General chatter - Fast and Easy - WHY?




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Spinymouse
08-11-2007, 12:38 PM
Hi Friends-
I have a mini-rant/question here.
I am wondering why it is that when it comes to food, most people seem to, from my observation, want fast and easy.
I realize this is a generalization, and that is all it is.
I am not saying people are lazy. Gawd, people do things that are far more labor-intensive than I would ever be willing to do. Such as raise children, for the number one spot on that list. They also do a **** of a lot of admirably ambitious things in their work and hobbies that I am very taken aback by. They knit their own scarfs, paint their own chairs, etc, etc.
So why is it that when it comes to food, people (again I know it is a generalization) don't want to roll their own dough, chop their own vegetables, make things that have more than 5 ingredients, etc.
Ads for recipes use the words "fast" and "easy" more than "delicious."
I wonder if this could be part of the "problem" in general that causes us to all be here on this "fat" chicks site?
If we treated food with the same respect as other aspects of life, and put care into its preparation, would that make a difference?
Why do people aspire to have their food be fast and easy? Why is this the one thing that gets left to that back-burner (not literally) while we are busy putting effort into other things?
I think food can be an art form. I think I might just roll out some dough for pierogi today. That doesn't mean I'll eat much pierogi. It freezes well.


JayEll
08-11-2007, 12:59 PM
Hey Spinymouse!

Yes, food can be an art form! But for most of us, that takes more time than we have.

It used to be a full-time job to do the cooking, keep house, etc. And frankly, it still is! Only most women now also have jobs as well. Making your own dough, cleaning and chopping your own vegetables, etc. takes a lot of time that people don't have so much now. I don't see anything wrong with wanting to save some steps. The problem arises when everything is always fast, fast, fast, picked up in a bucket or bag on the way home.

My grandmother made all her own foods from scratch--and later, she and my grandfather had a big garden--what people would call a "truck farm"--so she was involved in all aspects of their food production. Oh, and she was overweight later in life, although not severely. My mother made some foods from scratch when I was growing up, and she also did a lot of canning (of produce from our grandparents' truck farm). But she was so happy when frozen foods became available--they were much better, for one thing, than the canned versions of some vegetables.

I agree with you though, mouse--when food gets too easy and too cheap, overeating becomes something really easy to do. And the sad thing is, the less money a person has, the worse the foods are that they can afford. :( So it's a bad cycle.

Jay

Suzanne 3FC
08-11-2007, 01:08 PM
I hear you! I avoid "5 ingredient" recipes because they taste like 5 ingredient recipes :lol: And Heaven help me if I ever decide to follow a recipe from Sandra Lee, the Semi-Homemade cook.

I love taking the time to build complex layers of flavor and texture, using all natural ingredients. Foods that take time to prepare will taste better and be of better quality. It's also about the quality of the ingredients, and the risk of consuming things I don't want in my body.

It's a very enjoyable process.


WinterStarzz
08-11-2007, 01:18 PM
I love cooking. And baking. I love following recipes, putting my own twist on it, and playing around with spices and such. It's fun. It's enjoyable. It's rewarding. It's EXPENSIVE! That is the one and only thing that holds me back from doing it more often.

lizziness
08-11-2007, 01:26 PM
It IS an enjoyable process, and it is an art form, and i love it... but I really only have the energy/time/desire to do it on the weekends. I am exhausted during the week - and I don't have kids, exhausting hobbies, just work all day and don't want to come home and do anything.

I do take more help than I should from frozen foods, but I do try to find better frozen foods. Buffalo burgers instead of those hamburger patties in a stack, frozen vegetarian lasagna with whole wheat noodles and think crust low-calorie frozen pizzas. I know it's not home cooking, but it's healthier and I feel a little bit better about it.

I would prefer and do love to cook good home food, but like mentioned above... that is a full time job and I already have one of those. *LOL*

Mom2QJandT
08-11-2007, 02:01 PM
I have three kids that are in cheerleading, soccer, and football, an intense full time job, and the kids are in school, so there's homework too! We get home at 7:30 or 8 some nights. There just isn't the time in our lives for me to cook a three course meal every night. I'd rather spend the time making sure that my daughter is learning to read or playing Legos with my boys. I guess that it comes down to priorities. We can still make good choices that are faster and easier; we do it every day.

Spinymouse
08-11-2007, 02:11 PM
Hey Mom -
(that sounds funny!)
I never cook more than a one course meal, but it's a good one course!
Yes, it does come down to priorities - food is one of my big ones.
I don't have children - YIKES - that in itself requires so much more time than it used to.
I just think if I put time and care and deliberation into my cooking, it will be a more meaningful thing, and I won't be multi-tasking with it.
But as I write this, I am taking a quick peek at the computer while about 13 ingredients are in the pan on the stove!
Suzanne - if I ever make a Sandra Lee recipe, it is time for an "intervention."
:)

Suzanne 3FC
08-11-2007, 02:48 PM
I can understand if someone is extremely busy and really doesn't have the time. I know what it's like to have to juggle a job and family. I used to live on quick and easy.

I guess I get confused when people have a choice and they choose the fast and easy route, assuming it's better in some way or because they just don't care. It seems that grabbing a mix is the first option, and too many people don't realize that it's not anywhere near as good as something made from scratch. Like Sandra Lee :lol: I watched an interview with her and she said something that totally threw me. She said she went to culinary school, and they were teaching her how to make things from scratch, such as making a baking mix to use in recipes. She thought that didn't make any sense, when she could go out and buy a box of Bisquick, and thought it was the same thing. So she dropped out of culinary school, and went to the supermarket and cooked from prepackaged mixes. I guess that's ok if you don't mind that everything tastes like Bisquick :shrug:

lavidasofa
08-11-2007, 03:01 PM
Speaking for myself, I get pretty rushed trying to balance having to take care of a 2.5yr old. Either I run home from work, make dinner in under 45min to pick up DD or I get her home and try to cook while keeping 1 eye on her. However, I really don't buy all that many 'convenience' items in general. Especially since I'm following a whole foods lifestyle now.

My biggest splurge is prepared veggies and not much anymore since I get CSA delivery. For salads, I find it too time consuming and wasteful to try and make say a garden salad rather than buy a pre-made jumbo bag for $1.99. Sometimes I like a little red cabbage, but I'll have 3/4 of a head left and I know myself well enough not to cook it :lol: Secondly, my hands are extremely chapped and painful so the less amount of time I spend washing and rinsing vegetables the better it is for my skin. And of course I find it so time consuming and I wind up with so many more dishes to do.

FrouFrou
08-11-2007, 03:25 PM
Okay...for me it is a matter of being lazy I guess, lol. I've been cooking for waaaaay too many years, since I was a teenager. And I guess I am just tired of cooking. In the beginning of being a new wife and mother I enjoyed cooking and cooked from scratch. Kids get bigger, there's more running around and less time. Now with them being even older and having been cooking so long I don't want to cook anymore. If it were just me I would hardly ever cook. About the only time I cook from fresh/scratch is when we are having company and that is rare so...I prefer the easy/fast way.

Horo
08-11-2007, 05:07 PM
Hmmm... well, if someone is given an option (as in, time/money/etc isn't a problem) I have no clue as to why someone would want something to be 'fast and easy' when it comes to food.. :shrug: maybe some people just don't enjoy cooking?

kaplods
08-11-2007, 05:53 PM
My husband's stepmother is not a natural in the kitchen. She can't cook except by basic (very basic) step by step recipes.

My husband grilled Salmon on their grill, letting her watch every step of the process. She loved it and wanted the "recipe." There wasn't a recipe, just what he showed her. Take fish, spray aluminum foil with cooking spray. Put down fish. Sprinkle with Lawrey's and pepper (he explained she could use any seasonings she liked - this was a very disconcerting concept for her). Lay slices of lemon on fish, wrap fish. Put on grill. Take off grill when fish is done (open and test if you're not sure).

While he explained the process, she took notes, and ended up using three pages of a legal pad.

