First off, an apology to long time readers and new visitors. I haven't been writing much for Cooking For Engineers lately because of work demands and having my first child (Emma is almost 11 months old now - time flies!). Cooking and helping others cook is still a primary passion of mine, so I'm both sorry to my readers and sorry for myself that I haven't been able to continue to build Cooking For Engineers over the last couple years as much as I wished I could. I still take notes whenever I get a chance to cook and have a bunch of stuff filed away as potential articles, but finding the time to write has been difficult. I'll do my best to get some new articles in the pipeline and hopefully get some new content up during the second half of the year. (I'm assuming new content is more important than a site redesign, but if not, let me know.)
The first item is the ChefAlarm which is Thermowork's professional level oven probe thermometer. I still have my trusty Polder Oven Probe Thermometer (which apparently is no longer being made by Polder - instead they have this "Original" Cooking All-In-One Timer/Thermometer which looks similar enough and has the same specifications) stuck to the side of my fridge, but I also have the ChefAlarm there now. Because of the number of years I've been using the Polder, I still reach for it to set a countdown timer, but the buttons require some mashing these days for them to register. I really ought to switch to the ChefAlarm, but for some reason I haven't yet. What I have noticed that I've done, without thinking about it, is switch over to the Thermoworks ChefAlarm whenever I'm actually using the thermometer and want an alarm to sound when what I'm cooking reaches a certain temperature. This is because I find the ChefAlarm easier to set the alarm points, easier to read, and, most importantly, the probe is sturdier than the probe on the Polder. It can handle temperatures up to 700°F and I'm not afraid of killing the probe if it gets wet (compared to the Polder probes which in some conditions can be easily broken due to moisture or overheating). (Although the probe and cable can survive at temperatures up to 700°F [370°C], the ChefAlarm can only read temperatures from -58°F to 572°F [-50°C to 300°C].) In fact, the entire unit is splash-proof. It's well constructed and not flimsy at all. The alarms work well when I'm cooking a roast in the oven and trying to reach a target temperature (I usually set it a little under my target temperature so I can make a decision to turn off the oven or not depending on how fast it got there - the faster the temperature rise in the roast the larger the carryover temperature rise will be) as well as when I'm shocking down a stockpot of soup and want to be reminded when it's reached a reasonably cool temperature. I think it's a great product and with the addition of a $15 Pro-Series Needle Probe, you can use the ChefAlarm to assist in sous vide cooking (without introducing a large hole to the bag) or simply use it for extremely thin items.
Although I use it regularly, the ChefAlarm is the least used item out of the three that I'm raffling off. The next most used item for me is the TimeStick. I use this a couple times a week for all sorts of activities. I most recently used mine yesterday to set an alarm to go back inside after 15 minutes while working in the garage. I could have just used my phone, but somehow I've never gotten in the habit of using the clock features of my phone (except for the wake up alarm). Instead, I found it easier to just grab the TimeStick off my desk, set it for 15 minutes, and then slip it in my pocket. It's small, so it's easy to carry around when you need it, but it's not so small it's difficult to work with. Instead of up and down buttons to program in the time, it has a number pad which I greatly prefer. It's also splash-proof and easy to clean (which is another reason I don't reach for my cell phone - sometimes my hands aren't clean and I don't want to smudge stuff all over my screen). When I first got my TimeStick last year, I thought I would never use it, but I left it on my desk and since I see it all the time, I just grab it and set it whenever I need a timer of any sort and I'm not in my kitchen (or plan on walking away from the kitchen). (In the kitchen, I have a number of timers available to me, so I'll just set one of those unless I know I'm leaving the room and unlikely to hear the alarm. Then I'll use the TimeStick because when it goes off, it'll be going off near me and not in my kitchen.)
The last item is Thermowork's new low-cost digital instant read thermometer - the ThermoPop. I own a bunch of Thermapens and an IR thermometer, so I never thought I'd have much use for the ThermoPop, but I use it every single day... just not in the kitchen. Currently, I use it to measure Emma's bath water temperature (I use a thermometer since water can feel cool, warm, or hot to my skin even though it's the same temperature. It basically depends on if I've eaten recently, feel cold or hot, have exercised, or a bunch of other variables. So, I use a thermometer.) I used to use a Thermapen, but the ThermaPop is even more convenient. It's almost ideal for what I'm using it for (and I can only imagine how useful it would be in someone's kitchen) because I can rotate the display so the numbers are oriented properly when held left-handed or right-handed or even upside-down.
It's got a big easy to read backlit display and is splash-proof. It very fast for an instant read thermometer (that isn't a Thermapen) with an accurate reading in less than 6 seconds. Although I'm not using it in a large temperature range, the ThermoPop is able to take readings in a range greater than most instant read thermometers (from -50°C to 300°C [-58°F to 572°F]) which should encompass all possible needs for a handy pocket thermometer.}?>
Of course, these any one of these will make a great Father's Day present, so if you feel like buying one of them to send to your Father and then enter the raffle to win a prize for yourself, I have no problems with that.
