Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This shouldn't be that hard

I was making cupcakes for Nora's birthday (holy crap, she's two). I wanted to halve my cake recipe because I only wanted 12 cupcakes. First item: 3/4 cup butter. I remembered the visual up on Mr. Malloy's wall in AP Calculus that some student had drawn of the denominator of the fraction smashing through the bigger division line and multiplying itself by the divisor. Make sense? No? In this case, the 4 of the 3/4ths would grow arms and smash through the line drawn below it to find the 2 waiting. It would be so happy that they would hug and multiply in a completely plutonic sense to make 3/8ths. (If the two was a fraction, it's own denominator would feel stilted by the numerator's newfound love that it would grow wings and fly up to the three on top of the whole problem, and it's life would have meaning again. Why no, I didn't pursue a career in math, why do you ask?)

Luckily for me, the butter stick is divided into eight tablespoons (eighths!), so I went to go cut 3 tablespoons off. I looked again and thought that 3 tablespoons looked a little small. I looked at my math again. Sure enough, 3/8ths is the answer, so 3 tablespoons.

I could not figure out where I had gone wrong. I puzzled about it for a while, then decided to come at the problem from a different angle: 3/4 cup butter is 12 tablespoons, so to halve it, I wanted 6.

I called my mom to see what had failed in my calculations. We decided that my math was sound but that I had forgotten that a stick of butter (the eight tablespoons in question) is only a half a cup.

And now, I feel dumb.

1 comment:

Bridget said...

I like your imagery. The one stick butter = one HALF cup butter gets me every time. It drives me crazy. What also drives me crazy is doing those conversions into metric because that's what my measuring cups/spoons (and food items) are in here. I am not smart enough to cook, I think.

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