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comment by Quatrarius

2 things:

1. a lot of people are really embarrassing. that's not their fault, and you still shouldn't give them a hard time about it, but man. crying over roast beef because you're stressed about cooking it is really lame.

2. there but for the grace of god go I. I grew up fringe upperclass had a stay-at-home-mom who could cook and (through becoming a vegetarian, along with everything else) had the time/money/desire to make a waaaay broader variety of things than a anglocanadian midwestern household would have on the average. i loved to get in the kitchen as a kid. i loved to bake things and cook things. i loved, and still love, food and eating.

i've also been "mentally unwell" in one way or another my entire adult life, and there's nothing that sucks the love out of you than coming home after however many hours of work and having to do yesterday's dishes because you didn't do them last night, because you had to do yesterday's dishes before making dinner, because ...

preparing and cooking food is one of those invisible labors that, because everybody has to do it, gets its difficulty discounted. it's timeconsuming to plan, prepare, cook, and clean up after meals. generously it takes me an hour to do all that, if I'm doing anything more complicated than "combine premade fridge staples in pot" or "combine pantry things in pot" or the classic "grain and cheese in oven". sometimes i don't have an hour to spare. sometimes i don't have an hour in me. i've been roast beef tears girl before. sometimes the little things are what tip you over the edge.

i held this one in the drafts because i wrote it before cooking dinner. i made a classic recipe of mine that i made hundred times during the pandemic, and i have it down to a military grade aluminum schedule so i decided to use it as a case study

ingred. 1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 can black olives, 1 pound rigatoni, 3 cans tuna, and relevant accoutrements.

start boiling salted water for pasta. fry up olives then tuna in some olive oil until mildly sizzled. add very generous # fish sauce, oregano, garlic powder, pepper, and red pepper flakes or equivalent ground red pepper. mix in tomato. let simmer and then cool to low. cook pasta and combine it and 1/3rd to 1/2 c pasta water when done to sauce. eat.

it took me about 30 minutes to do all that and to clean most of the dishes. there's still the final pasta pot in the sink that sits even now at midnight. the rest is done. it's the power of an all pantry-meal.

a cute name would be pasta Qttanesca. I've substituted too many things to make it italian friendly, but what do they know anyway





kleinbl00  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It ties back to the bake-off discussion though - when your food culture makes everything an instagrammed triumph by professionals, it intimidates Joe and Jane College from whipping out a box of goddamn Tuna Helper.

I grew up mostly feral which meant if it needed to be cooked I cooked it. The seminal event was likely my mother's "mac and cheese" - she got home earlier than usual, asked what we should have for dinner, I haltingly said "mac and cheese?" at the age of 7 because that's what dad made when she was out until 9pm teaching hippies anatomy, except there wasn't a blue box so my mother attempted to cobble something together out of egg noodles, monterey jack, evaporated milk and brie. "It's...good?" I tried, when forced to eat some, but she saw through my subterfuge, howled like an angry bear and flung the pot across the kitchen where it dented the washing machine. "THIS HOUSE WILL NEVER EAT MACARONI AND CHEESE AGAIN," my mother screamed, launching into a drunken tirade that lasted well into dawn the next day. And from that day forth the mac'n'cheese was sneaked into the house when my mother wasn't looking, and hidden behind the weevil-filled cake mix boxes for use only when we knew beyond a reasonable doubt she wouldn't be home before clean-up.

So I grew up knowing (1) restaurants were expensive (2) adults fucking freeballed recipes all the time (3) it's all just ingredients (4) some things take longer than others but my observation is that the '90s were an era where the fashionable thing was to exempt your children from the fundamental basics of living. My wife has a friend whose vacation was cut short back in 2017 because her senior-in-high-school son decided to opt out and stay home, then decided to have some chili, then rather than fucking googling "how do you use a can opener" pulled out an 8" chef's knife and stabbed a fucking can of Hormel until he'd cut through a couple tendons. Eighteen fucking years old. And again, it comes down to picking your battles: if none of your friends are teaching their kids how to cook, why would you? If Food Network isn't about 30 minute meals but Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, why would you learn to prep anything? One of the CryptoFux put up his Uber Eats totals for the year; dipshit had thrown $40k at getting fucking food delivered. that is some learned helplessness.

