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Cooking For Geeks

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 312

jsuda writes "You've got to have a lot of confidence and nerve to write and try to sell a nearly 400 page book on cooking to the take-out pizza and cola set. No cookbook is likely to turn many geeks into chefs or take them away from their computer screens. However, even though Cooking for Geeks contains a large number of recipes, it is not a conventional cookbook but a scientific explanation of the how and why of cooking which will certainly appeal to that group, as well as to cooking professionals and intellectually curious others." Read on for the rest of jsuda's review.The author is a geek himself and brings "geek-like" approaches to the subject matter - deep intellectual curiosity, affinity for details, appreciation of problem solving and hacking, scientific method, and a love of technology. What is even better is his filtering of cooking concepts by a computer coder's framework, analogizing recipes to executable code, viewing of ingredients as inputs and as variables, running processes over and over in a logical manner to test and improve outcomes. This is not a mere literary shoe-horning of cooking concepts into a coder's framework but an ingenuous approach to the topics that should loudly resonate with geeks.

The subject matter includes selecting and using kitchen and cooking hardware; prepping inventory; calibrating equipment (especially your oven, using sugar); understanding tastes and smells; the fundamental difference between cooking and baking (and the personality types which gravitate to one form or the other); the importance of gluten and the three major types of leavening (biological, chemical, and mechanical); the types of cooking; using time and temperatures; how to use air as a tool; the chemistry of food combinations; and very thorough and detailed discussions of food handling and safety. The book is organized into seven chapters and includes an appendix dealing with cooking for people with allergies. The recipes are indexed in the front of the book.

The major conventional flavor types of salt, sugar, acids, and alcohol have been supplemented by modern industrial elements - E- Numbered (a Dewey decimal system-like index) additives, colloids, gels, foams, and other yummy things! All are itemized, charted, and explained in the chapter entitled "Playing with Chemistry." A whole chapter (and an interview with mathematician, Douglas Baldwin) is devoted to the latest and greatest food preparation technique - sous vide - cooking food in a temperature-controlled water bath.

Threaded through the sections are short sidebar interviews of mostly computer and techie types who are serious cooks or involved in the food industry. Some of these contributors are Adam Savage (of Myth Busters fame) on scientific technique, Tim O'Reilly (CEO of the book's publisher) on scones and jam, Nathan Myhrvold, on Moderist cuisine, and others. Other interviews deal with taste sensitivities, food mysteries, industrial hardware, pastry chef insights, and many more. There is an insightful section just on knives and how to use and care for them.

Anyone who is interested in cooking will learn from this book. I now pay attention to things I've never heard of before: browning methods like caramelization and the Maillard processes, savory as a major taste, transglutaminase (a.k.a. meat glue), for example. There is stuff I didn't really want to know - "if you've eaten fish you've eaten worms."

Although one of the strengths of the book is the systematic organization, there are useful tips spread throughout. For example, keeping a pizza stone permanently in your oven will help even out heat distribution; storing vegetables correctly requires knowing whether they admit ethylene gas or not (a chart is included); you can test your smell sensitivity profile by using a professional scratch and sniff test kit obtainable from the University of Pennsylvania. Whatever specialized information not contained in the book is referenced to external sources, especially on the Internet.

If all of this is not stimulus enough for the geek crowd, how about learning how you can spectacularly kill yourself cooking with dry ice, liquid nitrogen, blowtorches, and especially an electrocuted hotdog. Cool! This is mad scientist stuff. Engineering-minded types can learn how to make their own ice cream machine from Legos. You'll also learn how NOT to kill your guests with bacteria and other toxins.

The production is nicely done with easily readable text, plentiful drawings and charts, color captions, and many other quality production features. Weights are based in both grams and US volume-based measurements.

You can purchase Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Cooking for Engineers (4, Interesting)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 4 years ago | (#33511656)

A site [cookingforengineers.com] in a similar vein.

Re:Cooking for Engineers (1)

goochman (303570) | about 4 years ago | (#33511788)

came to recommend this site... been a fan for many years. The recipe cards alone are worth the visit.

