Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Encouraging Other Members of the Household to Cook

1. Keep a clean and organized kitchen. No one likes to go in a dirty kitchen where the dishes are piled so high on the counters there's no room to chop veggies. No one wants to wash all the dishes in the sink just so they can make a pot of coffee. And nobody feels good about eating food from a nasty kitchen. Just as important as clean, is the ability to find ingredients. My father rarely cooks. He opens every single cabinet in search of cooking oil and when he can't find it he goes back into the living room to watch tv.

2. Plan meals and post the menu in a prominent location. The other members of your house will either say, Ah, meatloaf, and mash the potatoes to go with it, or they will say, Yuck, meatloaf, and order a pizza. Which leads us to #3

3. Let people cook what they want. Cooking is more fun when the cook actually wants to eat the end result. This also includes letting people cook how they want. Kevin wants to grill everything. That's fine with me. While he was grilling last night, I made lunches.

4. Don't get mad if someone doesn't like your food/cooking. This is a wonderful learning opportunity. When I was a child I thought I didn't like vegetables, but really I didn't like them boiled. Raw veggies are good and steamed is pretty good too. Had my mother been willing to adapt her recipes, I would have ate more healthy food growing up.

5. Prep ahead as much as possible. People are lazy. They are much more willing to put a casserole in the oven than they are to chop, add, mix, and bake.

6. Everyone should like being in the kitchen. The kitchen should be the nicest room in your house. It should be homey and inviting. No one likes a dark, dank, smelly kitchen. If the kitchen is nice, people will spend more time there and as you cook you can show them how to do things.

7. Cooking is a dying skill. People don't cook every day. Some people don't even cook once a week. To them, cooking is a complex, magical process barely understood. Once I took blueberry muffins to work that I made from Jiffy Muffin Mix. Everyone thought the muffins were made from scratch because I made them in my kitchen. They didn't know muffins can be made from flour and real berries. I've heard people say they didn't know pumpkin pie could be made from pumpkins, they thought it could only be made from a can. My co worker's mother-in-law was astounded that Tiffany bought a pumpkin, carved a jack-o-lantern, made a pie, and roasted the seeds. She had no idea pumpkins were useful. She thought they were simply Halloween decorations that rotted after 2 weeks. If people think cookies can only be made from a store brought tube of dough, there is no way you can expect them to cook a full meal. Start small and work your way up.

8. Read old cookbooks. For some reason, cookbook publishers today think cooking is hard to do and only a few elites ever master it. Old cookbooks are easier to understand with simple instructions and few ingredients. Old cookbooks often contain insight from previous owners. I have my mother's Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and it is filled with her notes, extra recipes, and stained with food from my childhood. I know a recipe with a star beside it will be excellent.

9. Share. Keeping a recipe 'secret' is just mean. Mrs. M made the absolute best cake in town. Her daughter asked for the recipe and she wouldn't give it to her. Then Mrs. M died and the best cake in town was lost forever.

10. Have 'Cook's Day Off'' Tell your family you will not be cooking on a particular day. They will either have to eat out, eat leftovers, eat take-out, or, hopefully, cook something. But as long as you are doing all the cooking, they won't prepare food.

11. Compromise. It is unrealistic to expect a non-cook to prepare a full meal AND clean up. While Kevin scrambles eggs I fry sausage and make toast. He clears the table and I wash dishes.

12. Having a penis is NOT an impediment to operating a stove. Everybody should know how to cook, boys and girls. Teach your son how to bake cookies. I am a firmly believer in having children in the kitchen at a young age and letting them make a mess. Remember, the more fun cooking is, the more often they will want to do it.

13. (This is the most important) The kitchen is the domain of ALL. Do not state that you don't like anyone in 'your' kitchen. My mother has 'her' kitchen and I don't like to cook at her house because I know I will leave something out of place and she will wig out. I prefer to stay out of 'her' kitchen and she wonders why she 'has to' do all the cooking. Please do not be a Cooking Nazi. Let your family in, invite people over, and have parties. Everyone will be happier. Food is the strongest memory. People remember parties, holidays, good food and drink. They remember laughter and fun. They don't remember matching china.

14. Learning to cook takes a lifetime. There is always something new to learn. Experiment. Try new things. Explore the food of other cultures. If you have a closed mind, the mind of your family is unlikely to open.


Dreaming of Jeanie said...

Making my kitchen more inviting is DEFINITELY something that I think I should do. I just saw the surface my kitchen table for the first time in a long time last night! Not cool. All of the tips are good. Thanks for post, darlin'!

Diandra said...

*lol* Some good tips in here. The BF and I have been - well, discussing the cooking and food situation for quite some time. He likes everything fried and with lots of salt and fat, but isn't willing to cook anything. Right now, I'm trying to separate the food week - about half of the stuff is something I am sure he likes, the other stuff is something I want to try, and new things he likes go on the "regulars" list. (I cook every day, I like it. ^^) Still, it is *my* kitchen... unless he takes up regular cooking himself. *g*