A few years ago, I discovered that cooking is a lot like painting: The more work you put into a project before you start, the smoother everything goes once you begin.
I had always noticed that people on cooking shows had premeasured ingredients at the ready, but I figured they needed to do that so the camera didn’t have to follow the mundaneness of the measuring process. At some point, however, I realized that premeasured additions made a lot of sense. What’s easier: Scooping out various amounts of spices while standing at the stove at the very moment those ingredients need to be added to your concoction, repeatedly glancing back at the recipe, or measuring out all of those ingredients before you start so you can dump them in at the appropriate time, all at once and with no double-checking of the recipe?
A lot of the recipes I frequently use call for tiny amounts of ingredients, meaning it was hard to justify dirtying even my smallest bowls for premeasuring. I had been using wax paper for these smaller measurements, but tearing tiny squares off the roll made for an untidy rectangle when I would finally need a larger piece.
IKEA to the rescue. During my going-away trip to the Atlanta megastore, I stumbled across the BLANDA bowls. At $2.99 for a pack of four, these 2-inch bowls are the perfect size for my small additions of herbs and spices. One bowl will hold approximately four minced garlic cloves (provided, of course, that you haven’t been tricked into buying some monstrous head of garlic with supersized cloves) and maybe 4 teaspoons of herbs and spices.
I almost bought the stainless steel version ($4.99 for four), but I could tell that they were going to scratch easily, since every package I picked up sported at least one bowl that was already pretty roughed up.
So far, the most bowls I’ve used at one time is three. I took the photo above during Cinco de Mayo’s fajita-making festivities; one holds minced garlic, another holds oregano and thyme, and the third holds salt and pepper. All in all, probably not that much to measure out midway through the cooking process, but dumping a tiny bowl of premeasured ingredients into a pan filled with sizzling onions makes me feel like I should have my own cooking show.
Iron Chef Haggerty. I like it.