In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to talk about something that everyone will be doing a lot of today – cooking and eating.
I’ve had a lot of free time lately, and Netflix has also started to carry collections of Food Network and PBS cooking shows. I’m obsessed. So I have some recommendations for fellow cooking hobbyists and geeks;
Barefoot Contessa’s Back to Basics is on Netflix, with only a 25 or so selection of episodes. They’re amazing. I’d never gotten super into Ina Garten’s show when I tried to watch it before, but now as an adult who hosts parties and cooks dinner for more than just myself, it’s one of the most helpful shows I’ve watched. She really does go back to basics, and shows a lot of common cooking tips that a lot of shows assume you know instead of explaining them fully. Most of the episodes close with her answering viewer submitted questions as well, which cover lots of questions like how to peel garlic and how to temper chocolate. Incredibly useful, especially for beginners.
America’s Test Kitchen has some too, and oh wow is it a really fun show. I love that they go through and try so many different things with each recipe, even classics that we all basically make the same, and they figure out what the easiest, perfect way is to get the results wanted from the recipe. I watched their episode on the Julia Child method of making turkey, and while I couldn’t bring myself to break tradition and try it, there’s a chance if I host Thanksgiving again I will. They break it down and it seems incredibly easy.
My absolute favorite though is Good Eats. The mixture of science, skits, and cooking make it one of the best shows I’ve ever watched (and yes, I’m a Whovian. I have a high standard.) I think I love it because he explains why we do what we do with cooking; why do we sear meat? Why do we let yeast work on rising bread for so long? Why and how do flour and water make gluten? Once you understand how some of the basic scientific principles of cooking work, you understand where you can take shortcuts in cooking, what you can modify in recipes, and what things you absolutely should not mess with ever. Plus, humor makes everything better and the show can be hysterical as well as informative.
There’s my Thanksgiving cooking geekery. I hope everyone is getting to chow down on their favorite holiday meals, watch some TV (ours is currently playing Kung Fu Hustle, because it’s amazing and hilarious), and spend time with loved ones, whether friends or family.