Main Archives About kitchenMage My Cookbook Shop Connect:    RSS icon   email icon   twitter icon   Pinterest icon   flickr icon   kitchenMage's Recipes @Feastie

It Seems To Me... Feed

February 19, 2007

TV, training wheels, teaching and trashing...

I think I figured out what's up with those two food tv shows that many of us don't understand. It's all a matter of framing. This is cooking for beginners. Just maybe not the beginners you are thinking of.

What do you think of when you think "beginning cook"? For me at least, I think of children (and adults too, but always children) who are not only unskilled in the kitchen but too young to do many basic things on their own. No sharp things. Limited use of appliances: microwave instead of range, toaster oven instead of standard oven, etc. There is often a focus on assembly of ingredients rather than actual cooking.

You can see this clearly in old cookbooks. I learned to cook as a young child, and while I didn't use many children's cookbooks, I did have a few. Having not done too much shopping for such books in the last decade, I'm not sure if they have changed all that much since then. (other than having TV personalities on the covers) While there have been some notable additions since I was a kid, I bet that the books that have been in print for decades (and many of the newer ones) still use their tried-and-true approach. Duh. Tried and true sells.

Continue reading "TV, training wheels, teaching and trashing..." »

October 12, 2006

Think before you pink

Pinkdogwood Like many of you, I have friends and family who have died from cancer (or the treatment for cancer, but that's another rant) and wish that 'they' would find a cure. If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we cure... (...what's that? We've not put a man on the moon since way back when I was in a child? Well, maybe that's the problem, let's put some more folks on the moon! I've got a list we could start with...)

But I digress, let's get back to cancer and the pinking of marketing. October is apparently "Buy overpriced pink crap for cancer" month. Largely driven by the Susan Komen foundation, and flogged all over the Internet (which is neither plural "Internets" nor tubes) seemingly by everyone with the exception of a few nay-sayers like me, this month brings us all things pink. Pink kitchenaid mixers, pink knives, pink M&Ms, even pink hard drives to complete the Barbiefication (ouch, that word is gonna cost me!) of your life.

Why does this marketing of cancer bug me? Let me count the ways:

Percentage of profits that goes to actually fighting cancer, and specifics on where that money goes, is often vague. Most companies don't bother to say how much they give, leaving one to wonder exactly how much of their money is being funneled into research v. going into corporate coffers.

When you can find the data, donation per item is generally miserable. Other than Avon, which seems to actually donate a significant chunk of the income (sometimes 100% of net) from pink products, if you can find someone giving 10%, that's a lot. (Avon balances the large % of pink sales donated with this oh-so-tacky 'anti-domestic violence' bracelet...a blue hospital-style it to remind us that some 'blue' people put some 'pink' people in the hospital because they beat them?) As the wonderful site "Think Before You Pink" points out, you would have to eat three containers of Yoplait yogurt every day (10 cents per returned container lid) of the promotion to donate $36 to the cause. And that yogurt might be made from the milk of rBGH "enhanced" cows. That would be the same rBGH that might cause cancer, breast cancer no less. (as a fan of irony I should like this, but I'm less than amused...go figure) American Express gives a penny a purchase, regardless of the amount of the purchase. A penny. How. Appallingly. Cheap.

While we're on the subject of tax-deductible corporate largesse being used to disguise corporate malfeasance — we weren't talking about that? well, now we are — can we talk about the number of cancer-causing (or suspected cancer-causing) agents in the stuff that's being wrapped in pink? Cosmetics companies, like Estee Lauder, wrap pink ribbons around products containing parabens (chemical preservatives) and phthalates, both of which disrupt normal hormone function when absorbed into the body; hormone disruption has been suggestively linked with increased breast cancer risk. (suggestively linked sounds an awful lot like a Foley thing, doesn't it?)

But the big thing for me is that this is just another excuse to tell us to go shopping. Just like after September 11th, when the Dubya told us to act normal and go shopping, it seems that searching for 'the cure' is simply another angle in a world gone marketing mad. Plus it is all designed to reinforce the notion that women shop, cook, and play dress-up. Because that's what the overwhelming majority of the pinkStuff is: traditional girly things.

If you really want to help the search for better treatment, and perhaps even a cure, for cancer, write a check to a group that's doing the work. There are many such groups out there, pick one that relates to the sort of cancer you care about. If you want to do more, get a degree in a field that will allow you to go do the work yourself.

