Thursday, December 27, 2012

(Not) Slaving over a hot stove . . . or How To Delegate, With Wine . . .

Like me, my daughters are decent cooks who like cooking and baking, when it suits us. But we also know how to pick guys who enjoy their kitchen time. And we know how to let them go at it, while we admire from the sidelines . . . sometimes with a glass of wine.

My father was a cook, not just professionally but domestically as well -- in fact, my dad would take on any domestic task, diaper changes included. I could have been in for a rude shock if I'd had to negotiate marriage with a resolute non-kitchen person, and given the family my husband came from, that could have been the case. Part of my father-in-law's deep frustration at his and my mother-in-law's limitations of age is that she doesn't cook anymore and he can't -- so he's dependent on others for the food he eats, and, as a lifelong fussy eater (no discernible onions, please!) he doesn't much like it.

That will never happen with any of our guys -- they can all rustle up a very good meal. One son-in-law is a professional cook (so's our daughter, his wife, although she's now shifted careers); another catches crabs in the morning and makes a beautiful dish with them by evening, which he serves up with his homemade bread!
My son also honours the tradition -- he recently Tweeted an Instagram photo of a beautiful Beef Wellington that he and my DIL had made. We instantly put ourselves on their guest list.

Occasionally, however, neither the men nor the women are keen on cooking. In that case, our tribe puts our partners/spouses to work, cooking with their various iDevices to provide sushi, pizza, whatever it takes to assuage appetites and make a party. . .


I'm curious -- how is cooking gendered in your family? And is there a big difference from one generation to another?
Of course, the bigger question might be, "Who does the dishes"?  Those roasting pans can be a pain to get clean after their hours in the oven bringing an 18-pound bird to golden perfection . . . (notice that the kids cheated above, in the name of domestic peace)

28 comments:

  1. When we (my husband and I) first arrived in Canada, I took over three domestic stuff with gusto. Fast forward two years and one baby later, I realised he didn't have a clue what was in the kitchen and we would all starve. He now cooks every weekend (and cleans the kitchen). We eat well.
    It frustrates me that my mum does all the cooking and food prep, so much so that my dad is completely unable to look after himself now. My mother makes the kitchen duties into a real martyrdom issue so it's unpleasant whichever way you look at it. And it looks like my sister is continuing the family tradition in her latest marriage.

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    1. Smart of you to change the kitchen politics and practices in your home -- the scenario at my in-laws sounds much like where your parents might be headed. My mother-in-law did all, but yes, as a martyr. And at this point, neither is cooking, but both are bitter . . . so sad with cooking such a potentially joyful and creative task.

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  2. It's a joy to see all of you together like that.

    I cook, my daughter cooks, my son does not. My SO does not. My brother however, does with a capital C. So it's not gendered but by personality, I suppose. I love to cook and I hate to clean so it's a win of a set up for me:).

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    1. True that cooking is related to personality -- I'd still like to see everyone with some basic skills, all of us cooking for ourselves at least some of the time, but I may be too much influenced by my recent interactions with the in-laws. . . I'm like you and would rather cook than clean, but luckily Paul cleans up his own cooking messes and I don't mind putting the dishes in the machine . . . ;-)

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  3. My father cooks and cleans alongside my mother. I love to cook, my husband does not - nor did his father. However, Tim is great at doing dishes and does them willingly, and he doesn't starve when I'm out of town. Our girls cook. Our son cooks. All of our children's partners cook.
    I love these photos contrasting the traditional cooking with the techno food provisions.

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    1. So it sounds as if there's a bit of gender and generational and personality stuff going on with your family -- It does seem that the trend is for food prep to be much more popular than it was in the past -- and I love that it can be so much more social, as well. Remember the women, stuck in the kitchen?!

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  4. My grandmother taught me to bake. Betty Crocker taught me how to cook. My son loves to do both and is very good. He's just not too keen on doing the dishes.

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    1. I'm sensing a theme here with the dish-doing . . . ;-)

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  5. A little change-up here this year: usually John cooks every breakfast while I make lunch and dinner. When my mother visits, she usually makes a dish that we have requested because she makes it like no one else. Then I broke my leg three weeks before Christmas, and while I can get around the kitchen a bit, John had to do more with the Christmas dinner than he ever has, under my mother's direction. I did a lot of prep -- anything that I could lean against the counter and do was my job. (I was surprised how much cooking requires two hands, two legs and a good sense of balance.) Then I sat with my leg propped while J. and my mom worked out everything else. Turned out great!Some of us need to actually break bones before delegating, but that's another story! ;)

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    1. I was never so glad to have a husband who cooks than when I was in a cast from ankle to thigh for 6 weeks. It's true that cooking is even more physical than the unbroken might think.

      So now John's got all your mom's little cooking secrets, at least as far as turkey and mincemeat go?

