Cooked: Are You Trending the Wrong Direction?
Mesquite Fired Chicken Fajitas and the Decline of the Western Kitchen
I’ve been watching a show lately, called, Cooked, and it’s fascinating. Any food blogger worth their apron, I’d wager, would probably be intrigued by it also, because I know I was, and I don’t even have an apron. I must say, the docu-series has inspired me, as if I need any further inspiration, to, and for a lack of better words – cook. But it has. One of the things they said on the show, the thing that stirred the soup of my soul, if you will, was that the average American house hold is trending away from cooking. And it’s been heading that way for a long time.
Since the 60’s, they said, we’ve been cooking at home less and less. Preparing food in the kitchen has declined almost 50%. And the United States, they said, cooks less than any other country in the world.
That’s right. And the reason is time, or lack of it. We’re in too big of a hurry these days, to cook a proper meal in our own kitchen. In point of fact, we’d gladly pay some one else to do the cooking for us. And in the process of this, we’ve lost something rather precious, and inalienable along the way. We’ve lost the fellowship of the cook. We’ve diluted the human food experience to a few beeps and boops on the microwave, or the speed dial on our cellular phones. In our haste, we’re bypassing the good stuff, the therapeutic sounds, say, of a knife chopping through vegetables in a quiet room. Or the aroma of bread baking on a wintry afternoon. Or the satisfying taste of a homemade soup wrought from the nourishing bounty of our own gardens. Not to mention a disbanding of the most important thing maybe, and that is the warm camaraderie of family or friends gathered in fellowship, in the kitchen, whilst we dutifully ply our craft. We’re missing out on all of these pleasantries when we’re too harried to cook. And because of that, we are cooked.
Well that did it. I needed to cook then. No ordering out for a pizza tonight. No forays through the freezer for a frozen dinner. I got to do this right. Take the scenic path. And I figured my best shot at it, being that I’m a man and all, would be out at the BBQ grill of course. Thus, and emboldened with new vigor, I got right after it out at the old kettle grill. First cooking up some boneless chicken breasts, smoked with mesquite wood, and gently dusted in Miners Mix Wholly Chipotle Rub. This rub is excellent, but I should tell you, off-hand and by-the-way, it does have a little kick to it, so be mindful not to dump it on with a great abandon, lest you enjoy a runny nose dribbling onto your supper plate. Anyways, the chicken was seared a little on both sides, as is often the case with grilling chicken, and tucked indirect, opposite the hot coals for the remainder of the cook. The meal was coming together nicely. Then I brought out my chopped vegetables. I tell you, the modular cast iron grate from the good people at Craycort sure made the difference in this cook-out. What a pleasure it is to grill with this sort of equipage. Everything just seems to fall right into place. And they operate with a certain sort of ease that which I find very comforting to the soul. We put the pan insert into service tonight, as you can spy, and sauteed up the lovely and timeless duo of green peppers and onions. The aromas of which garnished the air of this chill evening, whilst the tweety birds quietly puttered in the alders at the pond’s edge. We love to cook, it’s true. But what we really love is to cook outside.
Next we needed some corn and black beans, of which came to edible maturity in short order, thanks again to the cast iron pan insert. They sizzled accordingly there, adding more aromas to the outdoor kitchen. I cannot deny, there is a certain love affair going on with this cast iron grate. It’s a relationship. And if you’re good to it, it’ll be good to you. Cast iron is like that. It requires a modicum of attention, with a gentle oiling before and after each use. As if it needs to be reminded you care, I guess. But then again, who isn’t like that.Who doesn’t like to be told they are loved from time to time. Cooking at last brings people together like that, so that we can tell them, if only through making them a simple meal, that we love them. Like our friend Mr. Dodd likes to say, “What you cook isn’t nearly as important as who you cook it with.” Amen Mr. Dodd. Amen.
Speaking of Mr Dodd, just above is a link to his site of you’re into reading about tasty BBQ, of which you must be or you wouldn’t be reading this!
An Act of Small Rebellion
Well, after the chicken is done, and the peppers and onions are done, and after the beans and corn are warmed through, seasoned with some Miners Mix Steak and Veggie Seasoning, and after you’ve boiled up a pot of rice, bring the food henceforth inside, and let the savory aromas at once curl into the air. And watch now how the respective noses of family members pan your way. There is energy in the air. Note also the abiding communion which begins, or has begun, ever since you first lit the flames to cook. This one simple act of taking time out of your busy day, to slow down and deliberately cook supper, even when you don’t feel like it, is at once an act of small rebellion in a world gone mad with haste. And it is beautiful.
Chop up the protein into sizes of appropriate diameter for your body’s largest orifice, and thus assemble at your leisure, this lovely mesquite smoked chicken fajita bowl over a steaming bed of rice. Man, can you taste it! Don’t forget the freshly shredded mozzarella cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Let the flavors mingle together, and get happy there. The fajita flavors are designed to marry on your plate. This is what they do. They are many times better together than apart. A fusion of individual tastes. Of texture and spice. And when you think about it, in a round about way, so are we. And that’s why cooking healthy meals at home is so important you see. Because it brings us together in fellowship and good food. And say what you will, but precious few other things in this world are quite as lovely as that. And not nearly so tasty. Amen.
