A friend sent me a Supergeek apron for my birthday. I simply cannot imagine why. It’s like she doesn’t know me at all.
Today’s thoroughly ungeeky post is about my measuring spoon
problem collection. My first set of measuring spoons were made of weak, easily melted plastic held together by an equally weak plastic ring. (They now serve lowly but useful duty inside my flour and sugar canisters for quick measuring.) When I started baking more I eventually upgraded to heavy stainless steel spoons. Then I decided that a spare set of spoons never hurt. A spare spare set didn’t seem to hurt either. Additional specialty measuring spoon sets hurt even less.
Some spoons magically appeared as if by spontaneous generation or, more likely, illicit measuring spoon sex. A dip into cocoa powder might have provided the right aphrodisiac, but I suspect that the spoon nookie started between a couple of spoons I may have used for Cognac and Amaretto (but not Frangelico because that monk outfit kills the mood, unless it was with that kinky slut, Chambord). Drunken sex always produces interesting results. It’s the only explanation for how I could possibly have a 1/3rd teaspoon, which, the one time I needed it, I forgot I had it.
I love clever spoons. The narrow spice spoons reach into the slenderest jars. The self-supporting spoons let me measure ahead of time without wasting another bowl for mise en place, which is impractical for clingy ingredients like oil and honey anyway. A spritz of cooking spray on the spoon usually lets the gloppy stuff slide right out. Free-standing spoons (similar set here) are especially handy for having oil ready while stir-frying or cream of tartar ready while beating egg whites.
Here are deviations from the usual. The baby medicine dropper and tube, though not spoons, work well for extracts and other small liquid measurements. I cut the handle off a cheap plastic 1/2 teaspoon to store it inside my container of fine canning salt, the salt I prefer to use for baking because it disperses so well and is free of iodine and anti-caking additives. Bending the handle makes it a bit easier to grab and also makes it free-standing.
Off-sizes and 2 tablespoon coffee scoops always sucker me into buying, especially when one spoon can do the job of two. A 3/4 teaspoon? Take my money! Please! But even spoons that do the job of only one spoon, like the 2 teaspoon pictured above, have irresistible appeal. You can use it only once instead of twice! Half the labor! All-Clad makes an off-size set that I purchased at Williams-Sonoma.
The 1/3rd teaspoon is a rarity; I’ve never seen another. I keep the 1/3 teaspoon and 1/4 and 1/8 teaspoons on a ring out of the way since they’re so seldom used. (The teaspoons and their variations take up one large mug and the tablespoons and their variations take up another.) The half tablespoon is not as rare but still hard to find. It’s useful when you need 1 1/2 teaspoons of something.
Tragedy! I mangled a tablespoon in my garbage disposal. The grinding, the splatters, the screams—they haunt me yet. It still measures fine. What a trooper. The pointy spoons recently joined my collection. They’re perfect for getting that last bit of peanut butter out of the jar. Also, it’s fun to use them. “Cool! Pointy!” I need to get out more. The pointy set included a 1 1/2 tablespoon, another rarity.
I never use these adjustable spoons except maybe for sugar for tea, but even then they aren’t especially useful because I don’t like to stir with them. They seem like a good idea but can’t do liquids, are a pain to clean, and grains of sugar and flour work their way into the sliding mechanism. I bought them out of guilt. If there’s anything keeping the direct-sales companies like Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and Tupperware going, it’s guilt. You can’t not buy from your friends. It’s not cool. This is why I stopped making friends.
The flat retro spoons are similar to the colored set Alton Brown sometimes uses on Good Eats. They’re charming but not terribly accurate because of the wide, shallow bowls. However, that very shape inspired me to buy them. While they’re not good precision baking spoons, these spoons are so flat that you can bypass the messy extra knife and spread jam and cream cheese directly on your bread, squooshing the bread into the bowl of the spoon to scrape out every last bit. They’re also easier to lick clean, an important consideration when you’re eating Nutella and find your tongue strength dying on the deeper spoons. Of course if you don’t worry about your weight and never measure out your decadent toppings, you can glob the food onto your bread willy nilly with a butter knife, lucky you. I don’t want to hear about it.
You can see from this collection that I emphasize function over form. Pretty square, heart, and colored measuring spoons catch my eye but not my wallet. Some day someone will invent the perfect measuring spoon—one that is beautiful, free-standing, narrow enough for spice jars, pointed for scraping jars, strong-handled, available in many off-sizes, and flexible in the bowl so that I can rub its contents directly all over my toast. (I’ve seen spoons with flexible silicone bowls, but they aren’t nearly as flexible as I need.) When that day comes, I can give most of my old spoons to charity so that poor people can bake too, albeit less effectively than I can. That’s my dream. Call me the Mother Theresa of measuring spoons.
I also have a measuring cup collection, a baking pan collection, and a citrus juicer collection, but I won’t go into those now. That would just be…geeky.