Diva Tastings: Grandma Speak….

What Did Grandma Really Mean….Measurements…

Everyone knows Grandma has the best recipes, but have you ever read one of her recipes and thought, “Wait, what?” Sure, she may know how to make a killer cake, but what do some of her terms even mean?

We’re here to help translate some of Grandma’s vintage recipe ingredients and measurements into terms that you’ll actually understand. This way, you can make Grandma’s famous recipes without a hitch.

Just be warned that some of her phrases might not be able to be translated to exact measurements or numbers — All Grandmas really measured with Their heart.

To Beat the Band

You might have seen instructions that say “mix to beat the band” when cooking, but especially when baking. The phrase “to beat the band” simply means “to the greatest possible degree,” so that means you want your ingredients thoroughly mixed together — as mixed together as they can possibly get.


A dash is a liquid measurement that is equivalent to 1/8 teaspoon.

If you don’t have measuring spoons that are that small, you can either eyeball the measurement by using half of your ¼ teaspoon. Or grab this 1/8 Teaspoon


A pinch is equivalent to 1/16 teaspoon. You can also do it like Grandma used to and use what you can pinch between your thumb and forefinger. In theory, that’s about 1/16 teaspoon. Measuring spoons are available on most kitchen websites.

Teacupful and Wine-glassful

If your Grandma measured with a teacupful, that’s about four fluid ounces, or ½ cup. If she measured in a wineglassful, that’s about two fluid ounces, or 1/8 cup.

Slow Oven, Moderate Oven, and Quick Oven

Slow oven is the temperature that you will want to set your oven to when cooking or baking. However, there is a debate as to the exact temperature it’s referring to, so we’ll tell you how Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines slow oven, moderate oven, and quick oven.

Slow oven is an oven heated between 250 degrees F and 325 degrees F (120 degrees C to 160 degrees C). Moderate oven is an oven heated between 325 degrees F and 400 degrees F (120 degrees C to 205 degrees C). And quick oven or hot oven is an oven heated between 400 degrees F and 450 degrees F (205 degrees C to 230 degrees C), according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


Oleo is just another word for margarine. Margarine is a butter substitute that’s made with vegetable oils, water, and salt — and Grandmas loved using it in their baking.


While you’re probably used to using Crisco, or another shortening, in your baking, Grandma used lard made from pork fat in hers. Lard gets a bad rap for being unhealthy, but it actually has less trans fat than shortening and less saturated fat than butter, so maybe Grandma was on to something.

Knob of Butter

Essentially, a knob of butter is just a lump of butter, but it can mean different things depending on what you’re making.

If you’re sautéing, a knob of butter is typically the amount of butter you would need to coat the pan, so maybe one to two tablespoons. If you’re covering something with butter, a knob of butter is how much butter you need to coat it — maybe a walnut-sized spoonful.

A knob of butter is not a good measurement for when you’re baking, though. Those measurements need to be exact, so use tablespoons, cups, or sticks.

Sour and Sweet Milk

Sour milk is essentially buttermilk. It can either refer to whole milk that is kept at kitchen temperature until it’s fermented and sour, or milk that is soured with vinegar. Sweet milk is simply whole milk.

Paraffin Paper

Paraffin paper is simply another word for wax paper. Wax paper is made with food-safe paraffin wax, which is used for its nonstick capabilities. It’s most commonly used in baking for lining cake pans or rolling out doughs — but it is not heat resistant, so you cannot use it to line cookie sheets.


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