How many recipes have told you to cut squash into ½-inch chunks, or slice potatoes into ¼-inch rounds, or roll sheets of cookie dough to ⅛-inch thick? Even though I cook and bake for a living, I still have trouble estimating these measurements by sight. (It’s hard!) And while our test kitchen and my own kitchen have rulers on deck, the more I cook elsewhere, the more I realize this isn’t a given.
Before I joined the team here at Food52, I worked as a nighttime baker. Which meant a lot of pie dough–rolling, cookie dough–rolling, biscuit dough–rolling...really, just a lot of rolling. After a while, instead of trying to find a ruler every time—as I'm covered in dough, no less—I figured out something about my hands: 1-inch is the distance from the first to second knuckle on my middle finger. And ¼-inch is the thickness of my pinky.