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I'm Just Here for the Food

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the caloric-entertainment dept.

Science 250

MattE writes: "Alton Brown, for those who aren't familiar, has a cooking show on the Food Network called Good Eats. His new book isn't so much a cookbook, in the current sense of a book that contains a heck of a lot of recipes. (It does, in fact, contain recipes, but it really isn't what the book is about.) See the Perl cookbook, for a translation of this idea to programming. It is a book about cooking that covers science and technique first; Recipes are only example code. He says he is a 'culinary cartographer.'" This sounds like a fun book -- for the rest of Matt's review, read on below.

Rather than giving precise directions about how many rights and how many lefts, Alton aims to give you the lay of the land. "Cooking is not defined by seasonings ... it is defined by the application of heat." That is why the first six chapters are devoted to a single heating method each: searing, grilling, roasting, frying, boiling, and braising. This first book doesn't cover baking, or other manufactured food. Another book, in a similar vein, by a chemist, Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking , actually begins with baking.

As partial proof of the author's geekiness, I present an excerpt from the introduction to the grilling chapter:

I am typing on a Macintosh G4 Titanium Powerbook, which is roving through my MP3 collection like a digital whirling dervish. When I need to speak to someone, which isn't very often since the G4 is wirelessly connected to the Web through a device in the house, I do so on a Nokia cell phone capable of trading files with my Palm V, which I really should replace since it's so 1999.

He's got his own web site, complete with blog. Throughout the book, he describes approaches to cooking that have everything to do with good food and geekiness, and nothing to do with the manufacturer's instructions. Back to the grill, he's removed one of the plates on the side of his grill and fitted it with a piece of tailpipe. Then, when he's grilling, he sticks a hair dryer in the tailpipe and uses it to whip the coals into an inferno. Which might explain why he gets his oven mitts from the hardware store in the form of welding gloves. When talking about ovens, he describes how he builds an oven out of firebricks, and how he uses a large terra cotta pot to cook a chicken in his oven. It's all in the name of even heat distribution. He's also not above rewiring his electric skillet to provide a greater range of temperatures. You know you've read something good when the author includes a mini-disclaimer to the effect of "if you try this at home kids, I and the publisher are not responsible."

Alton encourages improvisation, suggesting you hold a refrigerator roulette party: everybody brings three ingredients and then everybody has to make something of it. Now there's a team building exercise for the daring. Basically, a recipe is like an open source app that nobody's willing to muck with -- you either eat it when somebody else has already prepared it, or you compile (I mean prepare) it yourself, but follow the directions exactly. This just ruins the whole point of making the source (or the recipe) available. Tinker with it, make it better, make it awful, hey, it's just food.

From Alton's Rules I Cook By: If the food is an existing hunk or hunks of something to be cooked, you can generally mess with seasonings, herbs, spices, and so on to your heart's content. The book is filled throughout with examples of Alton's own improvisations -- like the recipe he used to win a cheap chili competition he and some friends dreamed up while sitting around on somebody's porch. In this case, the ingredients were tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and salt he had in his pantry, some cheap beef stew meat and some lamb stew meat from the supermarket, and the cheapest beer available from the local taqueria and the chips and salsa that came with it. Total cost: $7.74

The end of the book includes appendices with a Critter Map, which shows where different cuts of meat come from, and The Basic Culinary Toolbox, where he describes necessary tools, from heat resistant spatulas and all kinds of thermometers to what makes a good knife. Also included are a very brief selection of suppliers for various dry goods and a selection on cleanliness that has some tips on recognizing a good meat and produce department. The one weakness of the book may be its index. Again, since this isn't really a cookbook per se, it might not matter so much that all the chicken recipes in the book are not listed in the index under Chicken, or that his great recipe for microwave popcorn is listed under M, but not P. As for the popcorn recipe itself, here's a hint: popcorn, paper bag, and 2 staples.

If you are reading this I highly recommend I'm Just Here For the Food as well as the show Good Eats. This is the book on cooking I've been waiting for someone to write ever since I started cooking. It gives you the tools and the principles so that you can cook what you want and experiment with flavors and ingredients you like.

Appetite whetted? You can purchase I'm Just Here for the Food from 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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FP? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916671)

Would be two in two days...

Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916674)

Sounds like a good approach to teaching coding techniques.

Tally-ho! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916677)

I like food!

first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916685)

past the post (wait 6 more seconds....)

Science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916687)

Why is this posted as Science?

Re:Science? (1)

mattyohe (517995) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916693)

"It is a book about cooking that covers science and technique first"

Re:Science? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Cowrad (571322) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916702)

Because Alton Brown is a food scientist.

He's also amazingly hot. I don't think that has anything to do with science, but damn.


I love this book (4, Interesting)

twenex (139462) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916697)

Alton is my guru. He has completely transformed my cooking from "hunt and peck" approaches to an understanding of the processes. Now when I try something new, I'm not just guessing at whether it will work or not.

Oh, and go buy a digital temperature probe. You'll need one.

Also, as hinted by the author, go watch his show. I especially like the one when he shows you how to make a smoker out of a cardboard box.

Re:I love this book (2)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916851)

Also, as hinted by the author, go watch his show. I especially like the one when he shows you how to make a smoker out of a cardboard box.

Didn't see that one. But, being a garlic fan, I loved the ep where he had DRACULA helping him do garlic.

Kitchen should be a geeks 2nd home (4, Funny)

alnapp (321260) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916701)

If only because of all the toys available.

Re:Kitchen should be a geeks 2nd home (2, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916718)

Honestly, I love cooking and being in the kitchen. But I don't use the new-age toys or anything. Rolling out the dough for pasta and cutting it by hand is my style, not using some auto-roller and auto-cutter.

