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Does anybody cook real food anymore? - Page 2

post #31 of 86
This touches on something that's been on my mind lately. I recently watched an episode of Kitchen nightmares and Ramsey was reaming the guy about his Italian wedding soup. said it was a muddle of vegtables with gray meatballs, etc. and had a fit because it was two days old. This is the same guy that I had never heard of until he was hawking.... Cambell's Italian Wedding soup! I think I had too much to drink- I'm seeing double standard. On another show he reamed a guy for having frozen broccoli. Everybody's on the buy fresh, buy local bandwagon lately, but guess what, broccoli doesn't grow in Minnesota in the middle of winter and neither do tomatoes, so our ancestor's used to (sit down for this) can and freeze the stuff from their gardens. Horrors! They ate canned and frozen food, the Cretins. People call me all the time and ask if my fish is fresh, and when I say no, it's frozen, they get their noses all out of joint. What do they think, I catch swordfish in the Mississippi? Even if I could, I can't sell it to the public in the restaurant. Can't I fly it in? Sure. Let me get the corporate helicopter and fly all over the country. You want to pay $100 a plate for it? No? Then get real. So do I buy frozen MN peas from Birdseye or fresh peas from CA? Which is politically correct in the culinary world? I'm getting a little tired of the whole thing. you can't have it both ways, fresh and local except in the summer. And then you pay through the nose for it and I would like to know why. You're supposed to be saving on transportation, so why does the local stuff (that if I don't buy goes to the local cannery) cost more?
post #32 of 86
Grey, I think it is the danger of a little knowledge, you know, just enough to get in trouble. People are watching the food network, celebrity chefs are in, and your average Joe is becoming a bit more culinary arts conscious, but that does not mean everyone understands the full picture. I've got a coworker who's wife does all the cooking for him, but he will go on about "the importance of layering the flavors when cooking" :rolleyes:

Reminds me, I was once eating at Applebee's with my husband and we overheard the lady at the table next to us going on and on about the celebrity chefs on the network. Her 11.99$ steak dinner arrives, she inspects it, calls over the waitress, and, I kid you not, gives her a full review of the meal, Iron Chef judge style.

"I would have wanted the steak a bit more seared on the outside, but more red on the inside... I'm not really getting the garlic in the garlic asperagus...etc"

Gees, lady, it's a 11.99$ steak dinner at Applebees! For crying out loud!
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
post #33 of 86
Neeps, it may only be an $11.99 steak at Applebee's but Tyler Florence developed it, or at least thats what they want you to think. You know he is a chef on the Food Network......
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
post #34 of 86
It's so ironic you mention this 'shroom. Big box of Raisin Bran and a gallon of skim were regulars on the grocery list. Hehehe

When I didn't even want to put together something as simple as a bowl of cereal......Every now and then Taco He!! would be the stop of choice. That is if and when I didn't make it into "other areas" of the City for a taste challenge with the Chef of the place I visited. Gawd those were the days!!!!!
post #35 of 86
I couldn't take a single thing out of the quote grey. What a dose of common sense!!!!!! We developed these things to feed ourselves and now it's become the work of the "Devil". I commented once and things were refereed back to a book.... " Omnivores Dilemma". Yes it certainly is. bit then again anything to make a million!!!!!

I'm all for "fresh", "seasonal" "home-made" or "minimally processed" but????????

Where do you draw the Line!?!?!????
post #36 of 86
Neeps, it's a funny thing. I always tell folks that I may not know much about allot of things but I know enough to get me into a world of trouble with just about everything.....Hehehe:lol:

P.S. Sorry for the triple reply folks. Just couldn't get the hand/eye co-ordination to manage a compiled reply. Between you, me and the walls..... The Saki made me do it.:rolleyes:
post #37 of 86
I think there are dangerously high levels of smug in this thread :lol:

First, the world can't afford everyone to be eating 'real' food. You need those chemicals etc to keep enough food on hand for the millions and billions of people out there.

But I will happily admit I don't make everything from scratch nor does my wife, though we try when we have time and feel its important.

Today I decided to make an on the fly meal for my wife, I had no plan, I'm not a chef, and I had about 15 mins to shop while she was in the car with the kids.

We did happen to be at Whole Foods so thats a bit cliche :)

Anyways for a starter (because she was starving).

