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Fast and Easy - WHY?

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Old 08-11-2007, 12:38 PM   #1
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Default Fast and Easy - WHY?

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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:59 PM   #2
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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.

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Old 08-11-2007, 01:08 PM   #3
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I hear you! I avoid "5 ingredient" recipes because they taste like 5 ingredient recipes 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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:18 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:26 PM   #5
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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*
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:01 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:11 PM   #7
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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."
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:48 PM   #8
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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 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
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:01 PM   #9
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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 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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:25 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:07 PM   #11
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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.. maybe some people just don't enjoy cooking?
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:53 PM   #12
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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!!!"
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:11 PM   #14
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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.
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MariaMaria View Post
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!!!
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