Saturday, June 08, 2013

Waffles, recipes and the evil convenience food industry.

So just to prove exactly how hyper feminine I am:

This afternoon I got a Real Simple email (I'm a subscriber, but I get the e version on my iPad so I don't feel guilty about killing trees).  Anyway there was a link to a new recipe for waffles.  I was excited. I got a waffle maker for my last birthday. It has been one of my favorite gifts, right behind the complete set of cookware I got one mother's day.  (I know, it's weird, but what can I say. Ask me about my teapot collection sometime). Anyway, I was excited because this recipe promised to be new and exciting.  I clicked on the link and this is what I found:


WTF??!!!  This is not a recipe. A recipe has real ingredients like flour and eggs. This set my June Cleaver alter ego all atwitter.  It doesn't help that I am currently reading Michael Pollan's latest book, Cooked. Pollan wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire and other books about how we eat, our relationship to the natural world, and how we live. In this latest book he talks about how we cook. But really he talks about how we don't cook. Then he explores all the ways that humans extract nourishment from plants and animals. He divides the book into the following sections:  Fire, Water, Air and Earth.  In the fire section he talks about Barbecue and takes you on a tour of southern BBQ joints. He apprentices to a southern pit man and eats more pork than anyone should.  Apparently Michal has come to terms with being an omnivore.  By the end of the chapter I wanted to go out and get a BBQ sandwich with coleslaw and a side of cornbread.  I have been a vegetarian for 25 years.  The man is good.  Now I'm reading the water chapter which has to do with slow cooked casseroles, braising and waiting. While he talks about food, he also talks about how our society has changed. One of the things that has changed radically is our definition of cooking. He takes on the received wisdom that home cooking went out of fashion when the women's movement got women out of the kitchen and into the work force.  He makes a good case for that not being entirely true. Pollan points out that meal replacements were created during World War II to feed the troops. With the war over manufacturers looked for new markets and focused on American housewives.  He talks to an industry insider who points out quite callously that Americans will never start to cook again because we are "cheap and lazy". This same guy acknowledges that home meal replacements are pretty abysmal as far as taste, are not that healthy and help contribute to the obesity issues in this country. Then he basically shrugs and says "oh well".  

But back to the waffles. If you want to make really good waffles, all you need is your favorite waffle recipe (please no Bisquick).  The waffle recipe in The Joy of Cooking is a good starting place. If your recipe doesn't include this technique add it: Separate the eggs and whip the whites to soft peaks. After you combine the wet and dry ingredients, fold in the whipped whites. Your waffles will be light and irresistible.  People will offer to marry you just to get more of them.  Seriously. But whatever you do, step away from the supermarket freezer section.  Waffles are for slow Sundays. Preferably slow Sundays spent with family, friends or a really cute significant other.  I happen to have a really cute significant other and a blessedly empty nest, so I think I'll make waffles tomorrow.  You should join me.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The MMPI Never Lies

Early in our relationship my husband had occasion to ask me to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). He was still in graduate school and taking his assessment course. He needed a practice subject and I said, sure, why not.  Since my undergraduate degree is in Psychology, I knew the scale but had never taken the test.  Let me explain:  The MMPI identifies personality structure. Basically you answer a bunch of questions about your interests and feelings and then get scores on various personality traits. The test has been used by the Department of Defense and the CIA to screen applicants.  One of the many personality traits it identifies is femininity.

In reviewing my results my husband said that I got abnormally high scores on the femininity scale. He kept looking at me askance so I asked him who else would get scores like that and he said, "Well sometimes drag queens score that high."  That will make you take a beat.  So now thirty years later I guess I'm still pretty high on the femininity scale. I say this because of my latest obsession:  hostess aprons.  I saw a pattern for one online and ordered it. Then during a particularly stressful period this past winter I shut myself up in my sewing room and made not one, but two. Then I sent email of one of them  on Zelda the dress form to my friends.  Now every time I am in Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table or any little boutique I am drawn to the aprons.  Apparently I have my finger on the pulse of the female consumer market because there is a whole cottage industry growing up around hostess aprons right now.  There are blogs about them. I'm not making this up. 

So, here is Zelda in my first apron:

It's a sickness I know.  Now I am planning to make a really fancy one like they used to wear in the fifties.  And I almost bought one in Sur La Table last week. I did buy a washed linen chef's apron at William Sonoma because it was on sale and it was so pretty and I don't have a washed linen apron.  I can imagine the 12 step meeting for this:

Hello, my name is Jackie and I am addicted to household linens. Last week I bought six sets of lace doilies and counted them as staples.

Actually I wouldn't be caught dead buying lace doilies. They are way too fussy. I prefer to spend my money on ethnic print place mats.

It's hopeless, I know, but look it's so pretty...