Re:Cooking for Engineers (3, Insightful)

stonewallred (1465497) | about 4 years ago | (#33511946)

I watch Good Eats(which has declined in quality IMNSHO) because AB takes the time to explain the whys and whats of cooking and that is worth ore than 1000 recipes.

Re:Cooking for Engineers (1)

Stachybotris (936861) | about 4 years ago | (#33512088)

I haven't really watched it much in the past few years (I think season 11 was the last one I saw?), but I imagine Iron Chef America is keeping him a little busy.

But as for his books, oh hell yes. Some of them include generic methods that are far more valuable than specific recipes. Kinda like known the SMTP protocol instead of just being able to configure Sendmail...

Cooking with Microwaves Re:Cooking for Engineers (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33512020)

That's the corollary for this.

I've often thought someone should write a book with this title, since I almost never use anything but a microwave to make breakfast, lunch, and supper. And yes there is a technique to microwave cooking, so you end up with Food rather than a rubbery (or burnt) hunk of matter,

Re:Cooking for Engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512034)

False advertising. What kind of engineer prefers US customary units over metric?
Yes, it provides metric translations, but they're the kind of over-exact never-heard-of-significant-digits conversions you see in shitty science journalism ("4 Tbs. (57 g) butter", "14 oz. (396 g) can sweetened condensed milk").

Re:Cooking for Engineers (2, Informative)

drewhk (1744562) | about 4 years ago | (#33512408)

And some really cool stuff:

    http://cookingissues.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]
    (The French Culinary Institute's Tech'N Stuff Blog)

The best scientific cooking articles I've ever read!
Also, another cool one is:

    http://blog.khymos.org/ [khymos.org]

with its fine hydrocolloid recipe collection:

    http://blog.khymos.org/recipe-collection/ [khymos.org]

Re:Cooking for Engineers (2, Informative)

drewhk (1744562) | about 4 years ago | (#33512422)

Well, sorry the real site is:

      http://www.cookingissues.com/ [cookingissues.com]

The wordpress site is no longer updated.

Cook's Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen (5, Interesting)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33512416)

Any geek who aspires to cook good food would do well to read the magazine, Cook's Illustrated and watch the PBS series America's Test Kitchen, that puts out the magazine. This is a nonprofit foundation, the magazine has no ads, like Consumer Reports. They perform scientific experiments on recipes. In a typical article, they will find a classic recipe, analyze the many variations, and explain what commonly goes wrong. They will then attempt to correct the flaws, turning to their food scientists for explanations of things like the Maillard reaction and why adding veal makes a meatloaf jucier (it's the gelatin in veal forming a matrix that keeps water from escaping.) They also perform unbiased reviews of equipment that will let you know, for instance, which cheap nonstick skillet outperforms all the expensive ones.

I've found the scientific approach helpful in my own cooking, not just when recreating the recipes given. Once you know how the Maillard reaction works, for instance, you know why searing meat first and then finishing is not as good as starting at a low temperature and finishing at a high one. Once you understand why Brassicas respond well to a high, dry heat you will never boil brussel sprouts or cauliflower again.

The staples (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 4 years ago | (#33511666)

Does this cook book have the geek staples? Does it have recipes for Mountain Dew and Twinkies?

A geek's four basic food groups:

  * Mountain Dew
  * Twinkies
  * Pizza
  * Beer

Re:The staples (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | about 4 years ago | (#33511796)

You forgot Cheetos

Re:The staples (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#33511828)

That's more the loser's staples. Some of us like to apply the typical geek problem solving techniques and eye for quality in the kitchen as well as the computer room.

Re:The staples (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511942)

That's just gay. Not Geek.

Re:The staples (3, Interesting)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 4 years ago | (#33512058)

That's just gay. Not Geek.

Yes, cooking really is joyful.

To echo Hatta's sentiment, some of us like to extend our attention to detail beyond the geek cave. The engine that is your brain is only as good as the fuel you give it so knowing how to cook properly is an important skill.

