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The Art of Modernist Cooking 
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
JusTin wrote:
I use my library for 90% of the reading I do. Our inter-library loan program is quite good and I've been using it more since our County library has had a significant decrease in funding and doesn't have the budget to buy like they used to.

I don't read much non-fiction, frankly. Generally just news magazines and the paper.

Libraries are best suited for fiction, I think, as most novels are read-once or less.*

Also for that class of very expensive nonfiction that doesn't need to live on a local shelf. Other than some "durable" nonfic, I don't think we've bought a book in years. That didn't halt the need to build bookcases throughout the new house, though...


* Brust's Law.


Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:01 am
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
As part of my vocation, I go through about five self-help and management process books a week (it's ridiculous how fast they're being written). Even though they're nonfiction, there are very few that are worth keeping. Usually I take a single action item or maybe copy a page at the most, otherwise it's just a matter of assimilating the message and moving on. Then there's the nonfiction that's just there for casual enjoyment, like the recent bestseller about a WWII plane crash in New Guinea - Shangri-La. Fascinating read, no need to ever revisit. Wouldn't want that cluttering the shelves.

You guys here are the only ones who've acknowledged the existence of libraries. I just find that everyone else I talk to in the US equates book acquisition with Amazon. Many of them say, "Oh, but I use Kindle, it's so much cheaper." Uh-huh, but their $0.99 per unit is still more than my $0.00. And they're invariably smug about their Kindle smartness.

Might be a California thing too, the people I talk to are mostly in L.A.. Although I did recall the Glendale Central Library as being quite good when I was there. But I bring up the idea of the library and they look at me like I'm speaking in tongues.


Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:18 am
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
Dittoes--I go to the library every four weeks (That's check-out time here. It was only two weeks when I was a kid, are people slower now? :lol:) with my son and check out an armload of books for each of us. Mostly, history, biography and "self-help" for me. Like Peter says, extract the knowledge, free! It's a beautiful thing.

The Kindle is interesting; I got a Fire for Christmas last year and have only purchased three books on it, and almost zero movies (a couple for airplane trips). I mostly use it for internet and email. Amazon has not made their money back on me, yet.

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Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:18 am
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
PeterScott wrote:
You guys here are the only ones who've acknowledged the existence of libraries. I just find that everyone else I talk to in the US equates book acquisition with Amazon. Many of them say, "Oh, but I use Kindle, it's so much cheaper." Uh-huh, but their $0.99 per unit is still more than my $0.00. And they're invariably smug about their Kindle smartness.

From the California perspective, it's likely long-term fallout from Prop 13. Libraries all but died in the 1980s - barely enough funds to keep the doors open, never enough to keep normal or even regular hours, no acquisition budget... whatever other hits libraries have taken in popular view are compounded in CA.

I have used the library here in town more than any in probably ten years - they have excellent resources including online subscriptions to a dozen different archive services, such as Ancestry.com - a primary tool for a biographer trying to track 100+ people. And only token fees for interlibrary loan across a huge spectrum of institutions. Which may be why I'm on the library foundation's board...

Re Kindles - you know, it's California. The faddishness of e-books probably ups their popularity there. Not that there's any encouragement for authors, except the "any sale is a good sale" crowd - Amazon pays a whopping 35%, after fees, and controls pricing of Kindle titles. And you wonder why they can sell their units at cost or even less...


Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:00 pm
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
PeterScott wrote:
sakeneko wrote:
*Damn*. I looked at the price -- over $800! But this sounds like a *wonderful* series of books that I'd love. (I enjoy cooking, am pretty good at it.) I might just start saving mad money and get it after I've funded the Heinlein Collection. <G>


Tangent: I do notice this bias in the USA towards buying books rather than using the library. I'd never spend that kind of dough on cookbooks.


<chuckle> I would, and I use the library for fiction and many other types of books that I will read once, not repeatedly. With a cookbook, however, I want it on my shelf so that I can have it beside me when I try something new, go look up information, etc. Either that, or as an ebook on my laptop computer. When I try a receipe from a web site, I print it out so that it can be there.

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Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:55 pm
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
Yes, this set of books, rather like the Heinlein biography, are of the category that you would want them on your shelf, for life. And listed in your will so that the heirs don't fight over it.

Image

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Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:30 pm
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
Okay, I have now finished volume 2, and, um, Holy Cow. After the painstaking explanations of the physics and chemistry of every way of heating, chilling, drying, and concentrating food known to man, it rapidly segues into some methods not known to most men. This is the 'modernist' part; the intersection of cooking with rocket science. They consider vacuum pumps essential equipment. They wax rhapsodic about a machine that combines a centrifuge, vacuum, and freeze drier - saves counter space. They devote many pages to Mission Impossible-type food preparation methods, like making powdered mushroom. Several recipes call for liquid nitrogen.

Yet, I wish I had access to some of this equipment. The book makes a compelling case for how some of its techniques will result in flavors simply unachievable through conventional means, and I would like to try the results of, say, cooking sous vide or vacuum concentrating.


Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:52 pm
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
PeterScott wrote:
Several recipes call for liquid nitrogen.