Wallerstein argued that there were five kinds of work: Subsistence, piecework, work-in-kind, wages and influence. Cooking for yourself or your family should be a mix of work-in-kind and influence - you're home, so you make dinner, and making great dinner means you are the recognized champion of dinner. That's the other problem - food prep has moved out of the realm of "things we all do together" or "things our family does" into "things our family watches someone else do while we eat food that someone else prepared that was brought to us by someone else." We've re-framed it from "these are my family's recipes which we inflict on others for clout" to "this is that thing that you do when you're poor." Re-read that Guardian article again - it's a lament for lost heritage.

Food has been a social thing going back to the advent of fire. But for the past 20 years it's been an opportunity for shareholder capitalism to extract value. And the end result is people crying over roast beef.

b_b  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

One of the sadder food developments in recent years is that Kroger barely carries ingredients. I don’t go there very often, but every time I do I’m shocked at the amount of prepackaged garbage on the shelves. Like a warehouse sized store that ostensibly seeks food might dedicate about a quarter of its floor space to “ingredients”. It’s maddening. Hence mounjaro and ozempic.

dublinben  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Kroger barely carries ingredients.

Trader Joes is a grocery store for people who don't know how to cook. Now that's a store that barely carries ingredients. They'll sell you five kinds of frozen Asian entrees, but not a bag of brown rice.

kleinbl00  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Trader Joe's isn't a supermarket. That doesn't mean it's not a grocery store. It's worth comparing mission statements:

KROGER: "To be a leader in the distribution and merchandising of food, pharmacy, health, and personal care items, seasonal merchandise, and related products and services."

SAFEWAY: "We earn the loyalty of the people we serve by first anticipating, then fulfilling their needs with our superior-quality products, a unique shopping experience, customer-focused service and continuous innovation, while generating long-term profitable growth for our shareholders."

TRADER JOE'S: "The mission of Trader Joe's is to give our customers the best food and beverage values that they can find anywhere and to provide them with the information required for informed buying decisions."

Kroger is all about we'll dominate by selling you all the things. Safeway is We'll hook you with not sucking which will allow us to stay in business. Trader Joe's is There's nothing cheaper, check out my powerpoint.

Trader Joe's doesn't have a "supermarket" business model. They have a "low-margin high-profit" business model. They get their grocery products OEM'd by the big guys, under their own brand, at a low price... just like Walmart. If you aren't ADM or General Mills or whatever and they like your product they'll let you have your brand... for about six months. After that they'll buy you and rebrand you. There was a local outfit by me in North Hollywood called "the chocolate traveler." Their whole thing? Mediocre chocolate in a tin. Trader Joe's carried "the chocolate traveler" for six months and then it became Trader Joe's chocolate wedges.

Yeah, they carry a few staples but they are, in the lingo, "cart finishers." They're things that will do at prices that aren't offensive so that you will buy all your groceries at Trader Joe's. If they don't have it, you'll do without. Compare and contrast with Kroger: "we have fucking everything." Of course they're being squeezed by distributors, their labor keeps going up and their uber-shitty employee and public relations during the pandemic have made it so that it's an island of hatred full of Lay's bags so they're leaning heavily into anything that will make them a profit, too. What's funny to me is they've been doing a lot of lease buyouts lately; I think they're positioning themselves for private equity to swoop in, carve it up and parachute their executives to Antigua, leaving a smoking hole for most of America.

I wouldn't say TJ's is a store for people who don't know how to cook - but I would say that if you tell me it's your only grocery store? Then I know you don't know how to cook. There are anomalous products at TJ's that are dumbly cheap: wild rice is 20% what it costs anywhere else. They have gluten-free pasta made by I have-no-idea-who that cooks up better than Tinkyada. Their grated parmesan is a third the cost of anyone else's and their gluten-free bread is made by the same outfit as Kroger's in the same wrapper with a different name on it for 40% off.

If TJ's can get a deal on it, they'll buy it and sell it to you for enough to profit. And if it's something that you gotta have or else you'll wander over to Food Prison, they'll stock it damn near at cost. But no. They aren't going to stock much in the way of whole wheat flour.

uhsguy  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You can cook with just TJs ingredients you just kind of get shitty prices for meats and odd quality vegetables. You aren’t easily going to be able to replicate an ethnic recipe you found on the internet but you could probably cook some bland American recipe from pioneer woman of something. You and I are just spoiled because we cook sophisticated recipes with hard to find ingredients that most people probably don’t care for. Honestly short of a better spice and deli meat selection I can’t really think of something I commonly cook with can’t get at tjs or at least substitute with something acceptable. I don’t shop there because I’m lazy and don’t want to make 2 trips but in a pinch I could make it work.

