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Gifted Gourmet

A no-bake bake off? Unbelievable!

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The article from the Christian Science Monitor

The true outrage is that only five of the recipes use chocolate. This from the contest that gave us the Tunnel of Fudge, that legendary Bundt cake that, when cut, magically oozed molten chocolate.

"What's all the fuss?" you ask as you bite into your toaster-warmed Pop-Tart. That the Olympics of cooking contests - with its $1 million grand prize - no longer champions home bakers is an acute symptom of a deeper malaise: Across the land, rolling pins are being relinquished and sifters shelved. At this rate, we'll soon be saying "as American as store-bought apple pie."

This is, indeed, an outrage as the writer contends!

That the Olympics of cooking contests - with its $1 million grand prize - no longer champions home bakers is an acute symptom of a deeper malaise: Across the land, rolling pins are being relinquished and sifters shelved. At this rate, we'll soon be saying "as American as store-bought apple pie."

Thanks to the processed food industry's century-long campaign to convince us that we do not have the time to bake, many home cooks have become pastry-averse and batter-baffled.

Pastry-averse? Batter-baffled? Is there no one with the intestinal fortitude required to make the master baker proud anymore?

I think that, while this may apply to the population in general, eGulleteers would beg to differ ... :rolleyes: but then are we really such a representative sample of the population??


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I think I was more shocked to read that flour hasn't been an official ingredient since 1996. Which is not to say you can't USE flour, but why would you need to if you're using pizza crust or biscuit dough from a can?

These days if you really want to impress a dinner party, just bake a pie. You'll be treated like a time traveler who has brought a lost art form to the 21st century.

Ain't that the truth? When did knowing how to bake a pie become such a novelty? It ain't rocket science. :huh: Even my homemade chocolate chip cookies are greeted like manna from heaven (well, they are good, but they're JUST chocolate chip cookies).

One of the only commercials I'll watch (most of my TV watching is done through Tivo) involves a host of Kraft items and instructions for an "easy quick" dinner, involving, usually, at least one bottle of ranch-flavored dressing, pre-grated cheese, and a package of brownie mix. :blink: As if throwing these things together honestly make a meal.


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I think I was more shocked to read that flour hasn't been an official ingredient since 1996.

Yeah, the list of qualifying ingredients is basically arranged so that you have to use some kind of processed convenience ingredient. Quantity is also specified, so no cheating by using a tiny token portion. Making a dessert from scratch is essentially not allowed. The problem (from Pillsbury's POV) I'd guess is that a recipe that only needed Pillsbury flour could be made with any flour. They want to promote recipes that can only be made with their products.

Even my homemade chocolate chip cookies are greeted like manna from heaven (well, they are good, but they're JUST chocolate chip cookies).

JUST chocolate chip cookies? Good chocolate chip cookies ARE manna from heaven!


"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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It is sad. I have an almost complete collection of the Pillsbury bake-off booklets (just missing #1 and I will inherit a beat up issue #1 from my Mom one day). I stopped collecting current issues when they totally switched to insisting you use their premade items as a component. They had a couple issues that were based on their convience products along time ago, but they were seperate from their bake-offs. Many of those recipes are obsolete because they no longer sell the same convience product.

Now the bake-offs don't even interest me. The last one I made was the chocolate pear brownie cake the guy won the first 1,000,000. prize from .......I thought it was strickly o.k.. I don't know of any friends or neighbors that use the bake-off recipes in conjuction with the convience items. My non baking friends aren't looking to expand their recipe file and why bother if one day you won't be able to buy the convience product.

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They should call it the Sandra Lee cook-off contest, because you are just basically manipulating a list of predefined convenience products.

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one bottle of ranch-flavored dressing, pre-grated cheese, and a package of brownie mix.

All in the same recipe? Mmmmmm... how tasty and convenient - salad, entree and dessert all in one easy dish made from pre-assembled modules? That's what I call convenient!