A long way back, an article in Scientific American, as an aside, briefly described making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Barry Gehm and I, following these instructions, whipped up a batch for an audience at Duckon in 1994-- the first time I know of that somebody made LN2 ice cream at an SF con. It's as much performance as it is cookery. Safety equipment is donned. One guy pours nitrogen from a dewar flask into a big bowl of the mixture. As clouds of fog billow everywhere, his partner stirs like a madman. Applause follows.

These days, everybody and her brother make liquid-nitrogen ice cream. It's so hard to stand out from the crowd any more.

My previous experience with semi-cryogenic desserts involved raisins carbonique, or carbonated grapes, a recipe a friend brought back from the Hackers Conference. That one involves a small piece of dry ice, a 2-liter HDPE pop bottle, and a risk of explosion. Best not to do this in one's refrigerator, lest the door be blown open and the contents flung out. I learned that the hard way.

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Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:40 am
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
beamjockey wrote:
My previous experience with semi-cryogenic desserts involved raisins carbonique, or carbonated grapes, a recipe a friend brought back from the Hackers Conference. That one involves a small piece of dry ice, a 2-liter HDPE pop bottle, and a risk of explosion.


Can you elaborate? Are they organic pop rocks? Googling the phrase in quotes give two results, both of them from you, with even less detail.


Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:32 pm
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Post Re: The Art of Modernist Cooking
BillMullins wrote:
beamjockey wrote:
My previous experience with semi-cryogenic desserts involved raisins carbonique, or carbonated grapes, a recipe a friend brought back from the Hackers Conference. That one involves a small piece of dry ice, a 2-liter HDPE pop bottle, and a risk of explosion.


Can you elaborate? Are they organic pop rocks? Googling the phrase in quotes give two results, both of them from you, with even less detail.

Unsurprising, since I made the phrase up. Thought "carbonated grapes" would sound classier in French.

Google's first few hits on "carbonated grapes" seem not to reveal anyone who makes carbonated grapes the way I learned to do it.

* * * WARNING! WARNIING! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! * * *
Mr. Higgins is about to describe a recipe that can EXPLODE and hurt someone. It HAS exploded. Observe suitable safety precautions. This Means YOU!


Raisins Carbonique, a la Hacker's Conference

See, your modern plastic pop bottle is a clever and inexpensive pressure vessel.

Carbon dioxide is highly soluble in water. Even more soluble under pressure. Quite a bit more soluble than that at temperatures near 0 degrees Celsius (the solubility-vs.-temperature curve is satisfyingly high there).

If you can keep flavored water and CO2 under pressure, you've got soda pop.

If you can keep fruit and CO2 under pressure, you've got a novel dessert where the juice within the fruit is, effectively, soda pop.

Pop bottles are designed to confine CO2 and liquid under considerable pressure. Unfortunately, they are not designed to be re-used and we do not know their safety margins. Be aware: This recipe will blithely ignore these two facts.

Insert your grapes into your clean two-liter bottle. You'll want to use grapes of modest diameter. (Pepsi used to make a 1-liter bottle with an extra-wide mouth, which was great for raisins carbonique and other fruit, but I can't find it any more.)

Calculate the amount of carbon dioxide necessary to pressurize a two-liter bottle to, say, two atmospheres. Look up the density of dry ice. Figure out the volume of dry ice needed for this purpose. If memory serves-- and be aware that it's quite a while since I've done this-- it's a very small piece, the size of a small sugar cube or less.

Obtain some dry ice.

Whack off a piece of the requisite size.

You will be tempted to put in extra dry ice, just to be sure. Resist this temptation.

Insert your tiny dry ice fragment into your bottle. Do NOT cap the bottle yet.

You want to keep your grapes cold, perhaps 0 to 5 degrees C. Immersing the bottle in a bath of ice water, maybe a picnic cooler, works.

You also want to keep them someplace where, if the bottle explodes, nobody will be hurt and nothing much will be damaged.

Turns out that many refrigerators have shelves made of "safety glass," like the stuff they use in automobile windows. If you put the bottle in your refrigerator, you may wind up:

1. being startled by a BANG! that flings open the refrigerator door, tossing condiments hither and yon;
2. cleaning a sticky mixture of grapes, grape juice, and tiny glass cubes out of every part of your fridge;
3. making a very sheepish phone call to your astonished spouse;
4. shopping for one or more costly new refrigerator shelves.

So don't do this in your refrigerator.

Put ice in a picnic cooler. Put the cooler in the garage or basement. Put the bottle in the cooler. Screw the bottle's cap down tight. Put the lid on the picnic cooler. I find a bungee cord or two, holding down the picnic cooler lid, can be a source of calming assurance.

Allow several hours for the carbon dioxide to infuse the fruit. I usually allow 8 hours, but have not experimented with shorter periods.

If you are transporting your grapes to a party, please take appropriate precautions.

Don your safety goggles. I'm not kidding.

Gingerly remove the bottle from the ice water bath and unscrew the cap. Be prepared to survive an explosion.

Decant the grapes. Fizzing should be faintly audible. Serve within 15-20 minutes. After that, they go flat.

Be careful out there. "Thank you for observing all safety precautions."

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Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:50 pm
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