The conversation went something like this:

MIL: Where do I get the salmon.
Hubby: Mentions grocery store, and says Wild salmon tastes better and has less mercury, but it's more expensive. Buy wild, if you can.
MIL: There's a difference? How can I tell?
Hubby: If it doesn't say on the card, ask the guy at the fish counter
MIL: Oh ok, how much should I buy?
Hubby: I buy about 1/2 lb per person, a little more if the fish has bones (the one we brought, did not).
MIL: Oh we won't eat that much.
Hubby: Neither do we, but I like leftovers the next day.
MIL: We don't eat leftovers
Hubby: Buy less fish then
MIL" How long do we cook it, 22 minutes, right (that's how long it took
on their grill).
Hubby: That's just an estimation. It will depend on how big your fish is.
MIL: Oh, like how much it weighs?
Hubby: Well, more like how thick it is.
MIL: Well, can I ask the butcher to cut it to the size you used (yes go ask the guy at the fish counter, to give you a piece of fish EXACTLY 4.3 inches wide, 12 inches long and 2.2 inches thick)
Hubby: No, you have to buy it by weight, or by the filet.
MIL: Well, how will I know how long to cook it
Hubby: Did you see how I started checking the fish at around 12 - 15 minutes after we started? That's what you do.
MIL (writing as she speaks): 12 - 15 minutes. Well should it be 12 or 15 minutes?
Hubby: Doesn't matter (this stumps her, apparently she wants to use a timer to tell her when the fish is done). Hubby explains how to tell when fish is cooked. By the way, she has been cooking pan fish that her husband has caught for the 15 some odd years they'be been married. So cooking walleye, northern, perch, crappie, sunfish, bass, catfish, and bullhead doesn't stump her, but apparently salmon does. Her husband usually fries them, but she has a baked fish recipe from a magazine she makes. It is good, I got the recipe -- a xerox of the magazine page with notes scribbled in all of the margins.

We bought her a "basics" cookbook by Alton Brown. (She's not mentally challenged by the way, she's well-educated and has a career in professional office management, but she thinks very literally and almost mathmatically).

We've told her "Buy a rotisserie chicken and stove top stuffing!!!"

MariaMaria
08-11-2007, 06:14 PM
I guess I get confused when people have a choice and they choose the fast and easy route, assuming it's better in some way or because they just don't care.

Not everyone finds meaning or value in cooking the best food.

Sometimes it's just fuel. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

I think we need to be careful especially with other women when we start making value judgements about not being domestic enough (not cleaning enough, not cooking enough). There's a lot of baggage there.

kaplods
08-11-2007, 08:11 PM
My husband and I both LOVE to cook, but that in itself, can be a downfall for us. We are on disability so we have "time" to shop and cook, but there are also days when neither of us is feeling well enough to cook, or wanting to cook. There are also days when even we don't have the time, because of doctor's appointments or other obligations.

I suspect even in the past, but especially today there are huge differences in the amount of time, desire, and interest, in cooking and domestic skills anyone (not only the women) have. I think "fast and easy," should be just as valid and available as "the old fashioned way." In fact, more "fast, healthy, and easy," options are needed.

A little off-topic, but when I was still working, and indian coworker was expressing shock that food in america was so expensive, fattening, yet not satisfying. It reminded me of the american cliche of chinese food. He said, american food sat in his stomache like a rock, but twenty minutes later he was hungry again. He was gaining weight, but always hungry. Where he lived in India (a metropolitan, but not huge city), food was very inexpensive, and most homes don't even have ovens. He said even among the very poor, food was often bought from stalls already prepared, because it was cheaper than fuel for cooking. But vegetables, lentils, and occasionally lean meats are the staples. Low GI foods that do stick with you longer.

Seems to me fast and easy isn't the problem.

Spinymouse
08-11-2007, 08:29 PM
Not everyone finds meaning or value in cooking the best food.

Sometimes it's just fuel. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

I think we need to be careful especially with other women when we start making value judgements about not being domestic enough (not cleaning enough, not cooking enough). There's a lot of baggage there.

Now this is something I should think about, because I don't think about cooking the same way as I think about cleaning ---(believe me, you do not want to see the mess in my place!)
I was thinking about eating (dare I say dining?) and the care that is or is not put into it.
For one thing, as an overweight person, I think: eating is something I have to do. It is not like I have so much money in the bank (as in food in the fat cells) that I can just cruise for a while. So.... since I have to do it, why not do it in a meaningful way? And that means cooking things with quality (not quantity or cheap or fast or pre-made) in mind.
Now, I hate domestic drudgery. Hate, hate, hate. I see cooking as art, and scrubbing out the bathtub and cleaning the floor as drudge. If someone can change my thinking about that drudge stuff I would be eternally grateful!
And I don't mean to make any value judgements about anyone here. I am wondering if putting care and effort into food preparation will be beneficial. Now as to value judgements about Sandra Lee -- OK -- I'M GUILTY!!!

Spinymouse
08-11-2007, 10:09 PM
Kaplods-
VERY interesting about your Indian coworker!

newFannie07
08-11-2007, 10:32 PM
I have to admit...I was a bit offended by this post. It's not that I don't WANT to cook from scratch. i just don't have the time and/or energy. I have a disabled hubby to take care of after working my 40+hr job. So, if all I can muster is boiled spaghetti, jarred sauce, and salad from a bag...it's what we eat. I absolutely LOVE to bake from scratch. Cooking I need a recepie, but I like to do it. I make an absolutely to-die-for pot pie, but it takes ALL day. I ususally only make it once a year (well now I won't since I lost the recepie:().

I just want people to stop to think what others have going on in their lives before a judgement is made. Most of us aren't lazy, just too busy/too tired.

Kerri

Spinymouse
08-11-2007, 10:41 PM
newFannie -
I am sorry to have offended you. I know that people are very very busy -that brings me to another thought - with all our labor saving devices, are we really saving any labor???? People are still feeling stressed out and cramming as many things as they can in a day............
But........I am sorry to have offended you.
I posted a concept/question that occurred to me, but I did not want to judge anyone.

newFannie07
08-11-2007, 11:02 PM
No real offense taken. I know the point you are trying to make is valid. Just makes us who want to do more feel badly about themselves.

I agree that half of the "time" saving devices don't save any time. All that swiffer wet jet stuff...ugh. Went back to a regular old mop and bucket and my floors were prettier than ever. And I didn't have to go over the same spot 2-3 times. Swiffer has it's place, but not as a whole floor cleaner. Great for quick spills. But the dry cloths...I could not live without those. I clean everything with them. They are especially great in the bathroom on the floor. I take one in my hand and rub it all over the floor to get all of the hair picked up before I mop. Works wonders. And the citrus ones smell great. I also feel the same about the pop-up wipes (clorox, lysol, etc). These are great for every day maintenance. I wouldn't have a house without these items. And no...I am not a neak freak....my DH would fall out of his chair laughing at that one.
PLus with all of the "time saving" devices, we feel like we should be able to get even MORE done in the day. It is just not possible. We need time for ourselves, ladies.

Kerri

Spinymouse
08-11-2007, 11:17 PM
No real offense taken. I know the point you are trying to make is valid. Just makes us who want to do more feel badly about themselves.



Maybe we don't need to do more. Maybe we just need to stop and put our feet up and look up at the sky or something.
Maybe that perceived need to do more is the reason we do fast food.
Trying to fit more things in every day.
I don't know how "they" evaluate such things but I remember hearing that the people who were "happiest" in the US were the Amish. Interesting....

Suzanne 3FC
08-11-2007, 11:53 PM
I think we need to be careful especially with other women when we start making value judgements about not being domestic enough (not cleaning enough, not cooking enough). There's a lot of baggage there.

:lol: Ok, I see your point. Though I don't think that's what this topic is about.

I don't think of cooking as being domestic, it hadn't occurred to me. I guess that's because I cook for myself, or cook for guests and not as an obligation to family structure and tradition in that respect. I choose to cook because it's enjoyable.

