thermometer in ice water
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got a handful of thermometers dancing around your drawer of miscellaneous kitchen tools.  But, are they accurate?  If you’re roasting a turkey, a degree or two of inaccuracy isn’t going to make a dramatic difference.  But, if you’re making caramel, tempering chocolate, cooking sous vide, grilling a steak, or doing any number of other tasks that require a precise temperature, having a thermometer you can trust is clutch. 

Calibrating your thermometer is quick and easy.  Many analog and digital thermometers allow you to offset the temperature to adjust for the calibrated value.  However, if your thermometer doesn’t offer an offset function, a piece of blue tape with the delta will work just fine. 

Method 1: Ice Water

  1. Fill a glass with ice cubes, then top off with cold water. 
  2. Stir the water and let sit for 3 minutes.
  3. Stir again, then insert your thermometer into the glass, making sure not to touch the sides. 
  4. The temperature should read 32°F (0°C).  Record the difference and offset your thermometer as appropriate.

Method 2: Boiling Water

  1. Boil a pot of distilled water.
  2. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, insert your thermometer, making sure not to touch the sides or bottom of the pot.
  3. The temperature should read 212°F (100°C).  Record the difference and offset your thermometer as appropriate.
    [Note: The boiling point of water will vary with altitude.  Use this handy water boiling point calculator to find the right temperature for your elevation.]

Now that you’ve got a thermometer you can trust, go forth and cook with confidence!

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geek grilling tools
Summer has arrived, and that means it’s time to grill.  But before you start charring steaks, you’ll need a little equipment.  Here are my favorite nerdy accessories for the grillmaster within you.

1.  Extra-Long BBQ Tongs.  They don’t sound geeky, but this single piece of equipment can mean the difference between retaining your forearm hair or not.  Look for locking tongs at least 16” long, with metal ends since plastic and even silicone can melt at grilling temperature.

2.  TurboQue Turbo-Charged Smoker.  This battery-operated fan attaches to the inside of your grill and turns it into a convection smoker.  This means reduced cooking time and extra exposure to smoke from wood chips. 

3.  Infrared Thermometer.  Sure, you could hold your hand above the grill grate and count “one Mississippi… two Mississippi,” but it’s far more geeky to be accurate to .1 degrees Fahrenheit.  This non-contact thermometer instantly measures surface temperatures with the pull of a trigger, enticing you to be quick on the draw. 

4.  Instant Digital Probe Thermometer.  While the infrared thermometer will tell you how hot the grill is, it won’t give you a read on the internal temperature of your porterhouse.  Use a probe thermometer to quickly check the doneness of thick cuts without having to slice them open.  Choose a digital instant read over an analog model, unless you enjoy waiting while your fingernails melt over the fire.

5.  Onion Goggles.  You may look a little… special… flipping burgers with these on, but if you’re cooking with smoke, or better yet, over a campfire, they are indispensable.  The foam-lined glasses are highly effective at keeping the smoke out of your eyes, and keeping girls from ever talking to you.  But hey, form follows function, right?

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