No matter how hard we prepare and try to follow directions, there are times when all the preparation in the world and following the directions perfectly sometimes just doesn’t yield the desired results.
Today we learned of one of these times. It started when my wife and I got a set of containers on clearance at a popular housewares store whose name starts wit ‘Bed’ and ends with ‘Beyond’. These containers were great to store sugar, rice, flour, etc., they were less than ten bucks for the set, AND THEY CAME WITH FREE SCOOPS!
Why am I yelling about the scoops? Well, it’s these very scoops I’m excited to talk about today. You see, when you’re a newlywed, you love things that have more bang for the buck, and these containers were just that – They were a cheap way of holding all the ingredients we were certain we’d need quick access to, AND WE GOT FREE TABLESPOONS IN THE PROCESS!
There I go shouting about the metal tablespoon scoops again. Sorry about that. Where was I?
Oh yes – there we were only married a few months and already amazing bargain shoppers! Not smart shoppers, just bargain shoppers (More on that in a few paragraphs).
You see, almost two decades after that bargain purchase, we might have figured out why these containers WITH FREE SCOOPS were in the clearance rack of this particular store. The containers have long since been lost or cracked or otherwise destroyed, but we still have all of the metal tablespoon scoops and use them almost daily (our family makes a lot of things from scratch due to some crazy allergies in our ranks).
Because so many of our recipes needed to be invented out of thin air or tailored from existing recipes, our recipe book is almost completely custom to our family. When my daughter was getting ready to go off to college this past year, my wife wrote down a lot of the recipes she’d become used to, hoping she could take them to college with her. She did just that, but began reporting back that the recipes just weren’t working. We figured it had something to do with the altitude (that’s what the backs of the cake mixes always imply, right?) and told her to work with them to see what she could figure out (Spoiler alert: It had nothing to do with the altitude, but rather some FREE THINGS that were part of a 20-year-old container set).
Today, my wife and I were making bread (in husband-speak, that means my wife was making bread and I was standing in the same room). She pulled out another tablespoon that never gets used and announced, “There is no way this is a tablespoon! Look how much smaller it is than our regular tablespoons!” (See where this is going?) And then, in an almost slow-motion epiphany moment, the lights started to come on for both of us. We pulled out the smaller tablespoon marked ‘1TBSP’ and put it inside one of the FREE TABLESPOON SCOOPS we’d been using for years. That’s right…inside. We measured it again with water, flour, sugar and a hefty dose of embarrassment and face-palming.
For the next few minutes, the comments (to nobody in particular) included things like “Maybe that’s why the bread always tastes salty”, “I bet that’s why the cookies are always flat”, “is that why the brownies never turn out?”, and (my personal favorite mystery being solved) “I bet that’s why Kate could never get the recipes to turn out right!”
That’s right, anonymous reader, our family has been using a FREE TABLESPOON SCOOP as a measuring utensil that was more like a FREE 1.5 TABLESPOON SCOOP recipe-messer-upper. Yikes. Any time we made something that worked for our family and gave the recipe to someone else, they got…a fun surprise!
I should point out that there was very likely nothing on the container set WITH FREE 1.5 TABLESPOON SCOOPS that said they were a tablespoon, but we’ll never know for sure. All we know for sure is that this (as is often the case) has become an important lesson for my wife and me. I’d love to see the meme-like quips my kids could come up with for this one, but for me it’s pretty simple:
If you don’t follow the recipe (intentionally or because you never checked how much your FREE SCOOP actually held), don’t be upset when your cookies come out tasting like salty crackers.
Or, in a more motivational poster-like sentence:
If you want to make a good cookie, follow a good cookie recipe.
Photo by Pam Menegakis on Unsplash