Tag Archives: cooking

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter

So all my Facebook friends know that I love cooking and I try and make something yummy for my boyfriend every night. When I lived in England I cooked up a storm! (The food there actually is gross. And then there’s this… I knew the burgers tasted too gamey…) Well, my mad skills carried over back in the States and I haven’t looked back.

Cooking for Geeks combines two of my greatest loves–science and cooking. From the time I was a little kid I used to go in the kitchen or bathroom and mix random ingredients together to make “potions.” (I still don’t know why my mom wouldn’t drink Listerine/glitter/concealer potion–sheesh).

cooking_geeks_620I figured that CFG would be a cookbook with interesting little Pop Up Video-style notes in the margins talking about why this ingredient reacted to that and blah blah blah. Not really. It was more of a whole book of scientific methods involved in cooking–like the Maillard reaction involved in browning meat–with recipes interspersed here and there.

They also had mini-interviews with well-known geeks who were into cooking, like Adam Savage from Mythbusters. My inner geek glowed.

Potter clearly loves experimenting with food and encourages people to not be afraid to fail in cooking. You have to make some nasty food before you can figure out how to make something truly delicious. (Like the time I cooked chicken IN red wine and got purple, tough meat. Blegh!) After all, he notes, you can always order a pizza.

He talks a lot about food safety and cooking things to the correct temperature–and how long things last before they get dangerously full of microbes. Yikes. I’m a little paranoid now.

I do think that he went a little too in depth with some of the cooking methods–either that or this manuel is clearly not for beginners. A lot of these techniques I will probably never use (who has time to foam an egg?) but they were interesting to read about all the same. I’m never gonna make instant ice cream with dry ice, but hey–whatever floats your boat.

This is NOT a cookbook, but rather a kitchen guide for the scientifically-minded.

Enjoy, fellow geeks!

4 in-oven pizza stones of 5

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Food Rules by Michael Pollan

Food Rules was a very brief, but very interesting read. More of a really long pamphlet on dietary advice than a stand-alone book. It’s main premise is to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Each mini-chapter had an illustration and words of wisdom for eating mindfully and healthfully. 

Some examples are:

“Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs, and other mammals].”

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

“Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.”

“Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.”

Pollan points out that nutritional science is one of the newest forms of science, therefore many nutritional claims must be taken with a grain of salt. He reminds us that although the “edible foodlike substance” (AKA, junk food) says “low fat”  or “1/3 the sugar” on its package, it still comes in a package. Good point.

It seems intimidating to sift through all the dietary information out there to learn what the real deal is. But luckily, Pollan helps us with the adage, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” I’ve been applying that to my shopping list lately. That means no Cheetos or Oreos or GoGurt or any other weird stuff. If you look at the ingredients and see something that the average person wouldn’t have in their kitchen, don’t eat it.

I don’t know about you but I have neither Red #4 or hydrogenated vegetable oil in my pantry…

This is a great guide for those without enough time (or enthusiasm) to read Pollan’s other, more in depth books about food.

4 peas in a pod of 5