This was a confusing article to me. It’s about cooking at home and how it’s not always the joyous lovely experience it’s cracked up to be, because moms have to deal with stuff like, gasp, sometimes kids not eating what they make, or fruit flies, or a lack of time and, shocking horror of horrors, they often end up coaxing small kids to eat by playing games with them. I mean, it’s not exactly that what they say isn’t sometimes true, but it reads like it was written by aliens who come from a planet where children are reared by robots and fed by tube, and they just don’t know what to make of earthlings.
Do they realize that you also sometimes end up having to coax small kids to eat by playing games even when you don’t cook? It happens at restaurants, too.
This is written as though it’s a revelation:
“Feeding others involves taking multiple preferences into consideration, and balancing time and money constraints.”
So let’s move this conversation out of the kitchen, and brainstorm more creative solutions for sharing the work of feeding families. How about a revival of monthly town suppers, or healthy food trucks? Or perhaps we should rethink how we do meals in schools and workplaces, making lunch an opportunity for savoring and sharing food. Could schools offer to-go meals that families could easily heat up on busy weeknights? Without creative solutions like these, suggesting that we return to the kitchen en masse will do little more than increase the burden so many women already bear.
Our area towns all have monthly dinners of one kind or another- fish fries, pancake dinners, breakfasts, most of them are fund-raisers, but they are reasonably priced. I don’t go because I don’t enjoy the clamour and crowds. Churches have regular potlucks- I think even people who love them acknowledge that generally, the cooking is more stressful and leaves the kitchen in a mess longer. School lunches for the rest of us? Gag. And honestly, to me it’s always been more trouble to get the kids together and clean and dressed and take us all out somewhere to eat than to stay home, barefoot, in our comfortable clothes and eat what we’ve put together from our own kitchen. Again, this paragraph makes it look like the authors are visiting from an alien planet, or they’ve been trapped in a university in New York for decades, which amounts to the same thing.
Yes, yes, stop investing so much of one’s personal self-worth in cooking everything perfectly and organically. Lose the guilt. Do what you can with what you have and don’t stress about the rest. That’s easy to say, motherhood comes with guilt. Stop taking the complaints personally.
I say this, but I don’t do this. When my kids took a 20 hour train trip to New York recently I stayed up until past midnight preparing food for them to eat, turnovers with meat and cheese, boiled eggs because Boy was worried he’d starve and he loves his protein, carrot and celery sticks, yogurt I flavored myself, home-made trail mix, and home-made candy featuring ground almonds, creamed coconut, and various dried fruits (it was fantastic, frankly). I not only did not get a thank-you for my hours of costly labor (do you know how much almonds cost? You do, but my son clearly does not, although he prefers almonds to peanuts), but my son informed me when they got home that there hadn’t been enough to eat and what there was disgusting and gross and there was no way to peel eggs on a train (I am almost quoting verbatim). So, rationally, I cried myself to sleep, even though half of that gripe was pure teenaged rudeness and the other half total stupidity. People have been peeling eggs on trains for as long as there have been trains, and when I handed them the ziplock bag of boiled eggs I told them to peel the eggs into the ziplock bag. But I digress.
The point is- some kids gripe. Most mothers take it personally. Eating out won’t change that- they will gripe about where they eat and what they are eating because they are rude and short-sighted and because sometimes whatever is served isn’t appealing, and moms take it personally because we do. You can blame patriarchy, I suppose, but I don’t see it myself. Mainly, I think parents of kids who gripe, including us, just didn’t do a good enough job teaching them manners, and not cooking at home is not going to change the fact that they don’t mind their manners with their parents. That is a parenting issue, not a cooking issue.
For their other concerns- by all means, simplify. I made egg fritattas in muffin tins the other day using my food processor with the S blades, my favorite kitchen tool, frankly. That means I made two dozen muffin sized fritattas and the only dishes I dirtied are the food processor bowl and blade, a small measuring cup, and the muffin trays.
Somebody else did the dishes. Somebody else should always do the dishes, or at least help with them.
Buy things already cut up if you need to. I realize chicken on the bone does taste better, but I hate messing with it, so I buy boneless, skinless chicken.
If we are going to have meatballs, I make a hundred or more at a time while watching a movie on my laptop, but when the kids were little I simplified further by just never making meatballs at all. I made meatloaf and put it in muffin tins or I made stir fries or gravy with ground beef.
The article talks about how many people are hampered because they can’t afford a cutting board or a knife- a good knife, I grant, is pricey, and however worth it if you don’t have that money you don’t have it. So buy things you don’t have to cut. Save up for the knife and cut things on a paper bag, a plate, a plastic placemat, or a cutting board you found at the thrift store or yard sale.
Use a crockpot. They are a life-saver.
Do what works for you- I like variety and I like to try different things, so we eat a lot of different things when I am cooking. But it’s no crime if you have the same few basic, healthy meals all the time.
What do you think?
(ah, here’s an explanation I can understand- Amanda Marcotte, like the majority of her leftist tribe, hates things that are hard).