SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES

COOKING FOR GEEKS


I have a lot of cook books. Like, A LOT of cookbooks. Two bookcases full actually (I think I have a problem) which means that it isn't often that a new one comes along that is unlike any other that I own. Cooking for Geeks* is just one of those books and it really is unlike anything that I've cooked from before. Written by Jeff Potter (a software engineer by day), Cooking for Geeks is not only perfect for someone already confident in the kitchen that wants to experiment or get a more thorough knowledge of why things do what they do in the world of cuisine; but I feel it would be a great introduction to cooking for someone that has a logical, inquisitive nature. The first chapter is so interesting, teaching you more basic skills like how to properly read a recipe, how to get over a fear of cooking and what tools are essential for a complete kitchen but also great tips for more advanced cooks such as how to calibrate your oven - using sugar!


Now I was a big science fan at school but as it wasn't a big part of my childhood career plan I didn't carry on my scientific education after I started working full time. What I really love about this book is that it's got me learning again in a practical way. So many of us (including myself) get home after a day at work and the last thing we (think we) want to do is open up a book and start learning something new, but this is the perfect way to do that in a way that doesn't feel like more work. Plus, I always learn better when I can apply theories to something I love and so finding out exactly why my favourite baking recipes work so well or why there are different ways to whisk something depending on what the final product is I'm learning without really even knowing it!


Some of my favourite nuggets of info from the book so far are:
  • How to make your own custom shaped cookie cutters with old drinks cans!
  • The psychology of taste and how the food you are brought up on when you are young affects your opinion on flavours for the rest of your life.
  • How to cook in your dishwasher!
  • So many awesome sauce recipes and instructions on how to make your own kitchen staples like butter, vanilla extract, sour cream and flavoured syrups that are perfect for cocktails
  • How to use advanced cooking techniques like sous-vide in your own home

I have to admit upon first flicking through the pages I was a little overwhelmed as there is so much information in these 450 pages and what looked like very few recipes. I was worried that it would just be a gimmick and that the information would disappoint... but I'm really pleased to say that isn't the case. I love that the layout is just like my school science books, even down to the tables and illustrations being in shades of royal blue! Putting the recipe ingredients into tables is such a great idea so just a quick skim of the pages can't help but make you crack a little reminiscent smile.

This book has definitely made a big difference to what I cook both in the planning and the execution and although I've only tried a few of the actual recipes they have all turned out brilliantly - homemade marshmallows yay! If you're on the lookout for some alternative kitchen inspiration or need a gift with a difference I think with this you're definitely on to a winner!

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*This post contains items that were gifted for review. For more information head to my disclaimer page.
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