Monday, January 7, 2019

Is The Recipe Dead?

I own many cookbooks - too many actually.  Some women have boxes of shoes hidden in their closets. For me, it’s cookbooks and cooking magazines.  When we recently moved, boxes of them mysteriously disappeared, including some cherished 1970 Gourmet magazines given to me by my mother.  She thought it sacrilegious to throw them in the recycling bin.  And to alleviate her guilt, I gladly took them.  Sadly, they magically vanished when my husband took a stack of boxes from the garage to the dump before the move.  Hmmm, I guess that’s one way of downsizing cookbooks!

It’s a mystery why I own so many cookbooks.  I read all of them, but I don’t necessarily cook from each one.  I think I enjoy discovering the story behind the cook who spent hours creating and testing each of the recipes.  I drool over the pictures, and analyze the ingredients and the directions.  However, it’s rare for me to then dive into the kitchen, recipe in hand, and whip up a meal.  But you never know, I just might need one of those recipes one day!

Recently, I pulled from my collection a pink and checkered, 65-year-old cookbook written by “Better Homes and Gardens” (another of my mother’s relics).  I was surprised at how similar the home cooking topics were then, as they are now.  The manual (that’s what it felt like) told the home cook (a woman in a skirt, high heels and a frilly apron) how to set up her kitchen, how to meal plan, set the table and cook recipes for a wholesome diet.  But what was noticeably missing was talk about star nutrients, or super foods like kale.  There was no mention of specialized diets, GMOs or food waste. It seemed simpler.  Food has gotten so confusing now with all the trends, marketing ploys, guilt around food waste, and food shaming.

The other day I was listening to the podcast “Is the Recipe Dead?” by the Kitchen Show.  The hosts were talking about how people just don’t have time to cook these days or they don’t really know how to cook.  And this is probably the real reason they don’t need recipes.  People lack kitchen confidence and don’t want to risk precious time cooking meals that may not taste good. It’s easier to buy prepared food and take the chance it tastes better than their own home cooking.

Unfortunately, there’s some truth in this idea.  Of course, I don’t mean that people can’t cook great tasty meals, they can absolutely.  It’s just that food manufacturers are sadly making it too easy for us not to cook.  Food is big business and companies trick us into thinking that they can feed us better, with all the nutrition our bodies need, with satisfactory taste and at a reasonable cost.

But here’s the thing: it’s true as Michael Moss, a best selling author and New York Times reporter writes in his book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us.  He  describes how food manufacturers purposely design food with just the right amount of salt, sugar and fat to make it irresistible  and so, we eat too much.  The cost to our health from all the hidden sugar, salt and fat is tremendous.

I say we fight back and take control of the recipe and the kitchen.  Cook in protest and prove to big business that they’re wrong.  When we cook our own food, we eat better and we're healthier.  It's delicious and costs less.  The recipes don’t have to be fancy, just tasty.  They don’t have to be complicated, just easy.  Find a few simple recipes that always work and add them to your recipe box. Then find other recipes, perfect them, and increase your collection.  Build on your successes and you’ll find pride in your home cooking, plus your friends and family will love you.  Time will always be on your side when you take back your kitchen.

To get you started, here’s a very simple and easy Honey Curry Chicken recipe. Serve  with brown rice and some colourful veggies or the couscous recipe below. Save the recipe if you like it (which I’m sure you will), and add it to your collection.  Enjoy.

Honey Curry Chicken Recipe
Honey Curry Chicken

1 comment:

Jill Lambert said...

I will join your protest! I try to find readymade food that I can enjoy, but to be honest, most of it is not to my liking. So I end up making meals from scratch most nights.

I don't follow recipes when I am cooking, but I sure follow them closely when I am baking. I am a better cook than baker, so maybe it's a matter of confidence. Love the pic of the cookbook illustration - that's exactly what I look like when I am making dinner.