If there was any question that John "Yogi" Yogodzinski is the geek that he claims to be, that question was answered when I asked him how long he had been enamored with technology.
"I've always been around computers, since Windows 3.1," Yogodzinzki, of Williamsport, said, unclear of whether that was 1996, 1994 or 1993.
Geeks apparently don't think in terms of chronological years. They think in terms of technological years.
Yogodzinski admits to being consumed by technology. He also speaks fluent Geek, which puts me at a disadvantage. I'm still trying to figure out how to set the tabs on my manual typewriter.
What I am able to figure out is that Yogodzinski is the driving force behind "Cooking With Geeks" - a video podcast he and his friends launched late last year as a way to indulge their passion for technology while at the same time honing their culinary skills.
The podcast, which can be seen on www.cookingwithgeeks.com, features basic food and adult beverage recipes, spoofs of commercials and geek-style humor.
As the Web site's homepage declares, "Cooking With Geeks is a video podcast made for geeks by geeks."
"Learn to cook in the comfort of your own computer screen," it declares.
Neither Yogodzinski nor his band of merry geeksters - Bill Land, Bill Spicer and Brock Lichtenfels - consider themselves to be hardcore epicures. In fact, it's Yogodzinski's lack of cooking skills that prompted him to create the show.
"I've always been into podcasts and thought it would be fun to do," he said. "Not knowing how to cook was part of the reason the show came about, because I wanted to learn how to cook. It was a good forum to create a podcast."
The podcast "studio" is Yogodzinski's cramped 8-foot-by-8-foot bachelor pad kitchen, which is outfitted with a stainless steel work table, a tiny four-burner gas oven, a refrigerator and sink. He uses two digital video cameras - one stationary, the other mobile - and an editing software called Final Cut Pro to create the show.
I initially came across the site while checking out BilltownLive, a local Web site containing lots of useful information about Williamsport's entertainment and nightlife. I clicked the link, half expecting to be bombarded with inane "Jackass"-style humor.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover Cooking With Geeks was a (somewhat) serious cooking show. There is humor, of course, but it's geek-style and, therefore, not readily apparent to non-geeks without special glasses and a decoder ring.
"I think it's a nice blend between teaching people how to cook and entertaining them," Yogodzinski said. "I think it's more entertaining than instructional."
But make no mistake about it, Cooking With Geeks doesn't come across as a sophomoric prank performed by a couple of neighborhood boobs.
That is apparent with the podcast's intro, which is extremely intelligent and witty.
It opens with a closeup of the dials of the oven. A hand appears and turns one of the dials. Next, an oven-mitted hand can be seen lifting a cake pan filled with batter and placing it in the oven. A split second later, hands reach into the oven, which is billowing smoke, and pulls out a completed cake bearing the Cooking With Geeks logo. The entire segment features electronic background music, which, appropriate to a cooking show, is very cheesy.
A smoke machine was used to create the billowing smoke, Yogodzinski said. He bought a plain iced cake and created the logo using sugar wafers, he said. The music was taken from a free music Web site, he said.
The show itself is obviously ad-libbed, but the Geeks just as obviously have done their homework. At the beginning of each episode, Yogodzinski and one of his cohorts can be seen sitting at the work table, with all of the recipe ingredients displayed in front of them. Each ingredient is "introduced" by the Geeks.
Recipe ingredients are listed on the screen and also are available on an "episode notes" link.
Yogodzinski announces commercial breaks, which include parodies of Hot Wheels and kitchen utensil commercials.
The first three podcasts feature basic two-recipe combos - reuben sandwich with broccoli and cheese soup, cheese steak omelet with home fries, beef rouladen with macaroni and cheese - and a mixology segment featuring a geek take on adult beverages.
For the fourth (and, so far, last) episode, the Geeks went on location, recording their friend Bill Land and his boss Bill Billucho, of Billucho's on Lycoming Creek Road, in a cooking contest to see who could prepare a series of orders the quickest.
According to Yogodzinski, the idea for each episode was to prepare a complete meal and a beverage.
Yogodzinski said he would like to release an episode every month. The easy part of the production occurs in the kitchen, he said. Editing and coming up with ideas for commercials are the most time-consuming part of the podcast, he said.
"We actually have a couple (episodes) filmed already," he said. "It's just a matter of putting the extra stuff in."
"Commercials are fun, but it's kind of hard coming up with two or three commercials every episode," he said.
Very little planning goes into each episode, Yogodzinski said. Usually, a segment is recorded spontaneously when one of his friends comes up with an idea for a show, he said. The idea usually sparks a shopping spree.
"For how much planning we do, I'm impressed with the end result," he said.
Apparently, so are a growing number of fans who leave their mark in the Cooking With Geeks "comments" section.
"I always get a kick out of the comments I get," Yogodzinski said. "They always clarify what kind of geek they are - if they're a young or old geek."
Yogodzinski said he is enjoying the low-level celebrity status he has achieved from the podcast. He recently was recognized at Kimball's by a total stranger who had seen the podcast.
"It blew my mind because I didn't think anyone was watching it but my friends," he said.
Thompson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1/4 cup diced onion
Extra virgin olive oil
Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Dice potatoes into cubes and season with Old Bay (be generous).
In a medium pan heat up some extra virgin olive oil. Add potato cubes to pan and allow it to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes (or until potatoes are fork tender).
Add diced onions, and season with salt and pepper. Allow onions to caramelize and remove from heat.
Cheese Steak Omelet
2 to 3 eggs
3 slices provolone cheese
2 slices frozen steak
Diced onions, peppers and mushrooms
Splash of milk
Salt and pepper (and maybe some parsley)
In a small skillet, combine onions, peppers and mushrooms with some extra virgin olive oil.
Saute until the mixture caramelizes.
In a separate pan, heat up steak until the juices run clear and no pink can be seen.
In a small bowl, crack eggs, mix and add a splash of milk.
Spray down a third pan (someone's doing dishes tonight!) and fry up the eggs.
Add cooked steak, onions, mushrooms and peppers. Top with cheese, and fold the egg over top to form the omelette.
Baked Mac & Cheese
1 box elbow macaroni
1 pound sliced American cheese
In a medium sauce pan, boil water and prepare noodles as indicated on the package.
In a second sauce pan, melt down some butter and gradually add slices of cheese and milk until a nice saucy mixture is achieved.
Combine noodles and sauce in a pre-greased casserole dish. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Place the completed dish in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 30 minutes.
9 slices roast beef (sliced 1/8-inch thick)
9 dill pickles
1 jar beef gravy
Using a butter knife, spread mustard onto roast beef slices. Place pickle on edge of roast beef slice and roll. (Note: For added flavor, place diced onions on roast beef slice prior to rolling.)
Using a toothpick, pierce through rolled up rouladen and place in a pre-greased pan. Repeat with remaining roast beef slices.
Cover rouladens with gravy, and sprinkle onions on top. Place completed pan in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 20 minutes.