Where’s the beef?

If I said I didn’t like cooking, that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. I enjoy cooking. I’m good at it. It’s fairly interesting. You get to start with a bunch of ingredients and end with an accomplishment. It can be cheaper. You know what’s going into your food. You sometimes garner praise for your creation.

What I don’t like about cooking is the amount of time it takes. Not just the time spent cooking, but the time spent planning, shopping, preparing, cleaning up. I admit I have an antagonistic relationship with time — a subject for a future post, I’m sure — but nevertheless, the biggest joy I get out of eating at restaurants is the fact that I can spend my time doing something else up until the moment I feel the need to eat, and then I can take a break, get served, and then proceed to go about occupying myself with the next task of the day. (Don’t judge me for how I choose to spend my time. It’s mine to spend.)

Cooking just does not capture my interest deeply enough to drive me to want to do it every day.

Now, I happen to have the luxury of choice in the matter. I’m no longer raising a child. I pretty much only have to worry about feeding myself, and sometimes one other person. That in itself may quite possibly be a demotivation to cook each day; when one is pleasing only oneself it’s a lot easier to set the standards much lower. A meal of popcorn, cereal or crackers and cheese? Sometimes. Rarely. I had “dinners” of that type more often when I was younger, but I have since learned what havoc it wreaks on the body. Now, I’ve accumulated so much more knowledge about nutrition, and internalized how truly bad for you so much commercial foods are, that I rarely make those kinds of choices anymore.

But I still love being served.

Restaurants are kind of the only places you can go to be served on demand. You give them a bit of money and they give you a delicious meal and a good chunk of your day back. It’s a deal I love to make.

But.

Nutrition always sticks its nosey little head into everything, most lately with the niggling idea that restaurant food, in order to be cost effective, is usually low-quality food prepared for the mass-market taste. And that’s just not healthy enough for me, anymore.

I just read an article about wood fillers (cellulose) being a common food additive. Sure it’s supposedly not bad for you, but really, wood pulp in my beef? In my ice cream? I sort of feel that’s perhaps the tipping point for me, where enough is enough.

I already love (love!) kitchen small electric gadgets, like my rice maker, my KitchenAid mixer with all its attachments, my food steamer, crock pot, griddle, even my electric skillet. I love those things that let me know exactly what’s going into my food while still giving me some of my time back. Throw some rice into the rice maker, go away for an hour, come back and the rice is perfectly cooked with no attention from me. A filet of salmon in the food steamer is perfectly tender and moist in ten minutes, all by itself. It’s almost like getting served, sort of.

I still need a better way to simplify the front end of the process. Peapod Delivers is a start: give them a bit of money and they spend the time at the store for you and drop it off on your front porch. I just can’t depend on their having high-quality foods, though, so I still generally do my own shopping at places like Outpost, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Sendiks.

The biggest time killer for me is still storage and preparation, and cleanup. The dishwasher used to help with cleanup, but now it’s not doing its job well anymore so I need to spend more time hand washing everything. And honestly, I’ve always hated that cleanup came at the end of the meal. You’re tired, satisfied and lethargic, but the job still isn’t done. It’s like that annoying encore sing-along that comes after curtain call at today’s musicals. You just want to go home already.

Still. To control what goes into my body, I have to spend more time actually controlling it. I can’t trust corporations to do that for me. I suppose that’s the trade-off for getting to live in this modern age.

Which, the older I get, doesn’t seem as desirable a thing anymore.

Which will probably be the topic of another blog post soon.

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One response to “Where’s the beef?

  1. Interesting perspective. As the kids grew older and went to college and I no longer had to have dinner ready for 5 p.m. for the kid with evening activities and at 7 p.m. for the kid coming home from afternoon activities – my cooking horizons expanded and I use it now as a zen sort of way to lose myself. Fun to see other perspectives and reasonings.

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