Sunday, November 15, 2009

Taste of Home - the Anti-Healthy

My mom and I went to the Taste of Home Cooking School on Thursday night.

I'd love to tell you it was fantastic, inspirational, and informative.

Mostly though, it was frustrating and depressing. There were good points, little useful tips and hints, etc. so it wasn't a total waste. And I'll never pass up an opportunity to hang out with my mom, so it was worth the ten dollars spent.

But overall, it was a testament to all that home cooking has become in the last 50 years, since the years of the Industrial Revolution when our purpose became wrapped up in convenience and disposable everything.

Vegetables that you can purchase in the freezer section of the grocery store (probably grown in Guatemala or something) that are pre-cut, pre-washed, pre-packaged into a microwave safe package. Put the package into the microwave and when you take them out, they are perfectly steamed. Only two minutes' worth of work, and voila! Vegetables, microwaved to remove every possible nutrient the body could possibly glean from them, in plastic nonetheless, bringing every consumer that much closer to a cancer diagnosis.

Or there's the crock-pot liner. You can now purchase a (probably-cancer-inducing) plastic liner for your crock pot. Crock-pots are already the lazy mother's best friend (and I use mine frequently - no insult intended!) But to use a plastic liner? Now you don't even have to wash the contraption after it's done cooking your food. Then, you just toss that liner into the trash can where it will make it into the land fill, adding to the already disgusting amount of garbage our society produces. It's like killing two birds with one stone - you get to eat harmful chemicals leached into your food from the plastic, and then you get to add to the ever-growing pile of unnecessary household waste. Awesome!

And recipes aren't what they used to be. Many of the recipes call for things like "1 can of chili with beans" or "1 jar of spaghetti sauce" or, most commonly, "One package of frozen dinner roll/bread/biscuit dough.". It's assumed now that no one is going to take the time to actually make these foods. Our society would much rather purchase a can of something the company claims to be food, pressure cooked in a can along with a smattering of preservatives, MSG, and GMO's. If I'm looking for a recipe for a fancy breakfast pastry, I don't want to see "2 packages purchased frozen pastry sheets" in the list of ingredients.

And what bothers me most of all is that these Taste of Home people are sitting here evangelizing the greatness of all of these convenience foods and disposable products to thousands of women across the nation, playing on our addiction to consumerism and our genetic need for "more, bigger, better, newer". Women of today are brainwashed into thinking that "convenient" means "better" when in reality, we're becoming sicker and sicker and feeding the same crap to our husbands and children, causing mass epidemics of a whole host of illnesses that no one wants to take responsibility for.

And that ends my rant. Thanks for listening.

Taking a 180 degree turn, I feel compelled to include this absolutely delicious recipe for a coffee cake from one of the free cooking magazines handed out from the show. You really should try it. It's easy, quick, and positively sinful.

Cinnamon Nut Coffee Cake

1.5 cups all purpose flour (or whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 cup sugar (or organic raw cane sugar)
2 tsp. baking powder (aluminum free is best)
1/4 tsp salt (I omitted this with success)
1/4 c. melter butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup packed brown sugar (I would bet date powder would work well here)
2 tbsp. all purpose flour (or the whole wheat stuff)
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. melted butter

Oven: 375

Combine the dry ingredients for the batter. In a separate bowl whisk together the butter, eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Set that aside. Combine the topping ingredients.

Grease a 9x13 pan. Spread half of the batter across the bottom of the pan. (It's going to be spread really thin, which surprised me but turned out great.) Sprinkle half the topping on top of the batter. Carefully spread the remaining batter on top (that's what the directions say. That's a joke. There is no spreading that stuff. Better to drop teaspoonfuls of dough across the top of the first layer of topping - close together, but they don't have to be touching. Trust me.) Top with the rest of the topping.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or so. You'll be able to smell it when it's done. :o) Yield: 12 servings

I froze these separately in ziploc bags with success.


Just Me said...

that looks really good. Salt can usually be left out of things like that pretty successfully. I may have to try it, but replace the walnuts with pecans. (I'm allergic to walnuts)

Convenience foods are just that, convenient. But homemade is SOOOOO much better.

Wendy said...

I've got to try that recipe.

I totally know what you mean in your well-deserved rant. There are times I feel optimistic though - like when I read blogs about people doing things in a more authentic and less wasteful way. Then reality hits and I realize people from the other side are buying all that disposable crap like the crock pot liners and all. I'm really surprised there's still a good market for that stuff. I mean, I work full time and I'm pretty darn busy. Dinner is the last thing on my mind. But still, there's just so much waste involved with opening cans of this, packages of this, boxes of liners, etc.

Crazy Homeschool Mama said...

I have the same problem with a few blogs that are saying look at how much money I saved with these coupons + this flyer + these printable coupons. Most of it is convienence foods...nothing healthy about a jar of spaghetti really IF I buy that kind of thing I try to get The Best Life Diet or go organic....I totally understand where you are coming from

Julie said...

Apryl - yes, I rarely use salt when I'm cooking. It seems pointless in baking, and I'd rather add it to my food later if it's really needed.

Wendy - I usually feel hopeful until I'm in a big crowd of people like that. Then I start to realize there aren't very many people like me, after all.

Katey - Yep, it's hard to really save money the way the penny pinching crowd does it if you want to eat healthy. Instead of matching coupons for convenience items now I mostly just stock on up sale items and buy in bulk when I can. You don't often see a coupon for anything that's actually good for you!