Also Nobody actually needs whole wheat flour unless you are baking whole wheat bread. I make waffles with it and bread starter but if it were to suddenly go missing I could deal. 5lb of whole wheat lasts longer than 50lb of white flour.

kleinbl00  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Kroger

You mean Food Prison?

Kroger didn't have yeast for eight months.

    Like a warehouse sized store that ostensibly seeks food might dedicate about a quarter of its floor space to “ingredients”. It’s maddening. Hence mounjaro and ozempic.

That has a lot more to do with RJR Nabisco tweaking food the way they tweaked cigarettes. Walmart has tracked it, by the way - people on Ozempic buy less groceries.

I've been on bootleg Ozempic for two months? Three months now? It's basically antabuse for food. Like, I can barely handle cheese, sweets fuck me up, and I kind of live off of bread. Fuckin' hell you eat less when everything makes you hurl.

uhsguy  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Weird on the yeast. Pandemic related? There was like year when everyone decided to bake bread and flour suddenly sold out . It was still available in 25-50lb bags but that was too much for most people.

kleinbl00  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My theory is that Kroger disincentivizes long-term managers with experience and skill in favor of young, inexperienced employees that will work for cheap. Result? Epic mismanagement.

uhsguy  ·  189 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think your are right that the grocery store manager has a surprising amount of independence and ability to source things from local and better vendors. Ive seen a store go to shit in less than a month when they had management turnover. Ive seen one improve over the course of a year as well.

Quatrarius  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

the other little thing that i wanted to say was (as per the Wallerstein convo) cooking it used to be a Woman Duty and now it's a Nobody Duty. the shift from unpaid to paid labor with women entering the workforce spread the household responsibility of cooking/cleaning/kids/etc, at least nominally, across everybody - and now that people don't train their daughters to do it, nobody gets trained to do it. the grassroots is gone, for lack of a better word, and you only get this scattershot stuff about home ec or scrabbling things together out of necessity until you figure it out, and the two roads are roast beef girl and doordash coiner

it's tricky to talk about because it's not like forcing all of it unpaid onto women was any better either, but you're right. money has hollowed the whole thing out. now there's no script, and we're just improvving for lack of being told what to do by the world

kleinbl00  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Elizabeth Warren was radicalized when she did a study on bankruptcy for a right-wing think tank and discovered that 80% of all bankruptcies were women who were bankrupt because of (A) a divorce (B) medical bills. Her reaction to this radicalization was a book she wrote with her daughter called The Two Income Trap.

Here's her thesis:

- America had a burgeoning middle class not solely because of the economic opportunities for the primary breadwinner, but because there was always temporary piecework for women whenever they needed it.

- The ability to protect against tragedy and homelessness by having the woman of the household take on short-term labor while the man of the household restarted his career allowed for families to weather out bad storms.

- White Flight and the rise of secondary education put an emphasis on "good schools" as a condition for home purchase, the principle path for wealth protection after the New Deal.

- The American decision to fund school districts via local property taxes created a massive leverage effect on home prices, where houses in "good school districts" skyrocketed while those in "bad school districts" plummeted

- In order to provide a quality education for their children, American families eschewed the "one breadwinner, one spare" economic model in favor of "both parents work all the time"

- Which has had the effects of eliminating the safety net against economic hardship, radically increasing the utilization of daycare, eroding the family unit, putting housing out of reach of everyday americans and otherwise fucking everything up royally.

Warren argued, in 2004, that all schooling should be fucking federally funded, full stop. But then, she's a communist wanna-be squaw.

It all pretty much comes down to "do you, as a society, care about individual welfare? Then you, as a government need to care about individual welfare" which up until Trump got you painted up as a communist. Now nobody knows what to do because the 'wingers are too busy worshipping Viktor Orban and shit.

usualgerman  ·  160 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think a lot of “can’t cook” is overthinking it. The skills themselves are pretty simple. Sautéing isn’t rocket science, nor are boiling, frying, or chopping. People over complicated the idea of cooking to the point that they think they need to make 15-step recipes using rare and exotic ingredients. I think if people want to learn to cook, the first step is to stop watching Food Network. That’s like trying to learn to draw by looking at famous paintings. It doesn’t work and mostly discourages you because you can’t cook like a chef until you can cook like your mom. Honestly, the best thing is to get a non fancy basic-bitch cookbook BH&G, Good Housekeeping, something like that. Learn to do those recipes and you can pick up the rest later.