Cooking can be relaxing, but you should be the one doing the work.

Moderators, its just my opinion. No need to get nasty.

Re:Kitchen should be a geeks 2nd home (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916740)

Nah, tools for house maintenance and improvement are quite a bit broader & more powerful thank kitchen toys. That's second home, kitchen is third.

Check the warehouse stores for this title (3, Informative)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916712)

I saw it at Costco (yclept Price Club) the other day. Stores like these (e.g., BJ's, Sam's Club) often have books at a discount of 30% or more. (No shipping charge either.-)

The book looked like a hoot.

This is a great book (0, Informative)

dknj (441802) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916716)

This is a book about cooking techniques, rather than recipies. It's organized by cooking method, rather than ingredients like most other cookbooks. There are a lot of cookbooks out there full of nothing but recipies, but many of them don't say anything about the different methods to prepare food. AB also goes into some of the how's and why's of the different preparation methods. afraid to broil? never poached anything? roasts turn out like lumps of coal? deep fried stuff ends up grease laden? You'll pick up a lot of good tips out of this book. There are a few simple recipies in with each section that you can use to test the waters and practice with.

If you like to cook and want to expand your repetoire of cooking techniques, this is a good one to add to the shelf.


Re:This is a great book (2, Informative)

bigfatlamer (149907) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916905)

I'm going to go pick this one up, but for another book with a nice ratio of how/why info to recipes, try Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything." It's organized like most cookbooks (all the beef recipes here, all the potato recipes over there) but each section starts off with 5-20 pages of basics on the ingredient in question and cooking techniques.

Geek Food (2, Funny)

NodeZero (49835) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916717)

I remember the days, back in college. Surviving on Mountain Dew and Jolt. Microwaveable . I knew I had to kick the habit when what little sleep I did get was consumed with dreams of coding. Nightmares of large code segments chasing me around. Ahh, those were the days. Oh wait, I still have one more year left!

Alton Brown Rocks (4, Informative)

elmegil (12001) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916722)

Good Eats is one of the few TV shows that I regularly make time to watch. It's amusing, offbeat, and educational. My favorite bit was in the Oatmeal episode, when Alton took 3 minutes to get into pictish drag and describe making haggis with a scottish accent.

It's worth noting that Cookwise as referenced above is by Shirley Corriher, a food chemist who also is a semi-frequent guest on Good Eats. Alton & Shirley are definitely birds of a feather. And yes, we bought this book the minute it came out, and my wife and I both buzzed through it (she a bit more thorougly than I).

learn how to land before you learn howto fly (1)

cez (539085) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916723)

good pretense, some writers just make it easier to communicate ideas, wish most of my college texts were like this, well some were, but not the majority.

Recipie (5, Funny)

adamjaskie (310474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916734)

Found this somewhere a few years ago. Enjoy!


  1. 532.35 cm3 gluten
  2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
  3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite
  4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
  5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
  6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
  7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
  8. 2.0 CaCO3 encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
  9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacoa
  10. 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated juglans regia fruits (sieve size 10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients (1), (2), and (3) with consistent agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel (reactor #2) with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients (4), (5), (6), and (7), processing until the mixture is homogeneous. Add to ingredients in reactor #2, ingredient (8) and three volumetrically equal portions of the homogeneous mixture in reactor #1, processing after each addition until the mixture is again homogeneous.

Upon completion of the previous step, add ingredients (9) and (10), slowly with constant agitation at an impeller rate of 50 rpm. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place 10.0 cm3 nodules of the mixture in ordered ranks on a 316SS sheet (30.0 cm X 60.0 cm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnson's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown.

Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 297K heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to thermal equilibrium with ambient atmospheric temperature.

420 Lewis !!! Pot News From CA #@ +1, Inhale @# (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916777)

Remember: Burn one for Bush's impeachment !

Medical Pot Users Get Some Protection []

Reminds me of "Stirred Eggs" (3, Funny)

Interrobang (245315) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917003)

13.1. Stirred Eggs From How to Cook and Eat in Chinese
by Buwei Yang Chao
Copyright 1945, 1949 0 1963 by Buwei Yang Chao
Published by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. in 1970.
ISBN: O-394-71703-1 LCCCN: 73-89692
Vintage Books Edition, April 1972
Pages 133 to 135

Chapter 18 EGGS

13.1. Stirred Eggs

Stirred eggs may be said to be the most everyday dish made by applying the most everyday method to the most everyday material. Learning to stir-fry eggs is the ABC of cooking. As this is the only dish my husband cooks well, and he says that he either cooks a thing well or not at all I shall let him tell how it is done.


6 average-sized fresh eggs (for this is the maximum number of eggs 1 have cooked at one time)
3 grammes of cooking salt (or, as an alternative, 4 grammes of table salt)
50 c.c. fresh lard, which will approximately equal the content of 4 level tablespoonfuls
1 plant of Chinese ts'ung (substitute with scallion if ts'ung is unobtainable) about 30 em. long by 7 mm. in average diameter. (This ingredient is optional.)

"Either shell or unshell the eggs by knocking one against another in any order.* Be sure to have a bowl below to catch the contents. With a pair of chopsticks, strike the same with a quick, vigorous motion known as 'beating the eggs.' This motion should, however, be made repeatedly and not just once. Automatic machines, aptly named as egg-beaters,' have been invented for this purpose.

"Make cross sections of the ts'ung at intervals of about 7.5 mm., making 40 sections altogether. Throw in the ts'ung and the measured amount of salt during the final phase of the 'beating.'

