Alton Brown is a huge nerd.
That's not so much an insult as a statement of undeniable fact. When it comes to his Food Network show, Good Eats, his high energy, corny sense of humor, and excessive enthusiasm for the science of cooking are either part of the appeal or a reason to change the channel–depending on your taste. But right now that big nerd energy is exactly what we need, and his "Pantry Raid" videos deliver.
Generally speaking, cooking shows are almost always taunting their viewers in one way or another. People who cook for a living—and have entire crews to help them through the process—tend to make difficult techniques looks easy, and they present their results in careful arrangements and perfect lighting that leave your attempts looking pale and unappetizing by comparison. On top of that, their recipes often call for specialty ingredients that are no doubt magical but that the average person doesn't exactly have lying around. None of those issues are a problem in Alton Brown's "Pantry Raid" series of YouTube videos, which is all about making the most of limited ingredients while people shelter at home.
Did you stock up on rice for this stint of isolation, but struggle to make it anything but bland and pasty? Alton has a seven-minute video to solve that problem. Do you have a bunch of onions that you don't know what to do with? Take six minutes to learn how to turn them into an easy onion dip...which Alton Brown proceeds to eat with a spoon like it's a bowl of cereal. Maybe best of all, if you have nothing to snack on but saltines, Alton can show you how to spice them up in just two minutes, and you don't even have to suffer through any of his puns, because he does the whole video without saying a word!
For many people cooking has become a relaxing outlet for the energy they might otherwise put into work, socializing, and just generally leaving the house. It's a way to be engaged and productive in the comfort/captivity of your home. But in a time when we can't really justify going out for one or two ingredients to complete a recipe, the casual simplicity of Alton Brown's "Pantry Raid" videos provide some much-needed guidance for making the most of your limited supplies.
So far there are only six of these videos, but each one offers an easy-to-follow recipe that should help with your quarantine kitchen experiments. Speaking of which, if you can handle Alton Brown in larger doses, he and his wife Elizabeth and their Boston Terrier, Scabigail, have been making longer, chattier "Quarantine Quitchen" videos together that offer a glimpse into their home life while also giving some more cooking tips.
If that seems like too much Alton Brown for you, try making the Smoky Tequila Sour he outlines in "Pantry Raid: Cocktail Edition"...then make a few more and you might find your tolerance for his jokes increasing.