After the barrels had been transported by wagon out into the field and their contents distributed, soldiers devoid of ovens to make bread pooled their rations and made arrangements for those qualified bakers within their ranks to take the next step. They then went into the local community and used whatever cooking facilities were available, returning later to distribute one pound of bread for every pound of flour a soldier contributed. What they did not tell them was that for every 100 pounds of flour, some 130 one-pound loaves of bread could be produced simply because water was added. This allowed bakers to make a handsome thirty percent profit when they sold the extra loaves in the open market. For those soldiers deciding to keep their flour ration, they either transformed it into a very rough “fire cake” cooked in the coals of a nearby fire or traded it with the local country folk; many instances of straggling and plundering then ensued. There was clearly much room for improvement.
It is, why?
It has been transcribed here: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/99-01-02-...
>Of the Articles of subsistence bread is the most essential, and yet of this we have been the most deficient, arising from the want of some general invariable system to govern the whole Army. In the field, all the troops receive flour of the Commissary. Some regiments have soldiers who are bakers and are permitted by the commanding officer to go to some neighbouring house, with other soldiers as their assistants, to bake for the regiment. These bakers receive the flour from the soldiers and return them a pound of bread for a pound of flour, by which means the bakers make a neat profit to themselves of 30 per cent in flour; and often times more, as they put as great a proportion of water as they please, there being no person whose duty it is to superintend them. This flour the bakers sell to the country people in the vicinity of the Camp, to the infinite damage of the public, or occupy public waggons, when the camp happens to move, to carry it away to a better market. Last year at Tappan, one or two soldiers who baked for part of one of the regiments of Artillery, consisting of not more than 250 or 300 men, saved such a stock on hand of the profits of baking for a short time, as to be able, on an Emergency to lend the Commissary of the Park, a sufficiency to issue one thousand rations for eight days.
>In other regiments the soldiers are permitted to carry their flour into the country and endeavour to exchange it for bread. This is always done to a disadvantage. besides, it is a pretence for straggling, and affords opportunities to plunder and maraud. Others again make a kind of bread which they bake on stones, this, besides being unpleasant is very unhealthy.
So the problem was not that soldiers were so annoyed at eating fire cake that they behaved poorly, but that allowing any soldier to his sell ration of flour gave frequent opportunity to leave camp and engage in distracted (or unscrupulous) countryside wandering.
I believe allthingsliberty.com made a mistake in their article. It seems to me that the cut bakers took in the "give 1 pound flour, get 1 pound bread" trade was understood by everyone as a form of payment. In other words, I presume a soldier could choose to make their own flatbread (time-consuming, poor quality, tedious), or they could give their flour ration to the baker and get back a smaller portion of higher-quality food for less trouble. I would be surprised if it was deception, as I cannot imagine mass theft and sale of flour going unpunished by commanders (and by fellow soldiers, particularly during lean times). Though it's possible there is some other primary source that indicate otherwise.
> and often times more, as they put as great a proportion of water as they please, there being no person whose duty it is to superintend them
Eventually we realized cheese is losing weight with time and we had to include that into all of our algorithms :)
Edit after reading: I think I am on the money. I don't think it is a completely sphere-packing phenomenon. Quinoa is fluffy when cooked, not soggy and laiden with completely with water. Packing might contribute but I am betting it's mostly air inside the Quinoa making that extra volume.
Rice isn't speherical, but it isn't a perfectly packed crystal either.
Unless you think air fills up inside each grain, the volume from "air" is the packing volume.
Even if it weren't a packing problem it's not obvious to me that a X mL single quinoa grain that absorbs Y mL water can occupy only X+Y mL. It could be much larger depending on the structure the resulting thing has.
Separately, I've always had to put more water in than the quinoa boxes say.
The volume of flour and water you put into a dough is considerably less than the volume of the loaves you'll produce - and a significant amount of the water you put in will have gone by the time they're cooked (also you'll have lost some of the carbohydrates from the flour which has been turned into CO2 and ethanol by the yeast, a bunch of which will also cook out of the loaf).
A pretty good example breaking that assumption would be popcorn. given some heat X mL popcorn + Y mL butter is going to end you up with a lot more than X+Y mL.
What packs more efficiently in a barrel; tennis balls, marbles, or a mixture of tennis balls and marbles?
