"Recipes in 19th-century cookbooks relied on measurements like a “handful” of rice or a “goodly amount” of molasses..."

This is why nobody in my wife's family can completely and accurately replicate her grandmother's biscuits--she didn't follow a recipe, she just knew how to make them. Her aunt comes the closest--and her biscuits are damn good--but they aren't quite grandmothers. I also finally caught an episode of the new "Good Eats" and Alton Brown is excellent, as ever. Good post!