Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Easy cooking

The other day I was in Trader Joe's, in the aisle where they have pasta and rice and grains, and a woman came up to me and said, "Do you see the brown rice?"

And I said, "Oh, here it is," pointing at the 2 pound bags of brown rice that were positioned closer to the bottom of the shelf.

"Oh, no," she said, "I need the pre-cooked kind. You see, I don't cook." She moved in past my shoulder, and sure enough, there at eye level was a vacuum-sealed package of already cooked brown rice. All you have to do is put it in the microwave.

Of course, it costs a lot more than rice by the pound.

I started to wonder. How can someone see cooking rice as beyond their skills? I mean - rice. You put it in the water, bring it to a boil, cover and turn the heat low and that's pretty much it.

Cooking is such a simple and elementary skill, and so basic to our survival - to process raw materials so our bodies can take the nutrients and live. It's among the first skills our ancient ancestors must have mastered - mashing up the pulp of acorns and heating it to remove the bitter taste, or turning the bloody haunches of game animals over a fire to make them warm and appetizing. How could you not bother to learn that?

It's easy to feel superior to people who feel they can't.

Then I started wondering about what the woman who couldn't cook rice could do instead. Maybe she can do stuff I can't do. I can't do complicated math. I can't crochet - I can knit, but I can't crochet. I can't play the piano. I'm no good at a precision craft like carpentry or model-making or even sewing beyond a simple hem or sewing on a button.

If I teach you how to cook a pot of rice, will you teach me how to blow-dry my hair?


Beverly said...

I can't teach you how to blow dry your hair because that is a skill I have never mastered. Keep asking. Maybe you will come up with something I know how to do, but it will probably take a while.

I can cook rice, but you already know how to do that.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Plus prepacked foods have a lot of packaging headed for the dump.
I just found this rice at the store that beats all (for what I want) Organic brown sticky rice...holy cats its perfect, not too expensive, but does take an hour to make!
Cooking is fun :)

Blondie's Journal said...

You made a lot of great points. Excellent post. I have a girlfriend who is a doctor. We were talking and she admitted she couldn't cook. I told her I would teach her how to cook if she'd teach me how to be a doctor!


Jodi Anderson said...

I always tend to think that those who don't cook always eat out instead. I guess this woman also assembles her meals. I wonder if she went and bought pre-cooked chicken too. It boggles my mind a bit, I guess.

I like how you countered the situation by pondering things that she may be able to do that you can't.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I love to cook, in fact I find it very relaxing. The problem is, as I've gotten older I can't afford to eat all the calories in the foods I love to cook. I actually buy the frozen microwave rice sometimes. It isn't because I can't prepare rice, it is because it is so fast and just the right size for the 2 of us. I guess I'd call that lazy cooking...not lack of skill:)


mo.stoneskin said...

Hmm, you asking me that? I'm not that knowledgeable about blow-drying hair I'm afraid.


That made me laugh.
Great point. I will try to keep this in mind when I feel as you did.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Well, I've been blow drying and beating my hair into submission every day for decades - I'll be glad to teach you LOL.

Interestingly, I can cook - but I CANNOT cook rice. I have ruined I-don't-know-how-many pots trying. No matter how careful I am, I always scorch the bottom of the pan with burned rice. It's hopeless. I have had a billion and one suggestions from people over the years, and I"ve finally decided I'm just not up to rice.

BUT - I can blowdry my hair!


Here's a tip an Indian (from India) co-worker passed along to me years ago for successful rice cooking.

1. Rice in the pot.
2. Cover with liquid by at least 1/2 inch.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Turn off the heat.
5. Cover for 20 minutes and DO NOT PEEK.

kcinnova said...

Minute rice was made for people like me who forget about making side dishes until it 10 minutes before dinner is to be served! Sad but true.
However, I'd much rather cook a pot of brown rice for 45 minutes than boil up a quick pot of "instant" brown rice. The difference in taste is huge.