“…books about cooking largely admitted what every homemaker knew to be true: that feeding people was backbreaking work, and then you died.” (The “Myth” of Easy Cooking by Elizabeth Dunn – linked in earlier post referenced and linked below)
Thanks to Els’ encouragement to expand on my earlier post (which was really just a link), and because my blog pal’s latest post has sparked some excellent commentary, here is my little screed on the matter of “Easy” cooking.
Every single thing in that article resonated with me. I have DOZENS of cookbooks (even post-cull) and any number of them promise “easy”. Easy. Sure. Maybe in an alternate universe.
Let’e talk turkey, shall we?
30 Minute Meals. I owned 4 of these cookbooks. You can’t actually prepare any of this, from lights-on to table in 30 minutes. Really, you can’t. Not unless all your prep is done ahead of time. And then – let’s talk about the sheer ridiculous number of post and pans and utensils required to produce the meal – basically an hour of clean up. And you know what else? In my house, the produce is not all washed and dried and prepped and ready for me to slice/dice/chop.
How about ingredients? Spurred on by this article, I pulled out a couple of my “easy weeknight meals” cookbooks. Kohlrabi. Celeriac. Butternut Squash (you know it takes an hour alone to simply carve that thing into something you can actually at some point cook and eat, right?). Le Sigh. (Disclosure – I can actually get kohlrabi and celeriac at my local grocery store, but I’m lucky that way and anyway, it’s only fairly recently that securing some of this stuff didn’t require a pilgrimage to Whole Paycheck).
Mostly where Dunn gets it right is in WHO is exactly creating these recipes. Not “home cooks who learned at their mothers’ elbows in family kitchen”. Culinary School grads. Nothing against them, but what the ^%$#(*&^do they know about screaming into a driveway at 6:30 (sure, you left the office at 5, but then you had the commute and you had to pick up the kids from daycare and then you still had to stop by the grocery store before heading home) with tired, hungry, cranky kids? Answer? Big Fat Hairy Zilch, that’s what.
I firmly believe that there are nights you pick up a grocery store rotisserie chickn, maybe a frozen mac & cheese and bag-o-salad. That’s what you do unless you have a martyr complex the size of Mt. Rushmore.
You also need to get over youself and allow that shortcuts by way of semi-prepared and/or prepackaged food items are not only permissible, they’re essential. Look, most women, whether they work outside the home or not, ain’t sitting back on the chaise longue, sippin’ on mint juleps and noshing on bonbons all day. They’re really working. All day. And some of them are herding small children. All. Day. Long. They’re tired. Kids are tired. Hubs comes home – he’s tired. Everybody’s hungry. Shortcuts are your salvation, and if you can swing some prep work on the weekends, or even do some make-ahead meals, that’s great. Otherwise, let’s all chill out and stop worshiping at the altar of “Everything-From-Scratch”. And have a glass of wine, while you’re at it.