"Heat the lard in a large flat-bottomed pan over a brisk fire until it (the lard) begins to give off a faint trace of smoke. Pour the contents of the bowl into the oil at once.

"The next phase of the operation is the most critical for the successful stir-frying of eggs. When the bottom part of the mixture becomes a puffed-up soft mass on contact with the heat, the upper part will remain quite liquid. Preferably using a thin flat piece of metal attached to a handle, the operator should push the mixture to one side so as to allow the uncooked liquid portion to flow onto the hot fat on the now exposed portion of the bottom. (Sometimes this may be facilitated by slightly tipping the pan.) Quickly repeat this until abut 90 per cent of the liquid has come in contact with the hot fat and becomes puffed. Then, still using the flat piece of metal, make the entire content of the pan revolve through 180 degrees about a horizontal axis. This delicate operation is known as 'turning it over,' which in the hands of a beginner may easily become a flop.

"It can be done neatly and without waste only after repeated practice with different sets of eggs.

"If the turning over has been successfully carried out, wait for 5 seconds, which is about the time it takes to count from 1 to 12, then transfer the contents to the bowl or a platter, when the dish is said to be done.

"To test whether the cooking has been done properly, observe the person served. If he utters a voiced bilabial nasal consonant with a slow falling intonation, it is good. If he utters the syllable yum in reduplicated form, it is very good."-Y. R. C.

*"Since, when two eggs collide, only one of them will break, it will be necessary to use a seventh egg with which to break the sixth. If, as it may very well happen, the seventh egg breaks firt instead of the sixth, an expedient will be simply to use the seventh one and put away the sixth. An alternate procedure is to delay your numbering system and define that egg as the sixth egg which breaks after the fifth egg."

Mr. Chao was an engineer...and apparently quite as geeky as anyone would wish... Happy cooking!

Alton Brown on FoodTV (5, Informative)

schematix (533634) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916747)

I was suprised to see this review on /. but i must commend it. As a frequent foodtv watcher, i have to say that this guy is great. In every episode he goes after the science behind a particular food. He covers the chemistry of certain processes and explains often times how to circumvent problems.

He recently did a show about strawberries that was superb. He showed an ingenious technique for freezing the strawberries using dry ice (for the CO2) so that they don't get mushy. He also ended the show with a brilliant analogy of antioxidants and free radicals using the strawberry dessert he had just made.

Although often times quite eccentric, his show is always alurring to watch. Even if you aren't a fan of cooking shows this one might be of interest. On sunday around 9pm on foodtv (check your local listings) he has a full hour long show scheduled on cooking on a deserted island...or is that desserted? His culinary ingenuity is truly impressive.

Good Eats WILL turn you into a chef (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916753)

You'll go from a cook to a chef. I guarantee it. His explanations of the techniques he uses, as well as the DOWN AND DIRTY GEEKY explanations of the chemistry and physics behind why food cooks certain ways, are fantastic.

Plus he wears great shirts.

I just got this book last week (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916754)

I too am a HUGE fan of his TV show. He has that irreverent attitude and common sense approach. Lot's o' humor and tidbits.

The book is a good read and if you watch the show it is exactly what you expected.

I find that in places he gets a little too odd -- just like when chatting with your other geek friends and one of them goes into a tyrade about how *HE* rewrote something to make it work how *HE* thought it should. You either think their a genius or just a little furher down the geek trail than you want to go.

For instance he does his simmering in the oven because it gets better heat distribution and the oven is better at holding the 195 degree temperature. Makes sense, sure, but also just a little past normal.

On the other hand most of his recipes are DAMN tasty and there are just enough of them to make this book interesting.

But what I truly like about this book and what the reviewer does not explain well enough is the book's point. He does not want to give you the source and teach you how to type ./configure && make. No, he wants to give each of us a little hacking course. In fact this book is really "Design Patterns in Cooking".

This guy is a freak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916760)

I've watched him on TV.

He killed some lobsters and called them

this book can't be a good thing
unless it is in which case I will
stand corrected

hug a root yall

Alton's web site (3, Informative)

smartin (942) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916761) [] is pretty good. Read the rant's and raves section for funny stories from his book tour.

Tried to buy it yesterday... (2)

RadioheadKid (461411) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916762)

Alton Brown rocks. I made the turkey for Thanksgiving which he showed how to cook on his show. People were saying it was the best turkey they had had in a while. Believe me, that wasn't due to my own culinary abilites, but thanks to Alton's directions. Good Eats is the most underated show on Food Network, corny, yes, but I love it. Ironcially I went looking for this book yesterday at the bookstore, they didn't have it, I'll have to pick it up online....

Does he have a recipe for hot grits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916765)

and must they be cooked while naked and petrified? (Joe Haldeman advocated frying bacon while naked, to make sure you didn't use too much heat.)

That's what you think.... (5, Funny)

mblase (200735) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916766)

Basically, a recipe is like an open source app that nobody's willing to muck with

Dear Mr. Brown:

Our law firm represents Emiril Lagasse [] and his associated restaurants. It has come to our attention that several of the recipes you employ in your book "I'm Just Here for the Food" may infringe on the recipes copyrighted by our client and his enterprise.

These recipes, while not explicitly identical to Mr. Lagasse's, are similar enough to clearly be derivative works. It is our assertion that your recipes are in violation of our client's copyrights as well as his trademark on "hot and spicy Louisiana cookin'".

