Thoughts about food and technology
Thu, 22 Dec 2016 03:41:31 +0000
Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner Updated
Fri, 28 Sep 2007 21:15:34 +0000
This time last year, my first cookbook, , hit the virtual shelves. I usually write about backing up your computer, preventing spam, and similarly techie topics, but since I love to cook, I thought it would be neat to apply the Take Control format to a food-related subject. The book takes you step-by-step through every detail of preparing a complete, traditional North American Thanksgiving dinner from scratch, even if your cooking experience is limited. Readers told me they found it exceptionally helpful. For that matter, so did I—I followed my own book when I cooked my own Thanksgiving dinner, and it made the process a lot smoother.
Now Take Control Books has released version 1.1, freshly updated for 2007. I’ve improved the recipe for candied sweet potatoes considerably, added a few helpful tips and notes, corrected some minor errors, and clarified some items readers had questions about. Everyone who bought version 1.0 can download the new version for free. The price to buy it new is $10 for a downloadable PDF; a printed version will be available Real Soon Now.
Thanksgiving comes much earlier in Canada than in the United States—it’s just over a week away. I want to assure Canadian readers that I’ve included metric equivalents for all the measurements, and all the food has been tested and approved by a real live Canuck (my wife, Morgen).
Click on over to
now to buy a copy or download a free 33-page sample.
Brushed Stainless-Steel Cream Whipper
Wed, 22 Nov 2006 14:00:56 +0000
When it comes to whipped cream—one of my all-time favorite edible substances—I’ve always been a purist. Freshly whipped cream (sweetened with a bit of sugar, and with maybe just a hint of vanilla) tastes best to me, and I’ve never considered the process of sticking a mixer into a bowl of cold cream to be complicated or onerous. However, I admit that around the holidays, I do keep a can of spray-on whipped cream on hand, just as a backup. I further admit that spraying whipped cream onto your pie, pancakes, or whatever, is kind of fun. It’s just that I don’t dig all the additives put into those cans, and wonder just how many months ago the dairy component may have come out of a cow.
Now, for a mere $90 (plus an extra $11 for a package of nitrous oxide cartridges)—ingredients not included—I can have my cake and eat it too, nicely smothered in freshly whipped cream that didn’t require me to turn on a mixer or dirty a bowl. There are plenty of these gadgets on the market, but the Williams-Sonoma
must be among the classiest (and most expensive). Oh yes, I want one.
Thanksgiving Post Round-Up
Tue, 21 Nov 2006 14:00:39 +0000
Over the past couple of months, we’ve had numerous posts on The Geeky Gourmet having to do with —partly because it’s just the right season, and partly to help promote my book . For the convenience those of you who have come to the site mainly searching for Thanksgiving advice, I’d like to present this round-up of all the Thanksgiving-related posts we’ve had so far:
New Thermapen Models
Mon, 20 Nov 2006 14:00:20 +0000
Over the years,
has repeatedly heaped praise upon the Thermapen, a digital thermometer known for its speed, accuracy, generous probe length, and convenient folding design. Recent episodes of Good Eats have shown
using the same thermometer, so clearly it is a device to be reckoned with. Every serious cook should have an instant-read thermometer, especially at Thanksgiving, when the internal temperature of a roasting turkey is the only reliable way to know when it’s done. Those in the know consider Thermapen to be the crème de la crème of such devices.
For the last several months, ever since the company introduced their , I’ve been seriously itching to own one of these babies, but have been put off by the $85 price tag—as good as they surely are, I know I can buy half a dozen average thermometers for the same price. Now, however, an even newer design just might put me over the edge. The
feature the same overall shape and features of earlier models, but now offer a wide array of plug-in probes. The super-thin needle probes promise to measure the internal temperature of your roast or steak in as little as a second. You can choose a thicker probe for tougher meats, a plastic “airline-safe” probe (which sort of blows my mind), or specialized probes for measuring the temperatures of liquids, gases, flat surfaces, and more.
Although the wide variety of probes suggests this could be the last digital thermometer you’ll ever need, there are still choices to be made. First, you must choose between the model 3 (which has a resolution of 1°) and the model 7 (with a 0.1° resolution). Then you have to choose whether you want a version that displays in Fahrenheit or Celsius—annoyingly, for those of us who must use both systems, these thermometers lack the usual control for switching between scales. And finally, you must select one or more probes. The thermometers themselves are $79 (model 3) or $98 (model 7); probes range from $24 to $52. So you’re looking at a serious investment. Plus, you know that the week after you buy one, they’ll come out with a color you like better (today, models 3 and 7 come only in white, whereas other models come in a wide range of colors). All in all, I wonder if the Thermapen isn’t becoming the iPod of kitchen gear. No matter how great any model appears to be, you’ll always have to keep upgrading to stay in style.
