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A rack containing several sizes of piston-style measuring cups. The
bottom of the measuring cups slide into receivers, and a worm gears
and screws push the pistons to the proper measurement. A small
computer (programmable on a home computer) stores the
measurements for different recipes. A
touch screen on the device
lists the ingredients being measured, and would allow the user to
identify the proper cup by touching that ingredient on the screen. A
light would then illuminate under the proper cup (they are
transparent), causing the cup to glow. When that cup is removed,
this is indicated on the screen.
This system would be useful for several reasons. First, it would serve
as modifiable recipe storage device. It would be easy to engineer
the software to make weight-to-volumetric conversions and vice-
versa, and to make these conversions customizable. It would make
it much easier to scale up recipes - if the user wanted 1.5 recipes of
the general's spicy chicken, this could be accomplished without
having to determine how to measure on-half of one-third cup of
The cups could then be used as mis en place containers in dishes
where this is necessary.
||I used to think that inability to cook wasn't a very important
disability, in people with disabling medical conditions. I was
wrong: for some people, it seriously impairs quality of life.
So [+] for a first step in the direction of a system that would
allow Stephen Hawking to take up gourmet cooking as a
hobby, if so inclined.
||The problem with weight-to-volume conversions isn't just the math, it's that ingredients' conversion rates can vary drastically, depending on where the ingredient comes from, how it has been processed, and how long it's been sitting there. (Flour is the usual example.) The piston measures are nifty, but there's only so much you can use them for.
||I don't look forward to cleaning cookie dough out of the worm gears and washing one item of complicated machinery for each ingredient. But this would be fun to use and watch get set up.
||I had kind of thought of that, but not fully.
||There are a whole bunch of different types of flour, which
vary by as much as 60 g per cup. If your measuring method
is fairly consistent, however (I use whisk, scoop, and
level), the volumetric measure should stay fairly
consistent. Being able to customize the conversion (140 g
of King Arthur AP flour = x cubic centimeters) for different
ingredients should make it fairly accurate.
||This could be otherwise addressed by having a
couple of standard cylinders that rest on scale bases that
are tared to them. The system would go beep when you
had scooped enough dry goods in for that particular
||Problem ingredients would simply be inputed in grams,
rather than volumetric values. When the recipe was
pulled up, one of the scale cylinders would light up.
||A similar idea would to be to make the whole system
manual, based on weight, with a gang of small scales tied
to the screen.
||Oh, and the bases attach to the device, and the worm
gears retract after the internal piston is pushed to the
desired height, so the only thing that has to be washed is
the two-piece piston cup.