We require that you pull your book from publication immediately, and submit a deposition regarding the origins of your recipes. We intend to file suit immediately for damages resulting from loss of profits due to your theft of our clients' recipes to the sum of not less than $2,000,000 (two million dollars) plus fifty percent of all profits from your book.

The Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe

Cc: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, Legal Department

Warning: (2, Funny)

El_Smack (267329) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916781)

I like "tweaking and compiling" open source recipes, but last week I used a string variable when I should have used an array. It looked good to me, but when I ran it through my FPU (Food Processing Unit) I started getting SegFaults and wound up taking a huge core dump.

Another source (4, Informative)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916787)

You can also buy the book from the Food Network website. When I got my copy, they were running a limited time special on autographed copies if you bought three or more items.. so mine has Alton's scribblegram on the inside frontspiece. This month it's a free apron with three items, and they're also featuring a complete collection of Good Eats on DVD.

I often wonder why I don't weigh 600 pounds sometimes.

Re:Another source (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917008)

man, If I had mod points, I'd mod you down. now everyone is going to get there before me ;)

Wow, a /. book review... (4, Insightful)

eaeolian (560708) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916789)

...that actually makes me want to READ the book. I'll openly admit to not having heard of this guy before, but I like the approach. A lot. There are many people who say they can't cook, and yet, when you talk to them, they haven't really tried to learn - all they've ever done is follow recipies.

To point out the obvious, the parallel to programming is right on - too many people ctrl-c'ing code snippets, not enough understanding of what's actually happening when that code executes. Does that make Front Page the TV dinner of Web design?

Re:Wow, a /. book review... (3, Interesting)

topham (32406) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916903)

I can't cook and I'm not very inclined. (Food doesn't generally interest me...)

But I've seen this guys show and it's great. Thinking about it, I'm not actually suprised this guy gets mentioned on slashdot.

What I like about his show, he breaks down what he's doing in easy steps, tells you explicitly what to watch out for. Tells you how to fix problems which occur from over, or under cooking, etc [and how to tell without slaughtering the food]. It isn't as simple/stupid as: cook for 10 minutes or until done.

And, his show is entertaining.

Re:Wow, a /. book review... (2)

freeweed (309734) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917024)

Does that make Front Page the TV dinner of Web design?

I was thinking more like AFTER you've eaten the TV dinner - like say about 24 hours after :)

Re:Wow, a /. book review... (2)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917109)

Does that make Front Page the TV dinner of Web design?

Probably more like a vending machine: you have a few options to choose from, but whatever you get is going to be high-sugar, high-fat, lots of preservatives, and not very good for you.

Is this really necessary? (2, Insightful)

Betelgeuse (35904) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916792)

Basically, a recipe is like an open source app that nobody's willing to muck with

I mean, I know it's slashdot, but c'mon. Alton Brown is geeky enough without having to force the matter.

Re:Is this really necessary? (1)

slugo3 (31204) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916829)

yeah this is weird
yesterday we get a windows ask /. and now a cook book review?
hell in a handbasket i say

Re:Is this really necessary? (1)

nucal (561664) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916840)

I always thought open source cooking involved canned soup.

Curry Anyone ? (5, Interesting)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916793)

Ingredients - Chicken pieces 1kg or 2.2 lbs
Oil 3tbs,
Chopped onion one and a half cup,
Chopped ginger 2 tbs
Chopped garlic half tbs
Split green chillies 4
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Chilly powder half or one tsp
Coriander powder 2tbs
Cumin seed 1tsp, pepper half tsp, cloves 5, cardamom 2, cinnamon sticks 3. Powder these together. Instead one and a half tsp of garam massala powder can also be used.
Curry leaves a few
Coconut milk 2 cups.

Clean the chicken pieces. Mix it with 1 tbs of salt and 2 tsp of lime juice (or half cup of curd) and keep aside for half an hour. Make a paste of the coriander chilly and turmeric powder. Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel. Add chopped onion, ginger, garlic and green chillies and brown it.
Add the masala paste and fry for a minute. Add the chicken pieces together with the juice that comes out of it. Stir it for about five minutes. If the coconut milk is taken from fresh grated coconut add about 2 cups of the second milk to the curry. Otherwise add about 2 cups of hot water. Cover and cook for about half an hour till the chicken pieces are cooked.
If you like potatoes in the currry, about one and a half cups of potato pieces can be added to the curry half way through. Add the coconut milk and the garam masala powder and curry leaves. If you want more gravy or the gravy is not thick enough dissolve a tsp of corn flour in milk or water and add to the curry and just boil again stirring well and just bring the curry to boil.

Mods : Well... You gotta eat!

P.S : Try this. Its one of the best curried chicken out there. Thank me later. Yes, I got karma to burn. I just thought this recipe would do everyone good.

Re:Curry Anyone ? (3, Interesting)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916926)

If you're an ex-pat Brit, I'm currently working in the colonies, and you just need to have an authentic resturant curry then buy

The Curry Secret: Indian Restaurant Cookery at Home
Kris Dillion
Elliot Right Way Books
ISBN: 0716020548

Cheaper than that $800 flight

Re:Curry Anyone ? (3, Interesting)

joss (1346) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916988)

Thanks for the tip. I feel for you man.. I was in that situation for a while. SF has a few decent Indian's but they wouldn't know a decent naan if you smacked 'em with it. Check out Sue's Indian if you're in bay area.

BTW, flights are a lot less than $800 most the time now.

Paper, Staples and Microwave? (2)

GMontag (42283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916796)

Is this for roasted popcorn?

As for the popcorn recipe itself, here's a hint: popcorn, paper bag, and 2

Hopefully the bag is not closed with staples BEFORE insertion into the microwave, since this is the perfect formula for a fire.