Thanksgiving by the Numbers
Fri, 17 Nov 2006 19:00:48 +0000
Are you ready? According to our recent poll, more than half of the households surveyed are already preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Someone is putting together a menu and a shopping list and digging out equipment such as roasting pans and turkey basters. Another 25% of the respondents will be busy getting it together this weekend. Fewer than 25% of the people who took the survey said they either leave the planning to someone else or intend to eat Thanksgiving dinner out.
Even if you’ve left your Thanksgiving cooking plans to the last minute, there’s no need to panic.
($10, Take Control Electronic Publishing) is available as an instant download in easy-to-read PDF format. It includes shopping lists, schedules, and recipes for all the basic dishes. There’s even a section how to whip up a feast at the eleventh hour.
Are you packed?
conducted by TripAdvisor.com found that 39% of respondents will be on the road this Thanksgiving, though for the majority this involves only a short car trip. The Thanksgiving dish people look forward to the most at the end of their travels? Thirty-two percent said it’s the stuffing.
Are you hungry?
at Familes.com finds mashed potatoes and gravy nosing out turkey as the top Thanksgiving food. In both the Trip Advisor and Families.com surveys, pumpkin pie led apple by a large margin.
Three-Tiered Oven Rack
Fri, 17 Nov 2006 14:00:23 +0000
When cooking for a crowd—especially if the meal involves lots of different baked dishes, as it typically does at Thanksgiving—those of use with just one oven often run into a problem. There’s just not enough space in there for a turkey, an extra casserole of stuffing, some candied sweet potatoes, and perhaps that pie you should have baked yesterday. And yet, we sure do want everything to be done at the same time! I liked this solution from Williams-Sonoma very much: a . It’s designed to take up just half the width of an average oven but add three racks, each of which comfortably fits a large casserole or baking dish. Just $22, but because it’s available only through their catalog and over the Internet, order today if you want it to arrive by Thanksgiving!
The Food Loop Lace
Thu, 16 Nov 2006 14:00:03 +0000
Back in September I wrote about the , a handy silicone thingy you can use to tie your turkey drumsticks together before roasting (among many other uses). But I noted that you’d still have to close up the cavity that holds the stuffing somehow—a rather tedious job that usually involves a lacing kit.
Turns out the good folks who make the Food Loop were already working on that problem. Their latest offering is the Food Loop Lace, a strand of tough, heat-resistant silicone that features a large metal needle on one end. Use this to sew up your turkey and you can dispense with string and pins altogether. It’s also washable and reusable.
carries them for $10, but their Web site shows them out of stock until December 19—much too late for Thanksgiving and even iffy for Christmas. However, they’re in stock at , though you’ll have to pay $17.
My First TV Appearance
Mon, 13 Nov 2006 13:00:09 +0000
I’ve done countless interviews for radio shows, newspapers, and podcasts, as well as live presentations of various kinds. But tomorrow, I’ll appear in my first TV interview—on a live broadcast, no less!
last week, Take Control Books is donating $1 from every copy of
sold in November to the . As another part of that effort, I’ll be appearing as a guest on CBS-5’s
this Tuesday, November 14, at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific time). This episode is a special live broadcast from an Albertson’s supermarket here in San Francisco to promote the Food Bank. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, set your TiVo now!
I’ll probably be on the air for just a few minutes during the half-hour show, partly to talk about the Food Bank and partly to promote my book (which, in turn, supports the Food Bank). Wish me luck!
Seasoning the Turkey: Their Aim Is True
Thu, 09 Nov 2006 22:13:24 +0000
Decisions, decisions. Do you brine your bird (as recommended in )? Do you rub the bird with butter or olive oil before popping it into the oven? Do you season your stuffing with traditional herbs, or simply put a sprig of fresh rosemary into an unstuffed turkey?
The fellows over at
have another idea. Their new product takes a double-barreled approach to preparing a turkey. After using their seasoning-filled shotgun pellets to bring down your bird, you then cook it, allowing the biodegradable wrapping on the pellets to melt, releasing seasoning into the roasting turkey.
Yeah, right. Chances are this is merely an elaborate joke backed by an elaborate website (masterminded by a couple of experienced Minnesota game hunters). But for some reason no one wants to venture anywhere near the carefully guarded Season Shot Test Kitchen to investigate.
Thanksgiving Book Sale & Promotion
Wed, 08 Nov 2006 18:53:14 +0000
If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a copy of , there’s no better time than this week. First, you can take advantage of the Take Control Third Anniversary Sale and get the electronic version of the book at half price (just $5!) through next Monday, November 13 if you use
(the print version is not on sale). Second, for the rest of November, Take Control will donate $1 for each copy sold—even those sold at half price!—to the . It’s a worthy organization that helps to feed low-income people in San Francisco, and I’m delighted to be able to help them out in this way.