I guess we're looking at this from the perspective of a foodie, not a domestic goddess :lol:

Spinymouse
08-11-2007, 11:57 PM
missmess- CUTE dog!
yeeah I understand; if I could have my intention, coooking would be unnecessary. but then also eating would be unnecesary. We would just be photosynthetic, like plants. Or just plain not need anything! In an ideal world........

almostheaven
08-11-2007, 11:58 PM
I've found I cook less during the summer. We don't have central air for one. Standing in a hot kitchen ain't my idea of a hobby...much less a fun one. LOL I eat out quite often sometimes because I'm always on the go, hardly home, and I reserve my energy for other projects than cooking. But I do FAST food VERY rarely. I prefer a sit-down restaurant. It's much more sane than driving home, cooking, eating, then heading back out to where I'd just been to finish up my shopping and other errands. Cause when I'm out, I usually plan many stops along a route, and once I do fix breakfast here, and we get out the door, it's well into dinner time before I get home, and we have to have lunch in there somewhere.

Now yesterday, it WAS Wendy's chicken nuggets and fries. But that's only because I bought a hose reel from Lowes and it was missing a wheel, back to Lowes (15 minute drive, wasted gas), get home with the new one, and the hose leaks. Grrrrrrrr So another wasted trip back. In the meantime, it's now after 1 p.m. and we gotta eat, and I still have other things to get done. So got a chicken nugget combo that we shared and ate on the way to Lowes. But then yesterday evening, it was Ruby Tuesday's salad bar while we were out again.

Maybe if I just installed a stove in my car.... At least I DO have A/C in there. LOL

Spinymouse
08-12-2007, 12:13 AM
She eats her food in 2.5 seconds....

People crack up at how fast she eats her dog food! HA HA!!!

Oh, that is funny -
That's like me with liquids.:)

1TiredGradStudent
08-12-2007, 12:48 AM
Well, first off, I don't find cooking to be all that enjoyable. I don't like tweaking recipes or making stuff from scratch, or anything like that. I like to throw a few things together and eat it (a good amount of my diet is raw fruits and vegetables for this very reason), and when I do cook, I prepare enough to get several meals out of it (so it will be a while before I have to cook again).

Second, I only have a limited amount of time. If I have the choice between going out and getting in some physical activity or staying home and cooking up an elaborate meal from scratch, cooking is not going to win. I'd rather fix something easy and then go out and do something fun.

Chrysalis
08-12-2007, 08:07 AM
Honestly, I grew up in a family of fast food / low-ingredient foods...I don't know *how* to just whip up something from 20 things I just happen to have in my kitchen. The thought of trying to do so is anxiety-provoking.

I prefer simple meals....grilled chicken with rice and some veggies (five ingredients total if you include spice for the chicken and butter for rice or veggies)...pasta (yes, I can make my own sauce, but when I don't have an hour or two to prepare it, I'll do the bottled sauce...in that case, two ingredients).....soup and a sandwich, etc.

It's taken me a while to move from the staples of my parent's life (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, frozen pizzas, fried everything because it's easy to cook that way) to somewhat cleaner, but still simple food.

I respect those who can make what I would consider "complicated" meals, but it does bother me a little bit to have someone look down on my simple "5-ingredient" meals that are healthy and simple just because they don't take a lot of time to make.

Ah well, to each their own. As long as we're working on improving whatever we're doing, it's all good. :)

JayEll
08-12-2007, 08:50 AM
Hey! Having read more of this discussion, I have to say I really belong with those who don't like to cook. I've never liked it a lot, although I can put together some really good dishes on occasion. Combine that with not having oodles of time, and there you have it.

Also, regarding the Amish being the "happiest"--anyone who wants to live the Amish lifestyle should try it for awhile before signing up! ;)

It's always tempting to think that things were better in the good old days when people supposedly lived "more simply," but one person's good old days could be another person's oppressive existence.

My grandmother did her cooking on a wood stove when my mom was a child, and that is a whole technology in itself. Plus you had to make your own bread--that's how you got bread! Imagine having to bake every single morning for your family of six children... I don't envy her one bit!

As for cleaning--I like things clean, but if it comes down to a choice between a clean floor and going to the gym, or getting my contract done, the floor is going to wait. LOVE Swiffer! Will NOT go back to a mop and bucket! :D

Jay

Spinymouse
08-12-2007, 11:59 AM
I think I like to cook. But knowing how many vegetables are still in my CSA bag today, I am starting to think about changing my mind!
But---- I think I am also not ready for the 3 - tap faucet yet. (Hot water, cold water, People Chow...)

mariposita
08-12-2007, 12:02 PM
I think folks have brought up a lot of valid and interesting reasons why fast and easy is the norm for many people.

I can think of some other reasons too. Many people don't learn how to cook, either at home or in home ec. Parents often don't teach their kids how to cook and kids may have few or no responsibilities in the home. I know that when my mom was a kid (she was born in 1932 and grew up on a farm in pretty extreme poverty) she and her sibs did real work. The family relied on the children do do real work and contribute to the running of the household. Since there was massive daily cooking and intermittent preservation, butchering etc., there was no way that their mother could have done it all. So now lots of people leave home and move into an adult world without a lot of skills like cooking, budgeting, and menu planning to see them through.

Another thing to remember is that people, both on the farm and in cities, often had cheap domestic help, even families that were just middle-class. The domestic help could do a lot of drudge work and prep work. It's pretty uncommon for people to have that kind of help now.

Judging from my mother, grandmother, and elderly relatives, it was far more common for home cooks to have a pretty limited repertoire of recipes that they made over the course of their lifetime. Lots of people cooked because they had to, whether they enjoyed it or not. Lots of people had about 10-20 main dishes that they made all the time. I have some old cookbooks (from the 30s through 50s) with sections of "foreign foods" that are maybe 20 pages with recipes like "Risotto milanaise--an Italian way of glorifying chicken leftovers."

Before the 50s, I don't think there was the kind of "foodiness" that exists now, with thousands of cookbooks and magazines published every year, plus constant food on TV, nor was there the variety of ethnic and exotic foods, nor year-round availability of fresh ingredients that we have now. I think this variety and high expectation of what cooking entails can be really overwhelming for cooks. I mean, just going to the grocery store can be overwhelming because there are so many choices. If you don't know that the best food is often the simplest and quickest to prepare, or if you think good food = snootiness + inaccessibility, you may not even know where to start.

Spinymouse
08-12-2007, 12:24 PM
Wow, mariposita - what a thought-provoking post. And also amusing about the way to glorify chicken leftovers!
Now I am going to think about this (the high-expectation foodie concept) and also combining this with the need to use CSA bag contents. Could be an interesting result.

Casandra
08-12-2007, 02:19 PM
I dont enjoy cooking, because I dont know how. That and I cant afford to cook. When it would cost me $10 for the ingredients for a salad, I could pick up a pack of ramen noodles for less than $1. I also have trouble cooking because I'm originally from the USA, but I've moved to the UK and the cultures are so very different. All of the food stuffs I was used to in the USA arent stocked/made here.

If I could find good easy recipes, I'd be keener to cook. Right now the only from scratch recipe I know (aside from baking) is Chicken Parmesan. I cant even get spaghetti to cook right most times!

I took home ec in high school in the USA, but that didnt prepare me for life in the home at all! We were made to work in groups and everyone had tasks to do. IE we made taco salad on a monday, and Mac and cheese on a thursday in a given week. I never got to do any of the "cooking" i just cleaned up after everyone else's mess. Classes like Home ec are on the downfall now, with people opting out of it in most high schools :(

If there were an easy and cheap way for me to learn to cook, I'd go for it. For now though, I cant stand doing dishes, so the less mess, the better. (no dish washer)

ennay
08-12-2007, 02:24 PM
Ann - you are right about people having a limited repertoire. My MIL had a weekly menu that never varied except for special occasions. She grocery shopped without a list. She was on a very limited budget and she knew she could afford to make exactly these things every week and it never varied.

My mom did a little more variety, but we never ate out or did convenience foods and she never experimented. I would guess she fell well into that 20-30 dishes. Hers was more based on what was in season. We had a huge garden so what was ripe was what we ate plus a very simple meat. When my sister moved back in with her 2 kids and money got tight we ate spaghetti with homemade sauce 3 x a week. And EVERY week we had "leftover soup".

Cassandra - truthfully if you learn to cook you can cook cheaper than you can do convenience foods. But it is a learning process that can be tough and somewhat expensive.

