The Coast News Group
Small Talk

‘Simple’ can be really involved

We need a new cooking show — “The Really Truly Simple Cooking Show.” If I say a recipe is simple, unenthusiastic cooks everywhere will know I mean four steps or less. In other words, just this side of takeout. As much as I adore eating at their houses, people who love to cook just aren’t to be trusted on this issue.
I was amused by a recent column that shared the wisdom, “If you just don’t have time for breakfast, try making yourself a smoothie.” This woman must regularly prepare coddled eggs, bacon, toast, grits, gravy, hand-squeezed juice and waffles with fresh fruit. For me, switching to a smoothie is not really a solution to my morning time crunch. Having a live-in cook is a solution.
Whoever deemed a smoothie easy has sort of forgotten that you need to find a clean glass, hope for a ripe banana, dig berries out of the fridge that haven’t molded yet, make sure your husband hasn’t left just an 1/8 of a cup of milk in the carton, get down the protein powder and find the blender after the last margarita party.
Another health column suggested that one great idea would be to “add vegetables to your dinner.” This writer must have based her research on four college students in their first apartment. I can’t really think of anyone I know who doesn’t at least serve vegetables with every dinner. I can’t guarantee they get eaten by anyone but the dog, but the idea of including them isn’t really all that revolutionary.
This kind of “helpful” advice ranks right up there with those cheery women on TV and in magazines who want to show you how to “Make holiday decorating cheap and easy.” These women clearly don’t sleep. Their ideas usually means “Make your own wrapping paper from paper towel rolls and old tinsel” or “Create your own Christmas cards using scraps from your sewing drawer (sewing drawer?) and your child’s old science project.” I loved the wreath made from about a gazillion hand-cut snowflakes, or the suggestion that you just cut a dozen eucalyptus branches, spray them in your choice of acrylic paint, then glue-gun on in fetching holiday designs with festive beads, bells, hand-made bows and perhaps the family cat.
Beware the headline, “Quick and easy cookie recipes.” They invariably require that first you make a dough from scratch … sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, brown sugar, shortening, vanilla, diced fruit, several cups of well-chopped nuts and about six fresh, rare spices that need to be hand-grated, if you can find them in the first place. But if just mixing up a dough was all it needed, I might manage. Oh no. The three-page recipe then goes on to say things like, “Roll out the dough into quarter-inch sheets, wrap them in waxed paper and chill for 24 hours.” I have found that dough does not really want to be rolled. More importantly, when I’m ready for homemade cookies, I have no intention of waiting another day to eat them.
At my house, hours of intensive chopping, sifting, creaming, cutting, pasting, painting, carving or sewing would just be “pearls before swine.” If I spend eight hours making it, I require eight equal hours of praise in return.
Now that’s pretty simple, right?