Cooking Tips for the Geek Bachelor

With all of the divorces taking place today, and people marrying later in life, a lot of men are being forced to do their own cooking. When I went to school all the guys avoided Home-Ec like the plague, so we aren't prepared for cooking and have to learn it now. So I've decided to share my knowledge of cooking with all of the geek bachelors who may need it. Of course, non-geek bachelors (NGBs) may find some of this information useful too.

Now you may ask why a man needs to be able to cook when dinner is just a phone call away. The answer is that it really impresses women. It doesn't matter that you know pi and e to 50 digits, or that you can multiply and divide in hexadecimal, women won't find these impressive. But cook for them and they'll sure be impressed. And it doesn't matter if you forget to put yeast in the bread and screw up the marinade to the point that there is a toxic level of garlic that makes her liver shut down in self-defense, she'll think you're the best thing since control top pantyhose. Cooking makes a better impression than anything except poetry, and who can write more than one poem in a decade? (If you do try poetry though, use the word gossamer, but not at the end of a line. I did this once and the only word that I could use for the rhyme was polymer. It took a little from the poem.)

sauté-fry it in butter

simmer-boil it slowly. This is one that doesn't make much sense. The chemical reactions that take place in cooking are from heating the food. When you boil something you raise the temperature to 210.2°F (in Dayton, Ohio anyway) and create steam quickly. When you simmer food you raise the temperature to 210.2°F and create steam slowly. The only difference is that you will dry the food, so you just put a lid on the pan. That way the steam will condense on the lid and flow back into the food.

What exactly is a sifter needed for? Nothing. Well, if you buy a sifter it increases the profits of the Sifter Coalition of American Manufacturers (SCAM), but that's it. They want you to believe that a sifter will mix the dry ingredients better, but it can't. The first ingredient that you put in a sifter is the flour because it has enough moisture to stay in the sifter. Then you put the rest of the dry ingredients on top of the flour to keep them from falling through the screen. When you turn the handle the material next to the screen goes through first, and some mixing takes place on the top. But by the time you get a good mix on top, a lot of flour has gone through the screen. So save your money and mix your dry ingredients by shaking them in a closed plastic bowl.

Will cooking with alcohol increase my changes of, well, you know? Not if it's in a cooked dish. When you cook the food it boils off the alcohol. It's a different story if it's in a dessert that isn't cooked. But these recipes require so little alcohol that it'll take a bushel to get her drunk.

I want to impress my girlfriend by baking a cake, but I want to use a pre-packaged mix. Will this work? Somewhat, but you will not receive full credit. To get full credit you have to get rid of the boxes. There can be no chance that she'll find them. That means you have to burn, flush, or eat them. Although there is one alternative if you cannot dispose of them. When you open the box be careful not to rip it. Then refill the box with flour and glue the flap back together. Since cake mixes are mostly flour the weight difference will be unnoticeable. But beware, if she later finds a cake mix box with flour in it, you're in trouble.

Will It Fit?

A few weeks ago I decided to make Mulligatawny Soup. At least it was a few weeks ago from my now, which isn't necessarily a few weeks ago from your now. It all depends on when you're reading this, which has to be in my future. So it was a few weeks ago + the time interval between my now and your now.

Anyway, the recipe said to start in a "large soup pot." And I was standing there wondering what a large soup pot is. If I can wear it as a hat, is it a medium or a large? Then it dawned on me, the pot has to be big enough to contain the volume of the ingredients! That's all. So I converted the volume of the ingredients into cubic inches and added them up. Then I could find a pot with a large enough volume. As a time-saver, here's a list of the common conversion factors:

  • 1 quart = 57.75 in³
  • 1 pint = 28.875 in³
  • 1 ounce = 1.80 in³
  • 1 cup ≅ 14.44 in³
  • 1 tablespoon ≅ 0.902 in³
  • 1 teaspoon ≅ 0.301 in³

This procedure works well with bowls too. The only problem is that the volume calculation is more difficult. Most mixing bowls are a hemisphere with a flat bottom. The general equation for a mixing bowl's volume is

The general equation for the volume of a mixing bowl in the shape of a truncated  hemisphere

where R is the radius at the top, and r is the radius of the flat bottom. Here is a proof just in case you don't believe me.

There is one exception that I am aware of: a bundt pan. To determine the volume of a bundt pan you'll have to use the following equation:

Part one of the equation

Part two of the equation

Part three of the equation

where A and r are the small radius, D and R are the large radius, B is the average of the two radii, and C is the depth of the pan.

For those who may doubt, I've put a proof of this one. As an example though, my bundt pan has a volume of 141 cubic inches.

Warnings

Wash your hands - I know, I know. All the arguements make sense, but the only one that will work is "Who's gonna know?" And it only holds up if no one ever finds out. Since scientists have found microbes in places with very high and very low temperatures, cooking might not kill the bugs.

Tobacco products - If you use any tobacco products, keep them away while you are cooking. Nothing will turn a woman off quicker than finding a cigarette butt in her food. On the other hand, if you find one in something that she's made for you, go ahead and swallow it. Chances are it won't hurt you. Much.

Doubling/halving recipes - This can't be done. We've all heard of someone who has doubled or halved a recipe, but they must be using an ingredient to change the amount of time necessary to cook. I suspect they are using deuterium oxide instead of water, but it's just a guess.

You may wonder how this assertion can be made. I wanted to make a large cake once, so I doubled a recipe. After mixing the ingredients and putting them in a pan (twice the volume, of course), I baked it at 650° for 100 minutes. The result was similar to charcoal and left my house full of smoke.

Garlic - When you use fresh garlic, remember that the store sells garlic by the clump, not the clove. If a recipe calls for six cloves of garlic, do not buy six clumps. The clumps have cloves in them. (Let me know if you need garlic. I have quite a bit extra.)

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