It feels like the smaller marbles are denser but obviously they actually pack the same efficiency as the tennis balls or any other sphere, the mixture packs more efficiently.
That's not obvious to me. Won't the marbles pack more efficiently due to the edges of the container? As a limiting case, consider a container slightly smaller than 1 tennis ball: the packing efficiency of tennis balls will be 0%, while marbles will be something like 60-70%.
Consider a marble with a diameter of 2inch and a tennis ball with diameter if 3 inches. A cube of length 9.01 inches now favors the tennis balls where one of 8.01 inches favors the marbles.
I think you mean 100 x 2^3 = 800. But, yer correct that’s what I get from using a half remembered example without checking.
This raised a question for me that I have yet to research/answer. Maybe one of you knows... if the above solution is 50% ABV, what happens if I add one more part alcohol to the solution? Is it now 66.6% ABV? More? Less? How does ABV take into account the fact that this solution is packed together tighter than its constituent parts?
(To make the above solution 50% abv, btw, you need to keep adding water until it's 2 (liters, whatever) total volume.)
The muderation might be awful, but the users are sharp.
Learned something new, and I'm a chem grad.
Not just tennis balls, because after adding all the tennis balls you can, there's still room for marbles to fill in the gaps
Not just marbles, because the optimal sphere packing density is the same whether it's all marbles or all tennis balls. Since all tennis balls wasn't optimal, neither is all marbles.
I figure things get interesting once the ratio between the two spheres gets closer to 1.
(And checking my work, this argument is described in a fancier sciencey way by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphere_packing#Unequal_sphere_... )
Anyone who cooks a lot has a gut feel for how different foods increase in volume when baked (breads, like popovers), fried (crispy rice noodles), fluffed (rice) or sifted (macrons!), even if they don't understand packing volumes or programming...
Experience actually does matter.
This is a common sentiment, but what I think isn't so common is to observe that the "real world" is a euphemism for domains where people do not share and preserve accurate information in an easily digestible fashion. It's not really more "real", it's defined in my opinion by being more hostile to copying as mis/disinformation protects social roles.
My opinion is foremost in my mind from spending a lot of time practicing cooking rice, browning meat, and working on my car since "social distancing" has been a thing.
I have "Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking" and was unimpressed. The idea of thinking in ratios is useful, but not the oversimplification to a few prototypes. You could look at a recipe as something with a whole bunch of ratios and valid ranges, and document the effects of variation and so on. It would be a much bigger book and not "this little volume contains all the secrets to everything".
Edit: by the way, what is with the Amazon pricing? Hardcover is $25; "mass market paperback", new is $901! Not to mention, the featured hardcover price is noticeably more than the specific new hardcover price of $20.
On Food and Cooking is a fantastic book, by the way. A real classic that every food enthusiast should have on their shelf. I recommend the hardcover version.
True. I think it is easy to fall into that trap, which after consideration is what I've sort of done.
But if the quinoa absorbed all the water you'd get 3 cups total, not 4, so where is the extra volume coming from? (In this case the theory is gaps of air).
I can see why it would help though.
You can even retare the scale between ingredients if you don’t want to do mental math.
So many deficiencies.
(sorry, couldn't help myself)
Under a single region-bound regulatory body, making it useless internationally.
Otherwise, most people will know how much an egg weighs, especially if they bake regularly.
Pretty far up there on "dumbest things I've ever heard/read"
But if you used 220g of flour, you're more likely to recreate the cake accurately next time if you write that down, than if you write down '1 3/4 cups flour'.
Yes, even from what you might call an ordinary chicken.
I know this because I have chickens. One hen lays eggs 50% bigger than the others. Another frequently does double yolks. This is far from uncommon.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen someone in a video boast about measuring the flour by weight for their bread, only to add a completely unmeasured amount when flouring the working surface or their hands.
And there’s a reason most recipes use values that are straight conversions from volume rounded to a whole number. There’s a reason nobody says “the real trick to this recipe is the extra 10 grams of sugar”. Indeed, food preferences are largely based on our upbringings, so it’s no surprise that American tastes are built on recipes that can be measured in cups, tablespoons, etc.
> It turns out that not all eggs are the same.
You can weigh eggs, or more often it's actually sufficient to balance the liquid to offset the variation in eggs -- a lot of baking especially isn't just about taste - but about consistency and proper proportions to get repeatable texture and density. It is also generally speaking quite sufficient to deal with food liquids in volume as well since room temperature differences are controlled close enough such that it doesn't matter.