No idea why you would staple after popping either.

If someone that has read the book can tell us what Mr. Brown has to say about this, before we run out and purchase the book it would be a greatly appreciated money saving assist.

I love "Good Eats", watch it every wednesday at 2100 on the Food channel! I thought I was the only raw clam lover on earth before Alton Brown featured them on his show.

Re:Paper, Staples and Microwave? (1)

Sway (153291) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916852)

He says that as long as the staples are further apart than the amplitude of the microwaves (I think), then there is no fire risk. He definitely recommends doing the stapling before it goes in the microwave.

Re:Paper, Staples and Microwave? (2)

Skidge (316075) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916861)

I tried his popcorn recipe, stapling the back shut before microwaving. No problems whatsoever. The popcorn didn't turn out so great, but I think that was because I didn't really pay attention to the actual power of my microwave.

Re:Paper, Staples and Microwave? (4, Informative)

gopher_hunt (574487) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916868)

I have the book and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the science of cooking. As for the great staple controversy, here is a paraphrase of what is said: as long as youre using a microwave oven with a turntable and dont place the bag where the staples can rub up agains the wall, no fires or sparking will happen. This is because the staples have very little mass and are shorter than a microwave wavelength, rendering them 'invisible'. P.S. Use two staples only, placed 2 - 3 inches apart.

TY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916896)

Ah, perfect!

Thank you very much.


Re:Paper, Staples and Microwave? (1)

ColinBlair (547822) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916945)

The 2 staples go into the folded top of the back before going into the Microwave. There is a lengthy discussion of the wavelength of microwaves compared to the length of a staple in the book. A typical staple is something like 1/8th the length of the actual microwave. That is too short for significant heat to be generated. After using Alton's method over 30 times I have only noticed significant discoloration of the paper around the staple once. Just don't use really, really big staples, paperclips, or more than 2 staples and you should be fine.

Re:Paper, Staples and Microwave? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916979)

Don't know if this'll get read, but here goes.

The two staples are indeed used to seal the bag. The theory is that they're so small as to be microwave-invisible, since they're shorter than the wavelength of an actual microwave. I have no idea whether or not this is actually true, I'm just quoting. It may also be possible that the staples are too small to have enough heat to transfer to ignite the bag.

I have, however, tried it out several times to great success. By the time you pull it out, the bag has become slightly discolored around the staples, but nothing close to honest to goodness fire. The book claims that in preparation for the time the recipie was shown on t.v. (the corn episode of good eats) it was tested sucessfully in ten different makes and models of microwaves, which I'm inclined to believe since the liability would be huge if they weren't darn sure it would work.

As for safety instructions, the book suggests that you'll be fine as long as the microwave has a turntable and the staples don't actually touch the interior surface of the microwave. And just use two staples, no more.

I met Alton during his book tour! (4, Interesting)

dscottj (115643) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916797)

Shameless (but on topic) plug time:

I met Alton while he was doing a book promo tour for IJHFTF. I did a full write up on it at my website. Read the play-by-play here... [] .

An excerpt:
Alton seems to be at the same point of celebrity that Penn & Teller claim to be... famous enough to be recognized and draw crowds in certain situations, but not so "rock star" as to take it all seriously. I get the feeling that if he hadn't had an invite to the Washington Press Club that night, a bunch of the people at the bookstore could've offered to take him to dinner and he would've accepted immediately.

Worst... Analogy... Ever! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916801)

His new book isn't so much a cookbook, in the current sense of a book that contains a heck of a lot of recipes. (It does, in fact, contain recipes, but it really isn't what the book is about.) See the Perl cookbook, for a translation of this idea to programming.

Yeah, ummm well the Perl Cookbook is actually just a book filled with 'recipes' on how to fix specific problems. I would think of it more as a traditional cookbook than how you're describing this book here...

Did you know? (0)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916812)

Obeject-Oriented Programming is like Japanese Food tning-sean-burke.m3u?play=1

btw html posting and/or preview are broken

/.ers can cook?!? (1, Flamebait)

kirkb (158552) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916828)

I hate to perpetuate sterotypes, but you know very well that the single, male slashdot crowd (the majority) are pretty much limited to microwaved items, pizza, and stuff from here [] .

Those of us who have tricked wooed somebody into marrying us are probably sensible enough to let them handle things. Personally, I'm only allowed in the kitchen to peel stuff and take out the garbage.

So I suppose this slashdot article must be aimed at the female /. demographic (1% ?)

Re:/.ers can cook?!? (1, Offtopic)

kirkb (158552) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916845)

Weird, the "strike" HTML tag around "tricked" didn't take. /. filters that?

Re:/.ers can cook?!? (0, Offtopic)

jamie (78724) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916892)

Use the Preview button :)

Re:/.ers can cook?!? (5, Insightful)

Lxy (80823) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916929)

Those of us who have tricked^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hwooed somebody into marrying us are probably sensible enough to let them handle things

I am am a better cook than my wife. We both know this. Yes, I appreciate it when she makes me dinner, but usually she leaves the cooking to me. By the way, I found a site long ago here [] that really helps me out in the kitchen.

Don't fall into the lies, guys. Cooking can be as masculine as anything. Did I mention they make titanium cookware? Mmmmm.... titanium...

Damn straight! (3, Insightful)

hicktruckdriver (29349) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916960)

Speak for yourself, man!

As far as I'm concerned, cooking is mad geeky -- taking various disparate components and combining and processing them to create things that are often nothing like the original components. IMHO, cooking has the same allure as creating music, coding, or sports. (Wait, did I just say that?)

