Home Cooking

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Seems like everywhere you look, there are cooking shows, new cookbooks and a variety of exotic kitchen tools (spiralizer, anyone?). Celebrity chefs are big-name attractions, as are reality shows that feature them. To judge by these, Americans are cooking up a storm and home cooking is a big deal. The reality is quite different.
According to this article, fewer than 60 percent of the meals eaten at home were actually cooked there last year. Had the survey been completed 30 years ago, the proportion would have been closer to 75 percent. In the mid-1960s, low-income families ate at home 95 percent of the time; middle-class income families did so 92 percent of the time. Today those percentages are 72 and 69, respectively. According to the research, the primary reason for the lack of home cooking and so few home cooks is that more women are working. Supposedly, we don’t have the time for cooking that we used to. I think that’s nonsense.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s. My mother – a surgeon – cooked dinner for the six of us just about every night, as did the other women on the block, most of whom had some sort of job outside the home. Even the stay-at-home wives had all sorts of outside activities like the garden club, church activities or PTA. Occasionally the men in the family would barbeque. Restaurant meals were few and far between, usually to celebrate a special occasion. At 69, I have two jobs plus the ranch work, but I’m still cooking breakfast and dinner six days out of seven (I take leftovers to work for lunch). I occasionally break down and get one of my daughter’s pizzas for dinner (she owns the local store and her hand-made pizzas are becoming famous in the community).

I don’t think time has that much to do with it – we all have 24 hours in a day. It’s how we choose to use those hours that makes the difference. Among the things I see chewing up those hours are:
Scheduled activities for the kids – sports, play dates, dance or gymnastic lessons. Supposedly, these “enrich” the children’s lives and build “connections” that will be useful when they go out into the business world. I could understand one or possibly two such activities, but many families have something going on almost every night and weekends.
Television – saturated with nonsense like reality shows starring the Kardashians, Duggars, Gosselins, Robertsons (Duck Dynasty) or house flippers and real estate agents. Occasionally I’m stuck somewhere such as a doctor’s office and can’t get away from the TV, which is the only reason I know about such things. The inanity of this stuff makes me nauseous.

Iphones – supposedly these keep us in contact. What I see is that they stop people from talking to each other. Walk through a restaurant and see how many of the people at each table are focused on the electronics in their hands instead of talking to each other. There’s evidence that the growth of social media is leading to all kinds of mental and emotional health issues in our children. People are walking into traffic (or into bears) because they’re focused on the small screen. Others are foolish enough to text while driving.
Frankly, I’d rather cook.

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