Cooking Lab — The Science of Cooking

This course is designed as a “hands on” course. In the words of Thomas Dewey, “Learn by doing.” We will discuss what is going on when we prepare food and what goes on after we consume it. Every day, without a second thought, we pop things into the microwave, toss dinner on the BBQ, heat something up on the stovetop, whip something up with our mixer or run it through our food processor. We heat stuff, we cool stuff and we freeze stuff. We use pots and pans made of cast iron, stainless steel, glass, aluminum and copper. We set temperatures and we set timers. We boil, simmer, braise, caramelize, liquefy, steep, brew and marinate. Did you ever stop to think that there is a method to the madness? Those seemingly abstract concepts of wave mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, solid state physics and even quantum mechanics dictate how tasty and healthy your meal ends up being. But what about nutrition and health...? Can we bake our cake and eat it too? It’s all about conservation of energy! In this country we spend in excess of $40 billion dollars a year on dieting and another 2.6 billion on gym memberships. Is this all a scam, a hopeless quest? Consider that 68.8% of US adults are either overweight or obese (CDC). Obesity is a contributing factor is deaths due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes (CDC). Losing as little as 5 to 7 percent of a person’s total body weight lowers blood pressure, improves sugar levels, and lowers diabetes by nearly 60% in those with pre diabetes (CDC). The average size of a bagel in the US more than doubled between 1983 and 2003 (going from 4 inches in diameter and 140 calories to 6 inches in diameter and 350 calories (National Heart Lung and Blood Institute). At the current rate of increase, yearly obesity related healthcare costs are expected to exceed $300 billion dollars by 2018 — up from the reported $147 billion in 2008. Can we have it all? Can we prepare amazing meals and treats and still retain our health. Take the course and find out!

    Meetings, Spring 2020