Sunday, September 13, 2009

Computational tools for cooking

You don't need to be surprised reading the title, it does put Computational tools and cooking together in the same sentence. One of the perks of being a new graduate student is cooking for oneself, or rather, as in my case, learning to cook for oneself. It aptly fits in with my area of interest, machine learning, since I am learning to cook, identifying patterns in cooking from my training experience, and using those ideas to further refine my cooking to perfection.

However, I am not referring to myself by the term Computational tools in the title. Besides all the traditional tools necessary for cooking, my list involves a laptop, webcam, and internet. Honestly, I don't have a good idea of the quantity of spices to use or how to cook certain food items yet, so I take help of Google to find out recipes and figure out how much of each spices to use, if any. It is not as simple as searching for a recipe though; most times I don't have all the necessary ingredients mentioned in the recipes that I find, so I improvise by abstracting information by combining multiple recipes and some experimentation. This technique has served me adequately so far.

In the extreme case, which, very fortunately, has not happened yet, I have no idea of how to go about cooking something, skype and video chat seems like a great resource that will come in handy. Just call up someone who knows how to cook, and use the cam to show what disaster you have been up to and follow directions from that person. One great advantage of this telecooking technique is that you are not limited by geography, and can potentially go international; except that time zone might be a contributing factor.


  1. If you really want to learn to cook, check out The Joy of Cooking (both versions are good), or Mark Bittman's excellent How to Cook Everything. His The Best Recipes in the World and NY Times column are both pretty good, too. There are probably other good elementary cookbooks, too; those are just the most popular.

    I haven't found much good intro-to-cooking material on the web, but once you're comfortable, Cooking for Engineers sounds right up your alley. Along with Epicurious, Chowhound, and Wikipedia's endless reading on the history of food, I've spent a delightful portion of my life diverted by food. I honestly don't know anyone else that gets quite as excited about a good grocery store. Enjoy...

  2. Thanks Edward! I will check them out.

  3. Do you work on this (still)? I'm also interested in this topic..