Basic cooking skills never go out of date.
“Our grandmothers and mothers [sic] learned how to cook by the trial and error method….A child allowed to watch the cooking in the kitchen could be taught how a dough looked and felt when it was ‘right’….not many children or mothers [sic] have the time for this training now”.
“When you have learned to measure accurately, no product should be impossible with the right ingredients”. [foreword from “Made to Measure”]
“Made to Measure” is a 140-page basic cookbook written by Hazel McIntyre in 1968. She dedicated it to the hundreds of Food students at the University of Alberta who had tested the recipe during the 33 years that she was the Foods Instructor, and later Director, of the School of Household Economics at the U of A.
The cookbook reflects postwar Anglophone Canada. Although the Table of Contents includes a wide variety of food dishes, almost half of the pages are devoted to flour mixtures. The ingredients are resolutely ordinary.
“Made to Measure” helped me through my first job as the district home economist for Rainy River and Kenora. When I had to judge baking at the Emo Fall Fair, I could provide reasons for failure. At the 4-H Leaders’ Training Schools, I knew just enough to help the leaders setting up for their demonstrations.
When I started teaching junior high foods in the Prince George School District, McIntryre’s recipes, written in quantities for 1, 2 or 4 people were perfect for low school budgets. The directions were easy to follow and gave many variations. The standards for a satisfactory project were clear, and so were the reasons for failure. When the biscuits tasted like aluminum foil, I could ask the students if they had used baking soda instead of baking powder. When the cakes had a thin sugary crust, I could mention the results of over-measuring sugar. After a few years, the Anglophone emphasis wore thin, but the basic information never did.
These days, people of all ages are taking up cooking and baking. It’s relaxing and entertaining with the right recipe and simple ingredients. Flour is not in short supply, despite empty shelves in some stores. The Alberta Millers’ Association assures us there is lots of flour to go around at the current time.
I’ve heard waffle irons are the new way to bake tater tots . If there are no tater tots in your local grocery store, the waffle recipe on pages 43 and 44 of “Made to Measure” always works. The servings for four makes enough for three. I suggest you take the time to separate the whites and yolks. If the waffle sticks to the waffle iron, note McIntyre’s tips and tricks. The splatters on the pages are signs of the many times this recipe has been used. And if you have no Quebec maple syrup, you can use the imitation maple syrup recipe at the end of this blog.