Do you know anyone that can cook?

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""The I hate to cook cookbook" by Marge Bracken. "

Ummm... Ed-
I take it you don't have a copy, because it was written by Peg Bracken. Published in the mid-1960's and my wife - the excellent cook - used it a lot becuse it offered simplified recipes when she was up to her *** in little kids and I hadn't yet developed any interest in cooking./img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

The recipes are simple but quite tasty.  Bracken did NOT do the "Semi-Homade" stuff where you break your very own egg into a box of - whatever - and call it home cooking.

We don't use it much any more, but if you have access to a copy, make a batch of her "Gold Sauce" which is a really nice egg-thickened, mustardy sauce which is great on ham and any accompanying starch - potato, rice, or even pasta.

Try it; you'll like it! 

Mike




 
Peggy the nickname for Margaret perhaps it was published one way with Peg as her name and another as Marge. Just a shot in the dark I have an aunt named Margaret and most of my family calls her Peggy but sometimes they will call her Marge or Margy but never her actual name.
 
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Every now and then we do the frozen chicken nuggets and fries.  It takes just as long to preheat the oven and cook that junk as it does for me to cook a meal.  I used to come home from work and whip together meals in 30 minutes to an hour and that was before I considered myself to have any real cooking skills.  It is doable but the desire has to be there.  Too many people are intimidated, for whatever reason, to get in the kitchen and put forth the effort.  Then you have people who get off work and jump in the car with their kids and stay gone till bedtime.  I don't think it's healthy for kids to never have down time at home.  There's nothing wrong with clubs and sports but everyone needs a break.  Eating on the run 7 days a week can't be good!
 
Allie - I couldn't agree more.  At the moment our son is really sport obsessed (hockey - indoor and outdoor, cricket and Futsal - that's a kind of indoos soccer) so that is 6 days/nights a week - Oh I forgot weight lifting at the gym,and he's also taking dance classes for the College's Debutante Ball (I am really glad he is learning ballroom dancing).  We basically hit the ground running after getting him from the train, but I do manage most days to good something good and quick for him, then come home, cook for everyone else.  Then it's off to pick him up again. Then I will eat.  I don't like to eat before the work for the day is done - strange perhaps, but that's me.

Once in a while I lose my cooking mojo.  Like last night.  It was Burger King and icecream.  I just could not be bothered. I stared into the depths of the fridge and nothing jumped out and hit me with any inspiration at all - I just gave up.  It's well stocked but nothing was happening.  Which I'm not ashamed of doing, but it's only once a month or so we get take-out, so I don't think I'll kill anybody by doing it that infrequently.

The problem lies in people seeing take-out as everyday "healthy" food.  Wonder why people in the cultures with easy access to fast food are getting fatter?  Rhetorical question/no brainer.  It starts in one generation not doing home cooking, and carries on down that path.
 
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DC, I completely agree!  Our lives get busy and sometimes we have to compromise but I try to make quick meals or use the slow cooker on those days.

I have kids who beg to eat at my house.  It's funny because when I tell them what I'm making, sometimes they only like one dish but want to eat because it's "homecooked".  I find that sad!  I hear people say their kids are picky but when you get to know them and because I love food and cooking, I ask what's for dinner, their reply will be chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese or hot dogs and mac and cheese.  I could not eat like that all the time and certainly do not want to feed my kids like that.  Whatever happened to fruits and vegetables?

I've been sick for almost a week now so haven't felt like cooking.  My 16 yr old daughter has really shown in the kitchen!  Last night she made a simple stir fry using pork, eggplant, and mushrooms with an Asian garlic sauce, served over brown rice.  The night before, she found a baked potato soup recipe online and made that.  She likes it without chunks of potatoes so used the immersion blender to puree them before finishing the soup.  It was good fresh but got a bit gummy left over.  Sunday night, she just heated chicken nuggets and fries after she and my SO returned from picking up some groceries.  Saturday, she made a spicy tomato sauce with ground turkey and served over some spiral pasta (the name escapes me at the moment) with garlic toast and a salad.  Friday night, she roasted a pork tenderloin served with mashed potatoes, and peas.  I am so proud of her!  She's considering a career in the culinary arts and plans to take some classes next year that will count for college credits and give her a better idea of what she is getting into.  (That is, if we're still living here, since a move is possible this summer.)

We got out to fast food every now and then.  It's considered a treat.  (Sometimes I do get a crazy overwhelming craving for a Whopper Jr!) The same goes for the frozen chicken nuggets. lol  Now that my kids are older, their requested meal out is at a buffet restaurant that has American, Chinese, and Japanese (sushi) foods, as well as a Mongolian grill.  My 10 yr old loves the Mongolian grill because he likes to create his own dishes, too.

