Do you know anyone that can cook?

Joined Apr 3, 2008
I feel like I'm the only person I know that can cook.  All my friends are so "impressed" with simple things I do like salads or rice dishes.  And I am so unimpressed with their culinary skills.  What do these people eat at home?  Processed frozen food?  Canned food?  Food out of a bag?

Recently had a pot luck and I made cous cous and stuffed peppers.  Everybody else brought spinach artichoke dip (cream cheese and frozen spinach?), pigs in blankets, jello, bean dip, and other foods that were either thrown together or out of cans.  Some people even brought prepared deli platters or supermarket cupcakes.  What gives?


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Least nobody brought the pickles wrapped in chipped beef.

That's the way it goes.  They may have other skills, just not cooking skills.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I usually find myself in the same boat, KK. I know only one other non-professional who cooks. And, like you, I'm always getting raves over what I consider relatively simple or everyday food.

Last year, for instance, during the big ice storm we had to move in with friends in Lexington. I cooked four or five meals while we were there. The only one the least bit out of the ordinary was coconut shrimp. Their daughter, who, despite being a server at a fairly upscale restaurant, still brags about what a great "gourmet" cook her dad's friend is.

It's understandable, though. We're into the third generation of folks who use "microwave" and "cook" as synonyms. And, sadly, despite the appearance of change, that still describes most Americans. So they're easy to impress.

I think, too, that like my buddy's daughter, people tend to differentiate the kind of food they expect at home from the kind they expect at a restaurant.
Joined Oct 23, 2008
I've luckily not had that experience. Both my brother and three of my good friends really enjoy cooking, and not just "I can make an omelet" but more in line with.. "tonight we're trying beef wellington from scratch" /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
Joined Apr 3, 2008
My parents can cook, not like I have learned but some good basic food nonetheless. I have taught my sister to cook and she has worked in the biz for a bit before her last pregnancy. My grandma was a terrible cook, she made awesome fudge and pinoche though. Some of my friends do alright, not good, others seem to live a bit in the premade and deli sections. That's cool though, when they do buy prime goods I usually get a phone call and sometimes an invite.

p.s. I hope those are deep fried pickles in chipped beef *shudder*/img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Ya know, I just assumed this meant "other than relatives." No reason I should have, but that's how I interpreted it.

My mom was a wonderful cook, within the range of things she made. My MIL, on the other hand, well.....if you look up "bad cook" in your Funk & Wagners you'll see her photo next to it.

My boys are both really good cooks. The older one, especially---to the point where he and his bride are working on a specialized cooking class for couples in the kitchen. But, of course, they both learned at my knee, as I had learned the basics at moms. Friend Wife, on the other hand, literally couldn't boil water when we first met. Which follows from her childhood influence.

Once I move away from family, though, there's only the one other person I know who cooks. And there, again, there's a family-influence thing. His granny was one of the best Southern cooks I've ever known, and he's following in her footsteps.

But most folks I know live in a convenience-product and take-out world. Understandable, I guess. When you grow up confusing Mickey D's with food, well......
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I don't argue that people have lots of skills aside from cooking.  But what I'm interested in is what do they eat?  Are they eating frozen dinners and take outs all week?  I have friends who do not know how to boil an egg - do they live on restaurant food and sandwiches? 

I can't imagine not eating fresh home made food.  I need to know the ingredients in most of what I eat, I seek out fresh produce - who knows what they put in take-out.  If I eat restaurant food more than 3 days in a row I start to not feel very good.

Went over to a friend's house the other day for dinner claiming that his brother was a great cook.  It turns out they served us roasted chicken (rotisserrie chicken from the supermarket deli), steamed rice, and frozen corn.  Even the salad (bagged spring mix) came with its own dressing packet.  Am I supposed to be impressed?

Note:  I have nothing against roasted chicken from the market, it comes in handy when I want to make chicken salad or a quick meal.  But serving it to guests and claiming your a good cook... really?
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Ya know, I just assumed this meant "other than relatives." No reason I should have, but that's how I interpreted it.
Actually I meant friends in my own age group (mid 30's).  When we were all in our 20's and still partying and ordering pizza and beer I never thought much about cooking.  But now we're all married and having children.  What do you feed your family when you don't know how to cook?  I guess I just assumed that everybody would grow up and realize that cooking is essential to every day life, not just "a nice skill to impress people with."

I didn't start cooking until my mid 20's.  I mostly cooked simple roasts, eggs and omelets, veggie soups, pasta and a few simple greek dishes my Mom taught me.  It wasn't until I got married that I started experimenting with more complicated recipes, and working on basic techniques.  Maybe being the good greek girl that I am I felt a sense of responsibility in feeding the good greek boy I married.  I really started thinking about our health and nutrition and we both knew we wanted to eat sensibly and not waste all our money on lo mein.  Thank goodness I had a few simple skills to build on.  I'm by no means a pro but I take a great deal of pleasure from cooking something well. 

