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Mark Bittman - The New Alice Waters?


weinoo
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I don't think teaching home economics in school is going to help. A number of people don't enjoy food preparation but do enjoy the pre-prepared foods they can get from takeaways, drive throughs, etc. If they can afford it and they like it, they will probably still buy it even if they know how to shop effectively and cook quick cheap meals.

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I was launched into the world knowing few if any cooking techniques except how to make a grilled cheese sandwich using aluminum foil and an iron. Now, as a parent, I am determined to give my kids some basic knowledge about cooking beyond what they get in their health science class--which, for some reason, focuses on how to make smoothies.

This summer, I ruined my children's vacation by forcing each of them to cook dinner once a week. They had to decide what to make, find out if we had the supplies, go shopping with me to get what we needed, and then suffer through listening to me give them "helpful hints" from across the kitchen. We ended up having everything from beef stir fry to chicken schnitzel to gnocchi with tomato and butter sauce. My kids now know how to chop onions, how to turn on the grill, and how to check if a piece of meat is done just by touching it.

Sure people are busy, and I remember well the days when my kids were little and Nugget Night (chicken, tater tots, and spinach puffs--for something green) was in my repertoire. But I agree with Bittman that eating out has become so easy that people forget that cooking simple, nutritious meals does not have to be that hard. And so many products at the grocery store are ready to be thrown together-- how hard is it to open a bag of salad or steam some frozen broccoli? My mega-mart has kebabs ready for the grill or broiler, veggies cut up in perfect dice ready for the saute pan.

As a good friend of mine reassured me when I was a recent graduate and moaning about my lack of culinary prowess, "Kim, if you can read, you can cook. Get a book." She was right. It did take time to learn, but now cooking is second nature to me, and I love to try complicated recipes. But on busy nights, if I have pasta, canned tomatoes, onions and tuna in my pantry, I've got dinner in 20-25 minutes, all for about $5 for a family of four. That's the type of knowledge and comfort in the kitchen that I hope to give to my kids so they won't be tempted to fall into the fast food routine.

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quote: ...A kid might not touch a carrot stick you cut, but if HE makes carrot and celery sticks with dip as part of the simple meal he prepares for you, he's much more likely to think it's yummy. Just a thought.

Absolutely. He probably gets home before you. There's no reason he can't be a part of the solution and start supper himself. It's not good for either of you for you to be his slave! He might gripe now (who am I kidding - of course he'll gripe now), but later on he'll thank you, about the time he realizes he can whip up a nice dinner to impress a girl on the first date. :raz:

I would add that he'd probably love vegetables that he chooses and grows himself. It's never too early (or too late) to get kids started gardening, even if it's just some herbs in a pot on the windowsill.

Another strategy with getting kids to eat veggies is to give them a choice; for example, ask, "carrots or green beans?" [NOT "home-cooked meal or Micky D's?"] Having a say in the matter makes a big difference!

Good luck.

K

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Somewhere on eGullet there's a thread about a 3rd choice: cook on the weekend (not all weekend) or on day/days off, freeze the food in single portions. Thaw as needed during during the week for dinner. Either for nights when there's no time to cook, the people who cook are too tired to cook, etc. Maybe pizza/takeout 1x/week or less. The thread also discussed how to utilize leftovers in other meals during the week, without expanding the cooking time. Iirc, many of the people posting worked & had children.

Bittman's post seemed ok to me, he pointed out something I've observed, which is that many people (not all but many) make time for what they want to do or what they see as relaxing or "not work." TV, surfing the net, posting on Facebook, gaming, whatever. It is, to some extent, as he says, that cooking is felt to be work. Particularly, I think for some women, who so often got told it was their job or "women's work." Not to mention having to deal w/children who were picky eaters :smile: I was one of them, at least according to my father, although compared to what I've read here & elsewhere, I was only moderately choosey.

Edited by azurite (log)
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Somewhere on eGullet there's a thread about a 3rd choice: cook on the weekend (not all weekend) or on day/days off, freeze the food in single portions. Thaw as needed during during the week for dinner. Either for nights when there's no time to cook, the people who cook are too tired to cook, etc. Maybe pizza/takeout 1x/week or less. The thread also discussed how to utilize leftovers in other meals during the week, without expanding the cooking time. Iirc, many of the people posting worked & had children.

I'd appreciate it if someone could post a link to that thread.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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For those of us who are not suffering financially or at least where we have the means to make choices about what and how we eat rather than worrying about whether we're going to be able to eat at all, there's nothing wrong with a little preaching. Also, consider that you may not be the target audience. A message that is intended to suit all generally reaches none.

There is nothing wrong with being reminded to: Stop. Take a step back from your life and if you're complaining about the price of a dozen, organic and free range eggs while holding your daily $5 latte, maybe it's time to re-think your priorities. I eat about 50% (or more) less meat than I did five years ago. There is a list of reasons why, but one of them is that I no longer want to support CAFO industrial farms. Organically and ethically raised meat is quite a bit more expensive so to be able to afford that (and rent), I eat less of it. Global change requires personal change and, in some cases, letting go of something you previously enjoyed or to which you felt entitled.

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