Luminous
08-12-2007, 04:04 PM
Edit: Doh! I hadn't read through Mariposita's post. She says a lot of the same things!

Until recently it hadn't settled in my mind that there's a middle ground. There was microwaveable food and there was company food, time-consuming courses that took a lot of work to prepare.

Now I know there's a middle ground. I know that whole wheat pasta and jarred sauce with a bag of veggie burger crumbles mixed in is a quick, wholesome meal. This is a beginning. It can be further refined with some fresh grated parmesan on top (keeps in the fridge forever), and a bag salad for a side. It can be FURTHER refined by chopping a few vegetables and throwing them in the sauce too, or making your own sauce one Sunday afternoon and freezing it, and pulling out the frozen sauce later.

Good food doesn't have to be incredibly time-consuming. It's the little touches that make a dish sing: fresh quality parmesan on your pasta; pepper from a grinder, simple things like that can add enough depth to compensate for not having simmered something for hours on the stove.

When I was a kid, we had a healthy cooked meal every night for supper. It was some form of meat, vegetables from the freezer (cooking is a snap: about 3 minutes in a half inch or so of simmering water), and potatoes or noodles or rice or garlic bread or whatnot for the bread/starch. This meal was tasty, filling, healthy, and pretty darn quick.

While we remember our grandparents slaving over a hot stove for hours, what may be sticking in our minds is the times they put in that big effort. I bet their daily meals were much the same as I listed above: meat, veg, starch cooked in a quick and efficient manner.

lizziness
08-12-2007, 04:24 PM
Perhaps it's more about being mindful of what we are doing? The ingredients, fresh or frozen, store bought or from your garden... the preparation of them, chopping, peeling, nuking... thinking about what is going into your body, how it will fuel you, etc is more key?

I can think of plenty of quick healthy recipes that only have 5 ingredients - in fact the most satisfying meals I've had lately have been simple roasted vegetables from the farmers market & some grilled meat from the freezer.

I think if we somehow were able to put the thought, care, love into our cooking while maintaining a realistic time frame and attitude toward it we'd be better off. That's what we are trying to do in my house... a lot of nights it is a frozen veggie lasagna or a thin crust pizza, but we still try to eat mindfully and pay attention to quality ingredients.

As for everything else domestic-I've taken the flylady approach of "you can do anything for 15 minutes" and somehow my house never gets too bad.

lavidasofa
08-12-2007, 04:30 PM
Good point Lizziness. As some people don't already feel enough pressure about what they are eating, they also have to feel pressure about how they are making it :dizzy: Some people can spend 10 minutes making a really healthy meal and someone else can spend 1hr making fried chicken and buscuits from scratch.

It's also been proven that forzen and canned veggies retain much of the nutrients compared to their fresh counterparts. If fast and easy will help someone eat better, then I'm all for it :)

kaplods
08-12-2007, 04:53 PM
"Fast," doesn't mean unhealthy, and slow and homemade doesnt equate to healthy either. Fat, skinny, and everywhere in between, you will find all sorts of food interests, preferences, and skills.

There aren't many healthy fast food options in the US, that is true. At least not compared to much of the rest of the world. But you will find foodies and gourmets who are both thin and fat, and you will find the same range in people who think "I only cook (or even eat) because I have to."

My husband and I love watching the Food Channel. My husband loves Paula Deen, though we laugh at her use of butter and mayo. It's over the TOP.
I prefer Anthony Bordain (sp?) and Andrew Zimmer (Bizarre Food). Seeing what other people in the world eat, is very interesting, especially the fast food (Street food). We don't have much street food in the US anymore, except during fairs and festivals, and even much of that is deep fried.

Watching street vendors dish up grilled critters (from bugs to birds to beasts), stews and curries, fruits and veggies... just about anything that could be made in a home is made and served in the streets - you can see that "fast food," isn't a new concept. "Clone restaurants," really are. Even 30 years ago, the number of chain restaurants was minimal.

There are many reasons that fat is becoming a world-wide epidemic. It can probably be summarized best as "affluenza." Food is available and affordable to anyone in the world who has the money to buy it. In the most affluent societies, even the very poor have the money to buy it. That hasn't always been true.

Our bodies aren't any different than any other critter on the planet. Give an animal an opportunity to eat their meals without working for it, and they will. Laziness and hunger our built into our genes, because conserving energy and eating in times of abundance to carry us through famine is the rule not the exception in the wild. If food is too abundant, overpopulation changes that in a hurry.

We've stepped outside the natural order on so many levels. We don't eat when we're hungry, we eat according to the clock. We don't eat foods that resemble anything that exists in nature. We don't sleep when we're tired, and we don't sleep until we're rested. The work we do, is less and less frequently physical work, and less and less personally rewarding. We don't have a sense of accomplishment over creating something we can immediately see as useful. We rarely if ever have to chase down food, or run from enemies. If we do run or exercise, it often isn't for a reason, and often not even fun.

All of the things that keep wild critters slim, toned, and in top condition don't enter our lives, unless we recreate them in an un-natural setting. I don't think it's rocket science to see why our bodies aren't working as they're intended to.

Spinymouse
08-13-2007, 03:56 PM
[QUOTE=kaplods;1813194 Give an animal an opportunity to eat their meals without working for it, and they will. [/QUOTE]

True. And I imagine that most of us would also, if we could, choose to wear clean clothes without having to do laundry, get paychecks without having to go to a job, etc. With most of life it just doesn't work that way. I think that the realm of food is about as close as we (in modernized countries) come to being able to cheat the equation. Unless you figure in the indirect payments in energy and expenses, like gym memberships and treadmills. And whatever medical costs. And believe me I am NO ONE to point any fingers here at all. I have high blood pressure and weird feet with bones that bent in a way they weren't supposed to from having to support excess weight. I am not proud of it. So maybe there really isn't a pardon-the-expression "free lunch."

kaplods
08-13-2007, 04:29 PM
I think that really is the point, there are consequences to our actions. There always have been, it's just in a modern, industrialized society the consequences aren't always immediate or directly linked to the behavior. At the "natural" level consequences are pretty immediate and clear. Eat when you can or starve to death. Run to get dinner, or run to avoid being something else's dinner. Rest when you're tired, play not only for fun and stress relief, but to teach the youngin's and practice skills used in hunting prey or evading predator.

I'm not advocating a return to the stone age, but now we have to realize that our environment is working against us, rather than for us. We have to use our brains to outsmart our physiology. Our body and primitive brain is still trying to prepare us for a famine that isn't going to come.

ennay
08-13-2007, 05:34 PM
Funny - I missed the first 2 pages of this thread the first time I posted.

I like to cook. Thats kind of my problem. I dont like making it if it isnt really good. But I dont often have the time to cook the way I want too. I try at least one weekend night to cook a good meal.

When my mom, sister, MIL come to visit they all want to do me a favor and cook dinner. They cant cook. Finally with my sister I said..."you know what I would really like - YOU take the kids to the park while I cook. I want to cook without 2 little ones screaming for attention. THAT is what would be helpful to me. " They did and it was sheer heaven.

Oh and for me....I love to cook. I hate to menu plan and shop. In my ideal world I would shop for one meal at a time because I would have all day to do nothing but cook dinner. Get up, have coffee, wander off to the farmers market and whole foods to see what looks good TODAY. How do I know what I want to eat tomorrow?

almostheaven
08-13-2007, 06:30 PM
JayEll, the Swiffer IS great ain't it? I talked my mom into one as well. I have the carpet flick and the wetjet, love em both. Magic Eraser is just another of those wonderous inventions as well. ;)

You know my mother tried teaching me to cook, she learned from grandma. And most people in my family LOVE to cook. I just...well, I don't. Never have. Wasn't able to even learn. I've been shown the family secret for their wonderful buttermilk biscuit recipe many many times. Hubby and I have contemplated using them either as weapons or hockey pucks when I make them though. But they're rather dangerous to get hit by one. Ouch.

Mom even sent me some premade biscuit mix that a local place sells here...good old fashioned homeade WV biscuits. They were harder than the ones I tried from scratch. ::sigh:: I finally decided, biscuit making was not for me and I stay extremely far away from it.

