Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cooking For Engineers

Everyone eats, but cooking is an entirely different ballgame. If your culinary expertise is limited to peanut butter sandwiches and vegetable salads, and if you can calculate Young's modulus of elasticity but get stumped by instructions like “cook till golden brown”, don’t lose heart, because there is still hope.

For those with an analytical mind, there is a web site called Cooking for Engineers that will help you find your way around the kitchen, decipher terms like ‘cold cuts’ and ‘evaporated milk’, and help you prepare impressive dishes.

cooking-for-engineers

The recipes are well written and accompanied with photographs of the ingredients and of the dishes at various stages of cooking. The most useful are the tabular recipe card the site uses. These tabular recipes lists all the ingredients and preparation actions in a easy-to-understand, flowchart-type visual way. These can be printed and carried in your wallet or stuck to the fridge. The cards are actually easier to read than going through page after page of instructions.

Cooking For Engineers was started in June 2004 by Michael Chu as a place for Michael to store and share the recipes that he likes to use as well as some kitchen notes. Although the name "Cooking For Engineers" was selected on a whim, the site has adjusted to the name to become a good place for those who want to learn cooking but lack the skills.

Aside from recipes, Cooking for Engineers also lists all necessary equipment and gears one should have in their kitchen. These tools are tested and reviewed – in an engineers’ way, of course. Checkout the test for knives, for example. Michael tested eleven different kitchen knives by chopping potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables, and noted the knives' performance in each case.

The blade was driven in (like a wedge) for about 2 mm, enough for the knife to stay in place. The knife was then pulled from heel to tip along that groove. The motion was completed with no conscious downward pressure. The result was examined - a sharp knife would be able to slice cleanly through the carrot, a duller knife might slice through most of the way but end with the carrot snapping off, while a very dull knife would simply slide in the groove.

My only gripe about Cooking for Engineers is the rather limited collection of recipes.

Related reading: 15 websites to find recipes by ingredients you have

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