Sunday, June 9, 2013

Worst Cooks

A little while ago I made a post about how watching cooking shows makes me want to be a chef. But recently I had an experience that made me realize the cooking show I'd be best suited for by far is Worst Cooks in America.

I took a one-night cooking class with a friend of mine. And I realized that I don't know a lot about cooking things from scratch. I got completely stymied when trying to mince garlic. First, I didn't know how big the clove was. Then I apparently chopped it rather than mincing it. I also "looked terrified" when crushing it with the blade of the knife. Also, I didn't know how to chop... well, anything. I had the cooking teacher laughing his ass off.

"You don't cook much, do you?" someone said to me.

Here's the thing though: I cook dinner for my family 5-6 nights/week. I mean, I "cook" in that I use the stove. OK, it's mostly like that show Semi-Homemade or whatever it's called. But it's not takeout and it's hot. If I need minced garlic, I've got a jar of it in the fridge.

For example, this was our family menu for the last several days:

Last night: Sauteed mixed vegetables, seasoned with Teriyaki sauce, added some ramen noodles, a fried egg, frozen shrimp, and beef (coated in flour and sauteed in olive oil).

Night before: Breaded steak (eggs, bread crumbs, saute in olive oil), mushrooms and frozen corn sauteed with a little butter, rice side dish made in microwave (but added frozen broccoli and okra)

Night before that: Made one of those Stouffer's saute meals, but added extra frozen broccoli, zucchini, peas, corn, mushrooms, and some extra noodles to make it enough for all of us

Night before that: Browned beef with sauteed onions, garlic, broccoli, peas, then simmered with jar of tomato sauce and splash of red wine. Mixed with noodles, cooked in oven for 20 minutes. A family favorite.

So like I said, every night I "cook" but nothing from scratch. I open a lot of packages, probably spend more on meals than I could, but really, who cares? A favorite of mine is buying a whole rotisserie chicken and then using that as the protein for rice or noodle dishes. I cheat and get dinner done in about 30 minutes.

But yeah, I don't see myself competing on Masterchef any time soon. (Or if I did fake my way through the first round, I'd surely get tapped on the shoulder by Joe in round two and told, "We've seen enough. You've got to go.")


  1. There's a nifty gadget for mincing put the clove in it and crush it, squeezing the garlic through the grid. I'd pick one up if I were you!! Fresh minced is better than the stuff in the jar.

    1. Maybe you're right, but I'm 100% sure that the population I'm cooking for would never notice the difference. Including myself, considering I don't have much time to shove dinner in my mouth before my toddler starts demanding to be let free. Not much time to savor flavors.

      Plus I don't know if my palate is that sophisticated. Last year, I was reading that browning meat before putting it in the crockpot adds depth of flavor, but when I did it, I couldn't discern any difference.

    2. but what about nutrition? fresh is always better, i guess.

    3. Actually, I've read that's not necessarily true:

  2. Your family is fed; there's lots of veggies and plenty of protein. Looks like you're doing it right. (Unless you can get your husband to share the duty, in which case, he can mince the garlic if need be.)

  3. You've got that saute thing down pat! You're getting the job done without it being take-out and/or fast food. To my way of thinking you qualify as Family Chef. PS: those rotisserie chickens rock!

  4. What is this cooking you speak of?

  5. I am a REALLY good cook, but my budget and schedule rarely allow for super fancy cooking. Must of what I cook is like what you make, simple, convenient, fairly to very healthy, and palate-pleasing for all involved. You're hardly a 'worst cook' because you don't do fancy kitchen tricks.

  6. When we were shopping at BJ's wholesale club (kind of like costco or sam's club) we found this huge jar of dried minced garlic. It is a great substitute for fresh minced garlic and it is cheaper and tastes better than the regular minced garlic in a jar. I think we paid $4-$5 for a jar that weighs 12oz.

    BJ's also has frozen veggies for CHEAP! Last time we went we bought 3lbs of frozen onions, and red and green bell peppers for around $4. They were pretty good in stir fry.

    Stouffers has some really good meals. I can't eat them anymore, but when I could, I would add more veggies, meat, and season to taste.

  7. I used to enjoy cooking completely from scratch---when I had time, and it was kind of a hobby. The cooking I do now is much more utalitarian and relies on semi-homemade tricks like you do. I consider it home-cooked food, its cheaper & healthier than take-out and my kids just throw it on the floor or in their hair anyways, I'm not wasting my time making my own ravioli or pasta sauce when I can get it from trader joes.

  8. I try to get my hubby to make a large, wonderful meal the night before I know he'll be at work all day and the 'cooking' will be my responsibility. If I zap the leftovers in a microwave, I consider it 'cooking'. He's the expert cook in my family. He knows all those Master Chef ways: chopping, reductions, etc. I know how to boil water.