Tim O’Reilly’s Jam and Scones

Tim shows his method for drying apple rings in the hot California sun.

Re-blogged from answers.oreilly.com… -J

For his recently released book, Cooking for Geeks, author Jeff Potter interviewed prominent researchers, food scientists, knife experts, chefs, writers, and more, including author Harold McGee, TV personality Adam Savage, and chemist Hervé This. Some provided recipes, others offered tips and tricks, and each brought his or her own geeky insights into the space where science and cooking meet. In one case, the contribution was a comic (by Randall Munroe of xkcd). As you can imagine, while preparing the book, Jeff had access to a geek whose name is eponymous with the company that published his book. The excerpt from Cooking for Geeks that follows includes part of their conversation, along with the recipe for Tim’s now-famous homemade scones.

Jeff: You say you don’t consider yourself a foodie at all?

Tim: No. In fact, I kind of make a small number of things that I make repetitively. A lot of what I do is driven by the fact that I hate to waste things. So hence jam because there’s all this great fruit. [Tim has numerous fruit trees.] Right now I’m doing dried apples. But let me put these scones in. [Tim had been making scones as we started.] This is something that I figured out a long time ago. I make this big batch and it’s too much for two people so I made a batch and then I was like, oh wait, I can just freeze it.

Jeff: How did the thought of freezing it come to you?

Continue reading Tim O’Reilly’s Jam and Scones

Short Excerpt from Harold McGee Interview

Here at the “International Institute for Authors Who Are Supposed To Get Every Last Edit In Within The Next 36 Hours,” there’s been a recent bittersweet moment. (There are many bittersweet moments in book writing, but that’s another blog post. Which I will do. Just not in the next 36 hours.)

In the design process of the book, some sections and interviews are having to get trimmed down to fit the spreads in the book. (The design is looking amazing, by the way, thanks to the amazing Edie Freedman at O’Reilly Media. Amazing.)

One such spread is my interview with Harold McGee, which I had to chop by 200 words to fit to the spread. I’d asked him about his approach to the kitchen and how he goes about solving “food mysteries.”

Here is the part of his answer from our interview that just didn’t fit.

I just get in there and try and understand it, first by doing controlled experiments. You set things up so that you’re only changing one variable, doing things side by side so that you’re not comparing the flavor of something from three days ago or a week ago with what you’re doing now, in order to really see what’s happening.

If necessary, you can go to the literature and try to find out what the chemistry might be, but the first thing is realizing that foods are really complicated. Nobody really understands completely what’s going on, and the only way to find out what’s going on with whatever you happen to be interested in is to make it over and over again in different ways and see how it changes when you change different variables and come to an understanding that way.

The nice thing about that is that it’s kind of like science back in the 17th century, when anybody could pick up a telescope and look at the sky and discover something new. That’s changing, but I think it’s still true that there are lots of things that go on in the kitchen that no one has really taken that close a look at, so you may be the first.

—Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking