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Old 07-10-2005, 08:40 PM   #1
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For the "Culinary Challenged"

You are not alone:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050710/...arning_to_cook

By MICHAEL HILL, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 53 minutes ago

HYDE PARK, N.Y. - Even as "food culture" blossoms in countless cookbooks and chef shows, many adults simply don't know cooking basics.

Experts blame it on a transmission breakdown. While parents traditionally shared cooking tips with their kids, the passage of kitchen wisdom has become rarer among time-pressed modern families.
On a weekend when other kitchen classrooms at the Culinary Institute of America are packed with adults preparing paella and green mango salad, Chef Greg Zifchak is teaching Chicken Roasting 101.

Fifteen students in Zifchak's "Cook's Skill Development" class mimic his graceful stuffing, trussing and slicing with uneven results. Onions are chopped tentatively and tied-up drumsticks flop around. One student holds a green sprig up and asks "Is this thyme?"

"My mother was a working woman, a career woman," said 38-year-old Beth Nolcox, one of the students. "There wasn't that transfer of skills or recipes."

Call it the lost-in-the-kitchen generation as families began eating together less often, a sizable number of people grew up never learning to brown ground beef slowly or to add butter to minestrone to heighten flavor.

John Nihoff, a professor of gastronomy at the culinary institute who studies food culture, said that as society became more work-oriented in the '60s, not only was Mom more likely to work outside the home, but workdays for both parents got longer.

With Mom and Dad both out of the house more, families cooked less and relied more on store-bought food. The old tradition of Mom passing on cooking skills suffered, Nihoff said. He notes that Americans now spend $121 billion a year on "home meal replacements" partially- or fully-cooked dinners eaten at home that are bought in restaurants or supermarkets.

Many parents figure: Why roast a chicken when they're already rotating on the spit at the supermarket?

But even in families that prepared home-cooked dinners, younger adults say the after-school focus was more on tending to homework than to cooking.

"I knew how to boil water, but my mother never said, `This is what you have to do.' So I just kind of picked up everything myself," said Laura Boggs, a 22-year-old Albany resident. She took cooking lessons last summer from a "foodie" friend in return for teaching him to play guitar.

"I never touched a food processor before then," she said.

Chef Zifchak comes across adults with kitchen knowledge gaps all the time. He said none of the students in his recent skills class handled knives correctly. And he noticed students seemed overly impressed when he demonstrated how to saute fish.

"It was like, 'Oh my God, he makes it looks too easy,'" he said, "and all I did was heat up oil and put a piece of fish in the pan."

Zifchak accordingly kept his kitchen tips simple: Don't overstir while caramelizing onions, baste a lot for successful browning, leaning on the stove is "very dangerous."

What's being lost is more than just a quaint skill, but an important family tradition that encourages healthier eating, said Lisa Young, a nutritionist and author of "The Portion Teller." She said that instead of baking potatoes and broiling flounder, parents are bringing in french fries and deep-fried fish. A dietof that sort of food can lead to obesity and other health problems, she said.

"It's higher in fat, higher in salt, higher in calories, bigger portions ... and it's lower in fiber and lower in vitamins and minerals," Young said.



There's a danger the problem will become self perpetuating a generation without kitchen skills passes on little more than take-out-ordering skills to their children. But Nihoff sees signs of change.

The renewed interest in fresh, wholesome food feeds into the notion of family cooking. People still want to cook particularly when they settle down to raise families, he said.

And if Mom or Dad didn't teach them, they're finding how-to-cook information through other sources. Cookbooks touching on everything from eggs to escargot are a boom business. Food shows are on 24-7 and there's a rapidly growing number of culinary courses available like the daylong course Nolcox took with Chef Zifchak.

Midway through, Nolcox admitted that rushing around the kitchen and prepping chicken with partner Monique Heenan was a little different than watching chefs on TV. But despite the sweltering heat and stray hairs pasted to her forehead, she said she was happy: "It's exciting to be a real chef!"

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Old 07-10-2005, 10:17 PM   #2
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Thanks, IC. Interesting article.
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Old 07-11-2005, 12:55 PM   #3
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I'm glad I grew up when I did!!!!!
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:00 PM   #4
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both my parents worked and we kids were introduced to kitchen know how early so we could help prep or do basics before the folks got home. We cooked on weekends making stew or soup or a roast that would be used again during the week either with new sides or in a new incarnation. Nothing was ever wasted. My first solo gravy was a Thanksgiving when Dr. Mom was on call. When she got home everything was ready. I am forever grateful that my folks did not give in to the prepared food world and we did it together. We enjoyed ethnic foods, reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows on PBS, learning the culture, traditions, recipes etc. When we ate out, we selected by nationality and did some homework to make it a real experience. Often mom or dad would explain this to the maitre d' and an owner or chef would come out and tell us allabout the specials and plan the meal aouns our "study". On a rainy thursday they would be very happy to "guarentee" return customers with a bit of education.
And I go tto say this "cook with your kids" blitz on FoodTV is great...it is reading and culture and math and science all in one, plus quality time even if all you're doing is making a dagwood sandwich!
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:33 PM   #5
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Ironchef, thank you so much for posting that article!
I'm blessed that Mom stopped working when she became a Mom, and showed us how to cook properly. (She also is the queen of "many colors of food on the table", "proper nutrition", and "it's always important to make your food as pretty as possible".
I also learned a lot from my Grandma, whenever I'd visit.
My kids are both quite interested in cooking, and my goal is, that once they've left the nest for college, they'll have a good working knowledge of a kitchen. Not only because it's important, but it also will help save a lot of money!
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:51 PM   #6
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You were blessed!

