Math Skills in the Kitchen

I was a much better student at algebra than geometry.  Something about solving those algebraic puzzles was much more engaging than doing a geometry proof, where you could clearly see that the angles were equal so why spend all that time proving it?  They told us at Girls’ Latin School that math skills would come in handy in real life, but probably because they envisioned us all becoming architects, physicians, or math teachers…not cooking enthusiasts.  This was, though, a skill I fully utilize when having to apply geometry to cooking, especially when adjusting the size of a pan or pot to the needs of a recipe or a downsized version of one.  Like yesterday, when math helped me figure out that a 6-1/2″ springform pan would be perfect for 1/2 recipe of a 9″ cheesecake.

The basics we should all know before stepping into the kitchen: 3 tsp to a Tbsp; 16 Tbsp to a cup; and so on.  But when choosing whether to make my half-recipe of potato kugel today in an 8″ pyrex pan or a 9-1/2″ tart tatin, I had to use the formulae for area and volume of rectangular and circular vessels.  The full recipe calls for a 9 x 13″ glass baking dish.  That’s 117 inches in area (width x length), 234 cubic inches in volume (width x length x height).  My guess was that either of these two pans could work to accomodate half of that.


Pyrex pan on the left, 64 square inches in area.  128 cubic inches in volume.  Perfect.  Tart tatin on the right, 71 square inches in area, 124 cubic inches in volume.  Also perfect.  A no brainer – either one will work.  Think I’ll go with the round one and cut the kugel into wedges instead of squares.  It will look nicer on the plate next to brisket and asparagus.  Problem solved!


2 thoughts on “Math Skills in the Kitchen

  1. There is a cartoon out and about (may be Maxine) where she is saying, “Another day goes by and I haven’t used Algebra once”. How many times, sitting in those classes did I wonder the same thing- why did I need to know, let alone remember, ANY of this stuff.
    Funny, tho, how down the road some of it does come in handy- such as what you did with your cooking vessels.
    Just the opposite of you, I didn’t like, or do well in my geometry classes, loved Algebra for some reason, and then went on to muddle through calc and trig classes.
    If someone put any of that stuff in front of me today, I am pretty sure I could NOT do any of it.
    Enjoy your kugle, and all your other Passover goodies!
    We’re going out for dinner tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

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