Just last night I made a mean mushroom risotto and some simple grilled chicken breasts.  My husband turned to me and said "what would have happened if I married someone who cooked dry chicken breasts?" He'd be miserable probably.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Apparently, KK, there are people who do eat nothing but take-out or restaurant meals. Many of them.

In fact, there is a popular blog, and now a book, written by a New Yorker to show how it's possible to prepare food and eat it at home. The most appaling part, to me, is the challenge she's issued for people to spend a week eating food prepared at home.

Challenge? Is she kidding? And yet, her blog is full of responses from people who reported how difficult it was to pick up that gauntlet, because they're so used to eating out every night.

Even out here in the sticks people are more into pre-made and take-out. I once listened to a discussion in which the participants were arguing----you better sit down for this one---which fast food French fries were the best when eaten cold.

One clue to what people eat is to look at Sandra Lee. Not only is her show one of the most popular on Food Network, all of her books (what are there now? Seven or eight of them?) are runaway best sellers. And there's a national fan club. And a magazine. And all of this is dedicated to the idea that pre-made and convenience products can (and should) replace fresh foods prepared from scratch.

Or look at the rules for entering the Pillsbury Bake Off. This is the single richest cooking contest in the world. Cooking? Not the way I define it. Not when the entries must use approved convenience products, and when you'd actually be penalizing yourself if you made anything from scratch.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I guess I just assumed that everybody would grow up and realize that cooking is essential to every day life,

Ahhh, and there's the rub. If you grow up not cooking, and go through your tweens not cooking, is it reasonable to expect that just because you have a permanent relationship with a person of the oppostie sex that anything should change?

When, exactly, are all those people supposed to develop an interest in, and learn the basic skills of, cookery?

You know what they say about a dancing bear? The wonder isn't that he's so graceful, but that he can even dance at all. Same thing here, I reckon. The wonder isn't that so few break the mold and take up cooking. The wonder is that anybody who grew up in that milieu manages to break the mold.
Joined Sep 16, 2009
People are busy nowadays with work,family and other stuff.  Most are contented with microwave dinners which is why coming up and whipping up a home cooked meal can be pretty impressive sometimes! 
Joined Jun 5, 2009
Compared to everyone I know I am a gourmet star.  Compared to many on this forum I sometimes feel like a rank beginner.  The actuality is probably somewhere in between.  What surprises me is when someone is gushing over a relatively simple dish and yet has no interest whatsoever in learning to do something similar.  In many cases all they would need is to use fresh ingredients, but nope, no way.  Their idea of haute cuisine is to use an electric can opener.  I have to wonder who are buying all those cookbooks I see at the bookstore.


Joined Feb 17, 2010
None of my friends know how to cook, even steaks on the bbq are botched most times. I'm in meat & potato country... anything beyond that is foreign. Seasonings are salt (sometimes) pepper, seasoned salt, garlic salt. Most things are frozen, pre made crap.

Mashed potatoes come from the deli section at the market.. Just nuke!.. Gravy comes from a store branded dry packet... Just add water.  Veggies are canned green beans or corn.

Several of my friends are 30 somethings... never learned how to cook, they grew up with microwaves and convience crap... now that's what they serve their families.

I go over to the neighbors for dinner a couple times a month.. I always offer to cook, and it is always some type of meat & potato based meal...but made from scratch. One of their favorites is chicken fried steak... She buys the frozen patties, and the store bought mash, packet gravy with water.

I showed her how to make all from scratch, and how simple it was....and did not take much effort. They were amazed at how good it was... Even had fresh veg..

Salad is another thing....only bagged pre cut iceburg.... I brought a salad one night,,, romaine, butter lettuce, spring mix, and all kinds of other goodies.... She was picking the red oak leaf lettuce out of the bowl,,,, she thought it was bad because it was red!

Now she is learning a few simple things, and is going outside the box a little....their 10yr even teases her about it...."did chefbuba show you how to do that?"

Now I get calls on how to walk her through the steps of making a roast... or how do I???.....
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I think people just do not cook anymore... places with ready to go foods and canned and frozen foods seem to have taken the place of home cooked meals.  It is not healthy and I bet we are in for a huge healthcare crisis as people age and the effects of eating poorly take their toll. 

Case in point...

We went to a co worker of my husband's for a bbq... being me and that I cannot go anywhere empty handed I asked what I should bring and they said salad so I made a Greek salad including the dressing from scratch.   What I brought was the only thing that was homemade except for the steaks off the bbq! I'm allergic to eggs so I asked if there was any egg in the dishes and this guy and his wife looked at me as if I had an alien on my shoulder or something.  

Same couple different day...

We went with them and some of their friends to Canada's Wonderland.... we all brought our own food as the stuff at Wonderland is gross and overpriced.  That was where the similarity stopped.. we brought our own homemade mini sandwiches, fruit, veggie sticks and pasta salad.. they brought purchased  party sandwiches.. and their sandwiches were peanut butter and jelly whereas we had a choice of tuna, smoked turkey, and salami with cheese.  The fifteen minutes it took my husband and I do put lunch together didn't compare to the cost of their lunch...

