This isn’t just a cookbook; it’s a book about cooking, with some recipes mixed in. Jeff Potter, an Ivy League computer science major, combines the how of cooking with the scientific why behind it. I’d always heard you shouldn’t over-stir pancake batter, but my OCD tendencies told me to stir until every last bit of flour had been stirred in. But Cooking for Geeks explains that two proteins in flour (glutenin and gliadin) will crosslink to form gluten the more you stir. With that knowledge in mind, I stirred less, and made some delicious pancakes.

“The standard test is to toss a few drops of water into the pan and see if they sizzle; the geek test is to take an IR thermometer and check that the pan is around 400F/200C.

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While there are plenty of things to learn for a beginning cook, there are also lots of things for the experienced cook – lots of the chemistry behind what happens with food and how to outfit your kitchen (and a fancy recipe involving duck that I was too scared to try).

Why is this on our bookshelf?

I’m a geek. And I’m always eating. So it was a race to see who could buy it for me as a Christmas present first. Finally, a cooking book for us!

Rating (5 stars)

There’s a certain Rube Goldberg-esque geekiness to Cooking for Geeks. You’ll get the simple explanation, but also an explanation of the chemical reactions taking place (don’t worry – I skipped college chemistry, and was able to follow along).
Sprinkled in throughout are interviews with food experts, including one with Adam Savage of Mythbusters, on experimenting with food.
Our favorites so far are the Mac and Cheese, which my wife loved, a delicious pumpkin cake, and yummy pancakes based on the average of 8 recipes from the internet, by weight.