Cooking for engineers

Visual recipes

So here we are. Since I started cooking, 20 years of my life have passed. I cook most days at home, and my level of cooking is 'nice for the home'. So I don't have pictures good enough for Instagram, nor do I have novel cooking concepts or insights that I'd like to share. One thing, however, I have to share: I hate recipes with all my heart. In the heat of the moment, during cooking, a recipe is the most useless piece of information. When the onions are about to burn and you forgot what the next step was, you quickly and desperately need to know what to add. Unlock phone, switch to browser, wait for page to reload (WTF??), scroll to page, ads are loading, you keep stirring the onions and try to find the missing piece of information. And as soon as you find it, the smell of burned onions enters your nose.

Visual pad thai

Screw that. I am an engineer and I don't need pictures of the various steps. I also don't need lengthy texts because most of those words are redundant. I need a visual representation of the recipe! A quick search reveals some visual recipes but these are simple recipes for making pancakes or cookies. I need recipes when making slightly more advanced dishes, such as this pad thai recipe. So here's what I came up with:

Figure 1: Visual recipe for pad thai with fresh shrimp.

This style of representation works for me. Time flows from left to right and space is roughly divided vertically. Ingredients are color coded in a way they make sense to me, but any scheme goes of course. Actions are split up in cooking actions and plating/serving actions, and at some moments in time hints are given to know what you should aim for at that moment or what you should do. Something I left out are the amounts. It would make the picture cluttered. Also, I rarely cook with set amounts. I take out of the fridge/cupboard what I need, and if I need specific amounts I pre-measure them.

Visual classic lasagne

And because there is no stopping now, and because because of Covid-19 there is a lot of stopping to my current business anyway, I went for a lasagne. Something BBC Food calls a classic lasagne (please Italy, don't send me death threats now!). It is a nice representation, because of the different sauces that need to be made and then come together in the final bake.

Figure 2: Visual recipe for lasagne alla bolognese.

If you click here you can download the .svg file that contains the raw vector graphics for the two presented recipes. You can edit them and make your own using e.g. Inkscape (I use it for all my vector graphics and it works very well).

René Becker - May 13, 2020 - Coogee NSW, Australia