Since I dropped cable a little while back, I’ve been enjoying my new IP-TV, and especially all of the additional channels that I now get. Taking a look at my new viewing habits, out of all those channels, I really didn’t realize how much I missed the Food Network. Back when I lived in Coralville, I had extended basic cable (including Food Network), and I dropped down to basic (a.k.a. almost no real channels but about 20 shopping networks) when I moved to North Liberty last August. Now that I’ve got more channels than I know what to do with, I find myself watching a lot of Food Network: someUnwrapped, and a lot of Alton Brown’s Good Eats.
What is Good Eats you may be asking yourself. Well, it is sort of a cooking show for geeks. I was first turned on to Good Eats after reading an article in Wired Magazine. Since I enjoy cooking, and am a self-proclaimed geek (note: geek does not mean nerd!) it’s no surprise that I enjoy this show. Basically it is similar to any other cooking show in that there is usually a theme or a specific ingredient and they teach you how to make something. Where this show differs is that the show’s host, Alton Brown, not only shows you how to cook something and gives out the typical recipes, but Alton shows the science behind the food and tells you what exactly is happening when you mix something, or cook something. For instance in the “I Pie” episode, Alton has a gigantic model of a slice of Lemon Meringue pie to explain how the meringue sometimes gets yucky and slides around on top of the custard layer.
With Phase 1 of construction well under way, its time that we ponder Phase 2. Now here’s a fact: this device [points to pie] needs to be assembled while that base custard is piping hot. That means we’ve got no choice, but to make phase 2 the meringue. And that’s tricky business because a meringue is really nothing but a foam. And what is a foam after all, but a big collection of bubbles? And what’s a bubble? Its basically a very flimsy little lattice work of proteins, draped with water. Now in the case of meringues we’ve got some advantages. We add sugar to the structure which strengthens it. But things can, and do, go wrong.
[noticing balls of ‘water’ on top of the pie model] Mmm, hmm. Hmpf. Just as I suspected. Beading. This is what happens when sugar-saturated water oozes up to the surface of the meringue and sets in the open air. Probably means we’ve got trouble downstairs too.
[pulls back meringue layer to reveal ‘water’ between the custard and meringue] Oh, yes. Look at that layer of water. Well, let’s just pretend its water. Its a model, okay? This is the same moisture as we had up there. Only since there was no air, it didn’t set into beads. But this is even worse, because it means that the meringue layer and the custard layer will never stay bonded together. Luckily, this can be prevented.
See what I mean… the fun that is the science of cooking. I think you can probably see that Alton is a geek too (he also has a blog).
Good Eats will show even those culinary challenged folks how to create a delicious dish without problems since the recipes are broken down to the very very basics. Well, now you’re probably just itchin’ to make something in the kitchen (ha… that rhymed), but what happens if you don’t get the Food Network? Well, all of the Good Eats Recipes are available on the Food Network site or you can also purchase episodes on DVD. There is also an incredible fan site that includes all the recipes, show scripts, screen grabs, and a special Good Eats Humor section.
Enjoy, and bon appetite!