We don't always eat healthy but I do try to serve balanced meals majority of the time.  I am a big believer in everything in moderation.
 
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" perhaps it was published one way with Peg as her name and another as Marge. Just a shot in the dark "

Dark, indeed.

Our copies of two of her books indicate she thought her name was "Peg." /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif
As did her publisher.

Mike
 

phatch

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Most of my friends have some skills or dishes they do well. Most can follow a recipe successfully but are not good at improvising, tweaking flavors and have terrible knife skills. And lousy knives.
 
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Allie, Your daughter sounds like a real talent.  It's terrific to have someone in the household who can fill in when you are not well or tied up with other stuff life throws at you.  You've given her a great start in life by encouraging her and involving her in the preparation of food.  We've all gotta eat, and it should be a joy, not a chore.  (Except for those brain-dead exhausted nights - you just push through it, go into zombie mode and just cook).

I don't know what your educational system is like there as far as transferring college credits from one to another - it may well be worth investigating.

Your kids have well developed palletes - well done you and them too.  And there's no harm in getting take-out on occasion.   Sometimes I feel like a gally slave here and that is generally when I send SO off hunting and gathering.  I make breakfasts and lumches at 6-7am, snacks for anyone who finishes college etc early for the day, and dinner for 5, at varying times.  My son jokes and says, "Get into the kitchen, woman, and make me a sandwich". Grrr.   He gets the usual reply: "You know where the fridge is!"

DC
 
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I feel like this thread is finally getting to the real point (as far as my life goes, maybe not others'), which is mental energy.  I'm young, conscious about my health, and skilled in the kitchen. Nonetheless, I still find myself eating take-out fairly often -- maybe once a week at most.  It's not that I couldn't make a "better" meal, or that I think I'm saving time when I call up for a delivery.  It's that sometimes I've spent every last mental calorie that I have on work and relationships, and ordering some Pad Thai is all the difference between sanity and overload.  I know for certain I'm not the only one in that boat.

Cooking can be a release and it can be a burden.  It can be how you unwind or it can be done by an anonymous cook down the road while you put your feet up on the table and watch Sports Center while stress melts away. 

What I do recognize about my peer group is that, because I'm modestly skilled in the kitchen, I come off as a splendid freak.  I like the consequences of that outlook (me = superstar with a sauce pan) but I'm not sure I'm okay with the circumstance that gives birth to it. 
 
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Well, I think Koukovagia's original post was not about the burnout that home cooks have when they have to come up day after day with menus, do the shopping, the cooking and the cleanup and accommodate many people's different tastes.   Much as i love to cook i do get burned out. 

Phatch, yes! THEY HAVE LOUSY KNIVES!  I always give a knife to people who invite me to stay at their houses so that when it comes time to cook (which i usually offer to do, since it's my way to pay back their hospitality if they're busy or don't like to) at least i can cut food instead of my hand!

Hey, maybe that's why so many people can't cook.  They have lousy knives. 

I have seen, actually seen, on more than one occasion and in more than one home, a person cutting a piece of meat with a serrated cheap steak knife, while holding the meat slice folded in their hand (like you would slit open a letter)!
 
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Wow, Siduri, I thought I'd seen everything that could be done wrong in the kitchen. But that one takes the cake. Or should I say steak. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

But I'd have to say that most people have lousy knives because they don't cook, rather than the other way around. Among other things they don't know what a good knife is, or why it's so important. And, as for sharp, well! Most people's cooking knives can easily cut butter on any August afternoon.

I certainly agree with you that this isn't a thread about burn out. It's about people who don't cook to begin with.
 
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Was being ironic about the not cooking because of the knives, Koukovagia,  though in my case, if someone only has bad knives, i find it VERY hard to cook in their kitchen!
 
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I was at my sisters house for Thanksgiving and ran into the bad knife thing. She never really learned to cook until a few years ago and is still so-so. I was chopping veg for the stuffing and after trying to slice an onion I walked out of the kitchen. She asked where I was going and I said I was getting a real knife out of the car /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif I carry my BBQ set with me when visiting because I know how bad most people's knives are. She picked up my 10 inch chefs knife and was going to test it with a finger and I had to warn her that it was a bad idea. To make my point I dropped a stick of celery on it from 6 inches up and it fell in half. With her knives it bounced off!
 
