Think of yourself as a mad scientist in the kitchen, and you’ll understand the brilliance and humor behind Alton Brown‘s Good Eats. He makes cooking fun, while breaking it down into its scientific parts, “We tear every procedure down to its bare elements. Every ingredient and every step must serve a purpose or I don’t want them there.” (p. 7) If you (or your kids) find cooking mystifying, then Alton will clear the way. His latest cookbook, Good Eats 3: The Later Years (Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2011) is the last, and best of his TV show has to offer. From an interview by the author of the author:
The shows in Volume I represented out formative years, Volume II portrayed a rather difficult adolescence, and now we’re all grown up, if you can call playing with puppets and wanky props “grown up.” (p. 6)
Get this book and you can make your own sock puppet from a blueprint and stickers at the back of the book.
Who cares, when it is this fun?
The highlights of the fun?
What about the comic book called Fantastic Fantasies Food Science Fiction (good idea for a real comic book!) with a couple of pages illustrating Persephone, Hades, and the Pomegranate in a chapter on pomegranates?
It also comes with a section called Knowledge Concentrate (p. 25) that rounds up cool details on pomegranates like the fact that its really a gigantic berry with arils, tiny sacs with both seed and juice.
There is a fun chapter on Milk (p. 44) that includes information on how Louis Pasteur figured out that bacteria are controlled by heat, and has a diagram of the Lactose molecule (a disaccharide composed of 2 monosaccharides, galactose and glucose). There is also a recipe for Tres Leches Cake, Dulche De Leche, and Quick Cottage Cheese. Alton’s daughter plays the part of Little Miss Muffet with a giant Halloween-ready spider (p. 49).
Your kids will grab this book to read up on The Vomitron (p. 193) or Strange Mixing (p. 211) or a chapter called All Hallows Eats (p. 358) that includes recipes for Candy Corn (p. 360) , Atomic Apples (p. 361) and a Tinker Toy model of Corn Syrup.
A good dose of Alton Brown’s Good Eats 3 will make you laugh and teach more then a thing or two you need to know about what food is all about.
Recipe: Atomic Apples
Having witnessed how a sugar syrup can become a soft yet toothsome paste, we will now see what can happen when the temperature is elevated and the resulting elixir applied to the most symbolic food of the harvest season.
6 small apples (Pink Lady, Gala, or McIntosh at room temperature
14 ounces sugar, about 2 cups
15 ounces light corn syrup, about 1 1/3 cups
2/3 cup H2O
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon oil
15 or 20 drops red food coloring
Special hardware: 6 sets of chopsticks
1. Pour 3 inches of water into a 3 1/2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Insert the narrow end of a chopstick in to the bottom (blossom end) of each apple.
3. Dip the apples one at a time, into the boiling water for 20 seconds to remove the wax coating. Wipe dry with a paper towel.
4. Transfer the apples to a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
5. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and the 2/3 cup water in a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and clip on a candy thermometer. Continue cooking the syrup until it reaches 300˚F, about 15 minutes. When the syrup reaches 300˚F, remove from heat and remove the thermometer. Add the cayenne, cinnamon oil, and food coloring, and stir thoroughly to combine. Cool for 3 minutes, or until the bubbles calm and begin to subside.
6. Dip each apple in the warm syrup, turning slowly to coat. Continue to turn, allowing the excess to drip back into the pot.
7. Cool the apples completely on the prepared half sheet pan. Wrap individually in waxed paper and plastic wrap or store for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.