Happy Book Club Monday!
Every Monday, I review a book on food or cooking. It’s a great way to share what I am reading, hear your feedback, and learn about new titles from all of you. If you would like to view previous titles, check out the Badger Girl Book Shelf.
This week I am reviewing Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.
Ratio is Ruhlman’s attempt to break down cooking into the most basic building blocks. Want to make sponge cake? 1 part flour, 1 part egg, 1 part sugar, and 1 part fat. Cooks rave about it because it allows them to create their own recipes using Ruhlman’s recipes.
It’s divided into five parts: Doughs and Batters, Stocks, Meat, Fat-Based Sauces, and Custard. Each part contains ratios for several types of the designated part, suggested recipes, and information on how he derived the ratio.
I hated it.
And I feel really bad about myself because I hated it.
I should love this book, right? I mean, foodies everywhere think it’s awesome. Not to mention, I develop a lot of my own recipes so why wouldn’t I like it?
I could hide behind the reasoning that I have no desire to cook many of the ratios. I am trying to walk away from wheat, don’t do dairy, and Manatee won’t let me buy a meat grinder so I can’t make sausage.
But I have to be honest with you, that’s not the real reason I hated it.
This is not easy to admit.
I don’t think I am there yet in my cooking. I don’t want to do math when I am cooking. I am not so good at doing quantities with ratios (ask anyone who has witnessed my vats of stir fry on any given night) and sitting down with a calculator is not my idea of a good time. Even if I can drink wine when I do it, it just doesn’t sound fun. When you are already pressed for time with your cooking, it just seemed too difficult. The book was hard to get into and I kept trying to find a section or a recipe that would hold my attention and I couldn’t.
Badger Girl Recipe Development
So, how do I develop my own recipes?
This is another area that I am not proud to admit, but I will be honest.
I read a ton of different recipes. I generally can’t find what I am looking for in one recipe so I just keep looking at different ones and then I slowly piece together something that will meet our dietary needs and our taste buds. Trust me, this is not easy.
And then I do the most important part of the process: I screw it up.
I make a TON of mistakes when I cook. Then I keep trying and each attempt gets me closer to what I am trying to do. The granola was a perfect example.
It was my sixth batch that finally made the cut. And to be honest, I am still perfecting it.
This is not efficient.
This is not the textbook way of recipe development.
Some of you may lose some respect for me as a cook.
But to be even more honest, I have no desire to change at this point.
As long as Manatee keeps enthusiastically eating my mistakes, I will keep making them. That’s the best way to learn about food, in my very humble opinion. Maybe when I ‘smarten up’ and want to be a real chef, I will read Ruhlman’s book again.
How do you develop your recipes? Has anyone else read or used Ruhlman’s book?