1 french baguette - (I didn't make it)
1 premade spinach artichoke dip spread
1 small wedge of bree (I didn't make it either)


1 Zucchini sauteed (ok fresh here)
1 balsamic vinegar creme (premade and most likely chemicaled)


1 - Premade stuffed pork rolled up thingy
1 - cranberry honey mustard, premade, contained some chemicals.


1 mango, caramelized
1 container of no fat vanilla yogurt (premade of course).

I kept portions small to keep in our diets and it was a very successful meal. One that would have been impossible without a few premade things like the honey mustard, the artichoke dip, or the preprepped pork.

Now I had time for it, and a budget to afford it. Now imagine a mother of four who works full time, has a small budget, is not a trained chef, never worked in a kitchen, and needs to get food on the plate.

For thanksgiving dinner we had the usual greenbean and mushroom soup cassarol, and it was very good.

The day before I had natchos, out of a can, the BIG can from Sams Club, I'm not sure what it contained but it was pretty good :rolleyes:

I do think we have gotten too wasteful with microwave this and frozen that, and often it is more expensive on top of making it fresh, but there are limits.
post #38 of 86
No smugness was intended from my perspective.

Since I'm a bachelor, I have the time and inclination to make my meals the way they were made when I was a child. I understand that things might be different if I had a family as processed foods can be wonderfully convenient ... but since it's just me, I see no reason why I shouldn't make food the way I'd like.

My father grew up poor. His family was so impoverished that they couldn't even afford an ice box in the days before refrigerators were invented. Part of his daily chores were to buy fresh produce and fish. From the age of ten to the time he went to college, he made the family dinner as both of my grandparents had to work long hours.

My mother came from a Chinese restaurant family where everything (including the noodles and bao) were made from scratch. If you want to talk fresh, you should visit Chinese restaurants in Oakland, California. Animal rights activitists periodically get upset with the Chinese because many of them raise or buy live crustaceans, fish, and poultry. :lips:

My father became a doctor specializing in tropical medicine. Since his research took him overseas, I grew up in Ghana, Thailand, and El Salvador.

Unlike other Americans, I didn't grow up with canned Chef Boyardee, Kraft mac and cheese, PBJs or Campbell's soups. I didn't even have access to a McDonalds or a KFC. Given where we lived and given the backgrounds of my parents, we didn't use processed foods. Not only was the concept of processed food alien to the way my parents grew up, but name brand products like Chef Boyardee and Campbells simply weren't available in many third world countries back in the 60's.

I grew up thinking that fresh meat came from a butcher, fish came from a fish monger, and produce came from a farmers' market.

This is not to say that I never ate processed foods as a child. In Thailand, we once tried some local ice cream but since Thailand didn't have a dairy industry, the taste and texture of im kati sohts is quite different from anything you'd find in the states. In Thaliand, the fat in "ice cream" comes from coconut flesh soaked in water.

Lacking access to products like Coca-cola, we occassionally drank Tropi-Cola in El Salvador or Green Spot in Thailand. Since my father was a doctor, he didn't approve of his children drinking soda, so the only time we ever had a carbonated beverages was when we went out for lunch or dinner.

At home we had bottled water and since we lived in tropical countries, we always had plenty of fresh made juice ... pineapple ... guava ... mango etc.

The sole processed food item that my father insisted his children use was instant milk. Since dairy cattle were largely unknown in the countries we lived in, my father made us drink this noxious product. To this day, I can't see a glass of milk without shuddering! Whenever we went stateside on vacation, my sister and I would beg our parents to buy chocolate powdered mixes to lug back overseas. Adding chocolate powder to the instant milk made the milk somewhat more bearable ... but we never brought back more than one container and that one container never lasted for very long.
post #39 of 86
First I was being a bit melodramatic in my smug line, really only the OP seems to have a major issue, everyone else seems to understand there are reasons for not making everything from scratch.

Secondly, I grew up in Americas Dairy land, and for a brief period of time my mother used powdered milk for some god awful reason. I don't think it was a money issue, I'm sure she read in some 70's publication that it was better for you in some way, but I still remember it and I was maybe 5 years old. It was that awful.

