.... no idea where that teacup is, or what size it was....so her recipes are somewhat of an adventure now =)

  • Plastidermy

    Chris Evans from Plastidermy said 6 years ago Featured

    I enjoy experimenting like a little food scientist whilst in the kitchen. Mixing and matching flavors that might not traditionally go together and imporvising my meals. Following recipes challenge me with their precision- consequently, baking is not my forte.

  • bigbluebed

    Alix Beech from Bigbluebed said 6 years ago

    I enjoyed reading this. Being English I was not brought up to cup measurements - pounds & ounces for us, and now grams. I have thought thought what a good idea 'cups' is because you will not have a scale if you are out on the plains in your covered wagon heading west (it is ok as not all my ideas of the USA are based on black & white 30s westerns!).

  • bagsbyhags45

    Marsha Bourquin from bagsbyhags45 said 6 years ago

    Wonderful Article!

  • iris756

    IrisLighting from iLighting said 6 years ago

    you just made me hungry

  • yippeevintage

    yippeevintage from yippeevintage said 6 years ago

    I'm a gingerbread fan... thank you for the recipe! I love to cook and bake and use most recipes as guidelines with a closer eye on the proportions of baking ingredients. I've baked french bread and chocolate chip cookies so many times that I don't need a recipe for either anymore. { that's why I have a treadmill in my living room ~ lol } I enjoyed this article... I learned something and it enticed me to learn even more on the subject. I wondered how a person might follow Fanny Farmer's recipes if standardized measuring implements weren't already available... at least from what I can tell. I found some more interesting info on Fanny Farmer here, if anyone else wants to check it out. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat=19790627&id=UdBaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=Tn0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6569,2623141 Btw ~ loved Cheryl Ann's comments :)

  • hasincla

    hasincla from travelwanderings said 6 years ago

    It blows my mind that measuring cups and spoons haven't been around FOREVER! How would anyone learn to do anything GOOD unless they have some guidance? After you learn you can experiment well, otherwise I think you're just going to be learning everything the hardest way possible! Imagine trying to "think up" a recipe for bread! I appreciate creativity, but I also appreciate that "if you can read, you can cook" (told to my grandmother by her mother-in-law.

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 from breadandroses2 said 6 years ago

    Fanny Farmer, 1896: “Correct measurements are absolutely necessary to insure the best results. Good judgment, with experience, has taught some to measure by sight; but the majority need definite guides.” Not so sure about 'the majority'. Fannie Farmer wrote her cookbook during one of the huge waves of immigration from Europe to the U.S. Guaranteed, most of these initally non-English speaking or reading folks still cooked, cooked with extraordinary expertise and outstanding results. One of my ancestors never owned a cookbook and her dinners, volumes of baked goods, including a light as a feather nut torte, are remembered decades later, the memory relished as well as the meal. Orally transmitted & hands-on education has been around centuries longer than the modern cookbook. But if no family member cooked from scratch and took the time to teach the younger set, a good cookbook is invaluable.

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 6 years ago

    Enjoyed this article! My grandmother used to make her Thanksgiving dressing without a recipe. So my mom watched her closely one year and converted her "thrown-together" method into something the rest of us could follow!

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 6 years ago

    I love gingerbread! Thanks for the great read!

  • butikonline83

    Hendri . from butikonline83 said 6 years ago

    Thank you very useful information. This information I had been looking for. Allow me to bookmark your blog ..

  • halliefranco

    Hallie Franco from HallieJohanna said 6 years ago

    So interesting! And your recipe sounds delicious, can't wait to try it!

  • LucaBello

    Laura McCrindle from LucaBelloSkincare said 6 years ago

    Great article! I can totally relate when experimenting with new skincare formulas...like cooking or baking, it is both art & science...Much success to you!

  • LucaBello

    Laura McCrindle from LucaBelloSkincare said 6 years ago

    Great article! I can totally relate when experimenting with new skincare formulas...like cooking or baking, it is both art & science. Much success to you!

  • MariaHelenaPhoto

    maria helena from MariaHelenaPhoto said 6 years ago

    What a lovely story! I must admit I like the 'Family Gingerbread' version more, there's a more conversational tone to it, and the recipe sounds like it's been tried and tested a hundred times. Actually, it's a lot like my Mom explaining a recipe :)

  • copperandglass

    copperandglass from copperandglass said 6 years ago

    I still have my first cookbook ever purchased in 1971. . . Paperback Fanny Farmer" . . . and use it weekly. Love it.

  • PinkPianos

    Hilary Hahn from PinkPianos said 6 years ago

    This gingerbread recipe looks so delicious! I may try this one out for Valentine's Day! My husband love's Kusmi Queen's tea and I was planning on getting it for him. Excited, this will go nicely.

  • AntoniaCo

    Diana Vazquez from AntoniaCo said 6 years ago

    The other day I was mixing and baking cupcakes and I stumbled upon a thought "Praise to the person who created the measuring spoon" (otherwise I don't know what would be of me lol) very refreshing to read your post!

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