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Old 10-20-2012, 12:16 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Dawgluver View Post
My one third cup measure is in the dog food bag, she gets a portion twice a day. Keeps beagle (who is smallish) slim and trim.
For cat food, I use the plastic cups that come in detergent boxes. They're sturdy enough to scoop up the food, but if they crack they're disposable and easily replaced.

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Old 10-20-2012, 09:47 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Greg, I'm fortunate to live in an area that has many restaurant supply stores and ethnic markets - Indian, Hispanic and multi-Asian.

I also have that set of measuring cups (or ones that look the same).
I'm glad you have that. My experience is that once I leave the big bad city I'm lucky to find beef and chicken that aren't frozen.

One good thing, if you live in a two horse town then they have restaurants and the restaurants need supplies, so wherever your local restaurants go for supplies you go there too.

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Old 10-21-2012, 12:02 AM   #23
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Thank you all for the comments. I had thought my topic was a loser from the initial response, but I guess we all like our measuring cups--because they are so important for recreating recipes from a cookbook, from the Internet, and from our own recipes and our family recipes. Intuition is great but there are very few of us who can cook intuitively every evening.

Just a little--what I hope will be amusing--side story. This deals with the concept of mise en place which I take to mean "putting in place" or "everything in place" [French]. I've been a big fan of this style for the last several years that I have been cooking a lot of Asian recipes--Thai, Chinese and Japanese. One thing with this cuisine, you're bound to spend hours chopping, slicing, dicing, cleaning (shrimp, fish, squid). I often spend 1-2 hours preparing ingredients, and then once in place in small dishes (very often glass dishes) and then the final cooking, assembly and plating takes 10-12 minutes.

This is where mise en place comes into its own, when you are having company and entertaining, and there is (IMO) no way to cook this cuisine without boring your guests--unless you adopt the mise en place techniques.

So here's the amusing part of my story. I've just recently (few weeks) resumed home cooking on a much larger scale--like every night--and I've been buying the little dishes at Dollar Tree, Cost Plus World Market, and Pier 1 Imports. I've bought 1-1/2 dozen or 2 dozen mini-dishes in the last week.

So with all the dishes and other things I've accumulated in the last few weeks I had a huge overflow in my living room and there was no place for guests to sit (because the guest chairs and couch were stacked with goods). So I spent most of today cleaning up and organizing my stuff. I started to put away--store--some of my stuff I didn't really need, and while I was doing that I came across about 2 dozen mise en place dishes!

So now I have at least 3 dozen dishes in various sizes. I'm lucky I found this old stored stuff because I already had "buy 1 dozen small dishes" on my shopping list. So I can forget that, I might have at least 4 dozen small glass dishes in varying sizes1

I found one of my other Pyrex measuring cups, 16 oz. full up, and what I really like is that this cup has not only metric calibrations (up to 500 mL) but also has calibrations every 4 oz in US units (not that I can't translate portions of a cup into ounces, but I like the measuring cup because I don't have to do a bunch of brain work to translate between ounces and mL/cc.

So it's funny that I had this stuff all the time--a modern measuring cup and a dozen or more small glass dishes. I had just reached the resolution that I would buy more next week--but now I realize that I had them all along and had just forgotten where I had stored them.

So does anybody else like the "mise en place cooking technique of pre-masuring and pre-preparing of their meals?
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Old 10-21-2012, 12:25 AM   #24
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Greg, when I know I am going to bake a cake, a couple of days before the actual baking, I put all the dry ingredients together in a zippy bag. It saves having a bunch of little dishes on the counter or the containers for the ingredients. All I need to do is cream the butter with the sugar and add the rest of the dry ingredients alternating with the liquids. Saves me a lot of time and gives me time for the cake to cool for frosting later on.

Because of my leg, it can take me twice as long to do a simple chore like put a cake batter together. Cream the butter and sugar, go sit down. Add some dry ingredients, mix well, go sit down until the pain subsides. Each time I have to sit down, it takes a little longer for the pain to subside. So this system works for me. Having the dry ingredients already measured out, is a tremendous help and time saver.

I do sit down when peeling apples, potatoes, etc.
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Old 10-21-2012, 01:00 AM   #25
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I often do mise-en-place. I usually use saucers and when I run out of sauces, small plates. I often put more than one ingredient on one plate, if they are all going in at the same time.
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Old 10-21-2012, 01:44 AM   #26
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I use Pyrex custard cups for Mise en Place. I have some vintage ones and am always on the look out for more when antiquing or estate sale shopping. BTW I use Tupperware measuring cups, I think that would be considered vintage. They are great there are 6 different sizes.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:27 AM   #27
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Mise en plas is critical in wok cooking. As Greg said, lot of time spent in prep. When the cooking starts it goes quickly so you must have everything ready.

I'ts also a better way to go with any recipe. First, it ensures you have enough of each ingredient. Also, you can do prep ahead of time spreading out the effort of making a dish.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:18 AM   #28
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I always prep, I learned that working in the food industry for over 30 years.
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Old 10-21-2012, 09:30 AM   #29
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Yes, what Andy said. Mise en place is critical in wok cooking because these recipes can have a dozen or more ingredients that require chopping or mincing or some sort of cleaning e.g. shrimp/squid. I have literally spent 2 hours preparing to cook a Thai or Chinese dish, and then the final cooking takes 10 minutes. (That's why I used to have that phrase in my signature. I knew that other Asian cuisine enthusiasts would realize my sig was about Asian cooking.)

If you didn't have the ingredients all ready to go, you would have to stop in the middle of cooking and that would ruin the dish.

A second reason for doing that is that it's very time consuming to do all that cutting and chopping. I don't mind it because I find that kind of work meditative, and because I'm a perfectionist and I like to get my ingredients all exactly right.

Particularly when I'm entertaining company, if I don't do preparation in advance they're in for a very boring time watching me slice and dice, I'll be distracted from giving them my full attention, and I won't enjoy my company as much because I'll be preoccupied with food preparation--or worse, I'll get the preparation wrong and the dish won't come out the way I want.

It's not unusual for my guests to tell me, "This is sort of like watching a cooking TV program." That's nice, everybody can be a star in their own kitchen. And of course this is why you often see TV chefs using the same technique. Otherwise their show would be long and boring, and it's assumed that the audience can already chop and measure, or can learn it as necessary on their own time.

When I'm cooking for myself I sometimes just push ingredients to one side of my cutting board, assembling a communal pile there, since of course they're all going the same place.

I just did a census and I have over 30 in about 5-6 designs/sizes. I have probably more than I intended because I thought I had some in storage so I was buying more to be able to mise en place in my temporary residence. It's still possible I have yet more in storage. In any case the dishes are glass so they suffer a low but steady mortality rate (oops! smash!) so I buy more occasionally just to keep up. One of the little 79 cent dishes I bought last week already went to dish heaven.
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Old 10-21-2012, 10:13 AM   #30
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I've always practiced mise en place even before I knew what it was. It was especially practical when I was cooking for a house full of children. The volume of food required for 4 teenaged boys and a teen girl can be mind boggling. Later, when the household thinned out, it allowed me to enjoy my cooking more.

I, too, have scads of small "pinch" bowls and quite an array of custard-sized bowls, too. I couldn't imagine cooking without them.

"As a girl I had zero interest in the stove." - Julia Child
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