Lazy And Incompetent

Perhaps my title should have been, Busy and Incompetent.  I heard, years ago, that as technology evolved, we would all have more free time, to pursue hobbies and studies and things like that.  It seems though, that as we acquire more and more technology, we have less and less time for ourselves.  I know that, as I spend more time, with more blogs, my reading has decreased.  One of the parts of life to take the greatest hit from busy-ness, seems to be cooking and food preparation.  People have not been taught, or don’t remember, or simply don’t care to, take the time and effort to prepare food from scratch.

My son was amazed in a store the other day, to encounter, pre-cooked bacon, hence, the title of this blog.  How lazy and incompetent have people become, that they can’t even fry bacon?  There’s more than that to the equation.  Folks don’t want to get grease-spatter burns, or messy stoves, or indelible marks on their clothes.  There’s even the question of what to do with the rendered fat when you’re done.  Personally, I keep a clean soup can in the fridge and pour the grease into that, and let it cool.  Then we use some for things like frying French toast or, as we did tonight, create a roux, and add a can of beef broth to make “stone” gravy for perogies.  That can of broth is short-cut cooking for us.  I can almost hear the younger crowd.  “Create a roux?  What the Hell’s a roux?  Make gravy?  Screw that, open a can.”  We “used to” make perogies from scratch, but it’s a four-hour process.  We’re becoming like others, now we buy them ready-made in boxes.

For many people, everything, including food, has to be fast and easy.  Hamburger Helper has a series of ads where they urge you to cut up and add veggies and spices to “personalize” the basic pot of slop.  A lot of folks don’t even know how to cut stuff up, or what spices are, although HH assists them by showing a bottle of Tabasco Sauce.  Studies show that one out of every three meals in America is consumed outside the home, and that doesn’t include delivered stuff, like pizza or Chinese.  Think of that folks, breakfast, lunch and dinner, an average of one of those meals every day, for every person, is purchased.  You guys are dining out way too much.

One of the females in my blog-circle was in awe of her neighbor, who made fresh cookies.  “Even if I had the time, I wouldn’t know how.”  One of the reasons I’m overweight, is that, all three of the adults in this house, know how to cook.  My mother taught me, and my wife taught the son.  We all have our specialties.  I make stuff like homemade pizza, pasta and chili.  I also serve as a great prep-chef and bus-boy.  I will peel and grate and chop and get out spices and milk, etc.  Then the wife comes over and assembles something and leaves a mess, and I clean it all up, just in time to enjoy Black Forest Cake, or a stew from Kenya.  I get a little OCD about cleaning up.  Sometimes I put stuff away, that hasn’t been used yet.

When she was raising our kids, and babysitting for the busy working mothers of the neighborhood, the wife watched TV shows like The Galloping Gourmet, Julia Child or Wok with Yan.  We have almost 20 cookbooks, including a three-ring binder with computer printed pages of preparation and cooking instructions, and recipes from around the world.  That’s why I said that the neighbor probably enjoyed, what to us, was a simple meal.

We continue to purchase things like mustard, relish, ketchup and HP Sauce by the gallon, at Costco.  I wash out the empty squeeze bottle from the fridge and fill it again and again, from the big container.  I can purchase the big container for the cost of two or three of those handy-dandy little ones and get 10 or 12 refills.  All it takes is some time, energy and patience, things many people in today’s busy world don’t have.  It even cuts down on garbage and recycling.  Then we take the money we saved and drive north to the Mennonite farmers market and buy top-grade fresh produce, to make some more yummy waist-stretchers.

Come Christmas-time, we make about a hundred dozen bite-size cookies of about ten varieties, and one or two soft, moist, yummy Christmas cakes.  We give away the lion’s share to our chiropractor, his wife and kids, and now a couple of new husbands.  They have been exceptionally nice to us over thirty years.  They have established a Christmas-morning ritual breakfast of tea and our cookies and cake, as they open presents.  They still respond by giving us far more as gifts than we feel is justified.  This past Christmas they bought us our membership to Costco.  My ever-anchored son pointed out to my wife that, if they went to the Mennonite market and purchased the amount we give them, the cost would be well over $200, and the quality would be nowhere as good.

The highlight of the presentation, especially for the now-adult children, is individually hand decorated/iced sugar cookies.  Bells and wreaths and stars, hand-painted with different colored icing, with various-shaped decorations added.  Then the artistic wife, and especially daughter, use the colored icing to “paint” sugar-cookie men and women to resemble each of them.  They put in suits, jogging outfits, and for each of the girls and their new husband, a wedding gown and tux.  All of them get their name added in dark icing.