Re:The staples (3, Interesting)

stonewallred (1465497) | about 4 years ago | (#33512008)

I concur, as the deer roast, slowly being braised in my oven with potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onion and celery will attest. And when I pull it out, I will pop in some buttermilk biscuits I made a couple of weeks ago, and froze before cooking them, into the oven to quickly cook to go with my dinner. Protip for geeks, learn to cook a few really good, yet complicated looking meals. There are many simple recipes that look and taste as though you slaved for hours to make. And yes, there are really women in the world, and yes, a well cooked meal impresses them far more than how well you can program, even if the ability of program impresses them.

Re:The staples (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33512274)

For when one of those roasts gets a little freezer burn or you shoot an old deer, sauerbraten is the way to go.

PROTIP: if the recipe includes ginger snaps, find a better recipe. Germans do not use ginger snaps in it.

Re:The staples (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | about 4 years ago | (#33512286)

Between you and my bosses discussing the pros and cons of salmon and steak in my cubicle earlier, I'm HUNGRY!

And I agree - a scant few talents makes you more appealing to the opposite sex then being able to throw down like Morimoto in the kitchen.

Re:The staples (2, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 years ago | (#33512080)

Yep, I even came up with some original recipes: Ramen noodles in Mountain Dew, deep fried Twinkies in Beer batter, Mac and cheese pizza, Donuts with Tacos etc etc

I just wish I had more ingredients to work with.

Re:The staples (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#33512414)

Arugula wrapped cheetos with a salsa dipping sauce.

Re:The staples (1)

Clived (106409) | about 4 years ago | (#33512106)

Well said. I am a geek and a fabulous cook at the same time. I enjoy being in the kitchen as much as I enjoy at being in front of one of my Linux boxes !!

Re:The staples (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 4 years ago | (#33512404)

Well said. I am a geek and a fabulous cook at the same time. I enjoy being in the kitchen as much as I enjoy at being in front of one of my Linux boxes !!

Why not do both?

I have an old laptop on my kitchen counter. It makes a handy recipe database and being able to try new recipes from online without having to print them is a treat. It's not a bad idea to cover the keyboard with plastic wrap though.

Re:The staples (1)

arivanov (12034) | about 4 years ago | (#33512368)

Exactly.

I recall only one male student (out of around 30) in my class/major at the Uni who could not cook. At least 3-4 could cook better (and healthier) than let's say Nigella or Worall Thomson. That is without counting myself (I definitely can cook a X-mas duck or carp better than either one of these "kill by cholesterol overdose" TV characters).

Granted, I graduated with Chemistry before turning to the dark side and doing software, sysadmin and networks so my class probably does not constitute a representative sample.

Re:The staples (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 4 years ago | (#33511978)

- Mountain Dew
+ Coke

- Twinkies
+ Entenmann's choclate covered dounuts

And no mention of Cheetos?
And once upon a time, cigs would have been on that list. As a food group, dammit!

Re:The staples (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | about 4 years ago | (#33512054)

"And no mention of Cheetos?"

He forgot Hot Pockets as well.

So wait, that's where that came from? (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 4 years ago | (#33512136)

You know, since it covered staples like twinkies and deep fried food does that mean this book covers deep fried twinkies?

Re:The staples (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512208)

Ha, I have all of those recipes memorized:

Mountain Dew - Go to the grocery store, buy Mountain Dew, pop the lid
Twinkies - Go to the grocery store, buy Twinkies, unwrap the Twinkie
Pizza - Go to the pizza store, buy a pizza, open the box
Beer - Go to the grocery store, buy beer, pop the lid

Unbalanced diet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512244)

A geek's four basic food groups:
    * Mountain Dew
    * Twinkies
    * Pizza
    * Beer

I guess I have an unbalanced diet for a geek then; since I don't drink beer...

Re:Unbalanced diet (1)

RCGodward (1235102) | about 4 years ago | (#33512384)

Whiskey will work in a pinch.

Cooking for computer scientists (4, Funny)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about 4 years ago | (#33511686)

The microwave is usually the optimal algorithm, as it cooks food in logN time.

Complexity (5, Funny)

pjt33 (739471) | about 4 years ago | (#33511844)

If you want to cook food in log time you should use an open fire.

