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Not Your Momma's Cookbooks (Part 1)

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For someone who doesn't like to cook (and who rarely cooks), I sure own a lot of cookbooks; I love seeing all the different foods that can be made. In my ventures through the cookbook aisles, I've noticed some with less-than-typical main ingredients, cooking methods, and themes. This weekend, I'm sharing with you a sampling of the most unusual—in one way or another—cookbooks out there.

Tonight: strange ingredients, unusual cooking methods, and unlikely author-chefs.

Strange Ingredients

Everyone's favorite little Hostess treats have an official cookbook all their own, filled with recipes sent in by devoted fans. You might have tried deep-fried Twinkies before, but did you ever think to make Twinkie sushi?

Prof. Ebenezer Murgatroyd's 1951 tome, Cooking to Kill! The Poison Cook-book, includes comic illustrations by Herb Roth alongside recipes intended for "the Ghoul, Cannibal, Witch, and Murderer."

Creepy Crawlies
According to the authors of these cookbooks, bugs are healthy for you because they're full of protein. And you save money because you can find the ingredients for free in your backyard! 1998 must have been the pinnacle of the bug-dining trend, because both The Eat a Bug Cookbook and Creepy Crawly Cuisine came out that year.

Other "Exotic" Ingredients
If you're intrigued by the thought of eating bizarre ingredients but don't want to limit yourself to just bugs, check out Christa Weil's Fierce Food, which includes boiled sheep's head, dried clay, and embryonic duck eggs in addition to your run-of-the-mill insects.

You'd think roadkill wouldn't be a very popular main ingredient, but there are several guides to cooking with animals found by the wayside. B.R. "Buck" Peterson's The Original Road Kill Cookbook is, well, the original.

Unusual Methods

Sans Electricity
Whether your power has gone out due to a hurricane or because it's the apocalypse, you'll still need to eat. Both The Storm Gourmet and Apocalypse Chow! instruct you in the fine art of cooking and dining with no electricity.

On Your Car Engine
Manifold Destiny was first published in 1989 by a photographer and a travel writer. The cult classic, re-released in 1998, tells you how to cook on the go by placing food on your engine block. Diesel Dining was written by a truck driver, who teaches his fellow long-haul truckers how they can still have hot and healthy food without taking long breaks from their routes.

In the Nude
Debbie and Stephen Cornwell have released a whole series of "Cooking in the Nude" books, starting with Playful Gourmets and even including one For Golf Lovers. The cook-in-the-buff recipes, which fall under categories such as "Appeteasers," are "intended for lovers and potential lovers. Excessive use of this book may result in loss of sleep." You won't find many desserts included, though, as the authors expect you'll be too busy with other, ahem, pursuits.

Unlikely Author-Chefs

Cookin' with Coolio, which promises "5 Star meals at a 1 Star Price," includes "Ghetto Gourmet" gems such as "Bro-Ghetti" and "Chicken Lettuce Blunts" along with a healthy serving of slang and a side of expletives.

A Serial Killer
Dorothea Puente was charged with killing 9 men in the 1980s, though she was only convicted of killing 3. (She always maintained the men, tenants at her boarding house, died of natural causes.) Shane Bugbee's 2004 cookbook, Cooking with a Serial Killer includes an interview and Puente's prison artwork alongside some 50 recipes.

Heavy Metal Musicians
In 2009, Annick "Morbid Chef" Giroux published Hellbent for Cooking; a year later, Steve Seabury's Mosh Potatoes landed on bookshelves. Both feature recipes by the heavyweights of heavy metal, with backstage stories and liner notes mixed in throughout Mosh Potatoes.

Come back tomorrow evening for part two, featuring cookbooks with special themes and science-y goodness, and Sunday evening, for unique layouts and design.

Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Lucy Quintanilla/iStock
6 East Coast Castles to Visit for a Fairy Tale Road Trip
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Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

Once the stuff of fairy tales and legends, a variety of former castles have been repurposed today as museums and event spaces. Enough of them dot the East Coast that you can plan a summer road trip to visit half a dozen in a week or two, starting in or near New York City. See our turrent-rich itinerary below.


59 miles from New York City

The crumbling exterior of Bannerman Castle
Garrett Ziegler, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bannerman Castle can be found on its very own island in the Hudson River. Although the castle has fallen into ruins, the crumbling shell adds visual interest to the stunning Hudson Highlands views, and can be visited via walking or boat tours from May to October. The man who built the castle, Scottish immigrant Frank Bannerman, accumulated a fortune shortly after the Civil War in his Brooklyn store known as Bannerman’s. He eventually built the Scottish-style castle as both a residence and a military weapons storehouse starting in 1901. The island remained in his family until 1967, when it was given to the Taconic Park Commission; two years later it was partially destroyed by a mysterious fire, which led to its ruined appearance.


116 miles from Beacon, New York

William Gillette was an actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes, which may have something to do with where he got the idea to install a series of hidden mirrors in his castle, using them to watch guests coming and going. The unusual-looking stone structure was built starting in 1914 on a chain of hills known as the Seven Sisters. Gillette designed many of the castle’s interior features (which feature a secret room), and also installed a railroad on the property so he could take his guests for rides. When he died in 1937 without designating any heirs, his will forbade the possession of his home by any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” The castle is now managed by the State of Connecticut as Gillette Castle State Park.


74 miles from East Haddam, Connecticut

The exterior of Belcourt castle
Jenna Rose Robbins, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt designed Belcourt Castle for congressman and socialite Oliver Belmont in 1891. Hunt was known for his ornate style, having designed the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, but Belmont had some unusual requests. He was less interested in a building that would entertain people and more in one that would allow him to spend time with his horses—the entire first floor was designed around a carriage room and stables. Despite its grand scale, there was only one bedroom. Construction cost $3.2 million in 1894, a figure of approximately $80 million today. But around the time it was finished, Belmont was hospitalized following a mugging. It took an entire year before he saw his completed mansion.


111 miles from Newport, Rhode Island

Part of the exterior of Hammond castle
Robert Linsdell, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. built his medieval-style castle between 1926 and 1929 as both his home and a showcase for his historical artifacts. But Hammond was not only interested in recreating visions of the past; he also helped shape the future. The castle was home to the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Hammond produced over 400 patents and came up with the ideas for over 800 inventions, including remote control via radio waves—which earned him the title "the Father of Remote Control." Visitors can take a self-guided tour of many of the castle’s rooms, including the great hall, indoor courtyard, Renaissance dining room, guest bedrooms, inventions exhibit room, library, and kitchens.


430 miles from Gloucester, Massachusetts

It's a long drive from Gloucester and only accessible by water, but it's worth it. The German-style castle on Heart Island was built in 1900 by millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt, who created the extravagant structure as a summer dream home for his wife Louise. Sadly, she passed away just months before the place was completed. The heartbroken Boldt stopped construction, leaving the property empty for over 70 years. It's now in the midst of an extensive renovation, but the ballroom, library, and several bedrooms have been recreated, and the gardens feature thousands of plants.


327 miles from Alexandria Bay, New York

Part of the exterior of Fonthill castle

In the mood for more castles? Head south to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where Fonthill Castle was the home of the early 20th century American archeologist, anthropologist, and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer. Mercer was a man of many interests, including paleontology, tile-making, and architecture, and his interest in the latter led him to design Fonthill Castle as a place to display his colorful tile and print collection. The inspired home is notable for its Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and with 44 rooms, there's plenty of well-decorated nooks and crannies to explore.


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