On the other hand, if you want an all-pink kitchen, go buy it now. Because now is the time to be pink. And you would be amazed at how pink you could be.

Just don't buy an all pink kitchen because you think it's helping find a cure for cancer. Because it's really not.

September 13, 2006

Some of my best friends are vegan...

Being neither a vegan nor someone who plays one on TV, I've not commented much on going meatless here. I do, however, end up at a few sites for the non-meat-eaters amongst us regularly, especially over the summer when both the CSA and my bit of a garden are producing a bounty of the freshest and most local of food.

One of my favorite vegetarian/vegan sites is vegblog, which ran a very helpful post on what to do when your vegan friends come to dinner a little while back. I'm not sure I'd agree with all of the advice — there's a suggestion of how to approach an egg-less quiche rather than the "make something else you fool" response that the idea deserves — but there are a number of handy tips and pointers to more data. There is also a page of resources ranging from background on various schools of thought pertaining to veganism to blogs to pretty much everything else you might need to support a vegan lifestyle. Very cool stuff.

I do have one question though: What's with the faux meat?

I can understand it if you don't eat meat for medical reasons and really miss the flavor. From what I hear, soy-based meat analogs have come a long way in recent years and they actually taste meatlike. (Here I pause for a moment to note the irony of the faux meat tasting more like real meat at the same time that the "real" meat is tasting more like some cheaply made soy-based amalgam every year.)

But if you are a vegan for ethical reasons, I can't see how you could eat faux steak. You're not eating a cow because it's ethically wrong so why are you pretending to eat a cow? What's up with that?

of course, right afer I posted this I discovered vegblog is down so the links are dead... wih any luck they will be back soon!

August 15, 2006

Being irregular...uh, a regular

An article (and posts about the article, whatever they are called..."antePosts" maybe) is making the rounds purporting to hold the secrets to becoming a regular at your local eatery. The theory here is that if you act a certain way you will become a regular and then you will get special treatment. (The writer that lurks in my head wants to know why it's called a being a regular if the goal is to be treated irregularly.)

Sure, it's nice to be a regular at Cheers, I guess, if you want everyone to know your name, but what's really in it for you? 

Urban Monarch lists a few benefits of being a regular thusly (my comments inline):

  • Ability to order special items (out of season, non menu) (this strikes me as a pain for the staff and I can't see doing it without calling ahead.)
  • Immediate seating (oh, so you are those jerks who like cutting in line? I don't want to be a regular at a place that does this to new customers)
  • Complimentary drinks / desserts (As a small business owner, I can see how this works. I comp work for people on occasion.The moment it looks like someone expects it, I am done.)
  • Discounts (see above)
  • Recognition and social proof (OMG the ego... I had to look up social proof and once I did I decided that it's not something I'd ever claim as a's got two bullets for common applications: marketing and seduction)
  • Dependable location to entertain guests / meet up with friends (I'll give them this, but only to a certain point; get a new waiter or a cook having a bad night and all that dependability goes away)
  • Warmly received and well respected by staff (Maybe the first, don't count on the second. I once worked at a place where the biggest tipping regular was greeted with smiles while we tried to hand him off to someone else through our clenched teeth, because he was a self-enitled snob who had very high expecations of what his "big tipping regular" status bought him)
  • Having the server bring you the ‘regular’ (how much trouble is it to order something? Besides, the only place I order the same thing often enough for it to be my regular is an espresso place)

Moving on to the "how to" portion...   

Continue reading "Being irregular...uh, a regular" »

July 24, 2005

the ethics of free recipes

As I was perusing this mornng's updated flogs, I stumbled across someone raving about Google Print. (Find it if you are interested, I am not supporting them by making it easy to find them. I'm also not linking to the blog where I found it because I like her writing and this isn't about her.) For those of you unfamiliar with the "service" being offered by Google, it takes the full text of published books and makes them available free online. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Well, it depends on who you are.

Continue reading "the ethics of free recipes" »

I also write at:

Popular Posts

I also write at:

All content on this site is © Beth Sheresh (2005-2012). Please play nice and don't take things that aren't yours.
See something you like and want to use? Drop me a note, kitchenMage(at)gmail(dot)com. I'm pretty agreeable when people ask.