Now I don't know if fast food actually has anything to do with it though. As I said, most of my family loves cooking...greasy fried potatoes, fried pork chops, candied yams, candied beets, biscuits, cornbread...see a theme? They eat a variety. But just about EVERYTHING they make, they feel like they have to add fat too. They grew up on lard and butter. I watched mom take a can of peas and add a half a stick of butter to them! ICK! And to think...I actually used to eat and love her cooking. Nowadays, they taste overdone. I'm so used to nuking the Steamfresh frozen veggies from Birdseye. The peas taste more fresh, not overcooked, like those from a can. And I add nothing to them. Sometimes I may put about 3 squirts of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" on them. So mom's, swimming in butter, overcooked, squishy canned peas just taste awful to me now. Right after the peas, I watched her pour half a bag of brown sugar and add the other half stick of butter to a can of candied yams. They weren't candied enough for her taste. Double ICK! No wonder I got fat. :(

Mini-Me
08-13-2007, 06:57 PM
Not everyone finds meaning or value in cooking the best food.

Sometimes it's just fuel. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

I think we need to be careful especially with other women when we start making value judgements about not being domestic enough (not cleaning enough, not cooking enough). There's a lot of baggage there.

I TOTALLY agree.

I have the time, and I'm not 'lazy', nor do I 'not care'...I simply don't like cooking, or anything having to do with food prep and clean up.

But the opposite of that doesn't mean 'junk food'. An apple is 'quick and easy'. So is a salad. That said, my preference is just that someone ELSE who is better at cooking (and how likes to cook) DO the cooking.

I didn't develop a weight problem because I like things 'quick and easy'. I developed a weight problem because I ate more calories than I burned, and wasn't mindful of that. Bottom line.

Spinymouse
08-13-2007, 08:14 PM
true - not all fast foods are unhealthy and not all time consuming cooking results in healthy cuisine.
when i first posted I was motivated by a web site describing pierogi preparation and the grief involved in making them and I thought Whoa! That is not anywhere close to grief. I know it was an exaggeration of the term but of got me thinking how easy we tend to expect food to be -

blondebritbrat17
08-13-2007, 08:44 PM
great thread.. With me I just simply didn't know how to cook. I knew the basics of following a recipe and measuring and that's it. I've basically had to teach myself since my mom never taught me to cook. But up until I was a teenager what we ate was pretty much all fried and very southern cooking so it's not like I would have learned healthy cooking. Also my problem was I really wish that my high school had offered a nutrition class/cooking class of some sort to educate me on how bad fast food is and what are the healthy foods and portion size and how to cook healthy food since when I first started trying to eat healthy I had no idea there were ways you could cook veggies or grill them, etc. I knew fast food was not that great but I didn't realize how BAD until I started doing research of my own. The only thing that I knew to do was to not eat fried foods on such a daily basis and grill them or bake them. So my big problem was just plain ignorance. My taste buds have completely changed though.

kaplods
08-13-2007, 09:48 PM
I think sometimes this is another case were perception trumps reality, even for people who love to cook.

There are a lot of foods that we are so used to seeing in prepackaged form, that we assume that homemade takes tons more time. Prepackaged carrots and lettuce, make it seem like peeling and slicing a couple of carrots and tearing lettuce is so incredibly "time consuming." Is 20 seconds as opposed to 2 minutes really such an incredible savings in time that it is worth twice the cost?

I made homemade gnocci a couple months ago. It was the first time I ever made them, and I just cut the dough into nuggets without making any fancy designs in them, with a fork like my grandmother did. I boiled them and made a quick tomato sauce for them from diced canned tomatoes. I was really shocked that it only took a few minutes longer than making homemade mashed potatoes. Who knew? (Probably my grandmother!)




I also occasionally make homemade flatbreads (tortillas or roti).

almostheaven
08-13-2007, 10:39 PM
I think sometimes this is another case were perception trumps reality, even for people who love to cook.

There are a lot of foods that we are so used to seeing in prepackaged form, that we assume that homemade takes tons more time. Prepackaged carrots and lettuce, make it seem like peeling and slicing a couple of carrots and tearing lettuce is so incredibly "time consuming." Is 20 seconds as opposed to 2 minutes really such an incredible savings in time that it is worth twice the cost?
Well to me, yeah, it is. Not because of the time, but because...well, I simply don't like cooking. I do make some exceptions. I eat lots of fruit, which means washing, pealing, etc. I'll get melons on sale and cut them up and bag and refridgerate them to keep when I get home from the store. But I really would prefer doing something else with my time. Maybe it's cause I don't like lettuce and carrots AS MUCH as I like cantaloupe? LOL But nah. I'd actually buy the cantaloupe precut IF it weren't so danged expensive and IF they didn't add some crap to preserve it. It changes the taste, and yuck! :( But just so I don't have to fool with food prep, which I really really don't care to do, I do buy the prebagged lettuce and carrots.

Spinymouse
08-13-2007, 10:41 PM
That sounds good; the homemade gnocci.
I agree completely, it frequently does not take that much more effort to make most things from scratch. This might sound a bit woo-woo, and I don't know the answer to this question, but....I wonder if there is something to the idea that foods taste better, or are in other ways better, if there is love and care put into their preparation? My left brain says no, my right brain says yes.....

kaplods
08-13-2007, 11:06 PM
Oh I certainly understand that for some people the minute and a half savings is worth $3. In fact, sometimes it's worth it to me, but I always try to look at the product and think about what it is I'm saving/paying for.

What I meant is how often do we buy the "convenient" package without even considering what it is that we are paying for/saving? For example, I've seen washed potatoes, individually wrapped in plastic. The idea is that these are clean and ready to microwave. They are 4 times the price of a regular baking potato. What does it take to wash a potato? 5 seconds? Maybe 10? Are the people buying these thinking that it is worth it to them to pay 4x the price to save 5 seconds if washing. Maybe they are, and if so more power to them, but I wonder how often the choice is made based on imagined convenience.

EZMONEY
08-14-2007, 12:19 AM
Growing up my mom did all the cooking except for an occasional broasted chicken night ~ which was soooo good!! Being from the mid-west the meals were pretty much meat, potato and veggie...then she learned how to make lasagna, that with spaghetti pasta and Hunts Spaghetti sauce was our Italian. Living in California she learned the art of frying tacos and making burritos. Just plain and simple meals. Chili was hamburger, chili powder, tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans. We loved it.

Where we lived jack In The Box was the only fast food joint around...you got 5 hamburgers or 4 cheese burgers for a $1.00 ~ IF we got to go to Jack's and IF we got a cheeseburger we knew dad had a GOOD paycheck that day and another one was coming :carrot: Being in construction then one just never knew.

In the late 60's early 70's a business called Chicken Delight opened up here in southern California...mom had started working then since all us kids were in high school or jr. high. On friday nights we would sometimes follow the slogan "Don't cook tonight call Chicken Delight!" Then OMGosh...they started delivering pizzas too! The eary 70's were the first time that parents my folks age started having some "extra" money...at least in my area and friends.

I never really had fast food until my kids were involved in sports, then it was get home from work ~ go to practice or game ~ swing by and get fast food. It becomes a habit.

A habit we broke many years ago. We still have an occasional fast food meal but it is rare.

It is really easy to cook...if you can read and follow recipes! I learned that from Angie ~ that is also how I ended up in 3FC ~ most of you have heard the story so I won't bore you with it.

Not everyone enjoys cooking ~ I learned to really like it, providing I had the time to prepare. I am one that needs to search what I am going to cook ~ shop for it ~ and make it. Angie comes in and wham bam dinner is done!

As for ME ~ RACHAEL RAY'S 30 Minute Meals take me an hour and a half!

My favorite dish is the one when I ask Angie "What is your favorite meal babe?" Her answer..."Whatever YOU are making dear!"

I have buddies that say "Oh I could never cook like you, I don't know how to use the spices or even what they are." Yep ~ spices are a real MACHO thing ;)

Now ~ would you consider opening a jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce and pouring it over spaghetti FAST FOOD or cooking from SCRATCH or NEITHER :shrug: ;)

MariaMaria
08-14-2007, 09:36 AM
There are a lot of foods that we are so used to seeing in prepackaged form, that we assume that homemade takes tons more time. Prepackaged carrots and lettuce, make it seem like peeling and slicing a couple of carrots and tearing lettuce is so incredibly "time consuming." Is 20 seconds as opposed to 2 minutes really such an incredible savings in time that it is worth twice the cost?

