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Cooking with Tools

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What we call Southern Ingenuity is a tradition of using what you already have to get the job done. My father would warm his coffee with a propane torch in his workshop to save a trip into the house for a warmup. He wasn't above stirring it with a screwdriver. I also remember him holding a can of beans over a campfire with a pair of pliers. You can do amazing things with tools, including cooking your food.

Drilled Chilli Beef.

When you want to infuse the inside of your roast with flavor, the basic rotary drill makes it so much easier.

Cooking an egg with cellphones.


I was surprised and a bit skeptical when I heard you could cook an egg with two cellphones. It takes quite a bit longer than the conventional methods, but it illustrates the power of things we cannot see.

Update: Don't try this because it won't work. (Thanks, Liz!)

Poached Salmon in a dishwasher.


An urban legend? No, maybe at one time, but there are reports all over the web of people who have poached their salmon in a dishwasherand photographed the results.

Cooking chicken with a volcano.


You have to love a recipe that begins "With a shovel you don't plan on using again..." Cooking chicken or pork with molten lavais an activity restricted to certain locales. This demonstration was done in Hawaii outside the limits of Hawaii Volcanos National Park.

More cooking weirdness, after the jump.

Chili made using a blowtorch.


To be fair, the blowtorch is only used to peel the peppers in this recipe. Going beyond Creme Brulée, I'm sure you can find more uses for a blowtorch in the kitchen if you use your imagination.

Grilled cheese sandwich made with a steam iron.


Surely you remember Johnny Depp making grilled-cheese sandwiches with a steam iron in the movie Benny and Joon. Roy and Laura wanted to see if this would really work, and they posted a photo essay of their efforts.

Prison wine made in a toilet.


This is an experimental re-creation that you really don't want to see a picture of. If you have a weak stomach, you won't want to read the entire description, either. Its not the toilet that might make you queasy, its the fermenting garbage in the bag.

Ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.


Rocket scientists at MIT made ice cream with liquid nitrogenat their ice cream social one summer. I'm sure this is faster than hand-cranking with rock salt, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you, too, are a rocket scientist.

Beer in a coffeemaker.


You brew coffee, don't you? You can brew beer in your coffeemaker, too! These instructions bring the process down to a small scale so it's easier to understand.

Canning tomatoes with a solar cooker.


A solar cooker is actually a cooking tool, but this is so cool I wanted to include it. Canning bushels of tomatoes with boiling water in the kitchen in August is like working in an oven. With a solar cooker, you move the operation outside!

Stew made in a car engine.


Cooking with a car engine is rather well known, thanks to the book Manifold Destiny. I found a Australian with a webpage that illustrates the use of a manifold oven. This gives a whole new meaning to the term "fast food"! Here's a recipe for Manifold Stew.
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Watch How to Make a Compass
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Let's say the mega-earthquake comes and you're stranded with just some MacGyver-style bits and bobs. If you've got a magnet and a little knowledge, you can make a compass that reliably points north. Below, check out a vintage segment from Curiosity Show explaining how to do it—and a bit on the science of why compasses work.

In the clip below, presenter Deane Hutton shows three methods involving a mirror, cork, a pin, a drinking straw, and a circular magnet (in different combinations). There's something for everyone!

Incidentally, one of the key issues in making a compass is knowing which end of a magnet points north and which points south. One YouTuber asked how to determine this, if it's not already marked—as might be the case in a survival situation. Decades after the clip aired, Hutton chimed in via YouTube comments to answer:

Wait till the Sun is about to set. Stand with your right shoulder toward the setting Sun. You are now facing South. Suspend the magnet and let it swing freely. When the magnet stops swinging, the end pointing South is the South Pole of the magnet. Deane.

Science is cool. Anyway, enjoy:

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Watch How To Make a Self-Starting Siphon Using Bendy Straws
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In this vintage video segment from Curiosity Show, we learn about self-starting siphons. These things start a flow of water without the user having to squeeze a pump or suck on a tube, which is a distinct benefit.

In the segment, we also observe the limitations of self-starting siphons. Because the act of submersion starts the flow, we're limited to siphoning water out of very full vessels. But still, this could be useful for a home aquarium, which is one of a thousand scenarios in which you don't want to use a mouth-primed siphon.

The best part of the segment is when presenter Rob Morrison shows how to make your own self-starting siphon. File this under "Handy stuff you can do with bendy straws." Tune in and enjoy this simple physics demo:


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