I should be thankful, normally you don't remember much of anything from your early childhood, but that awful instant milk jarred a few breakfasts into permanent storage.
post #40 of 86
D.C.,We didn't mean to pick on you. I took the thread off subject somewhat and I believe we were targeting the smugness of the industry in general, not you specifically. For instance, there are some who will look down their noses if you call for canned tomatoes in a chili recipe because they believe if you don't start from fresh, it's somehow lacking. However, I will take a quart jar of my mother's home canned tomatoes from her garden over any "organic vine ripened, stem on" tomatoes I can buy. Reminds me of an episode of Top Chef where the contestants picked an inferior salmon because it was fresh over a better grade that was frozen. Everybody who ate it complained. They showed a clip of the contestants saying, "Well, it was obvious to pick that one, it was fresh, the better one was frozen, and this was fresh." They were truly baffled. Think of it as a fresh dog turd as compared to a frozen whatever. Sure, it's fresh, but it's still a dog turd. I think sometimes we get caught up in the hype and just don't think. That's all. No offense intended, and we weren't picking on you. I'm always a little on the defensive anyway because although I have access to fresh cranberries, I like the jellied ones out of the can, and I believe, as do most people in the midwest, that cream of mushroom soup is the kitchen equivalent of duct tape. If something doesn't taste as good as it should, add bacon and cheese. God made cheese, chopped nuts and bread crumbs to cover up mistakes. I don't apologize for my beliefs anymore. Bet you think twice before you take me serious again. :lol: BTW, good to hear from you Old, how are You?
post #41 of 86
I only cook from scratch (making my own bread, ketchup, etc.). Of course, not everything I eat is something I've made. I had a major life change recently and no longer have the time or space to cook as I prefer to eat. I'm trying to set up so that I can, but it's a slow process given the time and space. I have been thinking about starting a thread about strategies for dealing with little time and little space for cooking from scratch. Motivation has been the big thing, but I really feel like some stollen. Perhaps the desire for stollen will get me cooking again.
post #42 of 86
>Reminds me of an episode of Top Chef where the contestants picked an inferior salmon because it was fresh over a better grade that was frozen.<

Another reason why I dislike most of those cooking-contest shows. The contestents often haven't a clue.

The fact is, unless you live within about 50 miles of the pier, FAS fish is almost always better quality than fresh. But the contestents, evidently, had no idea what the food-distribution system is all about.

"Fresh" is like "natural." Very baggy words: you can put anything into them that you want. Reminds me of the New Agers and their view of herbs: they're natural, so they're good for you. Uh, huh! Let me tell you, it don't come any more natural than heroin.

Unfortunately, "fresh" has come to mean "unprocessed." But, as Mark Twain (or was it Ben Frankly) so aptly put it, after three days, fish and relatives stink.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #43 of 86
I think fresh food is overrated to some extent. Although I like eating fresh food, as you have already noted, the original thread was about cooking from scratch. I enjoy cooking from scratch but do not cook everything fresh. For example, come winter, how could I make marinara sauce without the tomatoes I canned last summer?

In terms of the food service industry, where would all of our casual dining restaurant chains be without processed foods? In this day and age, given labor costs and the convenience of processed foods, chains like Bob Evans use frozen packaged soups, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and chili. They also use packaged pancake and crepe mix. Their profit is generated through high volume sales, not through the production of fresh food or food "made from scratch."

Can you imagine what the labor costs would be if everything was made from scratch? As others have already noted in this thread, prices would also skyrocket during the off season if restaurants had to purchase imported fresh produce.

I find it ironic that some of the people who advocate going green and using fresh food are inadvertently contributing to global warming.

For example, in 2005, the National Resource Defense Council estimated that California's demand for imported fruit, vegetables, and nuts released 70,000 tons of CO2. This is the equivalent to the exhaust fumes from over 12,000 cars.

It would be far better for the environment if we ate food that was seasonal.
post #44 of 86
always interesting to read about seasonal, locally produced food and the differences in prices/energy outlay and general unseen costs involved both in consuming and producing.

Interesting brunch today.....just me, just got in from 3 days at my dad's.....
menu was a smattering:
premade dolmas from a party last week
locally grown arugula, sunflower sprouts,gold rush apples
canned cannolini and cryovaced beets (beets are in season, but I was out :p and pulled out the backups)
balsamic, evo, mustard, honey dressing.

