Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

A Treasure Measure

April 28, 2016

Tala measuring jug

In my childhood household my mum used scales to weigh out cooking ingredients. She had one of those spring balances with a big circular dial but then got a proper balance with two pans – one for the ingredient and one to put the weights on.

As a former scientist I cringe a bit as I write that. I really ought to call those weights masses but I decided to slip into the more common usage.

I was amazed when I first saw my future mother in law dealing with ingredients. She had no weighing scales and used a jug – a conical bit of aluminium in truth – to do her ‘weighing’.


Inside – and I thought and still do – jolly difficult to read – there are loads of different scales – each headed up with the names of ingredients.

This scale was for sugar, lentils, haricots, barley and rice. Clearly you were actually measuring out a volume. The scale told you that if you filled up to a particular line then that volume would have the mass indicated.

image004Sago, raisins and groats were clearly a little less dense so you needed a bit more volume to get the same mass.


Ground almonds weighed less again for the same volume.


Filled right up you’d only get 6 ounces.

The official name for this device was the Tala cooks treasure measure.

image008I suppose this dates to the 1940s or 50s.



The Pressure Cooker

November 24, 2014

One of the sounds of childhood for me was the slightly scary hiss of escaping steam from the pressure cooker.

My parents believed in the pressure cooker. By making the water boil at a higher temperature, cooking times for all sorts could be seriously reduced so it was a real economy. That mattered when money was in short supply. But also, a pressure cooker was large and could have containers within it. A range of different items could be cooked on a single stove and that saved even more money. Stews, puddings, vegetables could all be cooked to perfection in the hissing monster. I recall, with particular affection, my mum’s bacon roly-poly. This was a suet based dish with bacon spread thinly through it. It must have been as cheap as possible, but oh so warming, nourishing and tasty.

The pressure cooker I remember was this one.


This posed photo shows it sitting on the electric cooker we used until a couple of years ago. It’s an Easiwork of London Health Cooker and probably dates from about 1930. We no longer actually use this device.

I should add that this device always came camping with us. My mum had but a single primus stove with which to cater for a family of five plus visitors. So the hiss of the bomb (as we all called it) was even a holiday sound as well.

A pressure cooker is still used in my household. It comes into its own, particularly, for Christmas puddings.