I was on my way out the door and left another woman 73 years of age to finish a spaghetti sauce for supper at a friend's house.
All that needed doing was to brown a package of hamburger with some chopped celery, peppers and mushrooms (which I had chopped already), drain off the grease and pour in jarred spaghetti sauce and heat. Then to cook some angel hair pasta nests 3 minutes on a side and lift out of the water and plate it up.
Then when I set the jar of Kraft dried Parmesan cheese on the counter and said, shake some of this on the top she really gave me the look.
The lady had me repeat it THREE TIMES. I don't think she'd ever done this before and has 5 kids and 3 stepkids.
No wonder our country is in trouble. Do so few of us actually know how to cook? That was my cheater way of making spaghetti when I'm not trying to impress my family or guests.
So is cooking rocket science or not?
I'm not speaking of gourmet, just for the family.
I can't help but wonder if the poor thing might be suffering from some kind of senility problem since you had done most of the prep work for her and given such good instructions. It sounds like the friend of the friend you were helping needs help herself.
I see it getting worse.
No home ec in school anymore. Parents who eat out every night- how're you gonna teach the kids to coo when you can't cook yourself?
I attended the funeral of a dear older lady today. Some of us had brought our food to the chu rch kitchen. And nearly every dessert I saw brought in was picked up at the grocery store because it was "easier". These were retired ladies too!
LOL, Lurah! Yes, can't really get any simpler than brown the hamburger, pour off grease, add mushrooms and jarred spaghetti sauce (just for the record, I would add some more "packaged" McCormik spaghetti seasonings and a bit of red wine ~ but no reason to complicate things!), boil the pasta according to the package directions and top with dried Parmesan cheese from Kraft...
Maybe the woman had never made a spaghetti dinner before? But that would be surprising given her age and number of children!
But, I think you are right - people are in trouble when they can't make even the most basic of dishes. Think maybe all the emphasis on activities outside the home for children that EVERY parent needs "to provide" has left a vacuum in basic living skills lessons learned inside the home over the last couple of decades.
I've seen it myself with questions from two of my nieces. One knew how to cook pretty nice menus but she called me in tears one day shortly after her marriage to say that her husband had asked if she could just cook some everyday dishes since their budget couldn't afford tri-tip 3 times a week! I realized then that the only time she had cooked with my sister was to prepare holiday meals which, by definition, are a bit fancy.
The other niece (by another sister) was the complete opposite - she could make very basic meals having been a "latch-key" kid all her life but was completely lost when it came to making a nice dinner for her new husband's B-Day - I talked her through making my special Pork Roast over the telephone and she was over-joyed at her success when he complimented her over and over for such a wonderful meal.
Now, both of my nieces are quite accomplished individuals, college graduates and married to great men who do not expect their wives to "take care of the home, cook, clean or raise their children on their own" but both nieces WANTED to be able to cook something but they simply didn't know how to do it.
Maybe it's time for fewer soccer games for the younger generation (both male and female) and time for more time spent cooking at home? They have to learn somewhere but that doesn't explain the situation you had today, Lurah, as the woman was 73! Got me there for an answer.... This message has been edited. Last edited by: Idaho Resident,
I guess I am out of it, too! I just had to google "tri tip"....never heard of it!
Sorry, grapefruit, it's a cut of beef that is a bit on the expensive side...
Tri tip is a regional name for a cut of meat. I can't recall what it is called here.
I think most of the problem is most have raised 2 generations of princes and princesses. How many times have I read on the cleaning board and similar boards messages from women who basically are the family maid? I agree it is time we teach our children, both boys and girls how to take care of themselves.
I am not sure what Lurah means by "the look." I know this is not going to be a popular point of view and I was not present, but could the look have been "how stupid do you think I am" look? When you get to the point of instructions to sprinkle the parmesean cheese on the plated food, which I never do (some people don't like parmesean so put the cheese out for self serve) is getting a little to much detail.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charming,
Another thought is that perhaps she asked you THREE TIMES because she wanted to make sure to do it your way and not hers. For if I were doing something for someone, I would make sure that I would do it THEIR way and not mine! For they might not be happy that I might do it a bit different than they would . . . like adding onions or an herb or some parsley to the sauce.
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She's 73. She may be hard of hearing.
When someone helps me in my kitchen, I tell them to do it their way - except I hide the nutmeg from a nutmeg-freak SIL who thinks if a little is good, a lot must be better.
