Measuring By Displacement

How do you measure butter?  Or better yet, shortening?  Do you just depend on those little lines printed on the side of your butter stick?  Well, what if you don’t have that option?  Here’s a quick lesson on how my mother taught me to measure volume by displacement of water.  Wha… what’s displacement?  You know when you fill up your bathtub with water and when you slip on in… well, that’s displacement!  The basic idea is to measure your greasy substance that’s simply difficult to get in and out of a measuring cup by putting it in water.  I use this technique for measuring: butter, shortening, peanut butter, aaaaaaaaany thing fatty.

You’ll need a normal measuring cup…

To start you need to fill your measuring cup to a base level of water.  I usually fill it up to 1 cup.  Now, it has to be to a specific measuring point.  That’s how you’re going to measure.

Then you put your shortening, or whatever it is you’re using, in the water until the water level rises to your specified amount.  For example, in this case I needed about 6 tbsp shortening.  I started out with 1 cup of water.  Now, there are 4 tbsp in a 1/4 cup so 2 more tbsp would put it at just a little more over 1/4 cup.  In this situation, I wasn’t able to make an exact measurement, but normally recipes call for measurements in cups.  So, anyway, I put my shortening into the water until the level rose to a little over the 1 1/4 cup line.  You are practically eliminating the 1 cup of water that you put in from the total measurement in the cup.

So, there you have it!  Displacement is that easy!  And I think it’s the best way to measure out shortening.  I hope this helps.  If you have questions, just ask.


Pumpkin Butter–Mantequilla de Zapallo

Are you sick of me yet?  I know, right!  When I am I going to get over fall?  But, seriously.  How could you not look at this and think anything negative or ill-willed toward something so lovely.  I found this by accident and thought maybe I would be inventing something when I typed in the words, “pumpkin butter.”  Que sorpresa! It actually exists!

There are some things about having The Handicapped Kitchen in Peru that are an advantage.  One of those things would be that there is pumpkin all year long.  The word for pumpkin in Spanish is calabaza, but calabaza here refers mostly to anything in the squash family (even zucchini which is Italian squash if you translate it literally).  The closest thing that we could find here in Peru that’s verdaderamente pumpkin is something called zapallo.  It’s a really ugly looking thing, but it’s the exact consistency and color of the pumpkin I know in the States.

Regardless what the pumpkin was, this turned out delicioso.  It’s great for toast and I even read a review where it said you could put it on pancakes… I have yet to try that, but it sounds really really good.  I could even tell you that I thought about eating this stuff straight from the spoon, but that would be irrational and would only be getting half the delight by missing out on crunchy toast texture!  A mi me encanta la textura.


Pumpkin Butter

1 can (29 oz/3 cups) pumpkin puree
1 cup apple juice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 cup sugar

I’ll tell you how easy this was to make.  I woke up and it was the first thing I did… before making myself a cup of coffee.  Yea, it’s that simple.

My handicap was that my pumpkin puree only turned out to be about half of what it should’ve been.  Simple enough, I cut the recipe in half.

Put the pumpkin puree and spices and apple juice all in a pot and bring to a boil.  This is strange because the mixture is rather thick and may not boil like you would picture a rolling boil.  Once it starts to bubble and spit, turn down the heat to let it simmer.  Let it simmer for 30 minutes.  If it starts out looking really thick and want to thin it out just add some more apple juice.  As you simmer, the mixture will turn darker and darker.

When it’s simmered 30 minutes or if it’s cooked down to the consistency you want it (keep in mind it may thicken up even as it cools) remove from the heat and spoon into sterile jars.  Put in the fridge and chill before serving.

Spread this stuff on some toast or some cookies or… whatever you can think of.  Maybe ice-cream?  Does that sound good?  Just don’t put it on Pumpkin Pie… that would be dumb.  What will you put it on?