I really enjoy cooking. From beginning to end. It’s a creative outlet. You see I’m driven by emotion and the need to express myself.
Allow me now to introduce you to my husband. He’s driven by logic. He needs to know the why and how behind things. He could care less about the emotion. He sometimes likes to eat my cooking. He doesn’t understand how I can make the exact same recipe and it varies each time, even though I followed the directions precisely.
While canning apricot jam last week. I needed to make certain that I had enough jars. I reasoned that water was the same as hot jam, so I set to measuring. I should also mention here that I stink at math (remember I’m NOT logical). My husband went on and on about how volume is not the same as weight or something like that. To be honest, I lost my attention span when logic started talking.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because I have discovered a true treasure. One that will appease my husband and make it appear that I can be logical. Introducing Cooking for Geeks, (O’Reilly, 2010) by Jeff Potter.
Page 62 talks about Weight Versus Volume. I kid you not. It was like my husband was standing next to me with the Charlie Brown’s Teacher voice!
How much of a difference does it really make to weigh your flour? To find out, I asked friends to measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour and then weigh it. Ten cups later, the gram weights were in: 124, 125, 131, 133, 135, 156, 156, 158, 162 and 163. That’s a whopping 31% difference between the lowest and highest measurements.
My mother tells me cooking is like chemistry. Hmmm….I wasn’t a success in Chemistry; however, cooking I can get raves about so I tend to disagree. Of course, my mother reminds me time and time again when I call to ask if I can substitute this for that or how important are three eggs the recipe calls for vs. how many eggs I have.
Now I can say I have a SERIOUS cookbook. Cooking for Geeks is NOT your ordinary cookbook. Trust me.
Starting on page 98, Potter explains the Differences in Taste and Supertasting. He divides this into Method One and Method Two. I found this interesting. Then Potter kicks it up a notch with Taste Aversions, Combinations of Tastes and Smells. On page 108 there’s a discussion with Virginia Utermohlen on Taste Sensitivity.
If my marriage dissolves, I know my husband can utilize this toolbox of a resource. Chapter Two, Initialize Your Kitchen talks about the equipment in a kitchen and really hones in on one of Dear Hubby’s favorite topics..knives.
My husband is always lecturing me about cooking with HIGH heat. Never fear, I now have a starting point (page 152) for an argument. Here, Potter explains how heat transfers to your food and how to control cooking. No more tip-toeing around this subject because Hubby says, “You’ll burn your food or explode something!” No Siree!
I might have overlooked the part about cooking. Cooking for Geeks has recipes. It’s true. They even include scientific stuff to impress my Geek. Who can resist “Green Olives” on page 290?
Then Potter breaks it down so I can be a success at Green Olives–if only I had a tree!
If you are lucky enough to have access to an olive tree during the fall, when the unripe fruit is available, try your hand at making green olives.Unlike the mature black fruit of the olive tree, olives in their green form can be soaked in lye (sodium hydroxide, aka caustic soda) to remove the bitter compound oleuropein that is present in the unripe flesh…
On page 124 there’s a recipe for Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad.
Following an interview with Jeff Varasano, founder of Varasano’s Pizzeria in Atlanta, on page 236, is a recipe for No-Knead Pizza Dough.
I appreciate the creativity Potter allows. He encourages me to improvise, to try different ingredients. He even offers ideas on how I can go about doing this.
I LOVE this book and know that the children and I will have endless fun with science projects as we work through Cooking for Geeks!