It's wonderful that your mom and dad exposed you to cooking and eating good food. Your remarks made me want to share this: About 8 years ago (could it be that long?), when my eldest daughter was a freshman in high school, she tossed her head at me and announced, "I don't cook!". Hmmm. Later, she confidently announded that she was planning to buy a cheap car and drive across the country with her friends as soon as high school was over. Ye Gads! I thought - she can't leave unless her father teaches her how to change a flat tire! I got to thinking about all the practical things she should know before leaving the nest: she must know how to write a check, sew on a button....etc....(all the practical things I didn't know how to do when I left home - lot's of book smarts, maybe, but dumb as can be (me)). Eventually, this became a family "in" joke. I finally came up with list of 100 things that I "insist" my daughters must know before I'll let them go! One (inspired, I think) item on the list is: You Must Know How To Make Gravy From Scratch. That covers a lot of ground, doesn't it. All these years later, my daughter graduated from James Madison University in May with major in poli. sci. (after only 3 years!), and during this last year, she shared a flat with 3 other girls. She began cooking, and did quite well at it. She and her friends hosted a Thanksgiving meal for their friends, and my daughter was responsible for the turkey & the gravy, phoning every so often to ask for advice. One of the girls was going to make the mashed potatoes, and I was surprised to hear that at least two of the flat mates had never had mashed potatoes other than from a box! My daughter talked her into making the mashed potatoes from fresh potatoes & of course they had lots of other things...they took photos and were very proud of themselves....It warmed my heart! After our own family's Thanksgiving dinner was eaten, my daughter came to me and whispered, "you know, Mom, I think my turkey came out nicer!" ;) Sandyj
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Old 07-11-2005, 03:02 PM   #7
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Sandyj - I sit here beaming for you!!!!! What a great story and what a disciplined girl to graduate in 3 years.

I'd say you have come up with a wonderful guidebook for "proving you can, if not make it, at least survive on your own". And you are right, the gravy from scratch technique can be used in sooo many different ways.

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Old 07-11-2005, 03:03 PM   #8
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Wonderful!

Sandy, if you ever have the time, would you mind making a thread on the "100 things"? I do believe all of us with kids who are still in the nest could benefit from it!
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Old 07-11-2005, 04:02 PM   #9
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With pleasure

Yes, I'd love to. To be perfectly honest, we've joked about it so much for years, I don't know if the girls ever took me seriously. I always reserved the right to add things in as they came up. On hearing my pronouncements, my daughters would always giggle, but there would be a nervous "edge" (is she nuts? will she really try and make us do this stuff)? Actually, I just try to go along without too much announcing and try to teach whatever comes up. My 16 year old's bedroom became so bad over the last few weeks - clothing everywhere. My mom will often go in and pick everything up and wash hang the clothing up nicely (it's her "thing"....even if I ask her please not to (a small point of contention!)) - but she was away last week. Ha ha! I'm pretty sure my daughter has run out of clean things to wear. I've been gritting my teeth and ignoring. Finally, Saturday, she tidied up, gathering all the clothing that was on the floor into her laudry bag and placing it where I could trip over it by the laundry room door. Impressed, I asked if she planned to do her laundry (offering help). She tossed her head saying ....."I don't do laundry!" Hmmmm. Why does that sound familiar? Cruelly, I moved said basket to the garage (we were having guests). Anyway, basket is still there, daughter is desperate. Phoned me just know and in a really friendly voice asked if I'd show her what to do tonight. But of course, my darling child. -Sandyj
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Old 07-11-2005, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandyj
Yes, I'd love to. To be perfectly honest, we've joked about it so much for years, I don't know if the girls ever took me seriously. I always reserved the right to add things in as they came up. On hearing my pronouncements, my daughters would always giggle, but there would be a nervous "edge" (is she nuts? will she really try and make us do this stuff)? Actually, I just try to go along without too much announcing and try to teach whatever comes up. My 16 year old's bedroom became so bad over the last few weeks - clothing everywhere. My mom will often go in and pick everything up and wash hang the clothing up nicely (it's her "thing"....even if I ask her please not to (a small point of contention!)) - but she was away last week. Ha ha! I'm pretty sure my daughter has run out of clean things to wear. I've been gritting my teeth and ignoring. Finally, Saturday, she tidied up, gathering all the clothing that was on the floor into her laudry bag and placing it where I could trip over it by the laundry room door. Impressed, I asked if she planned to do her laundry (offering help). She tossed her head saying ....."I don't do laundry!" Hmmmm. Why does that sound familiar? Cruelly, I moved said basket to the garage (we were having guests). Anyway, basket is still there, daughter is desperate. Phoned me just know and in a really friendly voice asked if I'd show her what to do tonight. But of course, my darling child. -Sandyj
Sandy, a girl after my own heart I had two daughters who thought it was mom's job to do everybodys wash!!! YUP..I would just close the bedroom door, when they were at school one day,I'd had enough, m-i-l was coming and liked to snoop and DH was terrified she'd open that DOOR!! I gathered all the clothes up and neatly threw them all over the front lawn..One got smart and now is always washing so much hubby thinks she lost it. The other one, she's even smarter, got herself a man who excels in washing colths!! Me I do mine he does his, or we take turns depending on work, family..We just share everything except cooking...
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