It should be no surprise to anyone who has read my posts that I am a nerd and proud of it! I mean, my very first post was about science, math and humour. A 100+ hour video game made my best-of-2022 list. And I’m a Librarian who loves reading books about Libraries, so how’s that for a niche interest? Something only those who have read my bio will know, though, is that I’m a baker1. Combining these passions led to scouring the catalogue for nerdy cookbooks to share with our readers, which I found way more of than I anticipated. We’ve got cookbooks for Game of Thrones, World of Warcraft, Outlander, and even Alice in Wonderland. And those are just single-media cookbooks. Read on past the break to see a plethora of options that are sure to hit something you’re passionate about and give you ideas for a delicious, nerdy night in. Also, there might be some pictures of my attempt at one of the dishes.Continue reading
Tag Archives: Baking
Food of the Gods
In 1947, children across Canada went on a chocolate bar strike to protest the 60% overnight rise of the price of candy bars from 5 cents to 8 cents, which, kudos to them for banding together and trying to affect change*, but it does make you wonder: how does pushing down the price of a commodity such as chocolate work out for everyone along the supply chain? If it’s anything like coffee, I’m going to hazard a guess that the answer is: not well.
For all that chocolate is ubiquitous and beloved**, to the point that children back in ’47 expected it not to be a luxury good but an affordable treat that should be readily available and affordable, what it comes from, where it comes from, how it’s processed – all of this and more are fairly removed from the final product. I don’t think I knew until very recently that anything other than the cacao seeds were edible from the pod, that the stuff encasing the cacao seeds isn’t a useless byproduct but a refreshing treat in its own right (and possibly the reason that the cacao fruit was picked up by people in the first place, since the seeds are bitter and wouldn’t have been immediately appealing, in theory). And if you were to ask me where cacao was grown, I’d probably have known to say Ghana, but not Côte d’Ivoire, nor immediately think of South America despite that being the provenance of chocolate (Ecuador and Brazil being the big contributors as far as cacao farming goes; I think the idea that we have the Mayans or the Aztecs to thank for chocolate is fairly widespread^*), though I’d probably have said India (thanks only to this spice company). If you’re thinking that maybe I just know a bit less than the average person about chocolate (or geography, or history), that’s probably fair – my knowledge of geography and history in general is abysmal – but which of the following would you wager is more strongly associated with chocolate? Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, Brazil and Ecuador, or Belgium and Switzerland (as in Belgian and Swiss chocolate)?Continue reading
I know basically every celebration of pi day (March 14, because pi = 3.14…) turns into a celebration of pie, and I’d never say no to pie, but what if we could celebrate with delicious pies while also learning more about what math is at the same time? Conveniently enough, Eugenia Cheng, author of X + Y, has already done this for us: How to Bake π.
Now, I’m going to take a bit of a detour away from tasty delicious pie and into the world of knitting for a brief moment. Upon asking a college classroom what came to mind when asked about mathematics, math professor Sara Jensen found the top two words were “calculation” and “equation”. Asked the same question, professional mathematicians gave quite a different response: “critical thinking” and “problem-solving”. Which prompted Jensen to “eliminate pencil, paper, calculator (gasp) and textbook from the classroom completely. Instead, we talked, used our hands, drew pictures… And of course, we knit” (Jensen, Why I Teach Math Through Knitting), in an attempt to bridge the gap between how students approached math (calculating equations, memorizing proofs…drudgery) and how math could actually be used as a tool, engaging learners by making the learning interesting and more hands-on. I’ve joked before about how I’ve done more linear algebra while knitting than learning it in class, and certainly with more of a vested interest in how the abstract numbers translate to the physical object! And I’ve also thanked Pythagoras before for imparting his theorem to us while figuring out how to calculate length as I knit on a bias. In fact, I have found myself wanting to engage more with math as I knitted more and more, making alterations and designing my own items – it’s all the same math I learned by rote back in school, approached with a lot more enthusiasm now in comparison, and willingly at that!
And it’s exactly this work of transforming how we think of math, from equations and calculations to problem-solving and critical thinking, that Cheng does in How to Bake Pi. She makes math fun to learn, and accessible to audiences of varying levels of math knowledge, which is quite a feat!