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X + Y = Dinner? Taking the Mystery Out of the Cooking Equation Review by Stephanie D. Scarborough

Rachel Ramey
PO Box 255
Ark, VA 23003

The title, X + Y = Dinner? Taking the Mystery Out of the Cooking Equation, might bring up thoughts of higher math classes. Now, if this was a book about algebra, I would be very comfortable with the topic. But cooking, kitchens, and dinner--oh my!

I'll admit that I desperately wanted this review opportunity. I would love to say this desire was solely to help train my two children, but it wasn't. In fact, my children are quite comfortable in the kitchen since they went to cooking camp during the summer break. (I had wanted to sign up too, but the camp director said I was too old.) I want my kids to be comfortable in the kitchen and not pick up on my fears and my inability. Once you get to a certain point in your life, you feel a little silly asking about the basics you never learned.

According to Rachel Ramey, cooking is both an art and a science. It is an art because the blending of flavors, textures, and colors requires skill. It's a science because it is a series of chemical changes and interactions. Well, I can do art and I can do science. Does that mean I can cook? My goal is to cook wholesome, nutritious meals that my family will enjoy without spending my entire life in the kitchen.

This book could easily be used as a textbook. Similar to a textbook, the book is presented in a specific order so that the skills of each chapter build on the knowledge gained from previous chapters. The chapters are divided into five sections: know your equipment, know your ingredients, know your methods, recipes & serving suggestions, and charts & information. (You might want to note that Ms. Ramey doesn't eat pork or shellfish, so neither is included in the recipes.)

You may be saying to yourself, "I already know how to cook." Even so, it is easy to forget to teach the basics and make assumptions that frustrate learners. This book can help you teach your children with a systematic approach.

So now, for me, it's off to the kitchen!

Review by Stephanie D. Scarborough, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2007