Additional Math Pages & Resources

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Math for Cooking, Part III

This week we've been looking at math for cooking, particularly as it's expressed in recipes. It's almost impossible to tell someone else how to cook a dish, without using some math.

I gave you a brief recipe for a rice dish, with no units or numbers. Here it is again:

Boil water. Put olive oil in skillet. When oil is hot, add Basmati rice. Stir until rice turns light brown. Add sweet potato, coconut and cranberries. Add boiling water, cover and put in oven. When rice is done, fluff and serve.

Most people would agree that is not enough information to successfully prepare the food. Would it be better if I could offer a symbolic, graphical version? About the same number of words, but significantly more data?


I have created unique symbols for the main elements of the recipe. Here is a key to the symbols. They are based on letters in a font called we are alien!!
Every recipe in my cookbook would use these symbols, so you could easily learn them, even if they don't resonate with you today.

Here is the recipe itself:

What do you think? Do visual representations of a task appeal to you? Does this look math-friendly? Do the symbols detract? (I didn't feel like using tiny measuring cups, etc.)

We could add more illustrations for the cranberries, coconut and salt and pepper. But they are only the garnish, not the main ingredients - should we label them optional?

Rather than illustrations, would you prefer more descriptive text and numbers with multiple units of measure? Tomorrow we'll see how verbose a recipe can be, and whether "words, words, words" help a cook more than my drawing.