Re:Cooking for computer scientists (2, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 years ago | (#33511908)

Indeed. And for when it turns out to taste like you just heated up a biological waste bin, you can drown it in ketchup.

I'm not sure I need this book.

Re:Cooking for computer scientists (1)

Alan Shutko (5101) | about 4 years ago | (#33512056)

The microwave can be a tool for good food. Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet is a great book on foods where the microwave is actually a good cooking method. Pate, for example....

Good Eats in book form (3, Insightful)

swanzilla (1458281) | about 4 years ago | (#33511698)

Alton Brown has been doing this stuff for years. Interesting stuff, in any case.

Re:Good Eats in book form (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#33511822)

Amazingly enough, Alton has published many Good Eats books...

Re:Good Eats in book form (2, Informative)

Offenbach (1133493) | about 4 years ago | (#33511852)

And before Alton Brown there was "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee. It's about 20 years old and still considered the best book on food science; covers everything from the microbiology to paleontology.

Re:Good Eats in book form (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33511898)

It's a good book, and Cooking for Geeks features and interview with him. The main problem with "On Food and Cooking" from what I gather is that it's a lot of knowledge which a beginner is likely to be overwhelmed by. Cooking for Geeks is more of a beginners book explaining them basic processes and getting the reader introduced to the whys of cooking.

Re:Good Eats in book form (1)

bastion_xx (233612) | about 4 years ago | (#33512074)

<a href="http://www.cooksillustrated.com/>Cook's Illustrated</a> has lots of helpful geek-type cooking advice. In fact, you'll see a lot of Alton Brown's ideas referenced in their magazine and cookbooks. Seeing their relationship with the Culinary Institute of America, Alton's alma mater if you will, it's no surprise. Almost a Consumer's Digest of cooking.

Re:Good Eats in book form (1)

bastion_xx (233612) | about 4 years ago | (#33512102)

Cook's Illustrated [cooksillustrated.com] . Sorry, extrans and I didn't check the preview....

Re:Good Eats in book form (1)

darien.train (1752510) | about 4 years ago | (#33512198)

I second the motion. Cook's Illustrated and by extension America's Test Kitchen are top quality technique and recipe resources. I also recommend The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion [amazon.com] as a great resource for anyone who wants to know everything about baking. King Aurthur Flour really make incredible products and know how to use them. Their flour is worth the money and once you stop using Gold Medal and the other cheap gross kinds you'll notice a BIG difference in the quality of your food.

Re:Good Eats in book form (1)

CensorshipDonkey (1108755) | about 4 years ago | (#33512520)

Seeing their relationship with the Culinary Institute of America, Alton's alma mater if you will

Alton Brown attended NECI, the New England Culinary Institute, not the CIA.

Very true, he taught me to cook salmon (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 4 years ago | (#33512184)

Then again it now seems kind of simple that it's amazing I ever thought it was difficult. (IE thaw, brush oil/butter on both sides, sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and pepper, use pan with either some butter or oil and cook each side for 2 minutes.)

good eats with alton brown!!!! (2, Insightful)

imp7 (714746) | about 4 years ago | (#33511710)

Just watch Good Eats with Alton Brown... the biggest geek of us all.

Re:good eats with alton brown!!!! (1)

darien.train (1752510) | about 4 years ago | (#33512030)

Just watch Good Eats with Alton Brown... the biggest geek of us all.

Agreed. Good Eats is by far the most informative cooking show on television because of a simple frame-change. Good Eats is a technique show, not a recipe show which is far more valuable if you're serious about being a good cook. All the Barefoot Contessa or even Jacques Pepin (who's my personal favorite when it comes to recipes) won't teach you to truly understand the art of cooking...just the art of repeating other people's cooking.

My only problem with Good Eats is that Alton blatantly hacked the format from Bill Nye The Science Guy but the show isn't nearly as entertaining...although if you're going to "borrow" do it from the best.

List geek cooking instructions here (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511770)

Preparing Scrambled Eggs:
INSERT INTO bowl SELECT * FROM spoon_and_raw_eggs ORDER BY RAND()

Making pulled barbecue from a slow cooked slab of beef:
fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork();

I'm outta material :(

Re:List geek cooking instructions here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511834)

fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork();

Change the 'f' to a 'b' and you get Swedish Chef.

