Wednesday, July 29, 2009


There is nothing more wonderful for a book person who cooks than a book about cooking (not necessarily a cookbook/recipe book.) I was listening to NPR the other day (Sunday's ATC episode) and they were interviewing Michael Ruhlman about his new book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. It sounded interesting so I went and picked a copy up from my local bookstore. I was captivated by the first sentence that I read (which was not the first sentence in the book, actually.) What caught me was from the section on Pâte à choux. It read: "Pâte à choux is one of the coolest flour-and-water preparations in the kitchen." After hearing the author talk I could hear him actually reading passages to me. (I love when I know the author's voice, it means I don't have to read everything like Alan Rickman playing Col. Brandon. Not that that's a bad thing.)

I am not a recipe cook. I rarely use recipes, especially the second time around. It was the way I was taught to cook by my grandmother. She didn't even use a recipe when she made jelly or pickles. Her forte was her biscuits. She just knew how to cook and how much baking powder to use to how much flour. If more company was coming she'd just made more. (I suck at making biscuits. It's the one food that I truly can't make. My family groans when I say, "I feel like biscuits." They'll beg me to not try it again and just get in the car and go to Cracker Barrel.) So I'm intrigued by this book as it actually has an entire chapter (OK, it's only three pages long) on the ratio of biscuits.

One of the things that gets greatly overlooked in the world of cooking by many home chefs is the food scale. I love my food scales. In fact I own three (although one has been relegated to my knitting so I can weigh yarn and fibers). My latest acquisition is this mighty mite. It's small, but it can weigh up to 6.6 pounds. (All together, OoooooOOOooo.) Ruhlman has all his ratios designed around weights rather than measurements, so it is important to have one (or three, you just never know.)

If you have always had problems with cooking before, especially baking, I highly recommend this book. Now if only he knit.

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