Bonus: It's also socially acceptable to be a pyromaniac if it's in the service of cuisine.

Double Bonus: Chicks dig it -- you've got to give them a reason to look past your double-thick glasses, right?

Re:Damn straight! (2)

Peyna (14792) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916972)

I find being geeky + able to cook can be quite a chick-magnet. Not only will you (hopefully) be able to "put food on the table" in the future, but you can actually prepare it yourself.

Are there many other geek coders/gardeners/cooks out there? I love all 3, but coding definitely comes first =]

Re:Damn straight! (2)

liquidsin (398151) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917105)

Sing it, brother. Code by day, cook dinner when I get home, then tend to the garden (which is only herbs and things I can use to make incense). I have a bonsai collection too. I love cooking, gardening I just do for relaxation, as I tend to kill most things anyways.

not true (2)

mikeee (137160) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917097)

I suspect the cooking skills of slashdot readers are very bi-modal; mostly the folks you describe, but an increasing percentage of the older readers have decided cooking is a Technical Skill and geeked out on it.

All bow down before my peanut-butter soup!

AB on tour, and a Good Eats fan link (5, Informative)

Silverhammer (13644) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916832)

Back in June, Mr. Brown (AB to his friends and fans) went on tour to promote his book. I caught his last stop here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (It's the hometown of Borders, don'cha know...)

Basically, the guy is just as witty and cool in person as he is on the show. He was obviously a little burnt out from the tour, and there were rumors his marriage was on the rocks, but in every other way he was just... himself. Most celebrities, when you meet them in person, are paler and scabbier and much more socially inept than they ever appear on screen. Not AB. Watching him during the Q&A session was just like watching him on his show -- so much so that I actually got a slight sense of dissociation.

He's going back out on tour again soon. Here are the dates [] . If you can, go see him. It's definitely worth it.

The best Good Eats site is not at the Food Network's main site. They just warehouse AB's recipes. The best Good Eats site is the Good Eats Fan Page [] . News, transcripts, FAQs, family tree (no, really ;-) and a complete index of the recipes. Enjoy.

what i love about his shows... (4, Informative)

paradesign (561561) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916837)

he dosent show you one way to do things. he does it several ways, with a scientific description of each. I love the little "muppets" that pop up to explain things.

best example is his episode on baking cookies, i think he did like 4-5 variations explaining all of the variables in the CCCokie combination. From the sugar / brown sugar ratio to the cook time / heat ratio, to the butter used. its the most memorable to me.

if you havent seen his show, you missing out, its not just a slurry of concepts and vocab, theres a fair mix of humor as well. also good is Food 911, where the guy goes to peoples houses and prepares meals with whats on hand. ive learned several recipies from that show. best of all he tells you what to use if you dont have a specific ingredient on hand, good theory + simple ingredients = good show.

Re:what i love about his shows... (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916870)

Um...Food 911 is where one guy goes around and shows people how to cook things they have difficulty with. Door Knock Dinners is where a different (and very annoying) guy goes to people's homes and has a chef cook them things with what's on hand. That guy is now doing Follow that Food, so I presume DKD is dead (thank god).

Re:what i love about his shows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916962)

yeah but he usually ends up using whats on hand, unles they want help with a specific ingredient.

case in point. one show a lady wanted to get away from her meat and potato diet routine. he ended up making her two dishes with what she had just laying around the house.

maybe my point isnt entirely truthful, but it is in the fact that he gives goo solid advice and suggestions, and removes alot of the intimidation of cooking.


Re:what i love about his shows... (3, Interesting)

Flounder (42112) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917017)

The CCChip show changed my life. Seriously. I'm actually now making cookies for money based on what I learned from that show.

Not professionally, just several dozen a weekend or so, usually for relatives and friends.

Granted, when the wife asked why I needed to buy a $50 cookie sheet, and I said "Alton Brown has one just like it", she just rolled her eyes.

But I do love my $29 probe temp/timer just like Alton Brown has.

From his blog: (5, Funny)

elefantstn (195873) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916843)

I've received several books, a few very good cigars, custom art, a home-made Alton Brown doll and a set of tea towels that have "Good Eats" woven into Klingon.
Ok, fess up. Who was it?

peDoghQo' (1)

MemeRot (80975) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916934)


Hab SoSlI' Quch!

Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam

maj! maj! maj!

grabbed from...... (1)

MemeRot (80975) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916953)

The Klingon Language Institute [] list of everyday phrases. It really says something that 'Today is a good day to die' (Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam) is an everyday phrase.

There are now more speakers of Klingon than of Navajo. That is so sad....

IT Chef (2, Interesting)

Zabu (589690) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916855)

Lets parse it up another notch, BAM!

Cooking is fun when you add other aspects of life to it. For example... Iron Chef [] is a clever combination of oriental cooking and televised wrestling. It makes a perfect recipe for entertainment!

To Serve Camels (4, Funny)

gelfling (6534) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916860)

oh my god it'''s a COOKBOOK

hmmm, gelfling (1)

MemeRot (80975) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916973)

Most tasty, gelflings are. Many ways to prepare...

Is there anything in that book about the cooking technique of draining the life out of the animal with a giant dark crystal? Drained gelfling might not be as tasty as braised, but is a great tonic.

Check out Cook's Illustrated (2, Interesting)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916862)

I don't know if Chris Kimball is a computer geek, but his work certainly delves into the science of cooking to answer fundamental kitchen questions, like which starch is best to thicken a fruit pie. (Answer: amylopectin, found in arrowroot and tapioca, which is good to know now that fresh blueberries are cheap and plentiful. God, I love fresh blueberry pie.)