Re:List geek cooking instructions here (3, Funny)

snowgirl (978879) | about 4 years ago | (#33512120)

fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork();

Change the 'f' to a 'b' and you get Swedish Chef.

You mean: s/f/b/g for Swedish Chef.

Re:List geek cooking instructions here (1)

IICV (652597) | about 4 years ago | (#33512092)

Every Unix shell script starts out with hashbrowns (even though it's apparently pronounced "shabang") - I guess someone was hungry when they decided that the magical byte sequence was going to be #!

Re:List geek cooking instructions here (1)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | about 4 years ago | (#33512130)

SQL and C? I'd use Chef [dangermouse.net] for this task...

Re:List geek cooking instructions here (1)

greed (112493) | about 4 years ago | (#33512320)

exec >> plate
( bake --temp 400 --time 20:00 < bacon; ) &
( repeat 2 slice bread | { sleep $((18*60)) && toaster --doneness=dark; } ) &
( sleep $((18*60)) && dd if=/dev/fridge/eggs | fry --style=over-easy ) &
dd if=/dev/cupboard/coffee bs=tbsp count=6 | grind --size=extra-fine | cat /dev/boiler - | filter > carafe
dd if=/dev/fridge/orange-juice bs=250mL count=1 > glass

Sadly, I do have the times down so that the toaster pops as the bacon is ready and the eggs are just coming out of the pan....

The cronjob that roasts coffee is left as an exercise for the student. So is the demand-loaded job to make a new batch of OJ.

Re:List geek cooking instructions here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512428)

Making pulled barbecue from a slow cooked slab of beef:
fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork(); fork();

FTFY:

While (Meat == slab)
{
        fork();
}

Realy? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511798)

Is it such a stretch that some one who enjoys intellectual pursuits would never laden down their bookshelf or kindle with a copy of the Larousse Gastronomique, or even Joy of Cooking?... Maybe its just me.

-= AC =-

Re:Realy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511918)

Exactly. Maybe geeks are much less varied wherever jsuda lives, but in the UK I find it is rare to meet a geek who isn't at the very least a foodie, and most of the geekiest geeks I know are also really good cooks. Though most of them didn't really use cookbooks while cooking, so much as read them, gain enlightenment, and go back to successful improvisation from first principles.

Re:Realy? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33511962)

There's nothing wrong with those books, but they really don't go into the why of cooking or explain how to know what a pinch, dash or to taste really means. Nor do they talk much about things like the Maillard reaction or sous vide cooking and why they're important to understand. Cooking for Geeks is really a book about how to take recipes and adjust them and really create your own recipe. A while back I made a curry based loosely upon what Cooking for Geeks talks about. I took the ingredients I had and through them together on the "if it grows together it goes together" basis. Which admittedly isn't unique to that book, I just didn't know about that previously.

Cooking for Geeks really gets down and into the science of cooking and really explains why certain things are done and alternatives.

Re:Realy? (1)

Alan Shutko (5101) | about 4 years ago | (#33512382)

A couple other books in this vein: Cookwise by Shirley Corriher. Goes into the food science a lot. Also, Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider. Sally gives a lot of base ideas and talks through how you can change them. It's good getting you in the mindset to riff on a theme.

waste of paper. (1)

grub (11606) | about 4 years ago | (#33511810)


who needs a whole book telling you how to boil Raman Noodles?

Programmers love to cook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511820)

It has been my experience that a large larger of geeks enjoying cooking. Cooking itself is rather geeky.

I'm a developer (for 20 years) and I wouldn't so far as to say I love cooking but I enjoy it most of the time and I make almost all of my food from scratch. Really it's the only way to get good tasting healthy food these days.

unnecessary waste of time (2, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#33511832)

cooking is. Everything raw, that's the way.

Of-course for a vegetarian it's a much easier proposition.

Re:unnecessary waste of time (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33511944)

Eating everything raw is a pretty silly idea. I enjoy raw tuna and rare steak as much as anyone, but with no cooking at all many nutrients are not available. Not to even mention the lack of flavor such a diet would have.