*Here is the show, Cooked, that we were talking about earlier. Good stuff!
Love that show…everything I believe about food
March 19, 2016 at 10:52 am
Yup, they did good on that show. Which he would do more. 4 episodes just wasn’t enough.
March 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm
Excellent post!!! Keep cooking, America!
March 19, 2016 at 10:57 am
Thanks! What Nick said, America!
March 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm
I think it’s sheer hogwash that folks nowadays say, “I’m too busy to cook”.
I make us two, 3 meals a day, every day, and I’m just as busy, if not more than the average American women.
I feel as though you do your family and yourself a grave disservice by NOT cooking, be you female or male, PERIOD!
March 19, 2016 at 1:26 pm
True that, Auntiedoni. If you have time to watch TV, or goof around on the internet, well, you’ve got time to cook. Exercise too, for that matter. I wonder if people are just losing touch with how important it is. I dunno. You carry on, Auntiedoni. A true example!
March 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm
I have this show on my list to watch. Now you’ve inspired me. I cook almost every night and we started the tradition of Sunday family dinners back up. When my older daughter got married and moved out I thought I would shrivel up and die, so I started the family dinners so I’d have an excuse to spend quality time with her at least once a week. We love it!
March 19, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Now that is a superb idea. Sunday family dinners. Brilliant! I like that. And that is how it was always meant to be. There’s just something about setting aside the time for things like that, that are precisely what a soul needs to grow and prosper. I hope you’re able to keep that tradition going for a long, long time.
Bless you guys!
March 20, 2016 at 12:48 pm
Thank you! Blessings to you as well! Our corned beef is already in the slow cooker, so it can get started while we’re all at church. We’re a little tardy in having our St. Patrick’s dinner! Have a great day!
March 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm
Mary and I both love to cook and Mary is really good at it! So, especially since we moved down here to Ecuador, we are not trending in the wrong direction. We love cooking and eating fresh food here at home!
Great post and fantastic looking chicken!
March 19, 2016 at 6:11 pm
I bet Miss Mary is Mozart at the stove! I can just tell. Yup, blessed is the man named John, who has a wife to feed him like Mary.
March 20, 2016 at 12:05 pm
Amen, and Amen!
March 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm
Very well put. We cook as much as we can. We might go out or order out 2 times max a month. I scratch my head as I see a grocery shopper with a cart full of microwaveables and a bag of oranges to keep scurvy at bay.
March 19, 2016 at 6:39 pm
Thanks Bill! Good to see you around these parts again. Been a little while, seems like. Yup, the art of cooking is certainly one worth learning. I mean, shoot, we gotta eat. So why not eat well!
March 20, 2016 at 12:04 pm
Well said. Take a gander at this post from a fellow blogger and good friend of mine. It has the same basic sentiment. http://seattleauthor.com/2016/02/25/fire-it-up/
I will be checking out the Cooked series, after I get dinner started, of course.
March 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm
Thanks Todd. Loved that write up. Thanks for passing it along. Yeah, Cooked was a good watch. Too bad it was only like four episodes. But inspiring none the less.
March 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm
Wonderful post and makes me glad that we cook homemade meals at least 5 nights a week…. some times they are just like you stated, simple meals of soup and stew and other times they are excotic meals from countries far and wide… but they are all about more than just a way to feed our bodies aren’t they??? They really are about feeding souls and family and friends. About LOVE and FRIENDSHIP. Thank you for taking us along for the ride into your cooking!
March 19, 2016 at 7:44 pm
You got that right jolynnpowers. Your words ring with wisdom. Thanks for coming along on the ride! Love having you here!
March 20, 2016 at 11:59 am
All these great pictures of food make me want to try it all. Where there is flame, there is food around here. Your Blog is inspiring and fun to read.
March 20, 2016 at 12:05 am
Thanks for that, Gary. Appreciate it. And may I say likewise to you!
March 20, 2016 at 11:56 am
Thanks for the love. Cooking should not only nourish the body, but the soul as well. Over the years I’ve built some amazing relationships in the kitchen and pit side. It’s when my kids and I talk, or my wife and I share. Even the neghbor kids learned early on if mrdodd is rolling smoke, you can pull up a chair and talk to him. And most likely if you talk long enough get a nice treat. Keep up the stellar work my friend.
March 20, 2016 at 6:58 am
You’re welcome MR Dodd. I always admire the way you go about your business over there. As well as your little tag line we quoted here. A worthy neighbor you would be. Long may for fires keep burning there, and doing what you do.
March 20, 2016 at 11:55 am
Outstanding piece! Again. We’ve seen the shows and we agree!! Folks who don’t cook – either inside OR outside – have NO IDEA what they’re missing! Little connects us like food does, and not making your own is like borrowing someone else’s shoes!
March 21, 2016 at 5:17 pm
Or borrowing their underwear, but I like your saying better. Glad you liked the write up, and yeah the shows were top notch. I might watch them again.
March 21, 2016 at 5:34 pm