uhsguy  ·  160 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Many people can’t cook. The technique to mix prep and heat are actually quite complex. Zero chance you will make a passable pie crust off just an ingredient list for example. Temperature control on a skillet is quite complex based on heat thermal mass and moisture content. It requires a lot of practice, reading watching and practice again to get things to taste good.

user-inactivated  ·  159 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Agreed, lots of recipes can come out passably just following directions, but plenty of stuff can't (tried making pastries which bombed), doing things anywhere near the time listed at the top takes a lot of skill, and knowing what things ought to look like and what do do when it goes wrong is not at all intuitive

kleinbl00  ·  159 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My experience is that the Internet is a good source for "a recipe" while cook books are better sources for "a recipe that works" or "a recipe that is good." Food Network churned out two entire generations of celebrity chefs whose food is passable at best; most online bloggers will make a recipe once, photograph the shit out of it and then be extremely coquettish about whether it's any good. On the other hand, the recipes presented by restaurant owners and caterers and the like are generally presented as loss-leaders to drive up revenue at their physical business and if the recipes suck, that doesn't happen.

If I'm trying something new I'll peruse five or six versions online. If I've decided it has promise I'll delve into the four linear feet of cookbooks at my disposal.

uhsguy  ·  159 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I understand what you are getting at so many recipes online are just terrible in both technique and ingredient choice. I often have found that video reviews are a lot better in that regard because they are higher effort to produce and the creator often covers aspects that don’t show up in recipes. That being said video is a really annoying format to cook to and almost always results in me having a greasy dirty phone due to all the rewinds

kleinbl00  ·  159 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You gotta know who you're watching though. Alton Brown hates flavor, for example, while Claire Saffitz thinks milk chocolate is good. Within their zone this is a good move but you gotta be within their zone.

The America's Test Kitchen crew are almost the most useful because you know they made that recipe at least a half dozen different ways and whether or not you like it, you know that they'll fuckin' die on the hill that the interpretation they wrote down is the best (for countless reasons they will happily enumerate). You also know that if you go harder or softer in any direction it'll be fine, so long as it's nothing they've called out as mission-critical. A lot of the time you make their recipes and go "...eh" but you can also go "I see you say a clove and a half of garlic, this means nine cloves" and come out ahead without trial and error.

uhsguy  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Absolutely you need to know who you are dealing with. No different than books or any other material. That’s why I don’t like picking up video recipes off randos. As much as you hate Alton at least you know what to expect and adjust accordingly. Besides it’s very rare that I have all of the incidents needed in a recipe available at any given time. Cooking an exact recipe is 2x the work as cooking an inspired by recipe. Often the author achieves similar outcomes using a technique you aren’t familiar with or don’t prefer and you need to know to skip that and do it your preferred way. People who don’t know how to cook don’t know what to omit or shortcut and so cooking becomes that much harder for them.

I cook probably 6-8 meals a week and still sometimes things burn due to sugar content or stick due to moisture/heat issues. New recipes are always complicated even if you generally know what you are doing. Even stuff that should be stupid easy like fucking “easy Mac” that powder clumps unless you find the perfect addition technique and even then it still might clump.

kleinbl00  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Three things that have reduced my "food sticking" problems almost to zero:

1) get your food up to room temperature before it hits the skillet. It's weird how much of a difference this makes but like, eggs at room temperature in a hot skillet will float on the butter and eggs from the fridge stick like crazy. Fried eggs for breakfast start with a 2c measure full of hot water that the eggs go into while the butter melts. It's all it takes.

2) Screw the non-stick cookware. We haven't owned any for years. And it allows you to

3) Invest in a Lamson Sharp spatula or two. The ability to go "no fucker, get offa there" makes all the difference in the world.

veen  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ohhhhh I’ve had that indecipherable infrequent egg burn for so long! I’ll try that from now on. I just compensated with more butter but that just results in very greasy eggs.

Maybe 4) would be to let the pan and oil/butter warm up entirely and thoroughly before adding anything else. I’m always so impatient to start and it often hurts in the long run.

kleinbl00  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah warm up the eggs and let the butter cook long enough that it sizzles and stops - that's the water in the butter flashing to steam. Below that the pan isn't quite hot enough. You can work with it but that "flash to steam" process means the butter has crossed over from "poach the egg" to "fry the egg."

Also try sliding the pan back'n'forth under the egg to discourage it from sticking - it'll sorta "roll" a cooked layer of egg on top of the butter.

That lamson sharp spatula and a steel pan (or enamelware) come in handy with scrambled eggs - get the butter hot, hit it with eggs, then scrape with the back of the spatula through the center. This'll keep eggs loose.