Re:unnecessary waste of time (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#33512048)

as I said, for a vegetarian it's a more doable idea. For 8 years I only ate raw vegetable/fruits/nuts, that's pretty much it. I ate nothing cooked at all. Now it's a bit different, I cook some of the vegetables.

Re:unnecessary waste of time (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33512146)

I would think being a vegetarian would make it harder. All tubers are basically right out, so is almost any other root vegetable. Most beans are inedible raw too. What exactly other than fruit, soft vegetables and nuts would you be eating?

Sounds like one would need to be very careful to get a decent diet that way.

Re:unnecessary waste of time (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#33512270)

well no, many root vegetables are edible raw. I even tried potatoes, but I don't recommend.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, carrots, beats, parsnip, turnip, onions, garlic, radish, celery, all leafy things like salads, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, corn... I am not naming all, but there are plenty.

Re:unnecessary waste of time (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 4 years ago | (#33512190)

Yoda? Is that you?

The human prestomach (2, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | about 4 years ago | (#33512220)

Most humans have evolved to have a large section of their digestive systems outside their body.

That section is sometimes called a kitchen.

And this prestomach is why we don't need as huge teeth, jaws or gizzards (plus grit) to eat certain foods, compared to other animals who don't have a prestomach. It also allows us to eat (and live on) a wider variety of foods than we would otherwise - the prestomach can help reduce toxicity, increase palatibility and nutrient uptake.

Because this prestomach is not attached to our body we are more mobile in some ways, and less mobile in other ways.

A human without a prestomach is a bit like a cow with one less stomach. The cow might still survive, but it is less likely to thrive (unless it has access to a special diet).

Re:unnecessary waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512250)

Enjoy your raw kidney beans!

Re:unnecessary waste of time (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33512342)

for a vegetarian it's a much easier proposition.

Not if you can outrun a cow.

Bah... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33511838)

I do most of my cooking in the microwave, and I've actually gotten pretty good at it. About the only thing that goes in the conventional oven is frozen pizza, and about the only thing I cook on the stove is hamburgers, french fries, steak, and eggs. Other meats and vegetables go in the microwave. It takes me about ten minutes to cook a good balanced meal - last night I had lemon-pepper pork chops, hominy, lima beans, and a baked potato.

Even chicken can be cooked in the microwave without turning to rubber if you do it right. I've never gotten the hang of frying chicken on the stove.

I'd starve without my microwave.

Re:Bah... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33511910)

How do you get any browning?
How would you make a confit?

Re:Bah... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511976)

"How do you get any browning?"

spray paint

Re:Bah... (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 4 years ago | (#33512222)

Blowtorch? Welding apparatus? Brown tinted sunglasses?

Re:Bah... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33512532)

How do you get any browning?

I don't. That's why I cook steak on the stove or grill. Everything else, I don't need browning.

How would you make a confit?

I have a refrigerator and freezer, so the preservation aspects of a confit are unnecessary. However, often I do like to marinade meat. I just put it in a ziplock with its sauce and let it sit overnight. It works well.

Saltines lasagna (2, Funny)

snsh (968808) | about 4 years ago | (#33511848)

Have you ever looked at the recipes on the back of a box of Saltines crackers? It's stoner food.

Lasagna: Saltines, Velveeta, ketchup.

Re:Saltines lasagna (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 years ago | (#33512150)

Saltines, Velveeta, ketchup.

A lot of college students eat this also. Coincidence, or something more sinister?

Can't I just microwave it? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33511850)

And I don't even like having to remove the film and stir it halfway through microwaving. Where's *my* book, dammit???

Re:Can't I just microwave it? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33511992)

I believe they call that a "phone book" and it contains many "recipes" for things like pizza, Thai and Indian foods. And in some markets other foods such as Vietnamese and Chinese.

Re:Can't I just microwave it? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 4 years ago | (#33512242)

I find that kind of strange where I live, because it only contains recipes for pizza and Chinese food, and a lot of both at that. But no Thai, Indian, or Vietnamese. (Which sucks)

Re:Can't I just microwave it? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33512402)

No thanks. I don't want to eat people--whatever their nationality.

