This section is from the book "Mrs. Allen's Cook Book", by Mrs. Ida C. Bailey Allen. See also: The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat.
There is no such thing as "good luck" or "bad luck" in cooking, if the recipe measurements are absolutely accurate and the housewife understands the range. Although many authorities advocate measuring out before- hand all ingredients needed for the dish to be prepared, any practical woman will readily see that this makes necessary the use of too many measuring utensils and dishes. It is much better always to keep standard half-pint measuring cups in the sugar and flour cans, teaspoons in the salt jar or tea cannister, and tablespoons in the coffee can, corn starch jar and so on. During the average morning's cooking it should not be necessary to use more than two extra measuring cups, one for ingredients not already provided with cups, the other for fats and liquids. There should also be a teaspoon and a tablespoon each for dry and liquid ingredients.
The equipment for accurate measuring is as follows: One standard half-pint tin or aluminum measuring cup; one standard half-pint glass measuring cup; one standard half-pint pitcher cup (for use in making mayonnaise, and the like), each divided into thirds and quarters; one-quart aluminum or tin cup divided into quarters, and standard tablespoons and teaspoons.
To measure a cupful of any dry ingredient, fill it full and level off the top with a knife, taking care not to pack it in. A spoonful should be measured in the same way - it should never be "rounded," unless specified. To measure half an ordinary teaspoonful, fill it level, scraping it off, and divide the contents into halves lengthwise. Flour, confectioner's sugar, baking soda and any other ingredient which is liable to lump should be sifted before measuring, while mustard, baking powder, etc., which settle from standing in the can, should be stirred to lighten.
A cupful, or spoonful, of any liquid is as much as the utensil will hold without running over. All fats, as butter, oleomargarine, lard or drippings, are packed down and leveled before measuring. When they are to be melted, it is specified in the recipe. Sixteen tablespoon-fuls, level, of anything, will fill a half-pint cup. In preparing a portion of a recipe this rule will be found a great help.