Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ratio. A different kind of cookbook

I don't often write about cooking on this blog. I love to cook but rarely does my interest in technology and my interest in cooking cross. Ratio by Michael Ruhlman has blurred the lines somewhat.

Ratio isn't a recipe book so much as an explanation of the different ratios that go into making various dishes. For example a pie crust is a ratio of 3:2:1. Three parts flour. Two parts fat. One part liquid. Put the ingredients together in these amounts and in this order and you get pie dough. This is the fact. The science. The structure behind cooking. The art is determined by how skillfully you blend the ingredients. What changes you make in ingredients.

This book has me looking at cooking from a whole new perspective. I haven't made a pie dough in years. But, I did last night, thinking about ratios the whole time. When I was a boy, I could usually whip up a nice pie crust using an old Betty Crocker Cookbook as my guide. Somewhere in my adult years, I started overthinking the dough and they started turning out tough. Store bought crust was easier and tastier. Last night, I thought about the dough in a different way. How and why I put the ingredients together. I followed the ratio. I let my hands and eyes tell me when the dough was mixed enough. It worked beautifully.

If we still had a Consumer Family Studies class at any of the schools near me, I'd send a copy to those teachers. Teaching kids to cook in my district has gone away. If it ever came back, I think teaching kids to think about cooking would be a good addition to the curriculum. (And what a great crossover lesson between math and the real world.)

If you like to cook, check this book out.

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