The difference in weight of a cup of water between 20 C and 25 C is negligible.
1 cup of flour on the other hand can vary in actual material by over 20% because of numerous variables from clumping to type of flour.
> I don’t know how many times I’ve seen someone in a video boast about measuring the flour by weight for their bread, only to add a completely unmeasured amount when flouring the working surface or their hands.
Basically bullshit again because: In most cases, the working surface flour won't amount to even 1% of the final product, however as stated volume vs. weight can make double-digit differences.
Your whole "10 gram" of sugar claim is a straw-man.
Baking and pastries tends to require a lot more precision then basic cooking to get repeatable edible results. It's the one reason why pre-made cake mixes and Bisquik are so popular, even with professional chefs.
And you're just making your life easier if you measure those quantities in terms of mass, because it has all sorts of benefits:
1) You don't need to worry about packing - the same mass of table salt and coarse salt, sifted flour and packed flour, confectioners' sugar and granulated sugar; all will have the same amount of the active substance (but the form factor may of course have other effects on your recipe)
2) you can use a fine grained scale like grams, without having to introduce cumulative error (imagine if you tried to measure out 7/8 cup of flour by measuring 42 teaspoons - your error would be huge)
3) you can add it up across combinations of ingredients (100g of flour + 100g of milk weighs 200g; 1 cup of flour + 1 cup of milk has... who knows how much volume? That was, after all, the point of the original article at the top of this thread). This has huge benefits when adding mixed dry ingredients like mixtures of types of flour and cocoa, or mixed dried fruits, where you need to have a reasonably fixed total mass, but the ratios aren't as important. Just keep adding until you have the right total mass - something you can't do with volume.
Measuring volumes is harder, less effective, and more error prone. That would all be the case even if you used a sensible volume measure like milliliters, but it's even worse if you insist on using a volume measure system made of arbitrarily named units like tablespoons and cups where you have to memorize a dozen conversion factors and work in fractions the whole time.
The vast majority of cooking is done by sight, feel, smell and taste. The key to repeatability is to adjust based on experience. 'Hmm, this doesn't taste right, i think it needs a little more vinegar/sugar/whatever to bring it together'. That's the art in cooking.
Now there is science as well, and this tends to come into play with techniques and ingredients which change considerably when cooked, so things like baking, or bread making (there are lots of examples, but these are a good place to start). You'll find plenty of cooks who say they can't make great cakes, and generally it's because they aren't good at measuring. Bread making is a little bit of both. With the starting point you do tend to adjust as you go along. After a first rise when you knock the bread back you get a feel for how the dough is behaving, and add a little more flour (typically) to bring things under control. Yeast is a live ingredient so you get batch to batch variations you need to correct for.
I'm not convinced by your argument about America and cups - you'll not find that in American restaurants, and I can't remember Americans complaining about how restaurant food 'just doesn't taste right' or something like that!
Not an expert by any means though, so correct me if I'm wrong
Whether you pack flour down or sift it through a sieve into your measuring cup can make a huge difference in the weight.
Another example: Some books use paper with bigger volume (so it looks thicker) but of course they are not twice as heavy suddenly.
These tend to get used for liquids (so you tend to see 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or something like that).
For solids there's still a fair amount of recipes floating about with oz rather than grams but these tend to be the ones handed down from the 70s!
For examples, we do use parking meters!
It's the reason I might choose Ruby over C (convenience - Ruby was designed to be centred around the human, like many Imperial measures, and non-decimal currency btw), or use feet instead of metres (because I have feet that are, astonishingly, close to a foot long) or any other number of examples where metric is not the best or a better choice.
I'll leave you to divide 100 by 3 or 12 so I can buy 1 or 4 of those dozen eggs you're selling with £1 while this Victorian street urchin who's had little to no schooling beats you at it because they're using a non-decimal currency with more factors…
tl;dr People in the past weren't stupid, they just had less access to the technology required to maintain a metric or decimal system in a widespread number of contexts. The existence of such technology does not obviate their usefulness.
Yet, with our “outdated” systems, we seem to have still done alright with regards to our tech, Michelin starred restaurants, etc.
It explicitly means that dividing by anything other than a power of 2 is hard. One third of a quart is... quick, how many cups? Okay, now what's that in ounces?