If you can and chop peel two pounds of carrots in 2 minutes, you've got fantastic, fantastic knife skills.

Again, I think we need to be careful not to confuse our personal value systems with universal goods and bads. You want to peel vegetables. I'd rather use the time to do something else. I'm not saying that your way is wrong, and I'd appreciate the same courtesy in return.

almostheaven
08-14-2007, 01:01 PM
For example, I've seen washed potatoes, individually wrapped in plastic. The idea is that these are clean and ready to microwave. They are 4 times the price of a regular baking potato. What does it take to wash a potato? 5 seconds? Maybe 10? Are the people buying these thinking that it is worth it to them to pay 4x the price to save 5 seconds if washing. Maybe they are, and if so more power to them, but I wonder how often the choice is made based on imagined convenience.
Sheepishly raising hand. I buy those. :D

For me, we don't do a lot of potatoes. Hubby has a baked potato maybe once or twice a month, and I might have a sweet potato about once a month. Got one of each on the counter now. Anyway, buying them by the bag is out. Individual, sure. But it's not just the washing. I'd STILL nuke it. I eat on the run a lot, so I might decide 10 minutes before dinner to have that potato, and that's just not enough time for baking. I PREFER the taste of baked, I just don't prefer to put my meal off for so long. And having it wrapped DOES help the taste in the microwave. I've bought individuals and wrapped them in plastic myself. They still just don't do as well as the shrink wrapped ones. Don't know why.

kaplods
08-14-2007, 05:22 PM
(To clarify, my tone is meant to be casual and friendly, not sarcastic or in any way hostile).

Maybe it wasn't clear from my post, but I was not bashing convenience foods or people who use them. In fact, I did state that I too use them. I was just saying sometimes I find myself (and I think others do as well) buying the "convenient" package, without really thinking.

I haven't baked a potato in the oven in, well actually I barely remember cooking potatoes in the oven. My parents got a microwave when I was in high school, and I know neither Mom or I have baked potatoes in anything else since.

I wasn't even bashing the potatoes in plastic, they just seemed so funny to me, because when I compared them to the potoatoes in the bin, the bin potatoes seemed just as clean, so obviously they are washed too. I was definitely not aware that there was a taste difference, but since I like the taste of a regular potato well enough, I'll still pass.

There isn't a single convenience product that I think people "shouldn't" buy, I was just saying I wonder how often we buy the more attractive, seemingly more convenient package without really thinking. I think mindful shopping is as valid a concept as mindful eating.

Not too long ago, I was talking with a friend who was really upset because she said she couldn't afford groceries, and she and her husband made too much to qualify for foodstamps. When I told her what my husband and I spent on groceries for the two of us she didn't believe me. It was about 1/4 what she and her husband were spending. When we compared grocery lists they were surprisingly similar, except for where she shopped (the "best" grocery store in town, also the most expensive), how she shopped (never checked out sales flyers, and never bought marked-down items, or lesser known brands), and some differences in the amount of convenience foods, some of which I'd barely consider convenience items (boneless chicken breasts, where we buy bone-in pieces, and boneless thighs, and buy in family packs and divide at home for the freezer).

She was shocked that only a few minor changes could cut her grocery bill by 75%.

She was also shocked that we bought rotisserie chickens often, because they're "so expensive." In her grocery store they were, $6 or more for a small rotisserie chicken. The Walmart sells them here for about $4 (about 50 cents more than a whole chicken). We buy the chicken. Have chicken night one. Chicken salad or some dish using shredded chicken like a pasta casserole night two, and then hubby or I make soup from the carcass, or I freeze the carcass to make soup later.

I wasn't trying to make my friend do it my way, and I'm not doing that here either, just reminding her that there were choices. And that's what I think this really is all about, knowing what your options are.

Mini-Me
08-14-2007, 07:11 PM
I agree completely, it frequently does not take that much more effort to make most things from scratch.
I don't think some people understand that the 'degree' of effort isn't what matters to some. Some people simply don't care to be in the kitchen doing food prep....and some people REALLY don't have the time:dizzy:

Me? I guess I have the time, but in addition to not liking 'food prep, I also happen to like the taste of really well-made food (which I don't know how to prepare, and don't want to learn)...so, I eat basic 'no prep' foods like fresh produce (pre-chopped from Whole Foods, thank you), and treat myself to 'restaurant food' a couple times a week.

I also don't care to learn how to repair cars, perm my hair, or paint my toenails (without making a mess), so I go to people who are better at it than I am...and who (hopefully) like doing it.

Oh I certainly understand that for some people the minute and a half savings is worth $3. ...I wonder how often the choice is made based on imagined convenience.
I'm not trying to be snarky, but there really are more important things to ponder... Why do some people buy a $3 cup of coffee from Starbuck's when they can make it for a dime at home? *shrugs*

Why do some people buy their clothes from the store when they could make them themselves? *shrugs* (It certainly is more 'convenient' to buy them in the store...)

Why do some people drive a car, when they could take the bus for cheaper? Convenience?

If you can and chop peel two pounds of carrots in 2 minutes, you've got fantastic, fantastic knife skills.

Again, I think we need to be careful not to confuse our personal value systems with universal goods and bads. You want to peel vegetables. I'd rather use the time to do something else. I'm not saying that your way is wrong, and I'd appreciate the same courtesy in return.
I agree.

Totally.

almostheaven
08-14-2007, 07:21 PM
kaplods, there is definately a better flavor to the wrapped potatoes. They're made for nuking. Something about the plastic keeps them fluffy and moist. And I'd tried many other ways of fixing them in the microwave, like adding a bit of water to the dish. Nothing I did kept them as moist as they keep in the plastic. So I tried wrapping them myself, but I guess it's because you can't get it airtight like they do with the shrink wrap. I've even tried nuking a potato partway then finishing it in the oven. But IMO, oven baked tastes best, then the shrink wrapped nuked potato comes in second best.

On the chicken, I also buy the boneless/skinless. The bone-in is cheaper, but it's one of the luxuries I don't sacrifice on as it's part of my hate to cook deal. I hate cutting up chicken. It's icky, squishy, and just...well...nasty. But it TASTES good. After cooking that is. LOL

carolr3639
08-14-2007, 07:42 PM
Wow, Jo, You have quite the thread going here. Just to let you know we live nearly 30 min. from most eating places so I do most of the cooking from scratch and have a big garden. It's going to take me quite awhile to read all this.

kaplods
08-15-2007, 02:36 AM
Yeah, Mini-Me there are a lot more important things to ponder, but I figure this thread at least is a lot more pertinent than what Paris Hilton is doing this week.

I ponder a lot of stuff, and I don't image any of it is going to solve world hunger, or bring peace to the Middle East. My husband teases me all of the time, at the weird, pointless, and trivial things I think and talk about.

I don't think any of us need to justify our choices, or our opinions, but I don't feel that discussing them is pointless. I know I learned a few things from this thread, including that those microwave potatoes aren't as ridiculous as I imagined. I may even try sealing a potato in my vacuum sealer cooking bags, and see if I notice a difference. I still don't see myself paying fourfold for a tater, but I wouldn't buy a $3 coffee either (then again, I wouldn't buy a 10 cent cup of coffee, because I hate coffee).

The last several summers, I've paid up to $5 per lb for Ranier cherries, and not just for 1 lb. I usually buy about 7 lbs or more during the short season, and it's the only fruit or sweet that I eat during those 3 - 5 weeks. I eat them until I'm almost sick of them. My mother thinks I'm nuts for spending $20 - $30 in a month for cherries, when "bing are just as good." Blegh, I don't think so.

