This may seem simplistic, but how you measure can make a world of difference in a recipe. Take baking for example. If the flour is packed into the measuring cup, it can make the result heavy or dense or even less tender…….a variation in a liquid measure can also do the same. These suggestions are especially true when you are cooking without eggs, oil, and cheese. When a dry measuring cup is used for liquid, it should be filled completely to the top or moisture necessary for that the recipe will be lost; it is best to use the proper measure for the job.

The same applies to measuring spoons: fill it to the top! It is a teaspoon and not 3/4 a teaspoon for a reason. Spice quantities are small and a little bit can often make a big difference. Mounding it up when the recipe doesn’t request you to can also affect the flavor.

It is fine to make variations, additions, and subtractions to a recipe on purpose, but to know the truth about a recipe, you must be accurate about making it.


I didn’t have potatoes so I substituted rice.

I didn’t have paprika so I used another spice.

I didn’t have tomato sauce so I used tomato paste

a whole can—not a half can—I don’t believe in waste.

A friend gave me the recipe, she said you couldn’t beat it.

There must be something wrong with her—

I couldn’t even eat it!

If we are honest with ourselves, I’m sure we all have done this at some point, and in all fairness we shouldn’t have blamed the recipe. Even if we don’t exchange ingredients, we can ruin it with poor measuring habits.

When measuring flour, it is important to stir the flour first so it won’t be packed down. Then run a knife or something flat across the surface to level it off. This is vital for baked goods like cookies and cakes if the recipe did not specify sifting or some other specific direction.

Cooking innovatively is fun, but as my husband always suggests when I try a new recipe that I think looks interesting, “The first time you make it, do it exactly like it says.” — Not bad advice!