Cooking for Geeks Review and Giveaway

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Heather says:

Do you like this site?


Do you like when I occasionally geek out explaining a concept in cooking?


Buy Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food¹. Now that was the easiest review ever.

Oh, you want to know more?

Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks is a soft cover book from O’Reilly² it’s 412 pages and it has photographs, but they are black and white. It’s not the photos that sell this book. It’s the content. To put it simply Jeff Potter geeks out on food and in the time I spent flipping through my review copy, I’ve developed a harmless crush.

Here’s a quick excerpt on one of my favorite topics, the Maillard Reaction:

The nutty, toasted, complex flavors generated by the Maillard reaction are created by the hundreds of compounds formed when amino acids and certain types of sugars combine and then break down. Named after the French chemist Louis Camille Maillard, who first described it in the 1910s, the Maillard reaction is specifically a reaction between amino acids (from proteins) and reducing sugars, which are sugars that form aldehydes or ketone based organic compounds in alkaline solution (which allows them to react with amines). Glucose, the primary sugar in muscle tissue, is a reducing sugar; sucrose (common table sugar) is not.

Do you see why I’m giddy about this book? I love learning and I really dig that Potter brings chemistry into the conversation.

Throughout the book there are excellent interviews with other food geeks.

It’s taking all of my self-control to not continually insert the tidbits I’m picking up as I flip through the book. Oh, I can’t resist. I’ve known for years to crack eggs on the flat surface of the counter, not the edge of the bowl. I do this out of habit, but why?

The shell of an egg cracked on a flat surface will have larger pieces that aren’t pushed into the egg. Eggs cracked on a sharp lip are much more likely to have little shards of shell poked into them that then end up in the bowl and have to be fetched out.

So many of the things I do while cooking are habits, learned on the job. These habits are explained in Cooking for Geeks. The language is conversational, even when Potter is geeking out on the chemistry involved. I also really enjoyed that he goes into food safety and avoiding food borne illness.

A few chapter titles, just for fun:

  • Hello, Kitchen!
  • Choosing Your Inputs: Flavors and Ingredients
  • Time and Temperature: Cooking’s Primary Variables

Don’t worry, interspersed with all of the geekery, interviews, and valuable information are plenty of recipes that I look forward to trying.

Let’s get to the fun part.

I am not giving away my review copy of Cooking for Geeks. I’m keeping it; it’s going on my shelf along with my other favorites like The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners¹.


Oh don’t worry, I’ll be buying one lucky reader their own copy through and shipping it to them. Is that an endorsement or what?

How does one enter this amazing giveaway? It’s pretty simple and open to residents of the US and Canada. Each reader can have up to 3 entries and the winner will be chosen by random selection.

Only comments on this specific post count as entries. Please don’t respond by email or comment on the Facebook fan page. I mean you’re quite welcome to fan Home Ec 101 on Facebook, it just doesn’t count as an entry.

  1. A plain, old-fashioned how ya doin style comment. Just tell me how excited you are to enter.
  2. A comment with a  link to a tweet on Twitter sharing this post.
  3. A comment link to a blog post or Facebook entry referencing this post. (just copy the url of the timestamp for Facebook)

The comments will close on Sunday November 21, 2010 at 9pm EST. If you aren’t the winner, don’t worry these giveaways are now a weekly occurrence and you’ll have another chance soon.

If you’ve recently won a cookbook from Home Ec 101, please give other readers a chance.

Good luck.

¹Affiliate link.
²One of my favorite publishers, seriously, and they aren’t even my publisher.

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74 thoughts on “Cooking for Geeks Review and Giveaway”

  1. This book looks great, and I'd love to have it. One of my favorite cooking shows is 'Good eats', and it seems like it would have similar information. Unfortunately, I think I would be in the same situation as you. I would love to have the book, but it seems like something my dad would love as well, so if I won it, I would probably buy him his own for Christmas as well.

  2. That sounds AWESOME. My husband already laughs at how I act like I'm on a first-name basis with Mark Bittman – I know he'd start wondering who "Jeff" is too!

  3. i am a chemical engineer by education so this book is right up my alley – have you checked out the site also a little geeky, some good recipes.

  4. I'd love to the know the science behind all my favorite cooking techniques. I LOVE the Lee Bros. book as well. I read it in one sitting like a novel.

  5. I buy cookbooks to read them, not as strict formularies, so the reasons for your recommendation hit home…would love a copy.

  6. So excited to enter! I will have to try the egg – I've always wanted to try the one-handed, open the egg thing too – I guess now is the time!

  7. That sounds like a great book, one I'd love to have on my desk, kitchen counter, or table next to my comfy chair. It's my kind of reading!

  8. My Dad is a chemist. He can't cook to save his life. Our family finds this odd because, isn't that essentially what cooking is? Chemistry? Well, our greatest fear is that my mom will die first and my dad will starve to death. So maybe a cookbook like this would help him be comfortable in the kitchen (starting now! Long before anyone passes!), after all, it sounds like it speaks his language!
    So, I would love to win this cookbook, if for no other reason than the hope that my dad will be able to use it to nourish himself. And if he learns now, maybe he could give my mom a break in the kitchen!

  9. Oh, I'm very excited about this book! I'd love to win it. I'd like to become a personal chef, and I am a personal care giver right now, and new ideas about recipes, and the science behind it, brings out my inner geek!

  10. I would be s000 very excited to win this cookbook. But Melanna’s comment made me laugh out loud, so if she won I would be just as happy for her and her Dad!

  11. This is a great Christmas present idea too! I can think of a handful of people that I can get this for and scratch them off my list! THANKS!!!

  12. Cooking for Geeks?! Yes, please!!! I have annoyed so many people, namely my mother and boyfriend w factoids culled from “Notes on Cooking,” I need new material! Fingers crossed!

    Great review Heather!

  13. The book sounds perfect. I love knowing how things work. Chemistry is cool. With that book, when my husband wants a thesis as to why I'm doing something, I can point out the explanation in the book instead of saying "just because, it's how it's done".

  14. I have always wondered why there aren't more books like this out there. It seems integral to the process, to me. So yes, I am thrilled and hope that if I don't win, maybe there will be an ebook available?

  15. I would love to gift this to my daughter. I am trying to convince her that she should be looking forward to her chemistry class, because she loves to cook.

  16. A gal after my own heart! My first thought was: someone wrote a book about me?? No wait, FOR me. Oh boy! It’s going on my holiday wish list for sure.


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