As to the carrot comment, I did say "a couple" carrots not 2 lbs. However, I just asked my husband (just now as I'm writing this), how long he thought it would take him to peel and chop 2 lbs of carrots. His first question was "how do you want them chopped." After having to explain that this was a hypothetical question, and I did not actually want him to chop 2 lbs of carrots, his immediate answer was "2 minutes." Ok, I almost fell off my chair laughing (with my husband looking at me as though I had finally crossed the line between quirkiness and stark-raving lunacy). I then told him the story of this thread, and he said "well, if you just want carrot sticks for snacking or chunks for cooking with a roast, I can guarantee 2 minutes, if you wanted it sliced for soup or diced for mirapois, then I'd probably need about 5 minutes."

Yes, my husband does have exceptional knife skills, from years of experience as a Sous Chef and Saucier in fine restaurants. In fact, after almost 5 years of marriage, I am still not allowed to touch his "good kives." My time is usually about twice his, but I still stand by the statement that I can peel a couple of carrots and tear lettuce for a salad in 2 minutes." That doesn't mean I expect anyone else to do it, or want to (though knowing my husband, I can see him buying 2 lbs of carrots in the very near future to "prove" his skills to me, whether I want him to or not. Maybe I'll have him by 4, and I can see if I can improve my time).

Again, I don't mean any offense. I don't feel anyone should have to peel a carrot, touch raw meat, or even own a single pot or pan if they don't want to.

harrypotterybarn
08-15-2007, 10:57 AM
I'm actually finding this thread rather funny in a way. People feeling guilty and getting defensive over something they shouldn't ever feel guilty or defensive about. And folks reading a "high and mighty" tone into posts when it's just not there. I think we just have to accept the fact that in our neo-modern urbanized society things considered commonplace years ago have been placed on a pedestal. We users of modern day convenience items simultaneously revere and resent those who are able to do for themselves. We assume those who are able to cook from scratch, generate their own power, use non-polluting transportation, etc are looking down on us as useless consumers.

I admit to being a total convenience-whore myself. And it's been written into my brain as a new yuppie that I should feel bad about this, even though I'm not being encouraged to change my ways in any drastic form. At the grocery the other day the hippie-momma in front of me in line had all fresh veggies and unprocessed ingredients. I couldn't help but think she must have a poor opinion of me with my frozen veg and prepackaged meals. In reality, she probably didn't care one whit about my groceries. But I went ahead and projected my own guilt onto her. My mother spends all her free time reading books (mostly quality non-fiction). Although she has never spoken to me about it I feel she must look down on my husband and myself because we'll spend hours in front of the tv. Of course, to make it more palatable to myself, I'll say "at least I'm watching the History Channel and not insert-mindless-show-here".

Liberal guilt? Perhaps. But that's something most Gen-xers like myself have learned to live with. It's part of our daily lives. We assuage is periodically by going to the farmer's market or riding a bike somewhere. But it's still wholly ingrained in our lives...we can feel a bit of smug, but there's always someone "better" than us out there.

Is anyone right or wrong here? Not at all! Different strokes for different folks and all that. But let's not let our own feelings of guilt over losing touch with a simpler time make us all snippy with one another. It's just another fascinating cultural phenomenon.

kaplods
08-15-2007, 02:51 PM
Old-fashioned. Modern. I guess I never thought of them with value judgements attached, but I think you're right, we're expected to make a choice between the two, set values upon and justify our choices, and feel guilty no matter what we do. It's kind of a shame, because that means they become almost taboo subjects.

It's funny because when the bottom dropped out of our budget, we simultaneously had less money, and more time to shop. In many ways we did have to go back in time a bit, though it was all new and exciting at the same time. It really was an "everything old is new again," experience. I never really thought of our "old ways" as bad, nor our "new/old ways," as good. Just exciting because they were new (at least to me). I actually made PICKLES last year (ok, they were refrigerator pickles, as I'm terrified of canning), but I was very proud of those pickles - and it was a bit amazing to realize that even though I had bought everything from the vegetables, to the vinegar, to the jars - I still saved money. I have to admit to feeling like a bit of a domestic goddess (for a few minutes anyway, until I looked at my tiny massacred kitchen, and realized what a pain it was going to be to clean up without even a dishwasher to help) - not to mention the 6 month loss onf an entire shelf of fridge space.

I guess I'm trying to embrace it ALL. I want to hear about new technologies, new conveniences (food and otherwise), and I also want to hear about "back to nature, back to basics, lost arts...". Part of me would love to live on a little hobby farm, "off the grid," in an eco-friendly, solar heated cottage making everything we need. But part of me wants to be on the bus route, with all of the conveniences, shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities available in a semi-urban setting. I know we're told we can't have both, but I don't see anything wrong with having bits of each.

My husband and I were talking about this this afternoon at lunch. I need some buttons for a sweater I'm making, and I wanted to stop at the thrift store for buttons, because the buttons are dirt cheap and so beautiful. We both reminisced about playing with the buttons in our grandmother's "button jars," which had already become virtually obsolete when we were kids (our mothers never had button jars). I remember my grandmother scolding my mother for not clipping the buttons off of old clothing before tearing them up for rags. I don't remember when my mom stopped using old clothes for dust and wash rags, but that's also a thing of the past.

In some ways, I do think it's wrong, or at least short-sighted to be wasting so many resources, but I'm certainly not better about it than anyone else. Hubby and I use far more than our fair share of disposable and paper products (because hubby and I both hate doing dishes, and don't have a dishwasher).

I do wonder what our great grandparents would think of our society. What modern technologies and habits would they be awed by, and what would they find utterly ridiculous. Culture is a fascinating thing, and it's always changing.

mariposita
08-15-2007, 02:58 PM
This thread is fascinating to me, thanks to all the people who have taken the time to post their thoughts and thanks Spiny for starting this thread! I'm thankful to live in a time when there are so many choices.

Growing up my mom did all the cooking except for an occasional broasted chicken night ~ which was soooo good!! Being from the mid-west the meals were pretty much meat, potato and veggie...then she learned how to make lasagna, that with spaghetti pasta and Hunts Spaghetti sauce was our Italian. Living in California she learned the art of frying tacos and making burritos. Just plain and simple meals. Chili was hamburger, chili powder, tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans. We loved it.

Where we lived jack In The Box was the only fast food joint around...you got 5 hamburgers or 4 cheese burgers for a $1.00 ~ IF we got to go to Jack's and IF we got a cheeseburger we knew dad had a GOOD paycheck that day and another one was coming :carrot: Being in construction then one just never knew.



EZ--I think my mom must have been your mom's twin. We kids now recall how Mom learned how to make "teh lasagna" back when I must have been in high school (70's). It was something new and oh-so-good, and we would all drool when it was cooking. Then a few years later she learned how to make a chicken and broccoli stir fry that was awesome. I did not realize what a fantastic cook my mom was--how she could stretch a dollar, please 5 kids and a fairly picky husband, and just keep at it even if it was boring--until I was much older.

And the whole eating out thing? My dad got paid on the first of the month. On that day my folks went out for a nice meal, and we got McDonald's 25 cent cheeseburgers or pizza. Oh joy!

NightengaleShane
08-17-2007, 11:29 AM
Oh man, so much drama is a'brewin' in this thread!

I buy quick and easy things, because I work ten hour days. I ride my bike ten miles each way to get to and from work. Now, I realize I chose to do this, and I have an excellent reason for it: if I didn't ride my bike to and from work, I probably wouldn't get much exercise on the days where I work. Anyway, between the early rising, long hours, 20 mile bike rides, and Florida heat, I am NOT in the mood to do ANYTHING when I come home from work. Cooking takes too much time and effort for me on most days, unless it is something that takes 30 minutes or less.

However, even as a fan of quick 'n easy things, I do find the pre-washed potato idea to be a little silly. ;)

The disadvantage to quick 'n easy meals is that they're highly processed and often full of ingredients that I can't even attempt to pronounce, not to mention the horrendously high sodium levels.

Spinymouse
08-17-2007, 02:43 PM
Wow, Nightengale - you put more effort into a day's worth of bike riding than I do in a year's worth of cooking!