Seriously though..... we had a neighbor when I was a kid who would look at store bought cake mixes and say "Why would someone buy one of those?". My mom. although she made cookies from scratch, viewed ready made cake mixes as a huge convenience factor but was disgusted by store bought frosting (and still is for very good reasons).

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one bottle of ranch-flavored dressing, pre-grated cheese, and a package of brownie mix.

All in the same recipe? Mmmmmm... how tasty and convenient - salad, entree and dessert all in one easy dish made from pre-assembled modules? That's what I call convenient!

Well, no, not all the same recipe, but usually the ranch dressing gets busy with the grated cheese.

What really galls me about these ads (they change every few months) is that the announcer very boldly states that you have a "quick, homemade meal!" Well, technically, if you make it at home, it's homemade, but still...

We had my brother-and-sister-in-law staying with us at Christmas. When they arrived, she and I went to the market for things they needed (baby drank over 2 gallons of milk during the week! :shock:), and when she picked up a pouch of pre-grated cheddar, I told her that we had a big block of it in the fridge. Her response was, "This is just easier." It was also easier to get pre-sliced cheese for my BIL's sandwiches, even though, again, we had a block of the same cheese in the fridge. Whatever. It's your money.:unsure:

I just still can't get over the no-bake bake off. When did we as a nation stop baking? It can't all be because we don't have time, can it? Is it that plus the huge marketing push of companies like Pillsbury with their pre-made, packaged goods? :huh:


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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When did we as a nation stop baking? It can't all be because we don't have time, can it? Is it that plus the huge marketing push of companies like Pillsbury with their pre-made, packaged goods? :huh:

I'd guess the 1950s was the beginning of the end for the home baker. Convenience foods existed before then, but the expansion of the suburbs and the economy after the war changed the market dramatically, and there was TV to push the message.

I've got this book here that I've been trying to read (getting to it in little portions), Made From Scratch, by Jean Zimmerman, which is about this very problem, and attempts to document, in part, the changes in how the value of "women's work," particularly home cooking, has changed over the years.

Simplistically rendered, in The Old Days, a larger portion of the population lived in rural areas, and lived more self-sufficently, on farms. Work was gender-segregated, but everyone's work was valued because it was essential to the survival of the family unit. But this changed; the 20th century brought huge demographic shifts, and growing urbanization. AFter the war, the cities flowed out to the suburbs, leaving men working in the cities and the women at home. But the economic relation was different--economic survival for many was now entirely dependent on the man's salary (note that I write this on the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act ending legalized sex discrimination in the workplace).

So the idea of spending time in the kitchen became rapidly devalued even when people still had time to do it--it was drudgery to be avoided, and became symbolic of the economic imbalance of society. Convenience foods offered a solution of sorts--you could still maintain the illusion of being the perfect homemaker, without the actual work.

Personally, I think it is time for a counter-revolution (or maybe countertop-revolution) to get people to reduce their dependence on convenience foods.


"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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This trend (for many of us like eGulleteers who don't buy many convenience foods) would explain why I don't bother clipping coupons like so many people I know - apart from cleaning products and toiletries I almost never see coupons for the basic foods that I buy. There are things such as dry breakfast cereal that would be good coupon candidates but I always seem to find generics that are just as good and way cheaper.

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"Convenience foods offered a solution of sorts--you could still maintain the illusion of being the perfect homemaker, without the actual work."

Reminds me of the scene out of the movie Always where Holly Hunter's anticipating the momentary arrival of the new beau she's invited over for a homecooked meal. Rushing around the kitchen, pre-heating the oven while emptying the KFC take-out into serving dishes... then fluffing a good dose of flour onto her apron-adorned self as she hides the plastic containers.

That aside, I'm surprised that no one's mentioned the role that women's lib has played in the movement away from scratch cooking. High school girlfriends of mine knew their way around a kitchen long before I could even find the doorknob, yet when they went off to college their mother instructed them to "never let a boy know that you can cook". :hmmm:

Di


Edited by DiH (log)

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Edited to say: Oops, sorry for the dup!


Edited by DiH (log)

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