We are immersed in the world of food blogs, Pinterest, high end magazines, tons of recipes resources everywhere. Are we making things too complicated? Are we losing touch with our intuitive eaters, by being pressured to cook elaborate meals, and/or do we feel guilty when we can’t whip together a gourmet, perfectly balanced wholesome meal for ourselves or our family?
I read an article a couple months ago that really stuck with me– The Myth of Easy Cooking. The article argues that an entire industry has been built on the premise that creating gourmet meals at home is simple and effortless. We are constantly bombarded with messages– beautiful, “easy” recipes that are more work than they seem. Does this inspire or discourage? Would more people cook at home if they weren’t overwhelmed with what or how they had to cook?
Our modern society and technology has made appetizing, affordable meals easier. Food delivery services can bring prepared meals to your home quickly. The rise of fast casual restaurants has made takeout dinner not a half bad option. You can order Chinese food from your phone, or you can find an “easy” recipe online, spend an hour making the dish, and 20 minutes cleaning up. The article states that the decision to cook from scratch has many virtues, but ease is not one of them. Cooking the way Americans aspire is never fast, rarely easy, compared to all the other options available to us.
Real “easy” cooking, if that’s what you’re after, is far too simple to sustain a magazine and cookbook industry.
What happens when recipes are marketed as easy that aren’t? Perhaps it’s good to nudge people towards cooking for themselves. As the article states, “…the weight of expectation imposed by our culture offers unrealistically complex recipes that can be very disappointing. “. Whats called “easy” cooking relies on foods that can be purchased with a minimum number of ingredients and doesn’t require a culinary degree. It leans heavily on the things your mom or your grandma taught you.
Let’s think about what’s involved in from-scratch cooking. Today’s recipes can be so complex, and aren’t really needed for cooking a simple, delicious meal. Quick cooking rarely even involves a recipe– it’s knowing the basic steps for roasting vegetables or cooking pasta. It’s parents taking responsibility and teaching their children how to prepare meals, and as the article suggests, curricula returning to schools to teach the kids basics about nutrition and food. I for one know that I never learned anything about nutrition or cooking during high school.
I have, however, learned the first hand way through trial and error, that food that looks gourmet, “clean”, healthy, super-food rich isn’t going to taste good 100% of the time, most recently by attempting to make a farro salad that was highly disappointing. For a salad that was supposed to be “easy” and simple, it took over an hour and tasted horrible. After that recipe, I swore to myself that I would never post a recipe that I didn’t absolutely love and that didn’t satisfy me or Nick.
I took a vow then that this blog would only contain delicious recipes that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and that satisfied us. I’m now taking another vow: to not only create healthful, nutritious recipes that satisfy our taste buds, but that take a reasonable amount of time and not a lot of ingredients. I want to learn all about cooking techniques and teach my readers simple skills they can use to create meals at home without too much thinking.
Starting this year, in 2016 and onward, recipes on this blog will be:
- Enjoyable, satiable
- Nutritious, most of the time
- Short in ingredients, as possible
- Carefully chosen, mindful components
- Able to prep components ahead of time
- Cooked in a technique that can easily be learned
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good recipe, and a good, complicated recipe. But not for every day cooking. Maybe for the weekends when I have an hour or two to spend in the kitchen or some extra money in the budget to spend on unique ingredients. Most of the time, all we want is a simple weeknight meal that takes less than 30 minutes, doesn’t use a whole lot of pans/dishes (who doesn’t hate doing the dishes) that we can create within our food budget. And tastes so good that we don’t have to whip out the emergency box of macaroni and cheese.
Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!
dixya @ food, pleasure, and health says
Amen. aint no body got time that dat. fancy meals are awesome but clearly it doesnt have a place in my life on weekends..also i know most of my readers and people are always looking for easy, delicious, quick recipes!
Marisa | Uproot Kitchen says
The worst part is that you didn’t have an emergency box of mac and cheese on hand! So sad to hear it wasn’t a success because I love those little pomegranate seeds too and I would also be so sad to have them covered in too much cumin.
Glad that this moment made you think about so many things that are complex issues we have to think about – what does easy/simple/healthy/quick/etc mean when we say it in our recipes?
Can’t wait to see what comes out of this space moving forward! xo
Hi……I often think that some of the most simple foods like scrambled eggs or stir fry veggies are the tastiest……often when trying to be creative I spoil the taste! Thanks for sharing!
Ditto with the author 1000%!!! I love to cook and I can whip up a meal that is simple and delicious without having to break my head over 10 or more ingredients…uncomplicated, make it healthy and enjoy!!!