One more thing I want to add is that, (not talking about apples here) with prepared fast foods is that they are almost always too salty or too sweet for my tastes. I just plain don't like them, even if it were shown that sugar and other sweeteners and salt were the healtiest things on the planet, I wouldn't like 'em. Prepared yogurts with fruit (and sweetener) added -- too sweet for me. Canned sauces and frozen entrees -- too salty. Again, I am sure there are exceptions, but this is just an overall assessment.

shananigans
08-17-2007, 02:46 PM
Wow, what a thread! Took me a long time to read all that. I don’t see anything wrong with quick and easy if you can manage to do it while making good choices for your health. That being said, I have a book called “Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet” and by the time I’m done making one of those recipes it’s more like the 10, 15 or 20 ingredient gourmet. :lol: I can’t leave well enough alone, I always think, “oh this would be good in here too!” I love to cook, but I don’t always have time for elaborate stuff so I have some sort of halfway meals that can be thrown together with minimal time/effort. I make my falafel from a box mix, I use canned pasta sauce, I eat frozen faux meat products a couple times a week. But I add vegetables, whole grains, etc to round out the meals, and a lot of those things don’t take a lot of time or complicated preparation. I must say eating healthier and getting into vegan cooking really expanded my cooking repertoire. I can cook without a recipe (I make “leftover soup” too, someone else mentioned it in this thread), and I can modify recipes to make them more to my taste. In fact, I prefer my own cooking to just about anything else. Might sound arrogant, but what can I say, I know what I like. :p

NightengaleShane
08-17-2007, 02:49 PM
Wow, Nightengale - you put more effort into a day's worth of bike riding than I do in a year's worth of cooking!

One more thing I want to add is that, (not talking about apples here) with prepared fast foods is that they are almost always too salty or too sweet for my tastes. I just plain don't like them, even if it were shown that sugar and other sweeteners and salt were the healtiest things on the planet, I wouldn't like 'em. Prepared yogurts with fruit (and sweetener) added -- too sweet for me. Canned sauces and frozen entrees -- too salty. Again, I am sure there are exceptions, but this is just an overall assessment.

LOL! Prioritizing, I guess! ;) Like you said in your initial post, it's amazing how much effort we're willing to put into some things but not others. I'm a lazy cook! :)

I do agree that fresh things taste so, so much better, but I'm too lazy to put the time into making them (most of the time) ...except raw fruits and veggies with dip, but I'm talking about preparing meals here, not grabbing food or eating snacks. Perhaps I've adapted my taste buds to like these pre-made things because I still have to eat and all, yanno? :p

kaplods
08-17-2007, 04:22 PM
The funny thing about homemade soup is that it takes a long time to make, but it's one of the "easiest" recipes I use because I can put anything I want in it, and there's no time crunch. I make soup on laundry days or lazy days when we'll be home all day, but don't want to work too hard. The pot simmers and whenever I feel like it, I add an ingredient or two, and more water as I need to. I've literally had soup that has taken three days to make.

Wow, that sounds like you're slaving all day in the kitchen doesn't it. But it's like this

Day 1

Pot of water - add chicken carcass one quartered onion, one unpeeded carrot, and several leafy stems of celery (also rinsed, but not cut up) and maybe a cabbage core. Add a bouillon cube or two, or a couple teaspoons of powdered soup base. Simmer on low until about an hour before bedtime. Take soup of heat, cover with lid. In 30 minutes put in fridge pot and all.

Day 2 Skim fat, strain soup. Pick meat off chicken carcass and toss the bones and all the soup solids. Put broth back in fridge or simmer some more, and start adding ingredients from a can, or fresh. Cool as in day 1 if you're not finished with the soup by the end of the day.

Day 2 or 3 Every once in a while chop some veggies and add to the pot. If adding pasta, add about 15 minutes before serving.

Now this can also end up 4 day or even 7 day soup or soups. Because we often add ingredients to make different soups along the way. So we might have say chicken noodle soup on day 1, and then add tomatoes and veggies for chicken noodle vegetable the next..

Yep, soup is my favorite slow, but easy cooking. You can throw just about anything in it and it tastes good. Leftovers whether meats, or spaghetti or casseroles can often be just thrown into one big mystery pot. About the only thing I haven't thrown into the mystery pot is pizza or fish leftovers. The only problem is that if it turns out fabulous, you'll probably never be able to recreate it again.

I have a beat up copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette (the three original books put together as one). Some of her ideas are ridiculous to me (I am NOT going to wash out ziploc bags), but there were alot of tips that even when I was working, I could put into practice to save money.

shananigans
08-18-2007, 09:37 PM
The only problem is that if it turns out fabulous, you'll probably never be able to recreate it again.

I have this problem a lot!

I have a beat up copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette (the three original books put together as one). Some of her ideas are ridiculous to me (I am NOT going to wash out ziploc bags), but there were alot of tips that even when I was working, I could put into practice to save money.

Um, I wash out ziplocs. Does that make me crazy? :lol: It's more of an environmental "recycle/reduce/reuse" policy I have more than a cost saving measure. You should see my "tupperware" collection. ;)

Made a lovely squash soup yesterday out of veggie odds and ends in the fridge, took an hour start to finish, including roasting the squash. I don't think I've ever made anything that took several days! Unless you count letting things marinate in the fridge.

kaplods
08-18-2007, 10:25 PM
No, not crazy, just much more dedicated and environmentally conscious than I. When I first got the book, I thought I should at least give it a try, but I buy super cheap ziplocs, and they just collapse onto themselves, almost like trying to wash cling wrap. So I use mostly gladware type disposable dishes (that I do wash instead of throw away). I do use bags to marinate meat and store fruits and veggies. While I'll rinse and reuse the fruit and veggie bags. I pitch any that I used for marinades, cheese, meat or anything with a greasy residue.

kaplods
08-18-2007, 10:32 PM
Oh and as for the soup taking several days, it's not because it HAS to, it's just because I often think of starting soup during chore days, when we're doing laundry, cleaning the fridge.... The soup is on the back burner, simmering slowly, and I lose track of time. I usually do try to make it at least a two day soup, because it's the easiest way I've found to skim fat. Since I often use fatty bits like wings to make the soup, I wan't the flavor, but not the fat. Skimming while the soup is hot, never seems to remove enough of the fat, so cooling in the fridge is the easiest way. In the morning, the fat has risen to the top and solidified, so it's easy to remove.

My all- or nearly-all-veggie soup is always a 1 day soup (well, except that it also can end up a perpetual pot with new stuff added to keep the pot going). Basically I start with tomato soup, vegetable or chicken broth powder and throw in all of the veggies I want, and just simmer til the veggies are soft.

modkittn
08-19-2007, 08:47 AM
Um, I wash out ziplocs. Does that make me crazy? :lol: It's more of an environmental "recycle/reduce/reuse" policy I have more than a cost saving measure. You should see my "tupperware" collection. ;)


I do this too, for the same reasons, but not all the time. Only if I had something like nuts, cereal, etc in the bag. If anything was in the bag that needed to be refrigerated, then I usually don't re-use it.

As for meals, though, I do a lot of 5-ingredient type stuff but I NEVER user recipes! In the summer, I will grill lean meat with BBQ sauce or marinade it first (store-bought marinade), and grill veggies with it. I'll usually make a side-dish as well - baked beans, rice, etc. I've been big on vegetarian baked beans lately.

I do a lot more cooking with more ingredients in the winter. It is a comfort thing for me. I'll spend lots of time making soups, cooking whole turkeys or turkey breasts and freezing the extra meat or using for soups, and take out a recipe or two. I don't make my own broth though, that would take way too much time for it to be worth it to me.

I guess in the summer I have a few things that make me want to cook less:
1. Its hot!
2. Its not winter, so I want to take advantage of the weather and go on long walks or do more exercise.
3. I actually tend to work more in the summer, and if I'm not working then I am usually working on my house and don't have a ton of free time.

Guess I never stopped to think about these things before :)

I do tend to follow a mostly whole foods lifestyle, though. I let a few things through (need my Fiber One bars!) but I usually make all my food. It may be quick and easy, but its still made by me and not McDonald's or something like that, so I don't really care. :D My hubby will eat anything I make, and never complains. He likes my cooking, so I don't bother changing it :lol: What surprises me the most is that he ALSO likes steamed or grilled veggies with NOTHING on them - no butter, no spices, nothing. Just like nature intended :lol: and that's my favorite way to eat them too!