And that's just dividing by three, which is a pretty normal thing to want your measure system to handle.
Base 10 measures are directly compatible with the number system. Even though metric doesn't admit factors other than 2 and 5, because it's decimal I can still confidently and quickly tell you that 1/3 of a liter is 333ml. Or that 1/7 of a liter is 142ml - and if I want to check that I can just type 1000/7 into a calculator and read off the result. How many ounces in 1/7 of a quart?
> How many ounces in 1/7 of a quart?
Why are you trying to divide volumetric measures by weight? You need to measure the liquid's weight and divide that by 7. Liquids differ in weight per unit volume.
The problems that the poster one-higher stated are trivial. 128/3 = 42 2/3 ozs. 1/7 of a gallon in ozs is 8/7 * 16 in ozs = just over 18 ozs. 1/7 of a quart is just that answer divided by 4, 4.6 as an off the cuff calculation.
That's a good point, the good old fluid ounce or "floz" as I would read it as a child. I did used to wonder who Floz was and what she'd done to deserve having her name in so many recipe books :)
You seem to be hung up on converting between place values. When you say, quick, how many cups in a pint" it's like asking "quick, how many grams in a kilogram!" You'd look at the person funny.
"How many grams in a kilogram?" is a strange question because the answer is self-evident.
There are more steps in the power-of-two measures, but hardly anything unreasonable.
The real usability of the metric system, which I think you're getting at is that those prefixes are reüsable between all units, whereas in the us customary system it's no holds barred and everything outside the volumetric is arbitrary.
That said, with length, it is nice having units that break apart evenly at 2, 3, 4, and 6; but I don't think that's quite enough to redeem it.
edit: It's the case that in the US recipes are commonly specified by volume, with default packing conditions assumed or specified. Here's the top hit for 'cake recipe' on Google for me, where every ingredient but eggs is specified in volume:
edit 2: There are multiple assumptions baked into conventional references. A cup of flour does not mean a cup of sifted flour unless it says so. Similarly, 120g of flour means under one Earth gravity at sea level and not on the surface of a neutron star unless it says so.
‘Sift one cup of flour’ or ‘measure 1 cup of sifted flour’ are procedural statements. They describe a process to acquire a quantity of an ingredient.
And that, in general, the declarative form is better.
The difference is the method of measurement, whether by volume or by weight. Then, it is important to either understand the rules of recipe specification, especially with baking, or to have the recipe specify as to whether there are implicit steps.
For instance, I'm sure a ratio of 2:1 works fine for you if you're cooking 1 or 2 cups of rice, but if you're cooking 4 cups of rice are you going to add 8 cups of water? I hope not, because I can guarantee you will get porridge. Why? Because there are two processes going on which use the water you've added (absorption by the rice and evaporation). The vast majority of rice absorbs about the same volume of water when cooked properly, but you need some extra water to account for the evaporation while the water is hot for the dozen minutes it takes to cook rice. But the rate of evaporation isn't dependent on how much water or rice you have, it's the surface area exposed to the air (which is the same for most rice cooking vessels). So using a simple ratio is incorrect -- one of the processes depleting the water during cooking does not scale with the amount of water.
In fact, your comment about risotto confirms this view through your own experience -- you have to add more water because a pan (which is what most risotto is cooked in) is wider than a pot and evaporates water more quickly (if you don't believe me, compare how long it takes to thicken sauces or evaporate a fixed amount of water between pots and pans). If you try cooking risotto rice the same way as normal rice you'll find it absorbs a similar (though possibly slightly more) amount of water.
This is why most people from Asian households will tell you that they don't use ratios to calculate how much water they need. They fill up the water to the level of the rice and then add enough water such that when they put their index finger vertically and touch the rice the waterline reaches the last knuckle on their finger (about 2cm). If you something more like a ratio, it's about a 1:1 ratio plus an extra cup of water -- but the amount will somewhat depend on the diameter of your cooking vessel.
One way to check might be to try to cook the same mass of water as though it were rice and see how much water you've lost through evaporation. 250mL (1 cup) of water really isn't that much liquid to lose in ~20 minutes during cooking -- if you've cooked soups before you may recall that uncovered soups will lose far more than 1 cup of liquid in ~20 minutes.
It's very small, but it's there. Any change in internal energy will cause a mass change, regardless of the specific fields that are affected.