Tag Archives: secret

Why Men Act Stupid in the Kitchen

Men in the kitchen are low watt Neanderthals, tipping over pots, torching the stove,  and clueless about cooking with anything but a grill.  At least, that’s the joke women tell each other.

But what’s really funny is actually believing a man who can strip and rebuild an engine, hold his own on a skilled team, close tough deals or create things from scratch at work,  suddenly drops bucketloads of IQ at the kitchen door.

Truth is, we don’t.  Here’s a few secret reasons we let you think we do.

We’re Not Stupid It’s feeding time and we’re way past hungry. Option A is we let you fix us dinner.  Option B is … what Option B?

We’re Well Trained Ninety times out of a hundred the women in our lives have raised us to sit dumb at the table, not show off at the stove.  When guys get treated like big lugs who need to be cared for, guys get comfortable being big lugs who need to be cared for.  Show of hands – how many ladies take their boys and say ‘let me show you the right way to stuff a turkey, or make a pie’?

No Trespassing We may not let on, but we pick up on your signals.  And it doesn’t take a junkyard dog to convince us the kitchen doesn’t belong to us.  We can come in,  but we’re not entirely welcome.

Me Tarzan And deep down you like that we swing in from the jungle, beat our chest, and let you set up home and run the hearth.  It’s a loincloth, not an apron.

Better Dumb Than Wrong The last thing we want is a big helping of humiliation topped off with a heaping slice of humble pie.  Given the choice of being laughed at for not knowing how, or for messing up in front of a hungry crew, we’ll plead ignorance.

Just in case anybody’s interested in seeing a man spend more time doing meal time, try this:  give him some attention and praise for how much he knows about cooking.

The Trouble With Breakfast

I have a problem with breakfast.  I need trained professionals with paddles who shout ‘clear’ in order to wake up before the kids.  Early morning is not my best time of day.  So, I find a big heaping bowl of ice cold milk and wet flakes first thing about as appealing as finding  our labrador had an accident in the living room.

Don’t get me wrong.  Should anyone from Kelloggs, General Mills, Post or any other cereal company stumble over here and find me comparing their products to dog poo:  I’m sure you good folks make very fine breakfast foods, which are enjoyed by hundreds of millions daily.  In fact, I believe breakfast cereals are the fourth most common item purchased at supermarkets in the US.  So, I’m also sure, you don’t miss having me for a customer.

I think my distaste for cold cereals started when I was a young boy.  In those days my father would only allow the family to eat the kind of cereal HE liked.  And he liked corn flakes.  Every single day.  My brothers and sister and I would watch television commercials with creatures shouting about exotic, unbelievably sweet and shaped cereals, eye-popping with colors, and could only imagine what it would be like to live in a country that served them.  Like, just next door.

I discovered my ideal breakfast on an extended work stay in a bed and breakfast outside Aberdeen,  Scotland.  Let’s just say, the breakfast was bigger than the bed.  The gracious family who ran the place would suggest what I might like to have, without restriction, and then serve it.  Not ‘either / or’, but, altogether.  Meats, eggs, fried tomatoes, and potatoes, black pudding, baked beans, whole grain breads and marmalade, on the plate, early every morning.  And in the center of my table, arranged by variety, stood little boxes of different types of dry cereal, which I deliberately ignored.  With a start like that, I ran all the way til dinner and skipped lunch.

Now, its clear, if I ate that way each day of my life, I would actually require those professionals with paddles, to manage heart attacks.  So, at home, it’s just a fond memory.

But every couple of weeks, I like to take a weekend morning and give the kids a small taste of what they’re missing.  They’d choke on my Scots menu, so I do a special hash brown potatoes with eggs or french toast, and they’re always happy.

The hash browns are a big hit because of a little cooking secret.  Here’s how it works.  Plants that have bulbs or tubers in the ground are actually using them to store up sugar, so they can get through a deadly winter, and have enough spark to put up leaves in spring.  You may not know it right off, but onions, garlic, and potatoes have the sweet stuff in abundance.  The trick is to get them to come out so you can taste them.

Slow, long cooking is the key.  I start with two good-sized onions and three garlic cloves and eight medium potatoes, to feed six.  That may leave you with leftovers, but they’re just as good as fresh.

Chop the onions into pieces about the size of your thumbnail, and the garlic as fine as you can.  Margarine or butter, about a tablespoon or one and a half, in a cast iron skillet.  Use another pan at your own risk, you want to brown things, not blacken, and the trusty skillet is a master at doing that.

Start the onion and garlic over medium heat.  Meanwhile, microwave or boil the whole potatoes til they’re firm enough to still resist a fork, but less so than raw.  Cut that into pieces about twice the size of your thumbnail, or any size you prefer.  Smaller cooks best.

Then turn the flame down to medium low, still sizzling but gently, and put in the potatoes, with some salt, a bit of pepper, a little shake of dry dill if you have it, and a couple good shakes of paprika. You can also add another tablespoon of margarine or butter if the mix looks really dry.  The ingredients should look like they have a little on them.

The layer of pieces in contact with the skillet bottom cook, and as they do, they’ll want to stick.  So, your job for the next hour or so is to use a metal spatula and keep them scraped off and turned over, so everything gets evenly done.

As they cook, the onion, garlic and potatoes are losing water, and the sugars in them are browning.  Medium dark brown is good, close to cherry wood, but not walnut, or stop before things start to get crunchy.

A proper breakfast, if I say so myself.

The old saw is, you are what you eat, and I like the idea I’m feeding the kids something good, straight from the earth.  My wife says, I’m flaky enough as it is.

Banned Food Ingredients

Dads In the Kitchen cooking tools

Not being properly trained to cook, you, like me, may feel free to come up with your own ideas about what to combine to make a dish.  It’s a natural inclination.

This is how it works.  You take a look at that dish you’re working on.  It just seems, wimpy. You think, let’s put some cheese in it.  And some mustard. And sunflower seeds. And let’s see what else is handy in the fridge.

Now,  it may come as a surprise to find this kind of creative kitchen activity is not universally appreciated.  In fact, for many women it is downright alarming.  Like when the Secret Service learn an escaped psychotic in a clown suit and a small plane is heading to meet the President.  You just want to share a brainstorm you’ve had.  They believe you are the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse, with incredibly bad taste.

I have no idea what originally caused people to start putting sticks, leaves, and whatnot together to come up with things like ice cream and apple pie.  Or, beef stroganoff. But I tell you, it’s pretty hard not to want to try a bit of this and shake of that, just to see how it will turn out.

Unfortunately, this is against the laws of nature.  The outcome of your food efforts will be a concoction, and concoctions are biblically banned in all fifty states, and not allowed in the kitchen, or on the table, of decent people.  In fact, little girls are warned about what will happen if men are allowed to make concoctions, and mothers will protect their broods from them.  Mothers who discover sons with such tendencies usually steer them into chemistry, or becoming Bobby Flay.

Men cannot be trusted to just make things up in the kitchen, because unlike women, we are likely to use ‘weird’ ingredients.  These are ingredients which look innocent enough on the shelf, but have been legally determined cannot to be brought together in any edible dish.  I don’t have the list for you yet, but I’m working on it.

The bad news is, once you’ve been caught, there’s no shaking the stigma.  My kids won’t sit down to any meal I’ve fixed without asking, ‘Daddy, what’s in this?’, so they can decide whether to skip it. Or need to tell their mother I’m doing voodoo on the family again.

My advice – the wise man in the kitchen will resist the temptation of discovery.  Just give em what they want during the week, and let your wife take poison control off speed dial.

Keep watching here for that list, or if you have a minute, send along some combinations you’ve uncovered yourself.