"if you've eaten fish you've eaten worms." (1)

oliverthered (187439) | about 4 years ago | (#33511882)

if you've eaten Worcestershire sauce then you've eaten fermented anchovies.

if you take premare then your then someone's been taking the piss out of pregnant mares.

I'm not sure where they get all those nitrates from in preservatives, but I should imagine the synthesis is a lot easier than collecting buckets of piss from outside pubs nowadays.

But whatever you do... do NOT, EVER... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512312)

if you've eaten Worcestershire sauce then you've eaten fermented anchovies.

Do not, under any circumstances, ever, use Worcestershire sauce as embalming fluid.

Re:"if you've eaten fish you've eaten worms." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512496)

That's cool. I have a bottle of fermented anchovies in my fridge. it's called Fish Sauce.

Waiting for Modernist Cuisine (1)

chennes (263526) | about 4 years ago | (#33511928)

I'll wait for Nathan Myhrvold's "Modernist Cuisine" - http://modernistcuisine.com/ [modernistcuisine.com]

It's A Cookbook! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33511938)

The original release under Kanamit Publishing was titled Cooking 4 Geeks: A Four-Course Experience.

They are just trying to fatten you up.

Actually... (3, Insightful)

edraven (45764) | about 4 years ago | (#33511954)

Most of the geeks I know are also foodies, and a large percentage of them love to cook.

Re:Actually... (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | about 4 years ago | (#33512158)

Agreed. I myself have loved cooking for a long time and in the past few years (with owning a home which has a decent sized kitchen and enough spending money to buy some real tools) I have really upped the variety of recipies and the different techniques I use. I have really started to learn the concepts *BEHIND* the meals, instead of 'Add eggs to milk and flour' which is basically what a cookbook does. In fact, my plan this winter is to design and assemble a smoker due to my BBQ not having enough capacity when I have a gathering and need to cook both ribs/roasts/fish/etc and some quick burgers and hotdogs.

Not all geeks are created equal (1)

quax (19371) | about 4 years ago | (#33511958)

When I grew up my mother had a grueling 12 hours work day. So I had to cook myself if I wanted to have something hot on my plate (yes I am so old my early teen years predate the microwave oven). This drown or swim approach to cooking tought me well and ensured I was always able to whip something up for myself.

Although I am still spending more time on the computer cranking out code than in the kitchen I consider myself something of a foodie now. Bake my own bread, make killer potato pancakes and have pretty much abandoned all precooked frozen food items.

Re:Not all geeks are created equal (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 4 years ago | (#33512272)

Dear God man, you had to cook yourself? How much of you is left now and how did you taste?

Obligatory quote... (2, Funny)

reydelamirienda (892327) | about 4 years ago | (#33511980)

How To Cook For Geeks... How To Cook Forty Geeks... How To Cook For Forty Geeks!

If you like this sort of cookbook (3, Interesting)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 4 years ago | (#33511984)

For anyone interested in this sort of book, I'd also recommend Cookwise: The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking [amazon.com] by Shirley O. Corriher. Not nearly as geeky as this book sounds, but it does incorporate a great deal of science into nearly every recipe. And it does it in a way that probably won't scare off non-geeks, either.

Alton Brown (1)

michael_cain (66650) | about 4 years ago | (#33511994)

...has been doing the same things for years. The physics of heat transfer, the chemistry of almost everything cooked, bits of biology and botany, a dash of history, etc.

How to prepare your input (1)

owlstead (636356) | about 4 years ago | (#33511996)

Nice, a scientificly book on food. On the other hand anyone that is interested in quickly preparing a meal does not have to look further to the (by now very old, but venerable) "How to prepare your input" by no-one else than Andrew S. Tanenbaum (aka Andy for students/friends).

www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/home/how_to_prep.ps

Important note: Last time I saw him he still looked healthy to me :)

Art or Science? (1)

rueger (210566) | about 4 years ago | (#33512014)

Art: Julia Child [amazon.ca]

Science: The Joy of Cooking. [amazon.ca]

All you need.