When we deliver the largesse, it’s like watching It’s A Wonderful Life, in real life.  These “kids” are now all into their twenties, but the eyes sparkle and the smiles glow.  They are just SO glad to receive their hand-made, personalized gift.  It’s a Hell of a lot better than that “personalized” Hamburger Helper.  It’s such a shame that so much of the good, old ways has been left behind by so many of today’s busy, stressed citizens.

18 thoughts on “Lazy And Incompetent

  1. With the rising cost of driving that new car, with payments due on the boat and quad and all the other toys that ‘civilized’ people just gotta have, no one has time to sit back and smell the bread baking in the oven. Or take the first slice off the end of a loaf while it’s still hot, slather it with butter and enjoy some down home goodness

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sightsnbytes says:

    I would guess that the biggest market for ready cooked bacon are Nudist Camps. After all, who wants all that hot bacon fat flying on their bare bellies and other bare parts?

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  3. Ooo! Good point, Sights

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  4. kayjai says:

    True…the baking and cooking has gone by the way side as so many wives and husbands are out working. The surge in requiring dual incomes to make ends meet, has meant the decline of valuable ‘home’ time which translates to quicky meals and buying baked goods. I still try to do the homemade bread (more often in the winter) and share with the neighbours who are overjoyed to get a hot loaf out of the oven. The Christmas cookies? I’m awful. If you ever have an extra Christmas cake kicking around, you know where to send it, friend! :))

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    • Archon's Den says:

      COULD happen. Used to make three at a time and freeze two. They actually improve with the aging. Now we just make one and split it. Thanks for a blog idea, about shipping stuff to Nfld.

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  5. Jim Wheeler says:

    Our grown children and grandkids eat nothing but prepared foods except for what my wife takes over to them daily – they live down the street from us. Their stove is unused – anything that needs to be heated gets nuked. It drives me crazy, but the culture will not be thwarted, even as the nation drives toward twin cliffs of health and financial crises.

    You are living the good life. I enjoyed your post here.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      When we inspected this house ten years ago, I found that the stove filter was installed upside down, preventing the exhaust fan from running. When I told the young wife, she just shrugged, and said, “Oh, I never use the stove.”

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  6. ladyryl says:

    Archon’s Daughter here…

    I want to add to this that my son [his grandson] has enough basic skills to make meals for himself and his fiance when they get into the kitchen. So far the menu is pretty simple, but they are checking out meals in cookbooks and ask advice while I sit out of the way and are seeking to learn how to fend for themselves. They went nuts for awhile going out for meals until I pointed out how much money was disappearing and couldn’t be invested in other things they wanted. If they just took lunches/dinners made here at homes in cooler bags and cooked for themselves more, it would save them money, provide them with healthier meals & carry on [what our family considers and they should be treated as] vital skills.

    Son grew up with homemade everything practically due to numerous food allergies, everything from bread, cookies, meals, treats, desserts had to be made with special ingredients and recipes re-designed to substitute new/difference/missing ingredients. Heck, I even got good at creating Gourmet level meals from leftovers according to family, friends and the kids at school..! Son, like his grandfather, acted as my prep-chef and bus boy while I did the cooking. It was not hard to get him to show his fiance how to shift into more from-scratch cooking and doing with less ready-made, boxed, fast food, restaurant stuff. Now they have a new way to share time together and build a broader base for their relationship as a bonus…..

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      That’s the way it should be, ladyryl. You’re lucky your son and his girl are receptive. Our descendants are very different from me and my wife in their inclinations. Nature or nurture? It’s a mystery. Sometimes I have guilt pangs – I was in the Navy when they were young and was gone at sea a lot, especially in their most formative years, ages 6-10. It was the height of the Vietnam war. Ah well.

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      • ladyryl says:

        I wouldn’t think you are that much to blame, around that time many family were being wooed by the convenience of ready-made foods. I remember many of the kids my mom babysat were stunned by homemade cookies and other treats as all they got at home came out of bags and boxes. My brother and I were considered the luckiest kids to have a mom like ours that made stuff from scratch and tasted sooooooooooo good…

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  7. You forgot about the homemade Christmas card with a carol that has been reworked with words appropriate to the cookie giving & receiving event. Our chiropator has saved everyone…………he assures me he will know if I cheat & give him exactly the same one.

    I have used “The night before Christmas” twice, but have managed to use different words..sort a Weird Al moment…….

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  8. […] and more, we are joining the ranks of the Lazy And Incompetent cooks I wrote about 15 months ago.  A couple of weeks ago, the wife found that the Wholesale […]

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