Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What is cooking?

You may recall that when I posted a link to Michael Pollan's Article Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, I said I'd talk about it later. It is later.

Tonight, I cooked dinner. Well, I think I cooked dinner. But after reading his article, I'm not sure I cooked dinner. I dumped canned tomatoes (crushed and diced) over garlic and diced onions (frozen & pre-chopped) that I had sauteed in a dash of olive oil. I stirred in a generous amount of McCormick's Italian Herb Seasoning (comes in a grinder, just bought it tonight, quite tasty). I heated a loaf of Italian bread I bought this evening. I put the sauce mixture over some penne that I ?cooked? and on top of that I put chicken breast seasoned with the above seasoning and grilled on my Foreman Grill. Quite tasty. I also enjoyed a half or so bottle of Grand Traverse Sweet Harvest Riesling.* (See Above) I also put a good amount of pre-grated Parmesan cheese on the top, of course, it wasn't even real parmesan, it was Kraft parm, not the real stuff from northern Italy.

(I am really hoping that as this project continues, I get better at taking pictures. . . )

So is this cooking? According to the article, the definition of cooking by a food-market research firm, The NDP Group, is "[t]o cook from scratch . . . means to prepare a main dish that requires some degree of 'assembly of elements.'" Well, I definitely did that tonight. I made a tomato based sauce, a simple sauce, but a good sauce. I seasoned and grilled my chicken and then put it on top of the pasta and pasta sauce. But what I did also sounds a lot like what happens on he rather dismissively described as the "dump and stir" programs. In the article, he used the phrase, "from scratch" a few times. How far back in the process do I need to go for my cooking to count as "from scratch"? What if I made my own pasta, something I have always wanted to do, and canned my own tomatoes? Could I then use the pre-mixed seasonings in the grinder? I would call that cooking from scratch. But then, I called what I did tonight, cooking. Oh, and delicious.

I know I am over thinking this, but I do think the subject is a very important one. I agree with the basic premise of the article, which, I think is we need to do more traditional cooking at home. Why? Because when we do, we spend more time together as family, we eat healthier, and the time we spend together is more meaningful. I find the time I spend teaching my daughter to cook is fun, we connect, we communicate more than we do at restaurants. But, sometimes, I enjoy a good meal out.

*Honey, this does not count as drinking alone. It was wine with dinner, alone. Totally different.

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