I’ve long been the cook in our family. My wife admittedly cannot cook and so she let’s me handle most of the cooking duties in the house. Being a Geek, I have always had a love for science as well as cooking. I always strive to find a better way not only to cook the things I love, but in everything I do. Cooking for Geeks, by Jeff Porter is exactly the book for people who love to cook who are also geeks.
The book has recipes, of course, but it fills you in on the whys behind almost every cooking method imaginable. For example, the reaction that occurs in meat when you cook it is called the Maillard reaction. As the meat cooks, amino acids and sugars in the meat break down and recombine into hundreds of compounds that make cooked meat taste good! I always wondered why it was so, but now I know! Knowing this, and the science behind it, you can figure out different methods for cooking meat that maybe beyond the traditional. It’s the hacking mentality brought to cooking thanks to the author, Jeff Porter.
What if you aren’t a cook or aren’t too comfortable in the kitchen? This book has you covered there as well with all sorts of recommendation on different types of cookware you may need in your kitchen. From Pots and Pans, Collanders and knife recommendations as well as the evolution of different types of knives that are commonly used in the kitchen, It’s all in there. However, he even says that you can cook with a minimum of equipment too. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money just to get started.
There’s also some really great interviews from people you may have heard of. For example, Jeff has interviewed Mythbusters Adam Savage in the book. He asked Adam questions about the food myths that Mythbusters has covered. He also interviewed co-editor Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing and NPR fame on the subject of Local Food. Really great interviews that can provide both inspiration and insight into cooking.
The book is just full of tidbits from across the net as well. For example, did you know that it’s possible to tweet an entire recipe on Twitter? Maureen Evans has done just that on her twitter account and I even tried (and shared) a recipe for Spice Cookies that was included in Cooking for Geeks. Maureen has even gone to the effort of putting together a wiki to explain some of her terminology so you can figure out how to make a recipe that only fit in 140 characters. Below is my rendition of Maureen’s Spice Cookies which is included in the book. I had to use my own hack for cutting them out since I don’t have a round cookie cutter. I used a glass.
There’s just so much information in this book that I see myself referring back to it time and time again. It’s a great place to start if that recipe you found is using a technique you have never heard of. Just check this book and I bet you will find out more than you ever needed to know about the technique.
Jeff is one author I have actually had the chance to talk to. How? By twitter of course! I tweeted using a cooking for geeks hashtag (#cookingforgeeks) that I was coming up with a recipe for my own marinade for some steaks I was grilling this past weekend and Jeff responded via twitter. Follow him on twitter for some interesting cooking hacks and ideas. I decided my marinade needs some work and since I have a cheap grill, I need to compensate for it as well since I screwed up and burnt the steaks. That happens when cooking and now I have learned from it! Jeff says that is the most important part: learning from your mistakes!
I highly recommend this book for Geeks, Chefs, Homemakers, Scientists and anyone who wants to know more than just the recipe. It’s also great too for teaching kids some of the science behind cooking methods that have been used for years.
What I liked: A wealth of information and a reference I will probably be referring back to for years.
What I didn’t care for: Nothing.