When I help in someone else's kitchen everyone I cook with pretty much tells me the same thing. They all know to hide the sage from me. IMHO you can't get to much sage in a dish.
The exception is helping my step-D in her kitchen or if she is cooking in mine. I ask her exactly how she wants the garlic (or whatever) - sliced, diced, minced, smashed.
Does this hat make my butt look big?
Maybe she is a person who would do better with a written recipe...I certainly would
Cooking is not rocket science for most, but it is for some; LOL. One friend absolutely can no cook but one thing at a time...or else EVERYthing burns!!!
Also, my cousin's grand kids have grown up on drive-thru hamburger-joint food... One time my cousin insisted on making them a real meal of beef/noodles and they didn't want it/didn't know what it was!!! In the end, they lovedddd it and now beg for it
When I was a young bride I had no money for eating out and learned to be a pretty good cook.
It's not rocket science, true, but it can be a gift.
I am a good solid cook. My older daughter was interested and adventurous in the kitchen, but my middle D can NOT cook at all. Part of it is attitude, she has a "don't tell me what to do" attitude and refuses to follow instructions from ANYONE. sooo her food tastes like carp. She won't follow the simplest direction.
My little girl is interested, but still young so she lacks discrimination. when she reads a recipe it MUST be right.. so she wanted to make a cheese cake with sweetened condensed milk and my sense of taste told me right away it would be far better made a little differently.
I've always encouraged my kids to help in the kitchen since age 2 or so, and my 7 year old boy is the official biscuit and muffin maker here abouts.
You do have to teach your kids. I DID have home ec, and all I learned was how to make an A line skirt and how to make really pretty fried eggs.. oh and Christmas cookies. a semester long course isn't going to teach kids about the day to day basics of ANYTHING..
Life is GOOD!!
Lurah, I don't know that I would have described what I wanted the woman to do is "finish" the sauce if all I had done was chop the onions. It sounds to me as though you wanted her to make the sauce according to your instructions when you weren't even going to be there. Do you think you were perhaps over-managing? I can certainly picture myself balking at this situation if I were the 73-year old.
I think it's just part of aging. We lose the ability to follow verbal sequence, which is a milestone in children's intellectual development.
Following written sequence stays with us much longer.
I'm dealing with this very aspect of aging in The Husband. He's 76 and has lost many of the verbal sequence skills. At least he's still fabulous on written sequence skills. I've just taken it upon myself to adjust how I communicate with him when there is more than one step, item, or task.
I don't think it's a matter of whether or not she can cook. From my viewpoint, it's more that she needed the information in written sequence, not verbal.
I missed "the look" and had to read this again. Kraft dried parmesan? No wonder she gave you "the look." My son called that "stink" cheese. Where was the fresh grated parmesan?
I AM teasing. Except son DID call it stink cheese.
You've GOT to buy a chunk of good parmesan and a shredder. The difference in fresh parmesan and Kraft dried is AMAZING!!
Does this hat make my butt look big?
I would have given you the same look, "assuming" I was staying for dinner.
First, I would have thought that you wanted me to pour the sauce over the entire batch of angel hair (look).
Since I use very little sauce on my pasta, I won't eat it if it's slathered in sauce. I dish out the pasta and keep the sauce separate so everyone gets the amount they prefer. Secondly, I hate Parmesan cheese (much less the dried stuff) and to shake it over someone's food is disgusting (another look). For the record from someone who hates to cook and is NOT senile, Romano cheese is used on red pasta sauce, Parmesan on white. But to each his own.
Maybe the look was more "you've got to be kidding me?" than senility or (like I would have been thinking) "what am I going to eat?"
Certainly not this.
Let me explain myself a bit further....I was in a friend's home, had begun to prepare supper for her because she is in poor health, was intending to be there through dinner hour and to eat with her.
I'd found enough of something to fix supper of some kind; had already chopped all the veggies - onions, celery, peppers and mushrooms. The gal in question came in unexpectedly to relieve me 2 hours early. I had no choice but to leave her with my food prep project.
My most specific instructions were for how to cook angel hair pasta nests because she asked me how as she'd never seen those. She also questioned how to make meat with veggies and when to add bottled sauce.
Whether she spooned sauce over pasta or stirred pasta into sauce is irrelavant to this discussion.
In my own home I do use fresh Parmesan and have the appropriate equipment, but I was trying to make do with what I could find available at my friend's.
