Easy as 1-2-3

Now that the Nashville Public Library has released it from its annoyingly-long hold/reserve list. I'm presently reading Ratio by Michael Ruhlman.

The book's tag line is "Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking." But what it really should say is "The Math Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking."

Scott and I are both liberal arts graduates, meaning we don't do the math real good. Like, at all. Anytime the two of us discuss something remotely related to science and math, be it why the defroster in my car won't work or how to divvy up the credit card bill this month, we wind up with the foggiest answers. It's hilarious and mildly disconcerting/alarming at the same time.

The first chapter of Ratio delves into the "simple" measurements of making dough: five parts flour, three parts water. I see the words "measurements" and "parts" and I am already worried about having to remember my multiplication tables and long division. Let's see...you borrow and then carry over the 1...

A review on Amazon.com calls this an "anti-cookbook" and though I am only the first chapter in, I can see why. Ruhlman says that when you learn ratios for items like baked goods and sauces, you don't need to haul out your cookbooks or recipe cards. You know the basics and how they work together - whatever else you choose to add in is just the gravy or the icing on the cake.

I'm curious to see if I can try out what Ruhlman suggests. As I tend to "eyeball" ingredients as I cook, I recognize that kind of carelessness won't fly with the need for precision in baking. That's a basic rule of chemistry right there - and I won't even tell you what I made in that class my junior year of high school.


Follow up: 1/13/10
I ditched Ratio last night after coming to terms with this notion...I just love cookbooks. A lot.

I won't be able to remember the formulas for making gnocchi, focaccia, sausages *shiver*, or shortbread cookies, unless I have a cute spreadsheet to print and frame in my kitchen, so what's the point?

For me, it's back to cookbooks. I presently have The Produce Bible and 660 Curries in house for inspiration. It's on!


  1. I love cookbooks, too. I always liken them to "kitchen porn"....I mean, those photos!!!!

    You get the picture.


  2. I love cookbooks too, and also this blog:


    Oh, and this one too:


  3. LOL! Erin, I am an engineer and I don't use cookbooks. I am more into ratios and the methods or logical steps. Ratio, and Alton Brown's methods work best for me. As for my b-day present, I asked the man to get me an autographed copy of Ratio.

    I love that both ways of cooking can get everyone to the same end, a delicious home cooked meal, or a disaster and a nice dinner out! LOL!

  4. Closet Cooking is fantastic, Shelby - thanks for sharing, dearheart.

    And Lannae, more power to you. I hope you got your autographed copy!


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