Small Talk

Just this side of take-out

I’m going to start my own cooking show. When I say a recipe is simple, lazy cooks everywhere will know I mean four steps or less. In other words, just this side of take-out.

I was in hysterics after reading a recent cooking article that started out saying, “If you just don’t have time for breakfast, then try making yourself a smoothie.”

Making a smoothie is not a solution to my morning time crunch. Having a wife to prepare my breakfast would work. If I had time to make a smoothie, I’d have time to pour a bowl of cereal, microwave instant oatmeal or maybe even scramble an egg. Whoever thought a smoothie is easy has forgotten a few things. You need to find a ripe banana, dig berries out of the fridge that haven’t molded yet, make sure your husband hasn’t left just an 1/8 of a cup of milk in the carton, get down the protein powder and find the blender after the last Margarita party. All I can imagine is that this cook must daily prepare eggs, bacon, toast, grits, gravy, hand-squeezed juice, waffles with fresh fruit and maybe home-churned butter.

Another health column suggested you “add vegetables to your dinner.” My first thought was maybe this writer had based her research on four college students in their first apartment. I can’t really think of anyone I know who doesn’t generally serve vegetables with every dinner. I can’t guarantee they get eaten by anyone but the dog, but the idea of including them isn’t really all that revolutionary.

This kind of “helpful” advice ranks right up there with those cheery women in magazines who want to show you how to “Make holiday decorating cheap and simple.” These women clearly don’t sleep.

“Just take a fresh pumpkin and hollow it out.” They’ve already lost me. “Then dry it inside and out, spray it with fixative, stripe it purple and green and then using this simple template, carve the Mona Lisa into its roundest side.” Of course.

Christmas is just as threatening. Beware the headline, “Quick and easy cookie recipes.” They invariably require that first you make the dough from scratch. That means sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, brown sugar, shortening, vanilla, 10 sticks of butter and several cups of well-chopped nuts. This has exceeded my acceptable ingredient amount by about six items.

But if just mixing up a dough was all it needed, I might manage. Oh no. The three-page recipe then goes on to say, “Roll out the dough into ¼ inch sheets, wrap them in waxed paper and chill the dough for 24 hours.” I have never successfully rolled out dough. I have tried. I have failed. And if I have to plan my cookie-making 24 hours in advance, my holiday will be cookie free. Moreover, when I’m ready for homemade cookies, I have no intention of waiting another day to eat them.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer still searching for the simple life. Contact her at jgillette@coastnewsgroup.com.