When I got the Parmesan out and offered it's use, she gave me 'the look' of never having seen this product.
The gal is not compromised, she is still employed in a profession.
Lurah, Sorry that some other posters misunderstood your initial post; I figured out immediately that you were simply doing a good turn for a friend, making do with the ingredients you found on hand in her house and was surprised that another friend (who had arrived to relieve you) didn't appear to have any understanding of how to prepare a pretty basic spaghetti dinner.
As I understood your post, it wasn't about the dinner itself or the ingredients or the instructions so much as the topic of whether or not people have forgotten (or have never learned) how to cook in these days of "take-out and fast food restaurants!" Still think it is an excellent topic ~ thanks for posting it!
I don't see how any of us can get pleasure from criticizing an elderly woman who went to care for a friend who needed help. And how would you feel if the woman you are bashing is a lurker on these boards and recognizes herself. It is fine to make fun of ourselves, but I have to wonder why anyone would want to ridicule someone else.
I don't think that anyone was "bashing" anyone here on this thread as your recent post suggests except, perhaps, you with your pointed remarks directed at the OP.
A few individuals did suggest that there might have been either a hearing difficulty or the need to write down instructions instead of simply relaying information verbally BUT no one was making fun/criticizing or ridiculing anyone in this thread ~ seems like you look for ways to take offense in many varied threads, sms29s66, to the point that you have driven away some valued posters with your caustic posts...
Not sure what your problem is but this is simply a message board. Nothing more and nothing less. There is no need to attack either the OPs or the posters themselves; most of us simply want to share opinions, suggestions and ideas ~ no need to take offense with each that is posted to the extent that other posters choose not to post again rather than be subjected to your harsh comments about them and others.
The subject of this thread is about whether or not cooking has become a lost art ~ nothing more and nothing less...
Sorry, IR, but the very title of the post belittles the butt of the remarks. I agree that cooking these days can be a lost art, but the harsh remarks came from the OP. I merely pointed that out.
I agree and disagree with the previous posts. Some of us are good cooks and some of us just aren't interested. Doesn't make one smarter or better than the other. Ever since more women entered the workplace....way back in the 60's, the age old traditions of teaching the females in the family to cook, sew, clean etc. have waned. I see it in women my age and of course the younger generation.
As far as a 73 year old not knowing how to cook, or not YOUR way, could be explained in various ways. Maybe she never learned from her mother because of premature death, as was my case. I had to learn on my own, only because I was interested in doing so. Maybe she thought your way was not to her liking...therefore "the look". LOL!
In any case, in this fast-paced-both parents-working we-want-everything-now world, even boxed microwaved dinners are too slow. Restaurants, both good and not so good are always packed in my area.
I'm glad to see that Pinterest has a large portion of its followers posting new and exciting dishes along with age old favorites. My DIL has cooked several times for us with recipes she found there, and I will say that although she leaves my kitchen a mess, hehe, she is becoming quite the young chef.
It's a real treat to enjoy a home cooked meal by someone who obviously loves cooking. If the younger generation doesn't put down the cell phones, I-pads and video games, walk away from the TV and get in the kitchen, then we are all in for a fast food future.
Whether You Think You Can Or You Think You Can't..... You're Right - Henry Ford
There is something else that hasn't been mentioned yet. Many people that I know who never learned to cook properly just heat the jar of spaghetti sauce and pour it over the pasta, they don't add any meat/veggies to it. Also, "nests" aren't that common in most households. And I would have given you a look if you had told me to put that stinky stuff on my good pasta...I don't like it on spaghetti!
So there are all kinds of possibilities for her not understanding your instructions.
We also dip our own sauce as we each like different amounts....I like a little & DH likes a LOT!
"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
Actually, we always called grated parmesan cheese (the stuff in the green tube/can thing) stinky cheese when I was growing up. I never even knew parmesan cheese existed any other way until these past few years.
Excuse me, but what are angel hair nests? Though I am old I am not senile. I make angel hair pasta but have never heard of " nests". Do you buy them that way? Or do you make them that way? If you make them that way, why?
Hey, we grew up really poor so that was the only cheese we had to top my mother's homemade spaghetti with fried eggs (sometimes we didn't have meat).
Now when I spend $20.00 for a small wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano I think of those times.
Whether You Think You Can Or You Think You Can't..... You're Right - Henry Ford
Actually, when we were in Italy a couple of weeks ago, I saw a lot of dried pasta in bags in nests. I assumed that they were a one portion size -- much easier than us trying to figure out how much of a handful for one person! But that was just my assumption. It wasn't only angel hair but other long pastas -- linguini, etc. that were sold that way.
