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A difficult question to answer is, “how many does this recipe feed?” All depends, are you feeding football players or little old ladies? Is this dish the only food or part of an extensive buffet? Diners eat wildly different calorie amounts. I can serve what I think is an appropriate serving size, but if you weigh 100 pounds more than I do, you will want more food. I have served the same amount of food to different groups and have had leftovers at one party but diners demanding more food at another.

These huge discrepancies in serving size have now been analyzed. Over the last 70 years, “serving size” in recipes have increased by an average of 77 calories. One researcher commented on The Joy of Cooking, “Same recipe. Same pan. But in the ’60s and ’70s, it yielded 30 brownies. In the 1997 edition, it yielded 15.”

Randomly choosing a number for “serves __” does no favors to the cook. A clearer direction for recipes would be to tell how much the recipe makes, such as “makes 8 cups.” The cook can then decide how many diners would eat 8 cups of food.

Of course, appetite increases with the quality of the food. If it tastes delicious, you want more! If you see a platter of succulent pork ribs, how many do you eat? Two? Six? The whole rack?

Ribs

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek chile paste
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 rack of spare ribs or baby back ribs (I prefer the meaty juiciness of spare ribs)

In a food processor, combine the soy, scallion, ginger, five-spice, garlic, chile, and sherry to a smooth paste. Spread on the ribs. Place the ribs in a stovetop smoker (put 2 tablespoons of apple wood smoking dust in the bottom), and heat on high until smoking. Place in a 300-degree oven for 2 hours. Remove the lid and drizzle on the honey. Place under the broiler and broil until the crispy, about five minutes. Cut between the ribs and serve.