When I was learning how to bake, the instructor only let the class use measuring spoons on the first night! We were told to measure 1 TBS (tablespoon) and 1 tsp (teaspoon) into our hand to see what each looked like. After than, we were supposed to use our hand to measure these basic amounts.

Next time you bake, try it! Fill your TBS spoon with salt or sugar and dump it into your hand. That way you can skip the spoon and use your hand next time. Same thing for the teaspoon.

You will be surprised how easy it is to measure basic dry ingredients by hand. And, as a bonus, you'll actually be able to measure much faster than using a spoon.

With the possible exception of yeast, few ingredients need to measured with a high degree of precision. Your hand is good enough and, with practice, will get even better.

By the way, your hand is NOT a good way to measure honey or molasses!

Cooking Tips

>Cook with Wine
Use wine and spirits to boost flavor!

>Fresh Herbs
Many home cooks use dry herbs, some old enough to be in small metal tins! It's time to move past the quick and easy and try some fresh herbs.

>Grill Smoke
Use this clever trick to add smoke flavor to grilled food.

>Hang your Pots and Pans
Make every pot and pan easy to get... covers too!

>Home-made Stock
Next time you want chicken, buy the whole bird. Then make chicken stock using my simple recipe. You'll never buy that canned stuff again!

>Lapsang Souchong Tea
In A New Way to Cook, Sally Schneider extolls the virtues of lapsang souchong tea to make smokey tea essence.

>Measure by Hand
Learn what a TSP and TBS look like in your hand to speed up cooking.

They've been said to be like a cross between an onion and garlic, but they're really their own thing. Just get some, and cook with them. You'll never look back!

>Sharp Knives
If you have a sharpener, this tip doesn't even cost you a cent... unless, of course, you cut yourself in the process and end up at the emergency room! If you don't have a sharpener, it's time to invest in one.

>Spice Rack
Maybe it is time to organize your herbs and spices. You can weed out ove-the-hill spices while you're at it.

>Squeeze Bottles
Yea, kind of flashy, almost celebratory, but you can use them like the pros to make things look nice too.

>Steel Cut Oats
What to do with this miserable product if you get caught with a tub.

>True Citrus
Real citrus in crystallized form, available in lemon, lime, and orange. Substitute for zest or extract.

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