Do you like this site?
Do you like when I occasionally geek out explaining a concept in cooking?
Buy Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food¹. Now that was the easiest review ever.
Oh, you want to know more?
Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks is a soft cover book from O’Reilly² it’s 412 pages and it has photographs, but they are black and white. It’s not the photos that sell this book. It’s the content. To put it simply Jeff Potter geeks out on food and in the time I spent flipping through my review copy, I’ve developed a harmless crush.
Here’s a quick excerpt on one of my favorite topics, the Maillard Reaction:
The nutty, toasted, complex flavors generated by the Maillard reaction are created by the hundreds of compounds formed when amino acids and certain types of sugars combine and then break down. Named after the French chemist Louis Camille Maillard, who first described it in the 1910s, the Maillard reaction is specifically a reaction between amino acids (from proteins) and reducing sugars, which are sugars that form aldehydes or ketone based organic compounds in alkaline solution (which allows them to react with amines). Glucose, the primary sugar in muscle tissue, is a reducing sugar; sucrose (common table sugar) is not.
Do you see why I’m giddy about this book? I love learning and I really dig that Potter brings chemistry into the conversation.
Throughout the book there are excellent interviews with other food geeks.
It’s taking all of my self-control to not continually insert the tidbits I’m picking up as I flip through the book. Oh, I can’t resist. I’ve known for years to crack eggs on the flat surface of the counter, not the edge of the bowl. I do this out of habit, but why?
The shell of an egg cracked on a flat surface will have larger pieces that aren’t pushed into the egg. Eggs cracked on a sharp lip are much more likely to have little shards of shell poked into them that then end up in the bowl and have to be fetched out.
So many of the things I do while cooking are habits, learned on the job. These habits are explained in Cooking for Geeks. The language is conversational, even when Potter is geeking out on the chemistry involved. I also really enjoyed that he goes into food safety and avoiding food borne illness.
A few chapter titles, just for fun:
- Hello, Kitchen!
- Choosing Your Inputs: Flavors and Ingredients
- Time and Temperature: Cooking’s Primary Variables
Don’t worry, interspersed with all of the geekery, interviews, and valuable information are plenty of recipes that I look forward to trying.
Let’s get to the fun part.
I am not giving away my review copy of Cooking for Geeks. I’m keeping it; it’s going on my shelf along with my other favorites like The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners¹.
Oh don’t worry, I’ll be buying one lucky reader their own copy through Amazon.com and shipping it to them. Is that an endorsement or what?
How does one enter this amazing giveaway? It’s pretty simple and open to residents of the US and Canada. Each reader can have up to 3 entries and the winner will be chosen by random selection.
Only comments on this specific post count as entries. Please don’t respond by email or comment on the Facebook fan page. I mean you’re quite welcome to fan Home Ec 101 on Facebook, it just doesn’t count as an entry.
- A plain, old-fashioned how ya doin style comment. Just tell me how excited you are to enter.
- A comment with a link to a tweet on Twitter sharing this post.
- A comment link to a blog post or Facebook entry referencing this post. (just copy the url of the timestamp for Facebook)
The comments will close on Sunday November 21, 2010 at 9pm EST. If you aren’t the winner, don’t worry these giveaways are now a weekly occurrence and you’ll have another chance soon.
If you’ve recently won a cookbook from Home Ec 101, please give other readers a chance.
²One of my favorite publishers, seriously, and they aren’t even my publisher.