Converting Measurements

I have lived in many different countries, and have travelled extensively. I grew up, and began cooking in Australia; I finished high school in Singapore; and I went to university in California. I now live in Los Angeles, and continue to travel all over the world, always making new friends along the way. You never know where you might find me!

My culinary journey has spread over many continents. Most of the world works on the metric system; and being a native Australian, the majority of my cooking experience has been in metric measurements. However, having lived in the United States for a total of fifteen years now (for much of my adult cooking life), I have collected a lot of free recipes (and cook books!!) from America. Americans use the Imperial system, and typically measure ingredients by volume. To avoid confusion; and in an effort to make my recipes more universal, and easy to follow, I use cups and spoons to measure my ingredients as much as possible. 

Having said that, I could not live without my digital scales. I rely on them daily, as “cups” and “spoons” can vary considerably, depending on “cooking styles”. I don’t know about you, but it always frustrates me when brilliant chefs throw in “a little bit of olive oil”, and as you watch them pour it in, you are wondering “how much is that”? Whilst this confident intuitive approach to cooking satisfies me on an artistic level, it does nothing to assist me when I am attempting to replicate the recipe! I will not subject you to the same frustration.

When I trial my recipes, I am very meticulous about the measurements. I use level cups and spoons, being sure to tap and scrape out every last morsel! Having said that, there are some ingredients that can vary considerably, and are impossible to measure in a universal way. The most obvious example that comes to mind is the measurement of eggs. The size of eggs varies considerably, and can really throw out the balance of a recipe. This doesn’t seem to be a real problem with the baked recipes (or at least, that is the feedback I have been given thus far!!) So, until I can regulate the egg laying capabilities of every chicken on the planet, I will have to offer up this simple reality: I use average 55gm eggs in all of recipes. For most other ingredients that can be measured in cups and spoons, the Conversion Tool is invaluable; particularly when making the baked goods. 

A long time ago, my mum gave me “The Essential Kitchen Companion”. This 10-page booklet, which I can only describe as a cooking lifesaver, takes pride of place in my kitchen, just as it has in my mother’s kitchen. My dog eared, chocolate stained copy is opened, and referred to on a daily basis. Some people would grab their photos in the event of a fire. I might just grab my essential kitchen companion! But now that I have my own Conversion Piggy I don't need it! And you can use this fantastic tool too by clicking on the Convert icon beside every recipe.

If you stick to the measurements I have provided you will be on the road to healthy blended success. The recipes are very easy, and require little skill and knowledge. But measurements are important in order to “balance the blend”. Some important things to mention, are the other variables that can affect the personality of healthy blended dishes. Just as the taste and measurement preference of the cook affects the personality of the dish, so does the cooking environment; particularly with gluten free baked goods. The altitude and humidity in the air; the personality of the oven (whether it is gas or electric, fan forced or traditional etc) and the quality of the ingredients. I can’t address these issues with any satisfaction, except to say, get to know your cooking environment, and make friends with the personality of your oven. Purchase good quality, fresh, organic ingredients wherever possible.

Oh, and one last thing: I say that I measure accurately! Well let me clarify. I measure very meticulously with all of the baked recipes. However, when it comes to all other recipes, I am a huge fan of the “blend and taste” philosophy. I offer measurements of flavourings, seasonings and sweeteners as guides. If you follow the measurements exactly, it will yield a good “middle-of the –road” taste sensation that works for most people. But it might not be your “perfect blend”. Be bold and add in your personality.

I am very partial to olive oil, lemon juice, Celtic sea salt, chilli and garlic. I use these ingredients in a ton of my salads and tend to adopt the “add and taste” philosophy that I find so vexing when watching other cooks. I have had people write to me after eating at one of my classes or dinners, and say “mine didn’t taste as good as yours”. Be bold and embrace the “add and taste” philosophy. Follow the given measurements, and then give yourself the creative license to put your own signature on these simple dishes. Add in your “extras” gradually. A little nip or pinch, and then taste. Being too cocky can lead to a “cock up” that leaves very disappointed pigs with an empty trough!

**Note -- the metric and imperial equivalents in the conversion tool have been rounded to the nearest figure to make it easier and more accessible. Some cookbooks and tables may vary, but this is the guide I use for my recipes and it seems to be consistent with general measurements.

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