I feel a bit like that when I read the blogs about cooks who seem to spend their life in the kitchen these days making everything from scratch. It has become the gold standard to bake your own bread, grow your own herbs, roll your own pasta. In certain circles, if you say you'd just as soon buy Ronzoni, it is immediately assumed that encourage your children to eat chemicals and pesticides for after school snack, and for fun you probably pump pure carbon dioxide and methane into the air in your backyard, because that's what shipping your pasta from one side of the country to the other does.
I don't mean to disparage the whole foods movement, I think it's a great idea. I'm even on board with it to a certain extent. I don't mean to argue about the buy local phenomenon-- it's terrific. (But I think you better pick where you live before you commit to eating only food that's produced within 100 miles of your home, because where I live, that means you wouldn't be able to eat anything fresh for eight (nine?) months out of the year.)
But here's my problem with the whole thing: I don't want to spend that much time in the kitchen. I am not one of those people who enjoys spending all afternoon cutting and chopping and simmering. If I spent all afternoon in the kitchen, you'd have to peel me off the ceiling. I don't hate to cook, but I don't love it either. My spouse doesn't have time to cook, so we're stuck with me.
I'm good for 30-45 minutes in the kitchen before I get so bored I want to pull my hair out. Which means that I am not going to make my own cheese. I am not going to make my own vinegar. I have absolutely no interest in churning my own butter, rolling out my own tortillas, or canning my own produce (tried it--three years in a row--and it is definitely not for me). I know these things are better when they're made from scratch. You don't have to argue with me about that, I've tasted it with my very own mouth. But at our house, we have to choose between food that can be made quickly, and mom going to the loony bin. I choose sanity.
I keep wondering to myself, isn't that why we're in the 21st century? So we don't have to spend our lives slaving away at all the little things that make life seem like pure drudgery? Why would I want to chain myself to a stove?
But then I have to remind myself that there are (obviously) people who do get a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction out of spending hours in the kitchen. And they probably felt guilty about it back in the 80s when everything was about "freedom from the kitchen," i.e., convenience food and twenty-minute meals and semi-homemade. Just the way I feel guilty now because I really don't care if we occasionally have pizza delivered, or if I start my spaghetti sauce with a jar of pre-made marinara, or if I pull out a pan of Rhodes frozen cinnamon rolls when MadMax has a friend spend the night. (my lord, have you tasted those things? who cares that they're not from scratch?)
But here are my exceptions to the 45 minute limit: holidays, and cooking with friends and/or family. And since those two often go together, I'm good this week. Nell and I are making pies (2 apple, 2 pumpkin, pecan, chocolate pecan, cherry, strawberry rhubarb), grape salad, appetizers, and butternut squash (Nell's specialty, and she really is one of those who enjoys chopping and simmering) for our multi-family Thanksgiving on Thursday. Have a great holiday.