Friday, September 13, 2002

Why a computer in the kitchen is not a bad idea!

or; some of my most-used online resources for cooking

Note: this is one of a series of cooking articles I'd started posting before I had the blog set up. I turned them into blog entries to keep them on the site.

Cooks and shows:

The Food Network's massive site is still probably my first stop when trying to figure out what to do with some surplus vegetable or what the best side dish is for a new recipe I'm trying. They're almost too massive, in fact! But if you search by show it can help a lot. I have not watched anything regularly in ages (aside from A Cook's Tour) but I do still try to check in on Melting Pot when it's the Eastern European kitchen, Ming Tsai on any show, and of course Good Eats, which is an absolute must-watch.
Speaking of which, there finally is a Good Eats website, although really it's an Alton Brown site. A little sparse, but hey, I sure can't complain about that, can I? If you need more detail, check out the Good Eats fansite, which includes every little smidgen of info you can imagine about the show from transcripts to equipment lists.
The one cooking show I do not miss is Nigella Bites (in spite of the unfortunate name). Nigella Lawson's trust-your-instincts-and-go-for-it approach is right up my alley, and the food is always simple and amazingly good. However, as her show ended up on E! and the Style Network, there is no good web presence for her show (or her). The official US site offers very little in the way of recipes or anything else, and the UK site isn't much better (although it does have some recipes not found in the US site). The show is on constantly, though, so just try to catch it on tv.
Now, The Splendid Table is a show on the radio, true. But it's a really great and interesting program I always learn something from. Thank goodness for the internet, though because I always miss it on the air. The site has shows archived so you can listen to whatever you've missed (plus details and recipes right on the site). Lots of other helpful info, too.


I don't love love but it is on my list of places to check when I need a dish. The pro is that you can find a recipe for almost anything; the con is that a lot of the recipes aren't that great since they're not being screened by pros for you. But, if you are confident that you can adjust for taste or you have time to do a test run on any recipe, it's a great resource.
I like Epicurious a lot, although it's a little too "buy this, buy that". But the recipes are good and the enhanced search is impressive as heck. (Not to mention a good work-avoidance tool...)
And finally, RecipeSource is a really extensive, stripped down database of tons of recipes.


If you are missing one or two ingredients from a recipe, you don't necessarily need to run down and buy them (especially if, say, your recipe calls for one tablespoon full of something you have to buy by the quart). Check the Cook's Thesaurus first for equivalents and replacements, as well as for more info on obscure ingredients.
The temperature that water boils is important to a lot of recipes, but it's often not actually 212° -- to find out exactly what it is in your town, right now, check out the Boiling Point of Water Calculator.
And finally, while it is generally not for the novice, I find the online version of Fine Cooking (my cooking magazine of choice, although I don't even get it anymore!) to be a really great resource -- you will even find short instruction movies on various cooking processes and recipes!!

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