Scott Hardie | July 18, 2005
It's a shame there are so many people out there like me, who love to eat but have no idea how to cook. I swear I am not making this up: Last week, I actually became aware that my grilled-cheese sandwiches were done when the smoke set off the building's fire alarm. I'm the kind of kitchen novice for whom adding spices may as well be calculus, and for whom the rice comes out less cooked than the sushi. My idea of a casserole is to stir together elbow macaroni and Chunky soup in a pot and eat it; who needs an oven?

But! I can take solace in the fact that I'm not alone. (link) There's a whole generation of Americans out there whose personal chef is Betty Crocker. Even their Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima do some of their cooking for them. (Am I the only one who wants to see the Hamburger Helper glove fight the Arby's oven mitt?) Instead of broadening our horizons, we're broadening our waistlines with this preprocessed junk. I'd like the food to be healthier, but I'm not about to stop buying it; cooking my own dinner from scratch after a long day at the office ranks right up there with sewing my own clothes on the things I'm going to do, like, next week list.

What's it like for you? Do you more often cook your own dinner, or love the stuff Pizza Hut is made of?

(On this subject: I loved, loved, loved the Ham & Potatoes With Cheese meal from Betty Crocker. It was in the pre-made meals section next to all the Hamburger Helper varieties. Well, the other meals from the set are still on the shelf, but good old Ham & Potatoes is gone, and I'm getting ready to pull an Annie Wilkes on their chief executive until they un-discontinue the product. That stuff was like crack for me, especially after McDonald's got rid of... Oh... I can't go on. No, just... just leave me.)

Amy Austin | July 18, 2005
HAHAHAHAHA... I'm with you, Scott -- my name ain't "Betty", and I hate to cook (but I've been known to do it with at least a fair amount of skill on about a seasonal basis... ;-D).

Mike Eberhart | July 18, 2005
Oh, come on... You at least have to know how to grill something on the BBQ? However, I do know how to cook a little bit. Most of the time it's kind of fun. Grilling, though, is what I like to do the best. I love seasoning the steaks, pork steaks, burgers, or whatever I''m getting ready to cook, then throwing them on the grill. The smell is great. Then I like to add a little splash of beer to the the steaks and that just sets them off. That's just my own little hobby.

My only problem is I only have a gas grill right now, and I want a Weber Kettle so I can cook on charcoal too. Thanks to Aaron for getting me hooked on that. I still like gas grills for the speed of it.

Michael Paul Cote | July 18, 2005
I agree with Mike, grilling is da bomb. However, I am no stranger to the kitchen and believe it or not my wife and I often battle over who will cook. (Since she has become a stay at home mom during the day, she usually wins, cept on weekends.) I like my fast food and pizza as well, but I really enjoy starting from scratch and creating something "culinary".
Scott - I have a feeling that talent is less the problem than time is in your case, and probably many other peoples as well. We live in a fast food society which says if we are hungry, we can get a meal anytime anywhere in the time it takes to go through the nearest drive thru. And now with pseudo fast food places such as Chili's, Outback and Applebee's offering "curbside to go" the meal selection is even greater. Add to that cell phones, and you can literally call from your car and pick up a full meal.
Cooking for me is a time spent doing something I enjoy. It can be as simple as making an omelet or cooking pancakes for my kids or making a nice "romantic" meal for my wife and I. I take as much pleasure out of the creation process as I do the enjoyment of the meal. There is no real trick to cooking other than taking the time to do it the way you like. Don't rush, experiment with seasonings and enjoy the process.
BTW - my wife is also an excellent cook so I don't really mind when I lose the battle over who will cook.

Jackie Mason | July 18, 2005
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E. M. | July 19, 2005
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Mike Eberhart | July 19, 2005
I wouldn't really call it cheating... I want to have both gas and charcoal. Don't get me wrong, I love my gas grill. It does a great job cooking steaks. But I think that charcoal grills do a better job cooking brats.

Dave Stoppenhagen | July 19, 2005
What is really needed and I want very badly is a charcole grill but you can start it with propane.

Erik Bates | July 20, 2005
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E. M. | July 20, 2005
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Erik Bates | July 20, 2005
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Jackie Mason | July 20, 2005
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Scott Hardie | July 21, 2005
Is it a coincidence that this discussion started on the same day that the inventor of the TV dinner died? (link) I'm about to have some Lean Cuisine tonight myself. Yay tasteless miscellaneous vegetable portions.

I was alarmed by this quote in the story:

Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, said the TV Dinner "started a change in American eating habits bigger than any change in culinary history since the discovery of fire and cooked foods."
Next week: Thompson buys an iPod mini, declares it the most influencial musical invention since a caveman first tapped a stick against a rock.

Scott Hardie | July 21, 2005
Mike: I can put meat on a grill, but it doesn't look much like meat by the time I take it off. :-) The only time I have meat on the grill any more is when I visit Matt in Milwaukee, because daily meat consumption is mandated by city ordinance there. I'm just not much of a meat person... Speaking of which, what's that mac n cheese recipe, Jackie?

Michael: Maybe my problem is that I just don't enjoy the cooking process. When I think of cooking in the kitchen, I think of grease splattering on my forearms, sauce spilling all over the stove, and, well, the ever-present threat of the smoke detector. I hit the drive-thru or curbside so often not just because it's more convenient, but mainly because those places cook so much better than I do. And I'm (literally) tossing money out the window in the process, but for now I can afford it. The day I start a family is probably the same day I start seriously learning how to cook.

Jackie Mason | July 22, 2005
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Megan Baxter | July 26, 2005
I very purposefully set out to never learn how to cook, and so far I've been quite successful.

However, in the fall I'm going back to school to do my Master's, and my husband will be going back to work to support us while I do that, so I've decided that my fall project (other than not failing any of my courses and being a half-way decent T.A.) is to learn how to cook a couple of simple dishes so that my husband doesn't come home from work every night and immediately need to head for the kitched to make us supper.

Wish me luck!

Scott Hardie | July 29, 2005
Good luck! I look forward to finding out how it goes.

Jackie, that's two more kinds of cheese than I use. I'll give it a try. :-)

Erik Bates | January 2, 2007
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Scott Hardie | January 2, 2007
Haha, cool! I wish I had put up my family's spaghetti casserole recipe before I lost it everywhere but my unreliable memory.

David Mitzman | January 4, 2007
Here's a great recipe for pork:

Find living pig. Take pig and slaughter. Cook raw pig meat. Consume.

If you happen to be Jewish, replace pig with cow.

Joe Ball | February 25, 2007
great chili recipe Erik!

Erik Bates | February 25, 2007
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