Cooking for Engineers

Matthew Bietz —  June 7, 2007 — Leave a comment

I just discovered the Cooking for Engineers blog. Recipes seem good – haven’t tried them out myself yet. But also includes recipe and cooking method testing (like different ways to cook bacon).

But one thing that sets this blog apart is the “Tabular Recipe Notation” technique for recipe visualization. This is the batter for a Pecan Coffee Cake:

Tabular Recipe Notation

When you’re in the kitchen, and have 3 different dishes going at once, it’s easy to forget where you are in a long text-heavy recipe. Cook’s Illustrated is one of the worst offenders. They insist on fitting what should be a 25 step recipe into 5 steps (maybe so they don’t seem too complicated). But as a result, it’s easy to get lost in the middle of the text. Their spinach lasagna recipe has only 3 steps, but step 3 (formatted as a single unbroken 256-word paragraph) includes blending the filling, preheating the oven, soaking and drying the noodles, a complex layering process, baking (bake with foil, remove foil, readjust oven racks, then broil), cooling, and serving. Every time I look away from the recipe, I lose my place in the paragraph and have to spend extra time and effort making sure I’m doing the right thing. And I must admit, I have gotten to the last layer of noodles and realized I’ve only added half the spinach.

I haven’t battle tested the tabular notation, but I think it could help with the “quick – what do I put in the pan next” problem.

P.S. I found out about CfE from a link in the comments on post about rendering bacon fat on the Simply Recipes blog. It’s another good one to check out!

Matthew Bietz


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