Monday, April 27, 2009

Ratio


I waste a lot of money on cookbooks. Half the cookbooks I buy, are just kinda to say I have them, or to have them around. I'm still kinda hitting myself on the head for buying the Alinea cookbook. Most cookbooks I rarely use, whether it be for inspiration or actual recipes. Just a select few tend to make the cut.

That's not to say that it's not great to have plenty of cookbooks for reference. I thought I would never touch Alice Waters' Chez Panisse fruits and vegetables, but when I wanted to make lemon curd to put on crepes (that's a whole other post), that's where I turned.

I think, however, that I've found a keeper. A book that will be indispensable in my kitchen, a book that I see myself carrying with me for the rest of my life. Ratio by Michael Ruhlman is that book, because it's so much more than a cookbook. Often when reading cookbooks, I feel restricted by the recipe. Ruhlman's book lets me run free, by teaching the fundamentals from which one can expand. Teaching me a recipe for a potato-rosemary bread really isn't going to help me much in life, whereas if I know the ratio for bread in general, well those are guidelines that will aid me throughout the years.

With the knowledge of a basic ratio, the possibilities are endless, and it allows for better understanding of the cooking process; why pie doughs turn out different then biscuits, how the interaction between sugar, fat and flour makes a quick bread.

I would go as far as to say that this book has the potential to alter this country's dependence on recipes. My mom follows recipes word for word. She's stepping in a stranger's car and hoping that the end result will be that she gets home safely. If she understood the principles of what she was doing, she would be a much better cook. She might even do some stuff on her own, hint, hint.


Michael Ruhlman, keep doing what you're doing.

14 comments:

cookingat11 said...

Ratio is great. The cover, and chapter first pages are cool. I like the wheel thing a lot. At Barnes & Nobles, I spent like 5 minutes looking and turning the cover.

Bob said...

Between "Ratio", "Elements of Cooking", CIA's "Professional Chef," and Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking," there's probably nothing you can't make.

cook eat FRET said...

great review
if this cooking thing doesn't work out for you....

love the new profile pic
you look exactly like a smart and happy guy.

ruhlman said...

claudia sent me your post. we're both fans, I was a fan before this. but this post is so perfectly stated and so wonderful, i have to say thank you. sometimes i write and it's not understood, because of me, because of the reader, but here i feel that writer and reader are in sync. again, you've said it perfectly (love the stranger's car metaphor). i'm grateful. thank you. never stop cooking.

cookingat11 said...

wow Nick, Michael Ruhlman commented on your blog. You should be proud of yourself. People in the food world are noticing you. Just something to think about. I agree with Mr. Ruhlman, the metaphor is funny. You have a gift for cooking and writing.

Julie said...

I just finished the book (thanks to the public library) and am now buying it from my local bookstore. Totally agree - it's a keeper. Ruhlman rocks!

joyciel said...

Ooh! I bought that book too! I haven't read it yet but I loved the concept.

And I like the new picture.

c3 said...

You've sold me. I have to have that book, now. My birthday is coming up, and I think I'll start dropping hints.

Arm70 said...

I just got this too. Started reading it the other day and am really happy I bought it. Now if I could just suck it up and tackle that pie dough...

Tim said...

I'm reading Ratio right now and loving it. We need more books that teach us how to cook and not just follow directions. Good review and great blog. Keep up the good work...

Raiza said...

great recommendation. I'm most definitely getting this book. I love discovering new recipes and have always wondered how to make it my own without destroying it.

xoconostle said...

I was so excited when I received my copy of "Ratio" and now that I'm reading it, it's really got my creative wheels turning. I reluctantly agree about the Alinea book. It's beautiful and a great document of that restaurant's accomplishments, but despite my initial excitement, I haven't found it to be useful at home at all. Still, a lovely coffee table book.

Nick N said...

Bob: You're probably right.

claudia: thanks a lot!

No Mr. Ruhlman, thank you.

cookin at 11: thanks a lot!

Cooking_With_Ginger said...

Thank you. I now need Ratio yesterday.