Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop






Posted 25 September, 2007 at 10:59am by Michael Chu

Nikolas, a reader of Cooking For Engineers, sent in this photo in response to the Bacon Cooking Tests (Part I and Part II). Now that's a lot of bacon!


Dining with Food Bloggers at Oliveto

Posted 22 August, 2007 at 12:19am by Michael Chu

Last night I dined with twelve other food bloggers (including significant others) at Oliveto in Oakland, California. I had never met any of the other bloggers, but it was a lot of fun to eat good food and chat with other foodies.

When Food Bloggers Dine
When Food Bloggers Dine

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Dining with Food Bloggers at Oliveto

Cooking Deal - Sears 8-piece tri-ply cookware for $80

Posted 8 August, 2007 at 10:29am by Michael Chu

Cooking For Engineers reader Tim sent in this new deal:

Sear's has placed their 8 piece set on sale at $80, marked down from $200
until August 10 or 12.

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Cooking Deal - Sears 8-piece tri-ply cookware for $80

Wine and Food Matching…

Posted 21 July, 2007 at 9:24pm by Michael Chu

Natalie MacLean, author of Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and four time James Beard award winning writer, wrote to me to tell me about the food and wine pairing tool on her website, Nat Decants. The tool is pretty easy to use, just select the type of dish (appetizer, egg-based, red meat, etc.) or the type of wine and then refine your selection to have recommended pairings show up. Pretty nifty.

Natalie's website is also a wealth of information — biweekly wine picks, a wine glossary, and even audio of Natalie reading from her book (including a picture of her so you don't get bored while listening) — that's definitely worth checking out.


Posted 19 July, 2007 at 2:20am by Michael Chu

The Tufte one day class was pretty interesting, but I'm not sure it was worth the money. With a bunch of people that use Mosuki, we managed to get enough people to sign up to get the 25% off discount so I ended up paying $285 for the course. Along with the course, you receive all four of Edward Tufte's books - a $185 value if you buy them from his online store (or $133 from Amazon.com). That means I paid about $100 - $152 (not counting parking and lunch) for the privilege of seeing Edward Tufte in person, chatting with him about the CFE Tabular Recipe Notation for about three minutes, and hearing him teach out of his books. At these prices, it's not too bad for about six hours of lecture, but since almsot all the material is available in his amazingly well written and beautifully designed books, I'd have to recommend others to pick up his books first and read them.
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Nathan Lyon and his mistakes…

Posted 3 June, 2007 at 9:05pm by Michael Chu

lyon015.jpgSo, I've been watching (of and on) A Lyon in the Kitchen, a new cooking show on Discovery Health. I began watching because I received some promo material a few months ago and watched a few of the show clips and wrote up a brief article on Cooking For Engineers. His shows are nothing special when it comes to cooking shows, except for the fact that he spends about 45 seconds at the begining of each show visiting a source for one of his ingredients - a mushroom farm, cheese market, beet farm, etc. I had a real problem watching the Grilled Halibut and Provincial Bread Salsa episode. He starts off visiting an olive oil producer and the on screen tip tells us to eat olive oil because it contains "monosaturated" fat. Okay, it's just a typo, and it's probably someone else's fault they he's got "monosaturated" instead of "monounsaturated" on the screen. Then he come back to the kitchen to demonstrate how to make what he called a "Provincial" Bread Salsa. I'm thinking, what does he mean by "provincial"? Does he mean from a local or rural dish? Or does he mean proven├žal (which is of course spelled differently and pronounced differently - [PRO-von-sawl])? He then explains that the dish is an homage to the Provence-style of Italy. So, he does mean proven├žal. My next problem is that Provence is French! Maybe that's why his show is on Discovery Health… and that would also explain why no one caught these fairly big mistakes that occurred in the first five minutes of this show. For all the faults of Food Network, I think someone would have pointed out that this wasn't quite right.

I think I can stop recording his show on my DVR.

Food Book Titles

Posted 28 April, 2007 at 8:29pm by Michael Chu

What's with the titles of these food books? One of the books that I'm reading right now and the previous two food books I finished reading have incredibly long names. Well, actually, they have fairly short names with incredibly long subtitles. For example, the book I'm reading now is titled Educating Peter: How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert. The previous food books I read were Toast: The Story of a Young Boy's Hunger (okay, that one's not bad) and Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. As I understand it, this is an old trick in the book publishing business that's becoming popular again (especially with non-fiction books). It's sort of a book world's version of search engine optimization. By adding a descriptive subtitle, it helps in two main ways: it explains the purpose of the book to the casual browser and it provides keywords that will pull up the book in a title search. Because the descriptive subtitle is so long and complex, the author usually chooses a simple main title of one or two words that are easy to remember.

If I came out with a Cooking For Engineers book, I wonder what the title/subtitle would be. Anyone have any ideas?

A small kitchen

Posted 26 April, 2007 at 10:06pm by Michael Chu

I have a small kitchen, and, usually, I wish I had a bigger one. It's 9-ft. by 10-ft. including cabinets/counter, refrigerator, and stove/oven. That doesn't leave much floor space and only about 9-ft. of total counter space (3-ft. of which are usable at any given time). We use this kitchen to cook our food normally (sometimes I step outside to the grill on the balcony), wash dishes, bake bread, and run Cooking For Engineers out of it. As a result, it can get quite messy.

Since I can never remember where we stashed our mop, I usually wipe down the floor by hand when I get around to cleaning it. The Pergo floor makes it easy to clean up and it's one of the few times where I'm thankful the open floor space is only about 40 sq. ft.

Indigenous Ass Meat and other Food Commodities

Posted 21 April, 2007 at 12:51pm by Michael Chu

While doing some research on corn production for my latest article on Cooking For Engineers, I found this site operated by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. There are some surprising revelations about who produces what food commodity and in what quantities. For example, I was not surprised that African countries lead the world production of Ass Meat, but I was surprised that Spain was the sixth largest producer. I also thought for sure the U.S. would lead in game meat production (we do love our game) since we lead in chicken, pork, beef, and turkey - but Papua New Guinea leads by a sizable margin. And having mentioned chicken, the U.S. leads world production of chicken (and China doesn't even show up in the top 20 chicken meat producers), but China leads in chicken egg production - producing more chicken eggs than the U.S. produces chickens, by weight!

Getting started…

Posted 18 April, 2007 at 6:21pm by Michael Chu

Well, I've been writing Cooking For Engineers for a couple years and the website has evolved in such a way (and with such a demanding audience) that I've found myself not comfortable writing about my personal thoughts. I felt a craving for a simpler, easier outlet that didn't require vigorous fact checking and making sure every detail in a recipe was properly specified before I posted an article. So, here I am, starting a blog - a real one this time - with no focus, just an outlet for what I'm thinking. For those of you familiar with Cooking For Engineers, many of the articles that I would have posted there in Off Topic, will be posted here instead (reducing the clutter on that site). I'll probably talk a fair amount about Cooking For Engineers, Fanpop, and the web in general since a lot of my life revolves around these topics - but you'll probably hear more about random topics of discussion or thoughts that come up in my life in general. I hope people will find this blog (as if the world needed another blog that didn't have an area of focus) entertaining, interesting, and, perhaps, occassionally, enlightening.