Pumpkin Carving for Geeks

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I am a pumpkin carving geek.  I can’t get enough of it!  As soon as October rolls around, there’s nothing I want to do more than buy a dozen of the largest pumpkins Fred Meyer carries and sit at home with my pairing knife whittling away at orange flesh.  [Tip: Fred Meyer’s scales max out somewhere around 30 lbs., so find the heaviest pumpkins you can and you’ll get a great deal!]

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a few pumpkin carving techniques (ahem… using lasers), but I am certainly not alone when it comes to geeking out over gords.  Check out this collection of nerd-o-lanterns!

5 Grilling Tools Every Food Geek Should Own

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?

Duck Consommé with Sous Vide Potato & Laser-Cut Nori

duck consomme with laser-cut nori
Having access to a laser cutter has made me think differently about food.  Although I’ve lasered more edibles than I care to mention, one of the most successful substances for laser cutting is nori – the seaweed paper used in sushi making.  Although nori cuts well, it is extremely delicate and brittle.  Inspired by that delicateness, I decided to use the nori as a garnish for duck consommé, a crystal-clear soup made from duck stock.  The potato creates a dramatic color contrast and allows the Japanese maze design cut out of nori to sit just above the level of the liquid.

Makes: 8 zen bowls
Total kitchen time: about 6 hours, depending…

Shopping list:

  • 8 cups duck consommé, prepared
  • 4 russet potatoes, fat and round
  • 1 tbsp. rendered duck fat
  • 8 laser-cut nori designs of a Japanese maze

Special equipment: laser cutter, 2” biscuit cutter, vacuum sealing machine, sous vide heating immersion circulator

  1. Slice the potatoes into 1” thick discs.  Using the discs that are at least 2” in diameter, cut out 8 rounds with the 2” biscuit cutter. 
  2. Place the potato circles in a vacuum bag and add rendered duck fat.  Vacuum seal.
  3. Cook potatoes in an 85C water bath for 1 hour. 
  4. To serve, place a potato slice in the bottom of a large bowl.  Blot the top of the potato with a paper towel to dry the surface.  Add 1bout 1 cup of consommé to the bowl.  Top with a piece of nori.

If you don’t have access to a laser cutter (a travesty!) you can try cutting shapes using a very sharp hobby knife. 

Nori on Foodista