Anyway, my wife and I have several of his books, which are great references to have in the kitchen, and although I haven't used it much, he does have a website [] . It's advertisement-free, and the product reviews are about as objective as you'll find.

This guy is great (2) (471768) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916874)

I didn't know about his book till you told me (and I'm getting it) but I love his show (they can be goofy at times, but once they settle down, you can really learn stuff). His chocolate cookie episode was great, which explained how different flours and fats affected the outcome.

The real geek cook book is contained in this post (2)

paradesign (561561) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916908)

from ARS technica

the ARSTechnica Cookbook of "Bachelor Chow" []

required reading for all single geeks or starving artists.

he has a website (2, Funny)

pjgeer (106721) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916910)

that is, he had one until we slashdotted it.

Fan page (4, Informative)

asrb (513512) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916911)

At the risk of slashdotting yet another site, check out

It has transcripts for the shows, and recipes for each show that link back to I don't think the latest season is up yet, but lots of great stuff there.

On a related note... (2)

Otter (3800) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916915)

On Food and Cooking: The Sciene and Lore of the Kitchen [] , by Harold McGee.

A terrific book that explains the chemistry of flour, meat, eggs and all the other complex reagents involved in cooking. All cookbooks should have electron microscope photos!

Should note that it's not a cookbook, though. If that's want you want, a good one is The Cake Bible, by Rose Berenbaum. Baking is a particularly complex art, and that book explains exactly why a certain type of flour is used in a particular cake, how much and with what other ingredients it's combined.

Good Eats show times (4, Informative)

gopher_hunt (574487) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916917)

Good Eats airs Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m. and 12 a.m., Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. All times ET.

See what the show's will cover at this website []

Another good food science cookbook (2, Informative)

neile (139369) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916923)

If you find this kind of subject interesting I suggest you also check out Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking [] by Shirley M. Corriher. It's a similar type of cookbook: heavy on the science of food and cooking, with sample recipes. Ms. Corriher contributes frequently to food magazines like Fine Cooking [] and Cook's Illustrated [] . In this month's Fine Cooking she went into gory details on the cause of freezer burn and how to prevent it.

Re:Another good food science cookbook (1)

sdsykes (531948) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917059)

Also check out Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen", which is full of useful and interesting information. Highly recommended.

popcorn (1)

bensej (79049) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916937)

I really hope he isn't suggesting that you staple shut a paper bag and put it in the microwave. As one who has accidentally placed a foil lined paper bag in a microwave, I can imagine the flames will be impressive. Of course if you aren't using your own microwave then hey have fun.

Any other cooking fundamentals books? (1)

slank (184873) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916942)

Not to steal Alton Brown's thunder (I own his book, it's awesome), but can anyone suggest any similar books for those of us who just can't justify culinary school, but want to become great amateur chefs? I've searched, but the cost and age of most of the books I've found make me want an opinion before buying.

(perhaps I'm offtopic, but please mod up responses)

Re:Any other cooking fundamentals books? (1)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916993)

Nothing works like just trying things out. Just get cookbooks and try stuff.

There is lots of stuff on the web as well.

Just remember that every time you mess up something you learn something new.

Shameless plug for my wife's website follows =>

Heston Blumenthal (1)

lobster_sew (302954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916946)

A UK chef called Heston Blumenthal has been similarly engaged on the quest to find the science behind cooking.

Recently voted "Chef's Chef of the Year", Blumenthal is proprieter of the Fat Duck restaurant [] and writes a regular cooking column in the Saturday edition of the Guardian newspaper.

In these articles he takes tenets of cooking law ("The water in which green vegetables are cooked *must* be salted", "High-temperature sealing of meat keeps in the juices") and either justifies them or blows them apart. He tests, tastes, tests, tastes, and consults food scientists until he understands more of the principles behind the cooking. (Both of those tenets, in case you're interested, turn out to be completely false.)

He has also enthused about cooking meat at very low-temperatures [] - I can recommend without reservation that you try it yourselves and see.

Read his Guardian articles here [] , and there are some others on his site [] .

Autograph copy (still?) at (1)

deadwood (594015) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916963)

Man, I love Alton Brown

Seems pretty universal too, as I found out my local grocery store clerk watches him religiously.

Anyways, I pre-ordered mine from a couple of months back, and it was autographed. You might want to see if its still available.

Oh yeah, also watch "A Cooks Tour". Another great Food Network show. Anthony Bordain has a very interesting look into the Restraunt Cook profession in his "Kitchen Confidential" book.

I mean stuff that would make you think twice about going to a 2-3 star restaurant. Germs, blood, sex, drugs, bankrupcy, etc.

Good Book, Good Show, Good Eats! (4, Interesting)

MrIcee (550834) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916966)

After watching his show for over a year now, I had to have his book as well.

GREAT BOOK. This is NOT a cookbook - it's a book on kitchen science directed specifically to HOW TO HEAT FOOD PROPERLY.

As a lot of you geeks probably already know... cooking is about science. Physics and chemstry are paramount to making a good meal (unless your cooking out of a box).

Before the advent of FOOD TV, and experts like Alton Brown, I tended to eat out most. If I ate in at all, I'd just slap some chops on a skillet and eat them with some store bought sauce. Thanks to FOOD TV and his show, I've now become quite a good chef and greatly enjoy making myself and friends gourmet meals.

Browns show is intense... super funny, and chock full of unbelievably useful information. He is never satisfied to *just do something*, no, he has to explain each and every WHY to it. And while he's doing that, he's throwing out tons of other useful suggestions that you would never have thought of.

