Recipes and Reads: Culinary Labs

Culinary Lab workshops serve up comprehensive, culinary literacy programs that include hands-on demonstrations of food and nutritional literacy; food acquisition methods; food handling, hygiene and safety; culture and history of food; and consumer cost-saving techniques and meal stretching.  Each of the culinary lab workshops may include the use of fully stocked mobile, kitchen carts to aid in these food-related demonstrations.  The labs are strategically located at library branches throughout the county and serve all ages.  Registration may be required, at some locations, for Recipes and Reads: Culinary Lab workshops. 

The S.T.R.E.A.M. of Food

S.T.R.E.A.M. is an educational approach that uses science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and math to foster important skills like critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. When we think of food and cooking in this way, the kitchen can become our laboratory or artist studio.

Now I ask you this… why are sodas fizzy? Let’s investigate.

The fizz in bubbly drinks is a chemical reaction between an acid and a base. A base is a compound that can donate negatively charged hydroxide ions. An acid is a compound that can donate a positively charged hydrogen ion (or proton). So, when we combine an acid and a base you initiate an acid-base reaction. When there are an equal number of hydrogen and hydroxide ions present, the acid and base will neutralize each other. In this experiment we will explore the reaction that takes place when you combine an acid with a basic carbonate (base).

Photo Credit: Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay


Fizzy-licious Lemonade

This recipe costs about 25 cents per serving and uses ingredients you may already have on hand!

Ingredients and supplies:

  • Cold water
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Plastic glass or cup
  • Lemon juicer/press


Cut both lemons in half. Use the lemon juicer to squeeze all of the juice from each lemon into your glass.

Add an equal amount of cold water to the lemon juice in your glass.

Carefully add one teaspoon of baking soda. Use your spoon to stir the mixture. Pay close attention to what you see and hear happening in the glass.

Use your spoon to stir one teaspoon of sugar into the mixture.

Taste the mixture. The bubbles you feel in your mouth are the product of an acid base reaction. When the acid of the lemon juice (citric acid) came in contact with the carbonate base (baking soda) a chemical reaction took place, creating carbon dioxide gas (CO2).

Recommended reads

Book cover for Science and CookingScience and Cooking by Michael P. Brenner.

In Science and Cooking, Harvard professors Michael Brenner, Pia Sörensen, and David Weitz bring the classroom to your kitchen to teach the physics and chemistry underlying every recipe. Why do we knead bread? What determines the temperature at which we cook a steak, or the amount of time our chocolate chip cookies spend in the oven? Science and Cooking answers these questions and more through hands-on experiments and recipes from renowned chefs.

Reserve a copy

Book cover for the title The Flavor EquationThe Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma.

In this groundbreaking book, Nik Sharma, scientist, food blogger, and cookbook author, guides home cooks on an exploration of flavor via 125 recipes. He demonstrates how to convert approachable spices, herbs, and commonplace pantry items into tasty, simple dishes, providing inspiration and knowledge to both home cooks and seasoned chefs.

Reserve a copy

Book cover for the title The Food LabThe Food Lab by Kenji J. Lopez-Alt.

Ever wondered how to pan-fry a steak with a charred crust and an interior that's perfectly medium-rare from edge to edge when you cut into it? How to make homemade mac 'n' cheese that is as satisfyingly gooey and velvety-smooth as the blue box stuff, but far tastier?

In The Food Lab, Kenji focuses on the science behind beloved American dishes, delving into the interactions between heat, energy, and molecules that create great food. Kenji shows that often, conventional methods don't work that well, and home cooks can achieve far better results using new--but simple--techniques.
Reserve a copy

Book cover for the title Cooking for GeeksCooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter.

Are you interested in the science behind what happens to food while it's cooking? Do you want to learn what makes a recipe work so you can improvise and create your own unique dish? More than just a cookbook, Cooking for Geeks applies your curiosity to discovery, inspiration, and invention in the kitchen. Why is medium-rare steak so popular? Why do we bake some things at 350° F/175° C and others at 375° F/190° C? Author and cooking geek Jeff Potter provides the answers and offers a unique take on recipes.
Reserve a copy

Upcoming programs

All Recipes and Reads programs

Division of Library and Information Services Institute of Museum and Library Services

This project was funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Florida’s LSTA program is administered by the Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services.