Cooking with Engineers
Disclaimer: Premise and Characters are the property of Akira Toriyama, I'm only borrowing them for a bit of non-profit fun.
Author's Notes: Credit for the idea for this story goes to Asiya Ali, and "Why Engineers don't Write Recipes". I'm not sure who came up with the later, but a copy used to hang in the ChemE lab at UofC.
Vegeta wrinkled his nose in disgust at the smells wafting through the air as he stepped out of the shower near the Gravity Room, then he grinned. Th house stank of burnt sugar, it could only mean one thing, the woman was attempting to cook again.
It wouldn't result in anything editable, it never did. What it did offer was endless opportunities for needling. Vegeta smirked, talented as Bulma might be the woman couldn't cook. Better yet she had the notion that she ought to be able to cook fixed in her head, some odd Earther-female stereotype. Bulma cooking provided so very many possibilities for insults.
Vegeta pictured the inevitable progression. He'd throw out a few pointed insults, since they'd revolve around the woman's truly abysmal cooking there would be little she could use as a rational defense. Without rational defense she would go on the offense immediately. Sparks would fly, they'd get in each other's personal space, until one of them gave in to the heat being generated between them and silenced the other by the only effective means: a tongue invading the other's mouth. And then... Well it was always best to set this sort of thing in motion while the brats were at school. They always whined excessively about what they referred to as 'mental scarring'.
Vegeta opened the kitchen door and didn't fight the urge to gag as the burned sugar stench strengthened exponentially. The room looked like a bomb had gone off in the center of it. Flour covered every surface, mixed with smears of unidentifiable goo. The cleaning-bots hovered at the edge of the room, practically wringing their appendages in distress. Thick, black smoke belched out of the oven. Bulma sat on the floor, staring disconsolately at a blackened pan of whatever it was she'd been trying to make.
She didn't glance up at Vegeta's entrance. She sniffled. "I just wanted to make Mom's sweetrolls," she said.
Vegeta sighed and gave up his plans. Fighting was no fun when it might actually hurt his woman.
Awkwardly Vegeta patted Bulma's on the shoulder. He was wary of any situation that touched upon Bulma's parents these days. They'd been old, her father had fallen asleep at his microscope one day and simply hadn't woken up. After than old age had seemed to set in for her mother all at once, she'd passed away barely a year after her husband. Their deaths had been natural and inevitable. The grief that had resulted had been gentled by acceptance and dulled by the knowledge that it was coming. But it was still grief, an emotion that Vegeta found profoundly unsettling. How, exactly, missing her mother tied in with sweetrolls was mystifying. The whole situation had turned to quicksand under his feet. And it was much too late for retreat.
"You could try again," he offered tentatively.
"I'm hopeless at cooking," Bulma replied without spirit. "You know that."
Vegeta rolled his eyes. Of course he knew that, he'd been mercilessly mocking her efforts since he'd first been invited to live at Capsule Corp nearly thirty years ago. "Woman, explain to me, precisely, the difference between cooking and your beloved chemistry," he ordered.
Bulma huffed defensively. She opened her mouth. She blinked then hesitated. "You're absolutely right. Cooking and chemistry really are the same thing. If I can do one I ought to be able to do the other."
Privately Vegeta congratulated himself on his handling of the situation.
Bulma hopped up. "Stay right there!" she ordered as she rushed off.
"What?" Vegeta demanded.
"I need the proper equipment," Bulma declared. "And an extra pair of hands."
Vegeta stalked after Bulma, still protesting. "Woman, the difference between your cooking skills and mine are I know my limits are ki-roasting things I've killed."
Bulma blithely ignored Vegeta's complaints as she ransacked her lab for equipment. "Since you're here, you can help me carry this stuff."
"I could, but why would I?"
"To impress me with your strength and manliness?" Bulma suggested.
"Your standards are pathetic," Vegeta replied. He crossed his arms uncooperatively.
"How about in exchange for unspecified sexual favors to be claimed at a later date?" Bulma asked blandly.
Vegeta gave a short bark of laughter. Bulma started piling things in his arms.
Back in the kitchen Bulma cleared a counter with an expansive sweep of her arm. Measuring cups and mixing bowls clattered to the floor. Vegeta replaced them with his armful of graduated cylinders, beakers, pipettes and a scale accurate to a thousandth of a gram.
"First I need you to convert all the units to metrics," Bulma said. "I need to run a few experiments to determine the densities of the dry components before we can really get started."
Vegeta glanced at the recipe, he glanced at Bulma's determined face. Some battles just weren't worth the effort. He picked up the recipe and glanced over the ingredient list. "What the hell is a Tbsp?"
"A tablespoon, you'll have to look up the conversion online," Bulma replied distractedly as she carefully weighted out a small quantity of flour then transferred it to a graduated cylinder and tapped it down gently.
"You've taken leave of your senses," Vegeta pointed out.
"You suggested it," Bulma replied cheerfully. "Now go, those conversions wold look themselves up. None of measuring cups have been calibrated to a standard, can you believe it? They're utterly useless."
"Why am I cooperating with this?" Vegeta muttered as he stalked off to find a computer. Several minutes later he returned and slapped the recipe down on the counter, the conversions were written in the margins. Vegeta's neat precise print contrasted starkly with Bunny Brief's flourish-bedecked script.
Bulma smiled at him. "Just in time. "Now when they say mix at a low speed, how many RPM's do you think they mean?"
"Figure it out for yourself."
"Fine. You can finish the conversions, the dry goods should be in terms of mass not volume. I've got all the densities written right here." She held out a scrape of paper. Vegeta gave her an obstinate look. Bulma leaned up against him and fluttered her eyelashes outrageously.
"Hn," Grudgingly Vegeta accepted her notes.
"Then you can start measuring things out," Bulma added. "Be sure to measure from the bottom of the meniscus for the liquids."
They worked together in easy cooperation, adding and mixing ingredients measured precisely to several decimal places.
"We'll bake them back in the lab," Bulma decided. "My vacuum oven can be controlled to a tenth of a degree. And it's got a timed shut-down and cooling mechanism."
Precisely forty-five minutes later, down to the second, Vegeta watched Bulma remove their sweetrolls from the vacuum oven.
The rolls didn't come out warm, the oven's auto-cool cycle had cool the rolls as efficiently as it had cool the oven.
"Here goes nothing," Bulma said and popped a bite in her mouth. Her eyes widened and began watering uncontrollably. She gagged then forced herself to swallow.
Vegeta watched her closely, his expression torn between concern and 'thank-kami-it's-not-me.'
"Water!" Bulma gasped.
Vegeta grabbed the nearest clean beaker and filled it with water. Bulma gargled, spat out the first mouthful then chugged the rest.
She wiped at her streaming eyes then slumped against Vegeta tiredly. "Well, at least we had fun making them," she sighed.
"Speak for yourself," Vegeta grumbled but it was only a half-hearted grumble at best.
Why Engineers Don't Write Recipes
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1. 532.35 cm3 gluten
2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite
4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8. Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
10. 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)
To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous.
To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.
Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.