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August 05, 2009

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Jonathan

Cooking is a pleasurable experience, not the drudgery that some people think it is. There is something intensely satisfying about taking a few simple ingredients and spices creating a savory soup on a cold winter day. I'm always amazed how the of mixing flour, water, yeast can result in a crusty loaf of bread that tastes way better than anything you buy in plastic. I learned the art and pleasure of cooking from both my grandmothers. They were instinctive cooks - hardly ever cooking from a book or recipe card... they just knew how to put the ingredients together to produce those comfort foods of my childhood. Time spent cooking is time well spent. I often think of making bread as anger management (kneading), artistry (shaping), meditation (rising) and aromatherapy (baking) all "rolled" into one! Best of all, you get to feast on the results!

Scott SA

Life is full of myths including things like Wall Mart has bargains (other than short-term ones), but that is another topic.

On many points, I agree with your thesis as I have proven it many times in my own life. I can cook a nicer, more nutritious and cost effective meal in less time than it takes to have pizza delivered. In a lot of situations, I can cook a better meal than many restaurants. In fact, I have a teenage son that would rather eat at home because the food is good, which is a mind-boggling feat!

One myth, though, is that all 'cooking shows' are alike or have no value. You didn't actually say that, but it is what I surmise your basic motivation for the comment.

First off, with the library of cook-books I have (let alone those gifted due to lack of use), I should be hosting a show or running a fine dining establishment. I'm neither that talented, skilled nor capable (though preparing five courses for a dozen isn't daunting, its a joy).

Personally, I find there are different kinds of shows. Like you, there are a majority that I won't or don't waste my valuable time with. Frankly, I don't need somebody telling me ten times how good something tastes, for example, it just shows they have no content.

Further, I could care less what abuses some group of rude judges hurl about a preparation. Especially if it is by some contestant using unfamiliar products, in an unfamiliar facility and given unreasonable time to do so. In my mind that is setting people up to fail, which isn't constructive.

There are shows, however, that respect the viewers intelligence and impart valuable knowledge regarding technique, inspiration and best of all food science. Some are a bit quirky or campy like Alton Brown's "Good Eats", but his crew do their research and have some great information.

For example, it would likely have taken me a fair while to learn that 1/5th tsp cream of tartar per egg helps the whites whip faster (It has to do with accelerating the proteins from unraveling, and works).

I have also been introduced to cuisine and products that I may never have tried otherwise. Or different ways to use things I have been cooking for years. Often, it isn't the big stuff and sometimes it isn't even the recipe being made, but the way it is made that I've found interesting or useful. Seriously, I've always peeled russet (baker) potatoes, boiled then mashed or riced them. Keeping the skins on while boiling and peeling afterwards while warm, reduces water absorption making a drier product. Easier to add the flavors I want afterwards or to make things like gnocchi or fish cakes using less flour.

To close out my comments, I also want to shift things a bit. I don't have 'The Food Channel' anymore. Instead, I use their website and others as well as PodCast's and YouTube to find audio and video presentations. I increasingly use the Internet to source out new ideas for common ingredients. You do have to wade through some garbage, but I often take several recipes and merge the traits of each that I like.

Happy cooking!

T Scott

Actually, your surmise that the "basic motivation" for my comment about cooking shows stems from a belief that they are all the same or that they have no value is incorrect. I watch very little tv in general and I just have no interest in watching cooking shows. I know that they vary tremendously and that many people find them entertaining and useful. I'm just not interested.

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