I admit to being a little perplexed about the mere existence of the Food Network on cable. In an age where almost no one seems to actually cook dinner and sit down together as a family to eat, why a whole network about food? When did cooking become a spectator sport?
Perplexed, and then completely exasperated, about the way cooking has become a hobby. It's not a hobby, for pity's sake, it's a survival skill. The same way as sewing on a button, washing and ironing a shirt, taking care of your own house and car are survival skills - not that anyone much does any of those things anymore.
(Oh, a little sideline rant - have you seen the commercial for a cleaning firm called "The Maids", where the smug lady of the house says of cleaning her kitchen "Better them than me". Yeah, because you're, like, so important that scouring a cooktop is such a waste of your talents. I don't think so.)
Anyway. . .I was thinking about the dearth of home cooking while making dinner this evening. As I do almost every single evening. Unless we're having a roast chicken or pot roast or something where I had to start the main course earlier, I usually wander into the kitchen about 5 or 5:15 p.m., start making stuff, we eat around 6 p.m. and by 7 the kitchen is washed up and I turn off the light for the night (well, not tonight because there's brownies in the oven. That recipe from the newspaper was so terrible that we had to perform a do-over with a recipe that works.) I could probably get the meal on the table faster (my mom could make any weekday dinner in 30 minutes flat - everything from scratch - but she knew, trusted and used a pressure cooker, and they scare me silly) but I don't like to rush. Is that such a terrible investment of your time to get a fresh home-cooked scratch meal?
Take tonight for instance: mushroom stuffed chicken breasts, sauteed carrots and mashed potatoes. Add iced tea and it was pretty good. The only other thing my husband could have wanted (besides the brownies he requested for dessert) was a good piece of Italian bread and we were out of it.
It doesn't take a genius to make this kind of dinner, and I think it's pretty representative of the sort of weekday cooking that anyone could do. Get out the cutting board and peel a few potatoes, cut them in half and put them in a pan of water to boil. (Oh, and what about the commercial for the bagged peeled and diced potatoes you microwave and mash? I HATE that commercial. The idiocy of it. Implying peeling a few potatoes is such a Herculean effort.) Peel and slice 2 or 3 good size carrots. Throw the sliced carrots into a skillet with a dab of butter and some water. Cover and start them cooking.
I've written about the mushroom stuffed chicken before.
Keep an eye on the carrots and when they're almost done toss in some dill. When the potatoes are cooked, fish them out and put them through a ricer, add salt, pepper, butter and milk and make mashed potatoes. Use a pyrex bowl. When they're ready, put the pan back on the burner and perch the bowl on the top, covered with the saucepan lid. The potatoes will wait for a while, kept warm by the steam from the boiling pan of water.
Your chicken should be just about ready. You could also make a salad while the potatoes and chicken are cooking, if you have the notion and the ingredients.
Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?
This is by no means "gourmet" food. But it's all fresh, home-made and easy. No MSG, no preservatives, and pretty cheap, too. I would much rather have this than a Lean Cuisine or something from the drive-through. Am I weird?