How to boil water (1)

natoochtoniket (763630) | about 4 years ago | (#33512060)

My personal favorite of all the introductory cookbooks I have ever seen is, "How to boil water",
( http://www.amazon.com/Boil-Water-Food-Network-Kitchens/dp/0696226863 [amazon.com] ). It has labeled pictures of things you might find in a kitchen, so when a recipe says to use a "frying pan", you can go look at the picture and get the right thing out of the cabinet. The first recipe is "coffee". The next chapter is "things you can eat without having to cook them first".

Re:How to boil water (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33512164)

Sounds like we need to find the people who bought that book and put their parents on trial for neglect.

Re:How to boil water (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#33512294)

You might laugh, but I had a pal in college who found a couple of freshmen in the dorm kitchen holding a box of spaghetti and looking very confused at the instructions "boil 4 cups of water".

And for those geeks who've forked off new processes, remember that some basic cooking skills are extremely valuable for the little tykes. Someone who knows how to cook can eat for something like $3 a day, whereas if they can't they'll spend closer to $15 a day. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a pretty dramatic difference once you multiply by 365.25 days a year.

Analysing the cooking process, you say? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33512086)

I've worked in IT. I've worked in kitchens.

And I don't get why people need to make them into the same pursuit.

Here are some things I've learned: you check steaks for doneness, not by shoving thermometers into them ... but by touching them and feeling for firmness.

You can tell how hot a pan is by watching how oil moves across its surface.

You can tell how hot a pan is by listening to the patch of food as it sears / sautees / sweats.

At a certain point, you're just collecting more data while losing out on the visceral, five senses appeal of doing something that can be intensely creative.

But maybe it's just me.

Re:Analysing the cooking process, you say? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33512182)

The only to learn what a medium NY strip feels like it so touch them and use a thermometer to check or ruin a lot of steaks. The rest of those are pretty much the same.

From the review (0, Redundant)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 years ago | (#33512140)

"Anyone who is interested in cooking will learn from this book."

Probably not. I outgrew entry level cookbooks a decade or more ago and purged my cookbook collection of kitsch and crap nearly as long ago.

I also see, that like most cookbooks, it teaches you to cook by time and temperature - which would be great if food were digital and standardized. But food, like much of the rest of the real world, is analog and variable. Real cooks cook with their senses, resorting to instrument only when the senses aren't up to the job.

"Although one of the strengths of the book is the systematic organization, there are useful tips spread throughout. For example, keeping a pizza stone permanently in your oven will help even out heat distribution"

No it doesn't - it minimizes temperature variation. (And actually only does so if the oven is preheated long enough for the stone to fully heat.)

Great book (1)

plik (5535) | about 4 years ago | (#33512210)

I met this guy at HOPE, and he was actually really interesting. I wish he would up some demos of some of his recipes online. He can make jello shots that you can nail to a wall!! What?!?! The book is actually quite interesting.

New Food Sites for Food Geeks (1)

Qui-Gonn Jew (64431) | about 4 years ago | (#33512326)

Currently there are a whole bunch of food web sites that are doing things like flavor matching, or other advanced food related search. I have been playing around with Yummly (www.yummly.com) and found that "taste" bars are interesting to play with if you want something like a briskit recipe on the sweeter side (http://www.yummly.com/recipes/#q=brisket&flavor.sweet.min=4&flavor.sweet.max=6).

e-reader edition (1)

bareman (60518) | about 4 years ago | (#33512334)

Is there an e-edition? I'm not able to find it on Amazon.

And "Cooking for Geeks" should have an e-edition if any cookbook should.

Probably too geeky for me (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 4 years ago | (#33512530)

I like to feel my way when cooking and use my senses and instincts. It usually works out well. But a year ago I had to switch from gas to electric. What a pain in the arse. Gas is so adjustable and subtle compared to electric. Even after all of this time, cooking every day I find electric an impediment to the way I have been cooking for years. Maybe in a year or two it will seem natural to me. I do not own or need a microwave but if I had one I would probably put it to use for some basic re-heating or very simple cooking.
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