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Now that you mention it, when growing up, I used to love my grandmother's chicken soup made with "fideos" which is Spanish for a type of thin pasta, similar to vermicelli. It came in coiled nests.
When I first encountered the coiled blocks of Ramen noodles many years ago, I was reminded of the cello packages of fideo nests.
I would find that most inconvenient. My husbands portion size and mine are two different things. I would end up wasting a lot if I had to do a certain size ball (nest).
I could be wrong, but each nest is not necessarily considered one portion. Serving size is generally determined by the weight of the dried pasta, usually 2 oz. which yields 1 cup cooked.
Of course, that means you have to get a scale or just eyeball it. I usually eyeball it favor of larger portions!
I agree with Aychi, I'd rather serve too much rather than too little.
I've never heard of pasta nests, either.
It doesn't stick together, it is actually looser than Ramen noodles. When it cooks the pasta strands separate.
The angel hair pasta nests I had at my disposal were in a cellophane bag. They were all the same size. When cooked this brand DID in fact stay as a nest all coiled up in a circle. (I fixed them another mealtime when I was there to use up the rest of the sauce.)
However, the bag indicated that the nests were of a certain weight, there would be X number of servings in the container and that was not the case. There were fewer nests, larger than indicated by the label.
These worked nicely for one nest per person especially women and at lunch time.
For men or teens, 2 would be the more probable portion.
I think I will look for some to use at home, as they cook so quickly and served up nicely on the plate and were easier to eat for me - I like to cut my pasta rather than try to coil it with my fork and a spoon - just never could get that figured out I guess.
Just for fun, yesterday I was in a pasta shop on a day trip with friends. What a beautiful array of all types of pasta shapes, flavors, etc. Everything you can imagine and then more.
What works of art!
Consider self culinarily blessed being born in 49 and growing up in the 50-60's. Lost my mom when I was only about 8, but Dad's parents stepped right in an ran a lot of the show. Nana was NOT a "gourmet" chef, but a GREAT cook... only thing that comes to mind that I did NOT like was her LIVER!! Sister, BROTHER, and I definitelt knew our way around the kitchen before we were teenagers.
When I went away too college in late-60's, was blown away by the number of "girls" who were totally CLUELESS in the kitchen?? Thought everybody knew at least the ABCs, but apparently not.
Remember coming back from a weekend at home with 2 lbs of frozen short ribs (part of a half steer freezer filler), a big onion, a bell pepper, and big can of some kinda tomato-something. Knew they hadda cook a nice long slow time to be tender, but no "recipe". Knew that those 4 ingredients worked well together. Just chopped veggies and added to well browned ribs, topped with tomato stuff and into oven for a few hours. The aroma in house (15 other girls) had them salivating... not bragging (much), but they were D@#$ good & roomate and I ate well!
When I was student teaching (1970), lived with 5 other girls who were pretty kitchen-challenged. They thought I was a JULIA when I just put generous amount of S&P on chicken pieces, onto pan, and into oven till "done"! Was decided that if ya COOKED ya didn't have to clean!! Needless to say I volunteered to be apartment "chef" right away!
Grew up when only cooking shows were on public TV... Julia, Jeff, Graham, etc... often in B&W. BUT those shows actually TAUGHT you how to cook something. Today, many of the cooking shows are just some kinda SCRIPTED challenge or competition?
I read the Note from the editor of a recent edition Cooking Light magazine. He talked about his mother who recently "hung up her oven mitts" at 86 when she moved into an assisted living facility. It sounds like my mother and many women who grew up during the Depression and were young housewives during the 1950's with all the new products coming onto the market. Or as he called it "the Golden Era of Convenience Cooking." This is when Cheez Whiz was considered gourmet.
Won't comment on the original post as there are too many variables altho will say that IMO cooking is not rocket science but like everything else not everyone has the aptitude or desire to learn. I always told my kids that if you can read you can cook and they all learned without much input from me. Of course since it's a learning experience it was OK for them to 'muck' about in the kitchen as long as they cleaned up after themselves. Some interesting 'experiments' ensued but I'll now happily eat anything they cook.
About spaghetti servings, I have a spaghetti measuring device which has holes in it for various numbers of servings. Of course not everyone wants a generic size serving so it can vary.
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