Saturday, November 26, 2011

Alton Brown is my new Hero

I have been a fan of Alton Brown since I discovered GoodEats. It’s like… cooking for geeks. It is loaded with all kinds of great geek humor. And he spends time explaining the chemistry behind the cooking. You don’t just get a recipe walk-through; you also get history, and deep, fundamental background as to how and why it works the way it does. It is the kind of information that can be applied to other cookery projects.

Alton Brown gave me the confidence to depart from just following recipes, and create my own culinary concoctions (Not that I am a cooking superstar. I am purely hobby, but I do enjoy the adventure).
And recently he became my hero.

With the potential Crohn’s diagnosis and the related symptoms came a rather drastic change in diet. When you eliminate all the potential Crohn’s triggers, you are basically left with chicken, turkey, fish (which is prohibitively expensive when you live in the middle of the mountains),  most fruits, lettuce, celery and yams. Pretty much everything else is a potential trigger. I went on this very restrictive diet in an effort to get symptoms under control, with the plan to reintroduce foods and monitor results, in order to determine what my specific triggers were.

Several weeks into this, I was having a particularly dreary day, specifically bemoaning the absence of pasta in my life. I love pasta. I’m not especially picky about it. I don’t care what the noodle is. Pasta is about the sauce. I love to make sauce. Mostly tomato based sauce. I could eat spaghetti two or three times a week. And this doing without pasta was cruel and unusual punishment in my book.

Anyway, on this particular day, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself over this when I sat down to watch an episode of Good Eats with summer squash as the subject. One of the recipes Alton presented was a "pasta salad", using Zucchini as the pasta. As he described how to accomplish this, and why it worked, a small spark of hope was ignited. Surely these Zucchini noodles could serve as the platform for pasta sauce as well. 

We happened to have a couple Zucchini, from the last Bountiful Baskets. So I talked my wife into giving it a try one night. After the peeling and salting, she rinsed them, and tossed them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them up.  When I got home from work, they were plated and smothered in Sauce. It was darn close to Spaghetti, with a slightly thicker noodle. The texture was good. The Zucchini taste was present, complimentary, but not overpowering. My favorite food was back on the menu!

So Thank-you Alton Brown, for saving my spaghetti. You are my hero!


  1. You might also try spaghetti squash

  2. I do enjoy Alton Brown myself, but sometimes his geekiness is overpowering. I have been thinking I would like to try those "noodles" however. I am glad to hear you give them a good review!

  3. @Lempi, I have tried spaghetti squash before. To me, the texture seemed off (might be my taste, I like 'em a little underdone). The also seemed a little too... squashy. The Zucchini Had the underdone firmness, and a very mild flavor. It was really barely discernible from a think Pasta noodle.
    It is possible I just had a bad (or badly prepared) spaghetti squash though. I might give it another go.

  4. @Nichole, Yeah, my wife rolls her eyes a lot when I am watching. I love the geeky-ness. Alton is right at the top of my (very short) list of celeb's I'd like to meet.