I recently came across a post (I wish I could find it to share, but I cannot seem to locate it) regarding how our country eats poorly. What specifically caught my attention was not the article itself, but rather an answer to a follow-up comment, questioning why we don’t take time to prepare healthy meals for our families in this country. The person who replied was from a European country and offered up several observations, including how our heavy work habits and priorities play a significant role. But what really caught my attention – and what I’m focusing on in today’s post – was something I had not considered. Namely, that what we see on TV and in magazines and via online food blogs shows glamorous, time-intensive meals. They are made by chefs or people who are heavily into cooking. Rarely are simple, easy-to-prepare meals shown. It all looks beautiful and difficult. Who has time for that after an often long day at work? This commenter mentioned that we don’t seem to know the basics of cooking. We often require recipes and seemingly have not been taught simple techniques.
This part of her response has sat with me for the past few days. Typically, my posts here talk about some fabulous meal I’ve eaten or prepared. I don’t usually post about the average, everyday food our family normally eats. I have also thought about how we don’t often pass along basic cooking skills to our younger generations. When I was in middle school I took home-ec courses. We made basic things like pizza (from those canned rolls that pop when you open them…LOL) and apple crisp and a few other basics. They were not gourmet, but we used a stove and oven and measuring cups. My kids did not have home-ec in school. Fortunately for them, they did have a mom who loved to cook and so they did learn a few things. That is not the case in many households.
Perhaps it has been made to look too difficult. When did a simple meal become something shameful to offer our loved ones? On any given night, my husband and I eat very basically. It is simple yet healthy and from generally from scratch. Tonight we had broiled salmon, quinoa, peas (cooked from frozen), and a leafy green salad. I make my own salad dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt). From start to finish it took me as long as it took the quinoa to cook: approximately 20 minutes. I even had time to clean up the kitchen and set the table as I waited for the quinoa to finish.
It was all very basic. I did nothing to the salmon before or after putting it under the broiler. The natural fats kept it moist; I broiled it for 8 minutes. The quinoa and peas were also plain, though I did add some of my salad dressing to them on my plate. The salad consisted of leafy green lettuce, sliced bell peppers, radishes, avocado, and cucumbers. Sometimes I also add carrots or olives, maybe some cheese. That’s it. Very easy, very quick. It was tasty; however, I doubt anyone would classify it as gourmet.
I have over-simplified the comment from the aforementioned article I read. It went into much more detail about the differences between how we live vs. how her country lives, and how that is reflected in our eating habits. How part of the reason we don’t cook has to do with being tired after long work days. Part has to do with an unbalanced workload for women (in general) at home. Part has to do with how easy it is to pick up take-out food or pre-made meals from the grocery store, often made up of over-processed foods. There are many factors at play here.
In all of my pondering of this topic it got me to wondering what a typical dinner scene looks like for many of you? Do you tend to rely on ordering out, eating in restaurants, or perhaps buy pre-made grocery meals? Maybe you’ve subscribed to companies like Blue Apron? I am further curious about how (or if) you learned to cook. Was it in school? At home? By sheer trial and error…?