One of the conferences I attended this past year at Wash U was on university's going green. Peggy Barlett of Emory in Atlanta spoke about their process of switching to regionally produced food. One of the academics questioned the difference in fuel usage of a semi from CA vs numerous small truckloads from local farmers coming to the city from 100-150 miles. Apparently CA load is more energy efficient.....surprising. Will not change my buying habits nor desire to support small family farms.

It's an interesting time to be alive and cooking.....many of us have considered this a seminal time....change from: loss of basic cooking skills, "get big or get out" farming advice, loss of knowing where food comes from....etc.

The pendulum has swung so far that it's coming back, but like polyester pant suits they'll return altered with age....
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #45 of 86
i eat purdue supermarket chicken, MSG laden chinese food (extra MSG please), TOP Ramen, TV Dinners, McDonalds, Wendys and for the love of GOD I couldn't live without a white castle slider or 10.

I use boxed stock.

Canned beans

Frozen veggies

CANNED veggies

I don't churn my own butter...

why? Well, it's good enough for me.

Do I occassionally make stock? yep, made 8 quarts of duck stock friday. Do I try to buy fresh? yep. DO I like McDonalds? Yep.....especially McRibbers. cat will surely only be fed the best cuts of salmon....she turns her nose up at canned tuna.....and would die if i fed food.

(disclaimer, I don't own a cat and was being funny)
post #46 of 86
My cat likes Taco Bell burritos and Wendy's Frosty.

(I do own a cat and I'm being serious)
post #47 of 86
Transcript of Bill Moyers' Interview with Michael Pollan
Bill Moyers Journal . Transcripts | PBS

The Michael Pollan article, Farmer in Chief, that prompted the interview:
Michael Pollan Article

post #48 of 86
I looked and couldn't find a single item unless you count mustard and ketchup. And pasta. And bread from the bakery. Does cheese count?

post #49 of 86
Ketchup, Mustard and pasta are all processed and contain preservatives so they have an extended shelf life. Bread and Cheese I will give you unless you are using "American" or an off brand Cheddar that is done the quick cheap way.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
post #50 of 86
Looking at the ingredient list of the mustard, ketchup, and pasta, I see nothing that appears tp be a preservative with the possible exception of citric acid in the ketchup.

I know the bread contains only minimal ingredients and no preservatives of any kind. The cheese - this time - is locally produced goat cheese. I don't use cheese like Tilamook or Kraft.

post #51 of 86
"Processed" doesn't necessarily mean "with preservatives." It means something has been converted from one form to another.

Thus, cheese is a processed food, it's been converted, through fermentation, from milk to cheese. Ketchip is processed, converting whole tomatoes into a paste.

The decision point, for each of us, is how far back along the chain are you willing to go. Bread from the bakery is processed. But, if you bake your own, so, too, is the flour you use. Do you grow the wheat and mill your own flour? Any beef, short of an entire cow, has been processed by a butcher who converted it from steer to sirloin. Do you not buy steaks because they are processed?

This is the choice we all make, consciously or not, when we cook anything.

What was it Carl Sagan said: If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, first create the universe.

There is a continuum, stretching from "create the universe" to "buy everything already made." We all place ourselves somewhere on that continuum.

Personally, I have made my own condiments. Fattened and butchered my own hogs. Ground my own flour. Not because doing so is better or worse than store-bought. And not because I do these things on a regular basis. But I want to know that if I had to do them, I could.

The fact is, and as much as I dislike her style, the way I cook---the way any of us cook---and the way Sandra Lee cooks is a difference of degree, not a difference in kind. So who is to say what food is "real" and what food is not?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #52 of 86
Hah-hah ... who will say what's real and what's not? I WILL!

Do you think this is a grilled t-bone steak? It's not. Believe it or not, this is a soap product. I know because I made it. Unlike most home soap crafters who melt and pour soap in molds, I make old fashioned oil and lye soap and craft my soaps by hand to look like food.

Here's another one ... a BBQ hoagie bun ... that's 100% non-edible, fully usable soap. :lol:

I like giving these out as gifts to friends. Parents especially like it when I give them cinnamon rolls, slices of pie, muffins, and cookies because kids seem to enjoy bathing with these soaps.
post #53 of 86
What a perfect way to explain it! I love the apple pie quote. I guess I have always thought of "cooking from scratch" meaning using the basic ingredients that people used 60-70 years ago but I see now that there is more to it than that.
post #54 of 86
the continum varies all the time, it's not when you have small children you cook differently than you do when you have teenagers, or when you are living alone vs living with numerous people......

