January 21, 2008

Too Quick and Too Easy?

These days advertising cookbooks are, for the most part, all about cooking with processed convenience foods.

The stigma attached to this method of cooking and the subject of food snobbery in general are issues that I'll address in posts other than this one.

With more and more food brands falling under the ownership of single megacorporate umbrellas, it's inevitable that there wouldn't eventually be a train wreck of sorts.

Who knew the food company recipes would be the victims?

There was a period of time during the 1980s when I quit buying new cookbooks. Or at least, not as many as I did before. I remember this period as the advent of the "light" recipe cookbooks. Being a thin twenty-something blessed with the speedy metabolism of youth, I simply wasn't interested in that type of recipe, particularly when I didn't think they tasted as good as the "regular" recipes. When the 90s rolled around, the selection improved, and I started buying cookbooks again.

I'm reminded of that time now because it seems we've entered the period of Quick and Easy cookbooks. Which is fine, I guess. I can certainly appreciate being pressed for time and there's nothing wrong with shortcuts if the end result is the same. Who doesn't want to free up a little time in their day?

The title of this recipe book, Make-it-Easy (2005, 96 pages), might appeal to anyone with too much to do. After looking at the recipes inside, however, I have to wonder again if the test kitchens are running out of ideas.

Sometimes I'm not sure if the object is to save time or to use all of a company's products in one dish.

This particular cookbook is published by General Mills, a company with a lot of products to promote. Pillsbury refrigerated doughs are the stars of this show along with an overcrowded cast of co-stars also owned by General Mills.

The photo below is for a recipe called Crunchy Nacho Dogs. It's made with crescent dinner rolls, American cheese, hot dogs and crushed nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips. I'll admit it's possible I might be letting my intense dislike of said nacho cheese-flavored chips overshadow the possibilities of this dish.

The next photo is of Biscuit Tuna Melts which are made from a pouch of herb and garlic-seasoned tuna, frozen biscuits and shredded cheese. Cans are going the way of glass bottles, it would appear. How long before everything is packaged in little astronaut pouches "because consumers asked for it"?

This photo is of Grands! Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches, made with refrigerated biscuits. Isn't it just as quick and just as easy to buy some good bread with which to make your sandwich?

The Quick Beef Stew in the Bread Rolls shown below is a "stew" made of refrigerated precooked beef tips with gravy, fozen potatoes, frozen peas and onions, and more (from a jar) gravy, all mixed up and served in a ball of baked refrigerated dough. Is this a crossover dish like a car-based SUV? Beef stew with biscuits meets stew in a sourdough bread bowl?

If I've offended anyone who's actually tried these recipes and enjoyed them, then I apologize. Please feel free to comment if you have tried the recipes and found them to be good.

I have been known to be wrong. In the 1980s I also distinctly remember thinking that I would never be one of those older women who wore flat shoes or elastic waistbands.


At 2:03 PM CST, Blogger T.W. Barritt said...

It seems that most of these recipes are designed to try and sell more types of processed foods, don't you think? Perhaps quick and easy, but I wonder if its really "easy" on the pocketbook, when so many of the ingredients are pre-packaged. That hot dog concoction is unbelieveable!

At 8:51 PM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - Sometimes, as in the case of this book, it's so obvious that they're trying to sell their products. But to give credit where it's due--it did take some creative thinking on someone's part to figure out a way to use those nacho cheese chips in a recipe! No, not easy on the pocketbook at all. If one figures an average cost of $3.50 for each of the main ingredients, it would be $14.00 to make those Nacho Dogs. One could prepare a nutritious and tasty meal for that amount if they didn't use pre-packaged food.


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