10 Awesome Geeky Cooking Hacks

We recently featured a microwave that was hacked to play YouTube videos while it cooked food, but for those who want their kitchen hacks to  play a direct role in their food preparation, here are ten ideas to get your food-related geek-juices flowing.

Make A Sous Vide Cooker From A Beer Cooler

While “sous vide” has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the cooking world for the last few years, those of you who don’t work in kitchens or read cooking websites would be excused for not knowing the term. Sous vide literally means “under vacuum”  in French and that’s essentially how this food is prepared –vacuum sealed food is placed in a low heat water bath and cooked very slowly. The cooking method generally allows for foods to cook more evenly, retaining a better texture and its original appearance.

Unfortunately, a quick search on Amazon will show you that a sous vide cooker will run you a minimum of $200. Then you’ll need to buy a vacuum sealer, which will add on at least $30, and non-reusable plastic bags for the sealer that can quickly add up too. All of this is a pretty big investment –especially if you just want to check out the process before you commit.

To hack yourself a cheaper option, Serious Eats suggests using a beer cooler, a thermometer and a few Ziplock bags, which will cost less than $25 total. Just add hot water to your cooler until the temperature is a few degrees above your target cooking temperature, then add in your bagged food, close the lid and let the insulation do the work for you. As for how well the beer cooler holds up to the real deal: in tests, the beer cooler worked every bit as well as a quality $450 cooker.

Turn A Crock Pot Into A Yogurt Maker

Most electric yogurt makers only incubate the product, leaving out the critical heating and sterilization process. That’s why Chris Reilly of Make Magazine opted to hack his own yogurt maker out of a Crock Pot that automates the entire process. He call it the “Yobot.”

While the process is pretty involved, for those with the tech skills to pull it off, it seems like a great way to go through the yogurt making process. As a bonus, since you’re already programming a temperature gauge into the Crock Pot, you could easily tweak it just a bit more and make a combination Sous Vide cooker, yogurt maker and Crock Pot in one…now that’s a useful appliance.

Make Your Own Hotel Breakfast

(Video Link)

If you’re sick of leaving your hotel without a home-cooked breakfast, Natalie Tran has a solution. In this video, she shows you how to make oatmeal or soft boiled eggs with a coffee maker, and bacon and fried eggs with aluminum foil and an iron. It might not be the most delicious food in the world, but it’s better than nothing –which is what most hotels offer.

Concoct A Three-Course Meal With A Coffee Maker

Of course, oatmeal is far from the only food that can be made with a coffee maker. The John Hopkins Newsletter has a variety of recipes you can create with nothing more than a coffee maker. While the poached fish, pasta and cinnamon coffee all sound good, the chocolate fondue is certainly the highlight of this column.

Whip Up Fresh Chicken Pesto In The Office

For more advanced coffee-maker chefs, Food 2 suggests making your own chicken pesto pasta for lunch. Simply grill the chicken breasts on the base, boil the pasta in the coffee maker and then use a coffee grinder to create your own pesto sauce from scratch. If you’re really going to make this one though, you might want to buy a new coffee pot and grinder first or else everything is going to taste a little strange.

Brewing Beer With A Coffee Maker

Finally, for those with lots of time and no local bars (for example, someone stuck on an Oceanic Research Vessel), Southern Fried Science has some good tips to make your own beer with nothing more than a coffee pot and items you’d be likely to find on said Oceanic Research Vessel. While it might not be the most practical recipe for most people, it might just be the most useful for those people who do find themselves stuck out on the ocean for months at a time.

Build An Android Bartender

For those of you with some serious hacking skills, many of these tips and tricks will seem too easy or even downright boring. If that sounds like you, then here’s something more inspiring: an Android-powered bartender called “iZac.”

Using a battery-powered aquarium pump, a scale and a tablet with Android software, Nick Johnson devised this electronic bartender that can make any cocktail for you provided he has the ingredients on tap. He also offers an “I’m Feeling Lucky” feature that will provide you with any three liquids at random, providing for some disgustingly hilarious results.

Turn a Broken Wine Fridge Into a Fermentation Chamber

For most people, a broken wine fridge is little more than fodder for the closest landfill, but when Instructables user sklarm found out his neighbor was throwing away an old wine fridge, he jumped into action, hacking it into a top-notch fermentation chamber. By removing the cooling components and adding a lamp and temperature gauge, he was able to turn a piece of waste into an ideal chamber for fermenting bread, yogurt, kombucha and more. If you want to make your own, the process seems pretty straight forward even for the slightly-less tech savvy.

Use Liquid Nitrogen to Make Ice Cream In A Jiff

Homemade ice cream is so delicious, but making it can be so darn boring. What’s a geek to do?

Get an electric drill and liquid nitrogen involved in the process, that’s what. DocBug has all the directions you need to make your own delicious orange raspberry sorbet made with power tools and liquid nitrogen. While you can change up the flavors all you want, whatever you do, don’t forget your safety gear.

Make Some Stew While Taking A Drive

Going on a long road trip and don’t want to get stuck eating fast food? Why not take advantage of the heat generated by your engine? This great Manifold Stew recipe instructs you how to prepare a stew that can be cooked on your car’s engine by driving for about 4 or 5 hours. While it asks for squirrel, you city folk who find squirrel meat in short supply could try using rabbit or chicken in its place.

Personally, the only cooking trick like this that I ever used was making Top Ramen in a coffee pot. Have any of you ever hacked something to cook food it wasn’t intended to create? Are any of you planning to try some of the tricks here?

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The cooking in your hotel room video is dumb on many levels.

Where do you keep the food? NO FRIDGE!
If i got to buy the things first I might as well spend less by buying breakfast else where.

Do I travel with aluminum foil? NO!
Really, who does? And again not gonna buy a roll of foil to make a crappy breakfast in my hotel room.

Can I buy just one egg and two strips of bacon? NO!

Really, anyone who thought that anything she said was the least bit informative is a wanna be Macgyver.
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I've tried cooking a soft-boiled egg in a coffee pot. It didn't work very well.

But I've also heard that one can cook a squirrel in a popcorn popper. Alas, I don't have a popcorn popper anymore.
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Friend of mine told me about a relative who worked laying asphalt for road construction. The asphalt had to be kept at around 350 F, so he would put a frozen TV dinner on the tank about an hour or so before lunch and a hot lunch was ready when he was. Of course, this was when TV dinners came in aluminium trays and covered with foil, no plastic. That would be nasty.
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