Butter is great to cook in until it smokes - brown butter is yummy but you gotta jump on it because it becomes black butter with a quickness.

these egg tips brought to you by a second bachelorhood in North Hollywood

uhsguy  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I will attempt that as soon as the damn chickens start laying again. Warming up store eggs is more effort then I can give eggs as they are always a last minute meal for me. Had really good luck with Kenjis poached egg method if that’s your thing.

kleinbl00  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I dunno man two dirty bowls and a dirty strainer for poached eggs?

I watched Gordon do this shit season after season after season:

It's easy, it's repeatable, it always works. Use a pot that holds enough water that you can get that vortex really goin' without the egg slowing it down. Keep it on pretty much constant boil and you can machine-gun poached eggs in and out about every minute and a half.

Also your own chicken eggs can just sit out on the counter for weeks. 'cuz if they're gonna go bad, they're gonna go bad and yer just kinda fukt when you crack one'o'them badboys into a pan...

uhsguy  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don’t use the the extra bowl and strainer, it does improve cohesion on old eggs but like you said not worth it. Don’t need it at all for home eggs. Cracking into a small sauce dish and gently sliding it in helps though with minimal extra effort. The Method is nearly identical to the one you linked just with that extra step. I like starting with kenji recipes and then eliminating all the stuff that’s just a bit too much work. Just how I operate

Home grown eggs are great taste better too but managing bird worms and diseases that really sucks.

usualgerman  ·  155 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My experience of internet recipes is that they’re often over complicated and use ingredients that are rare in the USA. The typical internet recipe has two or three pans going, a home made sauce, and a garnish. If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, that’s a lot of things going at once. Add in the expense of the exotic ingredients, and the pressure of comparing yourself to semi-pro cooks as far as how your food looks, and I honestly don’t blame people for giving up early.

A pasta or a dish over rice is pretty easy. You can cook pasta or rice or even mashed potatoes by boiling them, and it’s hard to get it wrong unless you boil over the pot or don’t have enough water. Sauces I think are something a beginner should purchase. There’s no reason that they need to make a sauce when they’re first starting out. Sauces aren’t super hard, but when you’re trying to get everything else right, adding an extra complication for no reason just makes the process more difficult for little real gain. Use frozen meatballs if you’re first starting. In baking, I think, again making your own crust is a waste of time until you’re comfortable in the kitchen. Start easy. Make simple stuff, and don’t be ashamed of buying the occasional ingredient or substituting expensive ingredients for cheaper common ones that you already have.

The feeling of “I can’t do it” I don’t think comes from not being able to cook anything. Most of the time if you can follow simple directions, you absolutely can cook something. The problem is thinking that you have to make complicated recipes that have to look instagram worthy to be successful. Or that they have to be 100% made from scratch. I’ve cooked for a while, and nothing I’ve made is worthy of instagram, and I use premade mixes and sauces. It’s not shameful, normal people do it all the time.

usualgerman  ·  155 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My experience of internet recipes is that they’re often over complicated and use ingredients that are rare in the USA. The typical internet recipe has two or three pans going, a home made sauce, and a garnish. If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, that’s a lot of things going at once. Add in the expense of the exotic ingredients, and the pressure of comparing yourself to semi-pro cooks as far as how your food looks, and I honestly don’t blame people for giving up early.

A pasta or a dish over rice is pretty easy. You can cook pasta or rice or even mashed potatoes by boiling them, and it’s hard to get it wrong unless you boil over the pot or don’t have enough water. Sauces I think are something a beginner should purchase. There’s no reason that they need to make a sauce when they’re first starting out. Sauces aren’t super hard, but when you’re trying to get everything else right, adding an extra complication for no reason just makes the process more difficult for little real gain. Use frozen meatballs if you’re first starting. In baking, I think, again making your own crust is a waste of time until you’re comfortable in the kitchen. Start easy. Make simple stuff, and don’t be ashamed of buying the occasional ingredient or substituting expensive ingredients for cheaper common ones that you already have.

The feeling of “I can’t do it” I don’t think comes from not being able to cook anything. Most of the time if you can follow simple directions, you absolutely can cook something. The problem is thinking that you have to make complicated recipes that have to look instagram worthy to be successful. Or that they have to be 100% made from scratch. I’ve cooked for a while, and nothing I’ve made is worthy of instagram, and I use premade mixes and sauces. It’s not shameful, normal people do it all the time.