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Machine Cuisine

updated 10/02/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/02/2000 01:00AM

Bob Blumer plugs in his iron and sets the heat level to linen. But instead of reaching for a wrinkled shirt, he breaks an egg into a makeshift foil pan placed on the implement. Soon a perfect over-easy takes shape. Breakfast is served.

Cooking with household appliances is just one of the culinary shortcuts Blumer delivers in Off the Eaten Path, his third book. "Cooking is about attitude, not apparatus," writes the 42-year-old self-proclaimed Surreal Gourmet. A dishwasher is perfect for poaching salmon, for example, while a running car engine is just the thing to sear shrimp. Over the summer, Blumer rolled through 32 cities from Boston to Portland in an Airstream trailer outfitted to look like a giant toaster, demonstrating his novel approach. "For what you'd spend at McDonald's," he says, "you can make a really good meal."

Blumer's funky take on food preparation has earned him a devoted following. "His books encompass everything," says entertainment reporter Eleanor Mondale, who also appreciates Blumer's other tips, from exotic drink recipes to advice on background music. "He's so talented."

The oldest of three children, Blumer learned many of his secrets from his bon vivant parents, Jack, a retired Montreal real estate developer, and his late wife, Joan, a schoolteacher. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario in 1981, Blumer managed the career of Canadian folksinger Jane Siberry. But in 1991, on a whim, he decided to write a cookbook. After the tome The Surreal Gourmet and its sequel, The Surreal Gourmet Entertains, sold a combined 100,000 copies, he left the music business behind.

These days, Blumer lives alone in a Hollywood Hills bungalow, where he concocts new recipes on his 40-year-old stove. "People think he's this partying guy," says his girlfriend Susan Rose, 39, a freelance copy editor. "But it's always food, food, food—with an occasional movie thrown in."

Joanne Fowler
Karen Brailsford in Los Angeles

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