From ounces, cups, teaspoons and degrees to pounds and pinches, the kitchen can make you wish you really had paid closer attention in math class. Luckily, there are a number of items that can help even the most math-deficient cook make sense of all those numbers.
Measuring spoons are used mainly for measuring dry ingredients such as spices, seasonings and baking powders. Many recipes call for multiple ingredients and some, especially baking recipes, require absurdly exact measurements for optimal results. So if you're planning on whipping up some scones, get a set that ranges from 1/8 teaspoon up to one full tablespoon. Measuring spoons are manufactured with a variety of materials, including aluminum, copper, stainless steel and chrome-plated steel.
Like measuring spoons, measuring cups come in a wide variety of materials and are used for both dry and liquid measuring. Dry measuring cups usually measure from 1/8 cup up to a full cup. Liquid measuring will generally be made of glass or clear plastic to spot your measurements and will typically be equipped with a handle and pouring spout. Larger liquid measuring cups can sometimes have a number of different measurements marked on their surface differentiating enabling to measure ingredients in standard or metric volumes.
Electronic and spring scales can help measure the weight of ingredients or even the portion size of prepared food. Baking or grilling time will vary with the size and weight of meat items. A ham, for example, may recommend baking for 15 minutes per pound, so an accurate weight is important when attempting to gauge doneness, especially if a thermometer is not available. Baking recipes may also require measuring out a specific weight of dough or other ingredients to help ensure a successful end result.
Thermometers have a wide range of usage around the kitchen and can come in many forms. Probe-type thermometers can help determine the doneness of meats and other items when inserted into the thickest part of the meat (but away from a bone). Some probe thermometers are attached to heat-proof tethers, so you can monitor as you cook. Liquid and candy thermometers can be useful for monitoring tempered liquids used for baking or confection-making and grease used for deep frying.
Todd Roy has been writing professionally since 1984. He is a former sportswriter and journalist for two daily newspapers in Minnesota and was a featured columnist for "The Olive," a regional political-satire publication. He has a professional certificate for journalism and photography from the Rochester University Center.