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  6. The Great Dane has come to cooking at a late stage, but he has come. Our son is the cook in his family, and a good one. I am still the chief cook for family get-togethers - in fact yesterday and today have been spent preparing for tonight's feast in honour of TGD's birthday. This sort of cooking, I like. It takes time and when I have lots of time things seem to turn out, everything smells good and I think 'why don't I do this more often?'

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    1. I know what you mean -- I love putting together a special meal from planning to plating, but I don't do it often enough (and I think I know why, time being always at a premium). There's something very satisfying, isn't there, about feeding one's family! I'm glad the Great Dane is getting a chance to learn that satisfaction, but for now, you get to honour his birthday with good food -- pass along my greetings!

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  7. My mother has written about 30 cookbooks and it was my father who introduced her to cooking, so I come from a foodie family. Spouse, on the other hand, comes from a family where dad can just about manage to cook sausages on the BBQ and mum is afraid of anything more complicated than grilled chops. At home I cook - Spouse probably cooks about once every six months. He also refuses to do dishes. My kids aren't particularly enthusiastic about cooking but I'm guessing that might change when they leave home and spend a few months living on instant noodles ...

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    1. Between you and Lorrie (above), I realize there's more than gender, personality, generation -- there's family culture that probably draws on the other three factors and creates a context that really determines attitude to food. I'm not sure how my husband managed to break away from his heritage, but I'm so glad he did.
      And your kids, being smart kids, still recognize that there's work involved, so will avoid for now, but having seen your enthusiasm and also knowing what it is to eat really well, will certainly learn quickly and confidently once that's the only way to get a meal beyond Ramen-in-a-box.

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  8. How wonderful to have so many cooks in the family! It's always more fun when it's a group effort. I'm the only cook in my house, but do have some extended family who are quite handy in the kitchen, so those big family dinners are always yummy.

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    1. What's great about having a number of cooks around is that cooking in our house is usually done by choice rather than duty, so that the cook is getting pleasure from it as well as the eaters.

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  9. My Mother never taught me that it was important to check a potential husbands skills in cooking, carpentry, plumbing, home maintenance, and artistic style. I just lucked out!
    And why we never bought a dishwasher until a couple of years ago? Stupid! We love it.
    Our problem is that he enjoys cooking too much and it shows on both of us.

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    1. You did very well making a good choice, whether through luck or some innate smarts (I suspect the latter, although, hmmm, that late dishwasher purchase makes me wonder!).
      I share the problem with having a cook who too much enjoys it, but mine can eat and eat without it ever seeming to show, except on me!

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  10. You have the best family Mater. As for cooks, we're all cooks in my family but I'm trying to do less of it, for weight reasons.

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    1. I think I am very lucky in my family, Susan. And yes, sometimes we need to rein in the cooks, in favour of the waists . . . ;-)

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  11. I wish I was a good cook but never had anyone teach me cooking skills as a young girl. It's wonderful that your daughters cook and fabulous that the men in your family cook also! Very nice photos.

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    1. Interesting that there seems often to be a link between confidence in the kitchen and ability/willingness to tackle cooking and it seems that link often gets forged early. With my Father-in-law, his inability to cook stopped him from learning how because, until recently, he always had someone to cook for him. And I wonder if this links back to his mother dying early so that, like you, he didn't have anyone to offer him any cooking skills while young.

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  12. I like to cook and I'm good at it. My mom's a good cook, but my step father doesn't really cook at all. (Though he makes a killer grilled cheese sandwich.) All three of my nephews like to cook, and one of them (12) is an amazing baker. When I moved to Spain, I gave him a lot of my "kitchen toys." My nieces like to cook, too.

    I'm looking forward to lots of excellently prepared meals when I'm older and ready to hang up my apron!

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    1. Sounds as if you will be well cared for in your dotage, having been wise enough to encourage the youngsters in their kitchen play!

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  13. All my family cook to some degree. I am the main day to day cook but Ian can and does with no fuss at all when I am away or don't feel like it. Both sons can cook, the younger one being seriously good. He taught his wife when they married four years ago. Both daughters are also good cooks and were amazed when they went away to university to find how few of their friends could cook. Food is an important part of our family life and I am now loving cooking and baking with the three and six year olds in the new generation.
    Ian is the only one keen on washing dishes though!

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    1. Sounds as if you've raised a practical and talented bunch, and also sounds as if you've been lucky in having a husband who doesn't mind washing dishes. I share your good fortune, actually, and Paul generally picks up our groceries as well although, sadly, he doesn't always read my mind when doing it . . . ;-)

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  14. Unfortunately I do it all, so that we eat on a regular schedule. When Mr. C goes grocery shopping, he comes home with $200 of condiments. He has gotten better at loading the dishwasher, though, and knows how to turn it on, unlike some gents.

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  15. Yes, work with what you've got -- loading and turning on the dishwasher count considerably. Pater does most of our grocery shopping, but his unwillingness to put his reading glasses on means the occasional surprise. . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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