Each season is different.

So what kind of pig did you raise KY?
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #55 of 86
>So what kind of pig did you raise KY? <

A big, white one. :D
I have no idea what the breed was. Didn't much care, frankly.

Note that I very carefully did not say "raised." I said "fattened." It makes more sense, from both an economic and time point of view, for me to buy a pig at the livestock auction and finish it off then to raise one from the get-go. But it's incredible how much feed those porkers can go through in a couple of weeks.

But the country hams and bacon I made from it were the best I've ever eaten.

>the continum varies all the time, it's not stagnant<

I'm sure you meant to say one's place on the continuum. And, of course, you're correct in that regard. But regardless of where a person puts themself at any particular time, I would say very few of us are near the create-the-universe end of the line. We all use processed foods of one type or another; be it milled flour or a (shudder) Crockpot Classic.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #56 of 86
As is usually the case KY, you're right smack dab on the button. Relatives of mine in a rural Iowa community, raised hogs solely to produce babies. At a certain point, they rounded up all the baby hogs and sold them to the "fattener". They said they could not economically compete by raising the hog and fatten it too.

Just recently after doing this for several generations, they were forced out of the pig business completely because the big big farms lowered prices to the point where they were losing money.

An interesting sidelight, that surprised me in a weird sort of way, is that the mother hogs would cry and scream for exactly 2-3 days after the babies were taken, and then abruptly stopped and went on with life as before.

This would happen each time they birthed. When they got too old, they were all sent to the pizza sausage place.

Some other cousins in another Iowa rural community raised milk cows. When those cows got too old to economically produce sufficient milk to justify their existence, they too went to the pizza sausage factory.

I also loved the apple/universe Sagan saying! Good 'ol Carl. I wonder when he consumed mota if that was considered processed or not?

post #57 of 86
I try to cook healthy, tasty meals for my family. Sometimes, I will admit, I go the Sandra Lee route and use cream of mushroom soups, cake mixes, etc. I do grow a garden in summer and freeze or can vegetables to use during the winter. Due to limited space and cooler weather this year, I was unable to put away enough to last until next year's garden but those are sure good eats in January. I buy frozen vegetables and sometimes canned. I cook in a lot of ways like I saw my mother and grandmother do it when I was growing up. They used storebought items for casseroles, desserts, etc. Now that I've discovered a love of creating new dishes and a desire to learn more, more, more, I find myself doing more of what I would call "cooking from scratch".
post #58 of 86
I cook dinner at home 5-6 days a week on a normal week but even I have to go the Sandra Lee route. My fiancee and I both work 50 hrs a week and that doesnt leave a lot of time for what most would call scratch cooking but I do cook healthy and make stocks and soups, casserole type dishes on the weekends. I think it all comes down to personal preference but I do believe that the consumers should be aware of what they are actually buying and unfortunately they arent.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
post #59 of 86
For more than 20 years I've bought only organic meats and eggs. I'm more laid-back about fruit and veggies - but buy as many seasonal, local veg as I can. This is not feasible during the winter months inScotland, unless you want to live on root veg, a few brassicas and apples! BUT, I try to cook most meals, from scratch - but things like passata are obviously bought in, not a lot of Italian tomatoes avaiilable during our winter months.;)

I do not buy 'ready meals', or eat at fast food restaurants or buy coffee from chains like Starbucks.

Doesn't mean I don't buy some ingredients which are processed, including some bread (some I make) - cheeses, condiments etc.

I think that if people READ labels and SEE exactly what they are eating, they will be more picky!
post #60 of 86
pizza, the catch all of old critters......

Chefs are not noted to be humble people, but "creator of the universe" is a huge pair of clogs to try and fill.....:D:crazy:;)

KY, have you done taste tests with different varieties of pig? There are large variences between the breeds in fat content, flavor profiles etc.
Super article in last week's River Front Times on a buddy of mine's hog farm.....
Hog Heaven by Kristen Hinman. Cute pix, really well researched and written.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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