The myth of "easy" food

Endless Simmer has a spectacular rant posted about the new show "Table for 12" and its endorsement by Ragu "sauce".

I take real issue with this brainwashing of America's busy parents. First, parents have been tricked into believing that there is no time for anything anymore, now that a child (or children) have arrived. Which is simply not true in most cases. Think about the homemade tomato sauce you can make in the time it takes you to watch "Table for 12"! Second, you can't convince me - unless you want to go shopping with me and prove me wrong - that buying cans of Ragu is cheaper. Not to mention the health and environmental ramifications of buying a cheap-arse jarred sauce with high fructose corn syrup as the third ingredient. On that note, don't even get me started on the environmental ramifications of producing 10 children. Let's not go there.

As most of my readers know, I'm starting culinary school at ICE soon (3 weeks from today!). And one of the most common things I hear from people when they find out I'm a culinary student is whether I plan on working in a restaurant. I do not. I know that I don't have the temperament and I know that I cannot work 10+ hours a day. So I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with it when I'm done...

...but here's something I'm noodling over: private cooking classes (not original, I know). But here's the thing: very often I have friends ask me how I do what I do. Meaning the blogging, the book reviewing, parenthood, marriage, full-time job, cooking school...and still manage to put together fantastic meals every night. None of that is an exaggeration - I really do all those things...and more. Even when I have to miss dinner with Adam and Bug, what they eat is a meal I have planned for them that's simple - and even easy - and delicious.

What bothers me is how many people - mostly "mom friends" - think that what I do is so rare and special. What I want to do is get out my high school pompoms and say, "You can do this too! Let me show you!" I would love to get into people's kitchens, go through their pantries and refrigerators, and throw out the garbage (meaning any food where you can't recognize the ingredients because they consist mostly of chemicals). Go shopping together. And come up with menus and recipes. I want to prove to other people that they can do what I do. It's not rare. It's not special. And I'm constantly surprised as to why it is treated as such.

Ultimately, I want to empower others. Help them break free of the marketing machine telling them they have no time to do anything other than open a jar (which ES points out, takes more time than anything. Those jars are impossible to open.). Parents have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the ploy and it's time we all snapped out of it. We didn't turn off our brains as soon as we had children, did we? Well, the marketing machines are treating us like we have. Enough.

Eat, drink, and slowly step down from the soapbox.


ML said...


My boyfriend's mom refuses to cook beyond cereal because she is "too busy" or something...if I suggest anything else, there is an endless list of excuses. Drives me mad.

Good luck at the ICE! Beautiful school. I visited last summer. Planning on attending after I pay off some of my undergrad loans.

Laura G said...

hey Laura L ~
Love your idea! Many moons ago I wrote a biz plan to be a professional organizer... similar in concept but my focus was clothes closets rather than pantries and cooking. You'd be like a Food "Life Coach"!
~ lg

Patricia said...

Go, Laura, Go!!!!

If we consider the adage, "you are what you eat," the snapshot is a little scary. Accountability for our health, well-being, and life balance begins in our kitchens!


Anali said...

Huzzah! And, while you're at it, you can tell them that buying disposable tableware is also not an acceptable way of saving time, contrary to many commercials advertising otherwise. Seriously - washing dishes takes 10 minutes.

Nancy Nisselbaum said...

One of my favorites New year's resolutions that Marshall and I came up with this year is that he cooks one meal a week. He has his own cookbooks and searches through them for things he'd like to try. We've had great quesadillas and chicken fingers homemade. And he makes the BEST chocolate chip coffee cake on the planet! Get Isabell and Adam cooking too

Unknown said...

Nancy, you're absolutely right.

Adam does cook, which is always interesting because 1) I hover...I'm a control freak in "my" kitchen, and 2)he has a totally different approach. I am a recipe fiend - I feel lost without one. Adam gets stressed when reading one and prefers to wing it.

As far as Isabell goes, she loves to cook...but also loses interest in it quickly.

I'm currently reading Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father's Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton. Very interesting stuff about raising "foodie" kids. And lots of kid-friendly recipes...at least at first glance, as I haven't made any yet. And among others, Iz has Rachael Ray's kids' cookbook. People can say what they want about her, but her approach is *perfect* for kids!

Laura G - You nailed it. A foodie "life coach" is exactly what it would be. You can't do a complete overhaul of your kitchen and your life without a bit of "life coaching" going on, right?

Patricia - Your first comment! Thanks for stopping by and speaking up! 8-)

ML - ..."'too busy' or something..." Thanks for the laugh!

Liz B said...

loved your post, and guilty as charged -- I fall into the "easier to buy it than make it" category. i am cooking for one & there are always so. many. leftovers that I get totally sick of what I made, even freezing it. or its so much prep for one person. so I'm sure there is a smarter way to do it. i just don't know the smarter way.