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Not Your Momma's Cookbooks (Part 3)

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: cookbooks with unique layouts and design

Unusual Formats

140 Characters or Less
Described as "a shorthand sous-chef," Eat Tweet presents 1,020 recipes originally tweeted from @cookbook, author Maureen Evans' recipe-focused Twitter account. Because each recipe has been condensed to 140 characters or less, with no photos, this cookbook is better suited for the text and code inclined than visual learners.

Step-by-Step Photos
Originally, cookbooks were entirely text, and fairly barebones text at that, based perhaps on the assumption that the people reading them already knew how to cook. What to Cook & How to Cook It is the cookbook for people who don't already know how to cook: each easy recipe is presented with clear instructions and photos of each individual step. There's even a photo glossary of cooking techniques in the back.

Photos Only
IKEA created an internet sensation when it released a free 140-page coffee-table book in the kitchen departments of its stores in Sweden. Hembakat är Bäst (Homemade is Best) presented recipes for Swedish baked goods in the simplest visual format possible: a photo of the ingredients, and a photo of the finished product. Carl Kleiner, the photographer, also produced 10 accompanying instructional videos that can be viewed on his Vimeo channel. (This cookbook was previously featured on our list of IKEA-style instructions for things other than IKEA products.)

Interactive
Hungry? is an interactive cookbook from innocent, a UK company that makes smoothies, juices, fruit purees, and "veg pots." Aimed at families, the book is interspersed with facts, stories, games, and colorful graphics to keep kids entertained; it also identifies which steps of the recipes kids can help with. And the finishing touches? A pocket in the back to stash "Torn-out recipes, passports and secret documents... because burglars never steal recipe books" and a dish towel that lists "The 10 Commandments of Washing Up."

Quirky
Another UK book, Kevin Gould's Dishy is full of unusual, quirky features: the recipes are presented in flow-chart format; hand-written notes, excerpts from literature, and photos are interspersed throughout; and the whole book has a retro feel, despite its 2000 publication. My favorite aspect? The little graphics indicating how many people each dish serves and their accompanying text—4 jack-o-lanterns for a pumpkin stew that serves four and "Serves 2 (if you get lucky)" for Venice Calves' Liver.

Art-Book-cum-Cookbook
Until the release of Modernist Cuisine (below), Heston Blumenthal's The Big Fat Duck Cookbook was the biggest and most expensive cookbook on the market, weighing in at 10 pounds and priced at $250.00. The boxed book, complete with four ribbon markers and several gatefolds, is as much an art book or a biography as it is a cookbook. It's packed with illustrations and photographs, and the table of contents is "a four page fold-out peek into Blumenthal's mind." (If $250—or Amazon's discounted price of $157.50—is more than you want to pay, there's a less elaborate, non-boxed or be-ribboned version that's "only" $50, or $31.50 at Amazon).

6 Volumes
Nathan Myhrvold's 50 pound, 2,400-page, 6-volume Modernist Cousine set off a firestorm of discussion when it was listed on Amazon for $625.00. The "cookbook to end all cookbooks" is illustrated with gorgeous photographs that artfully depict the cooking process in action, with a burger cooking on a Weber grill in cross-section and a side-view of a stir-fry in which the food is flying out of the pan to illustrate how it transitions through three different cooking zones.

If you haven't read part one, with strange ingredients, unusual cooking methods, and unlikely author-chefs, or part two, with special themes and science-y goodness, check them out now.

So, _flossers, what are the strangest, weirdest, most unusual cookbooks you've ever seen?

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5 Subtle Cues That Can Tell You About Your Date's Financial Personality
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Being financially compatible with your partner is important, especially as a relationship grows. Fortunately, there are ways you can learn about your partner’s financial personality in a relationship’s early stages without seeing their bank statement or sitting them down for “the money talk.”

Are they a spender or a saver? Are they cautious with money? These habits can be learned through basic observations or casual questions that don’t feel intrusive. Here are some subtle things that can tell you about your date’s financial personality.

1. HOW THEY ANSWER BASIC MONEY QUESTIONS.

Casual conversations about finance-related topics can be very revealing. Does your date know if their employer matches their 401(k) plan contributions? Do you find their answers to any financial questions a bit vague—even the straightforward ones like “What are the rewards like on your credit card?” This could mean that your partner is a little fuzzy on some of the details of their financial situation.

As your connection grows, money talks are only natural. If your date expresses uncertainty about their monthly budget, it may be an indicator that they are still working on the best way to manage their finances or don’t keep close tabs on their spending habits.

2. WHAT THEY’RE WATCHING AND READING.

If you notice your partner is always watching business news channels, thumbing through newspapers, or checking share prices on their phone, they are clearly keeping abreast of what’s going on in the financial world. Ideally, this would lead to a well-informed financial personality that gives way to smart investments and overall monetary responsibility.

If you see that your date has an interest in national and global finances, ask them questions about what they’ve learned. The answers will tell you what type of financial mindset to expect from you partner moving forward. You might also learn something new about the world of finance and business!

3. WHERE THEY GET THEIR FOOD.

You may be able to learn a lot about someone’s financial personality just by asking what they usually do for dinner. If your date dines out a lot, it could be an indication that they are willing to spend money on experiences. On the other hand, if they’re eating most of their meals at home or prepping meals for the entire week to cut their food budget, they might be more of a saver.

4. WHETHER THEY’RE VOICING MONEY CONCERNS.

Money is a source of stress for most people, so it’s important to observe if financial anxiety plays a prominent role in your date’s day-to-day life. There are a number of common financial worries we all share—rising insurance rates, unexpected car repairs, rent increases—but there are also more specific and individualized concerns. Listen to how your date talks about money and pick up on whether their stress is grounded in worries we all have or if they have a more specific reason for concern.

In both instances, it’s important to be supportive and helpful where you can. If your partner is feeling nervous about money, they’ll likely be much more cautious about what they’re spending, which can be a good thing. But it can also stop them from making necessary purchases or looking into investments that might actually benefit them in the future. As a partner, you can help out by minimizing their expenses for things like nights out and gifts in favor of less expensive outings or homemade gifts to leave more of their budget available for necessities.

5. HOW THEY HANDLE THE BILL.

Does your date actually look at how much they’re spending before handing their credit card to the waiter or bartender at the end of the night? It’s a subtle sign, but someone who looks over a bill is likely much more observant about what they spend than someone who just blindly hands cards or cash over once they get the tab.

Knowing what you spend every month—even on smaller purchases like drinks or dinner—is key when you’re staying on a budget. It’s that awareness that allows people to adjust their monthly budget and calculate what their new balance will be once the waiter hands over the check. Someone who knows exactly what they’re spending on the small purchases is probably keeping a close eye on the bigger picture as well.

REMEMBER THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR TALKING.

While these subtle cues can be helpful signposts when you’re trying to get an idea of your date’s financial personality, none are perfect indicators that will be accurate every time. Our financial personalities are rarely cut and dry—most of us probably display some behaviors that would paint us as savers while also showing habits that exclaim “spender!” By relying too heavily on any one indicator, we might not get an accurate impression of our date.

Instead, as you get to know a new partner, the best way to learn about their financial personality is by having a straightforward and honest talk with them. You’ll learn more by listening and asking questions than you ever could by observing small behaviors.

Whatever your financial personality is, it pays to keep an eye on your credit score. Discover offers a Free Credit Scorecard, and checking it won't impact your score. It's totally free, even if you aren't a Discover customer. Check yours in seconds. Terms apply. Visit Discover to learn more.

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Animals
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
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Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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