After I was divorced, I managed to burn boiled chicken! I've since tried
reading cookbooks, but don't quite "get it"...
Anyway I thought there must be at least one cookbook out there which
explains things in "scientific" terms???
Actually there are several! The book I found starts out by comparing
chemical processes with an automotive engine!
And it goes on to explain what goes on with cooking in "alt.home.repair guy"
language (most women I know would hate this book!). Anyway explains chemical
reactions, atoms, molecules, amino acids, etc.
Then goes into starches and what heating (or not heating) does on the
molecular level. And this all has to do with making gravy! And specifically
the cause of lumpy gravy. This was never explained in the other cookbooks,
but now I understand!
Anyway this book is...
The Science of Cooking by Peter Barham
And in the back of this book is a list of more scientific cooking books...
Food Science by H. Charley
Foods: Experimental Perspectives by McWilliams
Food Chemistry by Belitz
The Curious Cook by McGee
The Epicurean Laboratory by Seelig
I'm a retired chemist who does some cooking. A lot of laboratory
techniques can be carried over to the kitchen but like driving a car,
you don't need to know what goes on under the hood to be a good cook.
My wife, who is not a chemist, is a far better cook than me and is self
Alton Brown, who has a cooking show on the food channel has some
excellent books. He explains a lot from the chemistry/how it really
works perspective. I think the title is "I'm Just Here for the Food."
Master the basics, then go on to more elaborate stuff. Anything with
more than 5 ingredients is suspect! <grin>
Also, my favorite for basic stuff is the Better Homes and Gardens
Cookbook.. The one with the red and white plaid cover. I think it also
come in a loose leaf version, which opens flat. The New York Times
cookbook is also excellent. Again, all the standard stuff. Do some
reading. Talk to experienced cooks. Watch some of the cooking shows...
You can download their recipes from their web site. Ina Garten is
especially good, IMHO.
Google is also your friend. Put in the name of the dish, print it out,
and keep what you especially like, with notes, in a three ring binder.
Generally, the first time through, follow the recipe, then feel free
to experiment a bit.
The right tools are important... knives, pots and pans, etc. Stove
doesn't have to be fancy, just check the oven calibration. The modern
convection/microwave ovens are especially nice. A rice steamer takes
the pain out of steaming rice and vegetables, for example. An electric
fry pan is handy for cooking for one or two. Doubles as a griddle for
Where the science really comes to the fore is in commercial applications
for processing, manufacturing, packaging, preservation, etc., etc.,
Milling science for something seemingly as simple as making flour is a
whole discipline in itself.
I'm no cook and couldn't even pretend to be. Only thing I ever cooked was
ants with a magnifying glass. They didn't approve of my cooking either.
But my Main Squeeze use to watch this show Good Eats with Alton Brown.
Every show had such info as you describe. He has books out and a web
Good chance he is from PA. You can imagine the looks I got when I said
"you guys" to a small group of men and women in Tennessee. Here in
these parts they say what sounds like "You Inns". The local dialect in
the town I'm close to changed "you inns" to "yunns". And it's "see
yunns", never ever "see yunns later". I'll call you = I'll hollar at
cha or I'll give you a hollar, to which I reply, "I already have a
hollar on each side of my house, I don't need another one. They really
didn't believe me that "hollar" comes from "hollow" up north until I
told them to think of "Sleepy Hollow". I haven't heard anyone say
"sleepy hollar" .... yet.
Ya'll jest ain't been there long if y'uns ain't heerd of "sleepy holler"
ye-ut... (30-yr E TN vet) :)
On the "you guys", I had a boss way back when (in piedmont VA) who was
from south Philly and had this opinion that his technical writing was
the epitome of perfection. As such, he mandated that everything in the
entire department had to be reviewed by him and he would make the most
asinine and incorrect "corrections" to English, often such that the
meaning would be changed to actually become wrong or at best, ambiguous.
Trying to satisfy him was a major pita given that this preceded the days
of word processors so everything had to be retyped from scratch
including setting technical formulae,etc. I finally figured out that if
simply kept the original, gave him a copy to scribble on and waited a
few days and resubmitted the original, it would be approved.
Anyway, I argued regularly w/ the guy over the subject and finally
simply told him I wasn't about to take correction on English usage from
a guy who, despite MIT MS, etc., couldn't quit w/ the "you'se guys" even
in formal speech. :)
It all depends on what you like. For example if the person living at home
bakes several loaves of bread, you can freeze them and use the good bread
for your sandwiches. While the bread is rising you can make a pot of
spaghetti or perhaps bake a ham for something to make those sandwiches.
About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
I disagree. That's when I do my best work. Cook exactly what *I*
want; cook for four- and eat it for 4 days.
I've done the bulk of the cooking for our family for 23 years. As a
result my daughter is a great baker & my son is an excellent main-dish
cook. [and adult beverage maker<g>]
Ugh. No prefab meals. Down that road lies bad blood numbers and excess
tonnage. BTDT, still heavier than I should be, but at least not getting
any worse, any more.
I hate spending more time cooking than eating. I also hate eating the
same dish multiple days in a row. Salads are safe, quick, and if made
with tofu or boneless chicken breast (and only a dab of vinegar and
olive oil for dressing), fairly sin-free from a dietary aspect.
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