Everytime we've run one of these giveaways, I've come up with something for you to comment on (favorite article or who you would gift a Thermapen to) and the responses have been a lot of fun. This time, I'm going to stretch a little and hope I don't overstep. I'd like to ask each participant to send someone else a link to Cooking For Engineers or an article you like on Cooking For Engineers (or a link to this giveaway). It can be an email to your sibling or friend, a Facebook post, a tweet, a blog post, or whatever. I'm hoping most of my readers have been meaning to tell someone about something they found on Cooking For Engineers, and this is just a friendly request (or rather a plea) to go ahead and do it. In any case, I don't need or even want proof that you've told someone, I just ask that you help us out and let some more people know about the site. The second part is that everyone entering the giveaway should register on the forums (so I'll have an email address to contact you with if you win) and leave a comment. The comment that I'd like people to leave is this: Tell me what article or subject or recipe you'd like to see me write about in the future on Cooking For Engineers. Both of these things will help me out a lot!
Now, the detailed instructions:
- You need to be in the United States or Canada to qualify for this giveaway (Thermowork's shipping requirements).
- Send someone (or a lot of people) a link to Cooking For Engineers or an article / recipe on Cooking For Engineers.
- Join Cooking For Engineers (through the forums) and post a comment telling me what articles or recipes you'd like to see me write about on Cooking For Engineers. I need you to join so, if you win, I'll have an email address to contact you with to get your mailing info so Thermoworks can send you the thermometers. I won't have contact information for guest/anonymous posts so I can't include your entry unless you are logged in. (If you are an existing member, be sure to double check your email address on file to make sure it's accurate.)
- On June 6, 2014, I'll post a comment signifying the end of the contest. All entries (where I have contact info) above my comment will be eligible to win. (I don't know what time I'll be making the post, so it's best just to enter early.)
- I'll number the participants and generate a random number which will determine the winner and post the winner as well as contact them via email. If there is no response within 24 hours of my email, then I'll pick another number and winner (and so on).
*who live in the United States or Canada
Congrats on the new addition to the family!
I've been reading CfE for nearly ten years (the first entry in my Thunderbird RSS feed archive is dated June 8, 2004). Time flies!
What would I like to see you write about? More equipment reviews. More of your Dining Out series.
I purchased a Thermapen as soon as I read your thermometer comparison test back in '05. I also purchased a couple of Kyocera ceramic knives based on Jordon's review in '11.
The Dining Out series is great because I know I'll almost certainly never have to opportunity to visit those places myself and it's great to experience it through your eyes.
Hey, I've got a question about IR thermometers. If I'm heating oil in a black cast iron pan, is the IR going to measure the temp of the oil, or the bottom of the pan?
In my experience, the IR thermometer measures the temperature of the surface of the oil on the pan. It doesn't "see" through the oil. It also appears to measure the temperature of the glass when I aim it through a window. Of course, the emissivity values are different for these materials, so if you don't have an IR thermometer with a programmable emissivity coefficient, the calculated temperature will be off.
I'd love to see you some pizza recipes or some Mexican dishes.
I'd like to see more recipes. In particular I'd be curious to see if you have more smoker recipes, in the spirit of Father's Day. A closer look at smokers would also be interesting.
I would also like to read about the nitty-gritty of cooking deserts like crème brûlée, crème caramel, zabaione/zabaglione, etc.
I've been an off-and-on reader for many years. I've enjoyed your pieces and look forward to reading more of them, period. I wouldn't dare to suggest in which way to steer your interests as I've enjoyed many varied topics. Sounds like a cop-out, but it's true. "Let the artist .. do his or her art."
I would like to know your top 3 chefs you like to go to for recipes (based on accuracy, taste, ease etc..). Also, which chefs you recommend to avoid.
In my experience, the IR thermometer measures the temperature of the surface of the oil on the pan.
My current interests are bread baking, classic sauce preparations, and southern cuisine. To that end, I'd love to see good recipes for shrimp & grits, brunswick stew, or country captain.
Love your articles. Thanks!
As far as subjects for writing:
1) your thoughts on/review of the cookbook "Ratio" by Ruhlman
2) making flavoured liqueurs
3) making clear ice
you might want to check the instructions for entering the draw at the bottom of the first post.
as a "Guest" you do not qualify for entry.
She could use the TimeStick and/or ThermoPop in a variety of ways as she still works with this population as a volunteer. Timing of activities and counting responses within those activities greatly assists developing plans that work for the children instead of just coming up with plans at random!
Monitoring temps is also critical for preventing scalds. It would also assist in cooking activities as well as in working with daily living activity skill development!
Your site rules and is my go to for initial searches for my cooking activities (Ceramic Engineer now working in IT) - cooking gets my mind off work, a daily need so I do 99% of the cooking!
Dutch oven recipes/techniques? Over the fire methods? Things that store better/longer than others?
Add me to those who'd like more posts on baking, with info on what must be precise to make a recipe work, and why. I love reading about the science behind a foam or a gel, and how that applies to a recipe.
Or you could post on toddler-friendly meals :)
Thanks for the Giveaway!
Having said that, I just discovered my beloved old electronic Taylor is reading about 9-12° higher than it should.
What are the chances it's the probe vs. the dinky timer, temp gauge itself?
Might have to buy one of them ThermThingamabobs myself.
Thanks for an awesome site!
I'd agree with several others. More equipment related posts.
It'll take me a moment to sort some stuff out before I can do the drawing. Something went wrong and for some reason many comments were posted to the 2013 Thermapen contest. I'm going to merge the new comments from that contest into this one before generating the list of participants. Sorry for the technical mishap.
Congratulations to deaphin, I'll be contacting you by email to get your preferred colors and mailing address.
Thanks everyone for the kind words and suggestions for where to take future articles. I've pulled up some articles I've been working on before and will try to finish at least one of them up in the near future.