As a kid, I was your typical late 1970s long haired, art class social outcast. Not exactly a high achiever at school, especially since I was prescribed with learning disabilities. Math was my biggest enemy. When I joined the United States Army and trained as a cook, who knew I would be having to learn math, again? Percentages, no less!
Thankfully even with mediocre math abilities, I would later be able to use my Quartermaster school training as a professional chef and home baker! I still have a set of Armed Forces recipe cards procured decades ago, holding those precious recipes for making it easier to cook for crowds ranging from eight to eight thousand and overly hungry troops.
They aren't bad recipes, either. Some of my favorites were for Yakisoba or peanut butter cookies. We often veered from the recipes to add our own touches, to the ire of many an inspection officer. "How many tablespoons?" they'd ask us, as we squirmed trying to look through the card they were holding in front of us. Call it learning disabilities or improvisation, but whatever it was we managed to create some great food. At least the troops seemed to like it.
To this day I still use the biscuit recipe, but always get pissed off that there isn't a metric set and have to convert! No worries. Because, low and behold, today military offers conversion guides for measurement. Today there's even a CD version of the recipe cards! And if you look through the index, there's all sorts of good cooking tools for capacities and "how toos!" There are even guidlines for halal and kosher meals, along with trimmer and leaner healthier options! That means so long to SOS, chipped or creamed beef!
All to say that these days, I like learning. And looking back at the cards, they hold surprises. Like who knew that the Continental Congress was learning the art of rationing and procurement so early on - simply as a way to control costs on salt, a method of preservation since they didn't have refrigeration. Now that is a proactive government! And did you know that our Army started company food service as early as 1777, then standardizing in 1869. It was Napoleon who said an army marches on it's stomach!
I still make biscuits for parties at Christmas, but I haven't dared to re-create SOS or creamed chipped beef. aka "shit on a shingle!" Funny we used to throw the dried up biscuits at the base theaters red shingles and see how many we could pop off to the consternation of the maintenance crew!
I am just glad to have learned something more then shooting at someone, better to feed them!