The book goes IN DEPTH into exactly how heat works and cooks... and the various types of heating and when they are appropriate and why. He covers in depth exactly how heat reacts with the food. He explains exactly what the difference is between Radiation, Convection and Conduction (with excellant and funny examples) and then relates them to the various types of cooking (e.g., oven roasting is radiation, while boiling or steaming is conduction etc).

Each page has side panels that blow apart current cooking and food myths, such as salt being bad for you, etc...

Unlike most books that INSTRUCT you... his book and show not only instructs you, but tells you the why, the history, the mistakes and most importantly... the science!

A book every geek should own and read - and then stop going to McDonalds, buy a BowFlex and drop those pounds and build that body!

Just to let everyone know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3916969)

He also has a series of dvds available which contain episodes and therein the recipes from shows relating to meats and sweets. Kinda pricy at 50 bucks for 3 dvds, but in interesting buy.

Geek cooking resources (2)

jht (5006) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916985)

There was a thread about Geek Cookery on Ars [] recently, and out of it came the Ars Technica Cookbook of Bachelor Chow [] - it's a nifty PDF file with a lot of recipes and such in it. I figured it was germane to this discussion.

As for Good Eats - it's a regular on my Tivo at least once a week. In fact, between Good Eats, Iron Chef, A Cook's Tour, and Mario Eats Italy, I probably just ought to leave the darned thing on Food Network all the time!

hhmm (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916990)

I love good eats. It is because of Alton I made baby back ribs, cheese cake, 40 garlic chicken, and my BBQ skills have vastly improved. It hs more to do with the knowledge about a recipe, then the recipe it self.
However, it doesn't mean it should be on a /., and it shouldn't.
normally I take a pretty broad view of these things, but c'mon, he's a cook.

lay of the land? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 12 years ago | (#3916992)

Alton aims to give you the lay of the land.

Thanks, but no thanks. Will the actress/taste-testers from Iron Chef be making this offer?

worth it for people that don't (2)

Peyna (14792) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917005)

eat meat? I love to cook, but I don't eat meat, so can anyone enlighten me to if this book is worth reading if you don't eat meat?

Alton Brown and R.E.M. (2, Interesting)

Pyrosophy (259529) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917010)

AB is amazing, and though his show put me off at first, I'm a big fan now. He is the only reason I can cook fish ("Hook, Line, and Dinner" at ).

But he's not just a cooking geek -- the awesome production values in his show come from a history working with videos for MTV, and even some from R.E.M. I'm not sure which ones he was involved in, but it would be nice to know.

The lobster espisode was the best. Placing them where they were on the food chain has un-whetted my appetite a bit, but the in-depth instructions on how to kill them without pain (it's not dumping them in boiling water...) calmed my nerves when I actually had to do the deed. In AB's terms "the only creature you'll probably have to dispatch in your home kitchen."

sections (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917022)

and a selection on cleanliness

Quick! Give this book to your favorite gnu/hippy!

So What's Wrong With Using a Hair Dryer (1)

snookerdoodle (123851) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917025)

Start coals the normal way: ready in 45 minutes.

Start coals and blow on them with a hair dryer, leaf blower, or (wow, what a concept!) a bellows: ready in 5 minutes.

Once everyone's already written you off as a hopeless nerd, what's there to lose by using a blow dryer to get the coals ready?


I'm in love (2)

Liza (97242) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917045)

I don't watch much tv and I don't think I even have the food network, but this sounds WONDERFUL. I may run out and buy the book this afternoon.

I also sent the review to my friend who almost burned down her apartment complex with her microwave last year, due to a well-intentioned but insufficiently informed attempt to logically cook meat.

She knew that it took several hours to cook a pot roast in an oven. And she knew that microwaves cook faster than conventional ovens. And she knew that small amounts of meat should take less time to cook than large amounts of meat. So she put half a boneless chicken breast in the microwave for half an hour. And left the room.

Now, my friend is not especially interested in the PRACTICE of cooking, but as a geek, she might be interested in the science/theory. And if she found it interesting, I'm confident there would be no disasters of the magnitude described above.

That settles it. I'm buying 2 copies. Today.


Or, if you want a _real_ cookbook... (2)

hyacinthus (225989) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917050) really can't do any better than _The Joy of Cooking_. It's been around forever and has been updated more times than I can remember; it is not a mere collection of recipes, but a well-organized survey of cooking techniques and ingredients (the section on ingredient substitution is excellent, for example, and has saved me from several kitchen disasters.) The chief deficiency of the book, I think, is its overemphasis on American and European dishes, but that's understandable; if the book comprehensively dealt with cuisine of every nationality, it'd be a ten-volume set.

Most importantly, _The Joy of Cooking_ is not written by someone who is more interested in bragging about his thousands of dollars of computer equipment. I'm not sure what the audience for this book is. I've never met a computer geek whose place wasn't overflowing with old pizza crusts and crumpled Jumbo Jack wrappers--computer nerds don't _cook_.


What about Nigela (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917058)

The Nigella chick from "Nigella Bites" (Show) and "How to be a Domestic Goddess" (Book)
is a baddass in the kitchen - as well as being a really HOT english MILF - I would have her for dinner anytime. :)

More on her show can be found here

What Einstein Told His Cook (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3917077)

'What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Eplained' by Robert L. Wolke is another book in the same vein. 6/ qid=1027094599/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/103-6531399-55438 39

Favorite Recipes (1)

TooTallFourThinking (206334) | more than 12 years ago | (#3917126)

I'm curious as to what some favorite recipes are from the Slashdot crowd. Let this be a little Kitchen Korner.
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