Hints from Heloise: Measuring cups are not all equal

Published: Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6CALIFORNIA LIFE

DEAR HELOISE: Is there a difference between liquid and dry measuring cups?

I know there are cups made for wet ingredients and ones for dry ingredients, but does it really matter which one I use?

– Linda W. In Indiana

DEAR LINDA: A cup is a cup by liquid or dry "volume."

A liquid measuring cup typically is glass or plastic so you can see through it, and the measurements are inscribed on the side. It has a spout with a handle on the side for pouring. A 1- or 2-cup probably is the most-used cup in American homes. I have three: two 2-cup ones and one 1-cup one, and two sets of dry- measuring cups.

Dry measuring cups may be made of plastic or metal and have a flat top. These usually come in sets starting with 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup and up to 1 cup. Most are attached by a ring. They are designed to be filled with dry ingredients and leveled off with a knife or spatula.

However, it may matter which one you use, particularly when baking. Most baking uses measurements that are precise, and it is difficult to measure dry ingredients accurately in a liquid 1- or 2-cup measuring cup.

DEAR HELOISE: I am a butter lover. Knowing when to take the butter out of the refrigerator so it will be spreadable is something I have never been able to master. Softening it in the microwave oven doesn't work for me, either.

I use my cheese slicer for my butter. This slicer is the planer or server type, not the wire type. It will slide across the top of the stick of butter and produce long, thin sections that melt quickly and evenly for my toast, pancakes and waffles.

I use what is left over for cooking.

– Susan R. In Virginia

DEAR HELOISE: I always have green olives in my refrigerator. I use my melon baller, which has a small hole in the center, to get the olives out of the jar. I can do this without contaminating the brine. I also am able to drain the brine that comes out because of the small hole, leaving me with just the olives, and no messy liquid everywhere.

– Diane J., Via Email

DEAR HELOISE: When I make bread recipes calling for 3 tablespoons of honey or molasses, I find it exasperating to wait for the first tablespoon to drain so I can add the next. If the recipe also calls for oil, I add the oil first, then measure the sweetener using the now-oil-coated spoon. It pours out in a flash.

– Mary D. In Virginia

DEAR HELOISE: I read your hints often, and I have something to share with your readers. I use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs when I make meatloaf or salmon patties. It works well, I don't even taste the oatmeal and it's healthy.

– E.S. In Louisiana

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