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Being in the knife business, we get steady feedback on how amazed people are about how sharp a good knife is, and how they keep their edge.  I have heard many stories about how people go about cutting product with dull knives--similar to the steak knife story above. I hear all the time about how a good knife has really made prep easy and in a few instances customers have stated that they have started to enjoy cooking more once they discovered the right tools--not just sharp knives, but the right cookware, utensils and etc.  Even though most stats I have seen show we are eating out more, the last couple of years have brought an increased number of individuals to us that are getting more involved in cooking and grilling at home--probably due some to the economy, but I hope it is a trend that continues, not just for our business sake, but I really believe that cooking and entertaining at home builds strong family and community bonds and gives a great sense of accomplishment.  With that said, on a personal note--it sometimes gets difficult to find restaurants that produce good food.  We talk about knowing people that can cook, but I like to find restaurants that have actual cooks.  I deal with many restaurants that serve food that is basically purchased frozen and heated-up and served--basically taking a well made tv dinner and microwaving it.  I realize that there are some really good frozen products, and that for time and costs reason some items need to be purchased already prepared, but I have come across some restaurants that basically serve tv dinners and stay in business.  So maybe would should be asking if we know of any restaurants that still know how to cook.    D. Clay.
 
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the last couple of years have brought an increased number of individuals to us that are getting more involved in cooking and grilling at home--probably due some to the economy, but I hope it is a trend that continues,

I don't think there's any question that there is such a trend, and that it's not only continuing but growing.

There's certainly more than the economy involved, as the trend has been gathering steam for at least the past 20 years. People are cooking because it's fun, and because they can better control health issues, and because they recognize that good, fresh ingredients bring a special bonus to the table. And there are social issues as well driving the return to home-cooking, such as the push for family-meals. That's the plus side.

The minus side is that it's a numbers game. If you're in the industry, at any level, or if you hang out at sites like this, it's easy to develop a skewed viewpoint. But the fact is, no matter how many Americans discover---or rediscover---good food, and the joys of cooking, they remain, as a group, a drop in the population bucket. There are, after all, 200-million of us, and most are, and unfortunately will remain, in the convenience-trumps-all mode.

Even for those people, however, it's not just convenience. The American food distribution system is based on delivering vast quantities of food cheaply. Unfortunately, "cheap" and "quality" usually are not synonyms. Compare our canned products, for instance, with many of the high-quality canned goods available in Europe; particularly Spain and Italy. But you have to pay for quality, something most Americans are unused, and unwilling, to do.

Example: I have a friend who buys rib eye for a hair more than six bucks a pound. There is no way he'll ever admit that the unrolled beef he's buying is different than the prime I buy for more than twice that price. Far as he's concerned, meat is meat, and I'm overpaying.

I'm not suggesting that I'm right and he's wrong. What I'm saying is that he better represents the American consumer.
 
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...Example: I have a friend who buys rib eye for a hair more than six bucks a pound. There is no way he'll ever admit that the unrolled beef he's buying is different than the prime I buy for more than twice that price. Far as he's concerned, meat is meat, and I'm overpaying.

I'm not suggesting that I'm right and he's wrong. What I'm saying is that he better represents the American consumer.
Yes!  Sometimes I do feel guilty that I buy such  expensive food (prime meat, organic produce, artisan bread, etc.)  When buying food I usually reach for the most expensively priced item on the shelf.  I know other women though who live by coupons and only buy what's on sale. 

I asked my husband to buy milk last week.  He brought home a regular 1/2 gallon that was on sale for 1.85 and he was super proud.  I didn't touch it.  First of all, it was a manager's special which means it's experation date was almost past.  Second, it wasn't organic.  I can't remember the last time I drank that kind of milk and I don't even want to smell it.  I get myself the organic 1/2 gallon at 3.99 and you can't convince me that I'm wasting money.  I'd rather save money on clothes than food.

I also strongly believe in the principles of the documentary Food Inc.  One line from the movie stuck out at me: "Everytime you buy an item at the grocery store you're voting for that item."  Eventually I hope that if enough of us who care to buy organic and sustainable foods we will eventually drive the price down and that will certainly benefit the penny pinchers at some point.
 
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If they enjoy it, there's your chance to ask if they want to know how to make it. Then, when you go over to their place, no surprises!
 
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The thing that has always surprised me, is how many of my fellow restaurant cooks - don't cook. I understand the theory that if you cook for a living you may be tired and not feel like cooking for yourself, but I would counter that we have sophisticated palates and shouldn't be satisfied with prepared stuff.

I once worked for a sous chef that was tremendously talented at work, but didn't even own basic cookware of his own.  I suppose because I am a career changer, I started out as a good home cook before going to culinary school.  Many of these cooks went to culinary school right out of high school and never learned home cooking techniques, which can differ from the kitchen world.  

Sure, some of them do cook up a storm at home, I had just always had the mistaken impression that all professional cooks eat pretty darn well all the time, not that many survive on frozen dinners and take out.
 
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