This is the same guy who mocked us for making our own pizza.. hmmm.. 30 minute delivery for $20 or same amount of time, have what you like for maybe $5 when all is said and done?
Joined Nov 1, 2009
We have friends from Seattle who come visit us every other year for the food I prepare.  Now you have to understand that we live in the greater DC area, so that a wee bit of a trek.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
I get that from friends all the time. They rave about my food and most of it is simple home cooking. I use very few prepackages foods. A can of soup at lunch being one of the exceptions. It is so easy to cook on weekends when working and have leftovers for quick and easy during the week.
Joined Apr 12, 2010
I know what u mean. nowadays. nobody has time or botheres or is interesed in cooking and actually all u need is simple but yummy recipies. but i can imagine what people normally do eat. cereal, taco bell, cookies. anything. but really is not nutritive. just any food. 
our mothers and grandmothers is another time were they actually prepared really food. and we need to rescue some great recipies.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Interesting thread.  There is no doubt that there generations of people who just don't know about food.  Look at the increading focus of TV cooking shows actually teaching people what this ingredient is, how to cook a very basic meal, how it can save them thousands of dollars over a year - plus it tastes better and saves time.  They are asked what they usually eat - Answer: takeout or frozen then nuked.  Or those meals in a can - the only skill is using a can opener and a microwave

I say if you don't learn while you are young, the fast food habit is a hard habit to break.  That doesn't mean we should give up on them.  If you think they are good for it, encourage those you know to try cooking, hold their hand, show them through it if possible.  But is does become generational which is not good.

I do hold out hope for my daughter and her group of friends though.  Its odd, all of them are foodies and can cook up a storm.  I feel intimidated sometimes when they come for dinner, almost, but I'm not too bad a cook and they seem to enjoy it.  Clean plates /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  It is very encouraging to hear them talk about preparing food from scratch, methods to use, what goes with what.   We're talking about late teens here.  Mind you, most have worked in kichens, or whose parent/s are past or current chefs/cooks.   One has parents who run a restaurant with a smokehouse combined with it - he knows how to cook. Maybe its the creative methodical frame of mind that brought them all together as friends.  And they've all gone on to Uni after college, so they are able to fend for themselves.

Our boarder (daughter's friend) and I have debates about stuff like for example, oil the pan or oil the steak etc etc.  It's fun.  So there is hope yet.  It takes a parent who can cook to show the child, so that child can grow up and show their child.
Joined Dec 4, 2001
This is an interesting thread.

Like many who have responded to Koukouvagia's post, I am the one amongst our family and friends who cooks. It's not that others in the group can't cook so much as they don't have the passion for it that I do and so it's easy for them to defer to me. That's fine with me because I really do like what I do and it gives me a lot of pleasure when people enjoy the food I prepare. But sometimes, I think it would be nice to have someone I could share the kitchen with; someone who feels the way about food and its preparation the way I do. It get's kinda lonely in the kitchen by myself and frankly, sometimes I feel like I am taken for granted too.

As to why there aren't more like us foodies out there, well I agree with all that's been said in the posts above. It's a complicated social evolution that's brought us to this point. I do not, however, subscribe to the notion that we all have busy lives what with work, family, etc., and therefore have no time to cook. That to me is just a cop out. If people cared enough about what they are feeding their families they would make the time.

There is something of a paradox here too. CaboSailor wonders who's buying all those cookbooks. Good question. Another related question - who's buying all that fresh food in the grocery stores? (Mind you, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where food is close to a religion. I forget sometimes that there are parts of the country - not to mention other places around the world - where that may not be the case.)

My daughter, now 22, is just beginnig to take an interest in cooking. Better late than never though. I'm looking forward to coaching her when she comes home from college in the summer.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Jock - I agree totally.  The "busy working" thing is a cop out.  Most days I work/am tied up at least 12 hours, but I cook. Heck I look after my business, house, teens, washing, ironing - the lot as well.  Sure, its pretty basic sometimes, on my shorter days its pretty good cooking.

Cook when you have the time - weekends are good for stocking uo the fridge and freezer for the week to come.

Unless you are a pro and run off your feet all day cooking - in which case you may not want to cook when you get home - cooking for me is a relaxing time.  Just gotta focus on one thing which is making a nice meal. Best moment is setting the table and serving up so we can all get together and share food and conversation. Once that is done, it is free time.  Sometimes that'll be only 15 mins before bed (early riser), but getting a knife in my hand, food on the board, oven heating, pots simmering is therapy for me.  Call me strange, I almost feel cheated of that time when someone gets takeout.

Jock - Encourage your daughter any which way you can - let her plan the meal, shop for it, prepare it.  Of course always being in the background to stop any major disasters as in sugar being used for salt and vice versa, burning food, knife cuts, hot fat, to answer and guide.

I reckon the cokbooks that are bought are for display on the coffee table, or by the 20 somethings who have never been taught to cook, and are sick of Maccie D and the Colonel.
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