On the principle that practice will render courageous, Thorne-Thomsen and Brownridge provide a primer to lead the timid or inexperienced cook through some of the problem areas of basic cooking technique. After describing the composition and behavior of ingredients (bleached vs. unbleached flour, etc.), they show why breads rise, flour and egg sauces thicken, why soufflâ€šs collapse and jellies set. Instructions include proper measuring technique (use the water displacement method for fats), substitutions (honey for sugar), and equivalences (one cup liquid cream equals two cups beaten). Two thirds of the book treats baking and confectionery principles and recipes, the rest takes up sauces--bâ€šchamel, hollandaise, mayonnaise--and soufflâ€šs (cheese, vegetable, chocolate). Questions such as why the rice lumps, the roast dries out, and potatoes disintegrate, the unknowing will have to answer on their own. Still, a small but practical step toward self-reliance in the culinary minefield.