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The Joy of Using Your Kitchen
I’m turning 30 in a few weeks. My brother visited this weekend and asked me if I wanted an All-Clad Master Chef 14-Inch Fry Pan for my birthday. “What!?” I exclaimed, “That’s not a 30th birthday present, you’re supposed to get me something that says 20-year old to make me feel young and cool and hip, not a pan that makes me feel domestic and homely and…30.” He was a little upset, I could tell. In his mind, he knows how much I enjoy cooking and how much time I spend in the kitchen. He was sure this was something I would both use and enjoy.
That night I sat down to read the Atlantic Magazine which had a feature article titled “The Joy of Not Cooking.” The article explained that Americans are spending more on designer kitchens and appliances (both small and large) while they spend less and less time in the kitchen actually cooking and using the tools. The article also detailed the history of the American kitchen. Cool stuff.
A few excerpts that stood out:
“When my grandmother was growing up in the 1920s, the average woman spent about 30 hours a week preparing food and cleaning up. By the 1950s, when she was raising her family, that number had fallen to about 20 hours a week. Now, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, women average just 5.5 hours—and those who are employed, like me, spend less than 4.4 hours a week. And that’s not because men are picking up the slack; they log a paltry 15 minutes a day doing kitchen work. One market-research firm, the NPD Group, says that even in the 1980s, 72 percent of meals eaten at home involved an entrée cooked from scratch; now just 59 percent of them do, and the average number of food items used per meal has decreased from 4.4 to 3.5. That’s when we’re home at all: by 1995, we consumed more than a quarter of all meals and snacks outside the home, up from 16 percent two decades earlier.”
“The best-selling cookbooks are aspirational fare, like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Yet the No. 1 cooking magazine is Taste of Home, which relies heavily on mixes and processed foods, and offers speed and convenience rather than lifestyle fulfillment.”
After reading the article, I got to thinking. How much time do I spend in my kitchen? Take today, for example.
Breakfast – 5 minutes to peel my hardboiled eggs and scarf it down before running out the door
Lunch – out with Mom and Dad who were visiting from out of town, not a usual occurrence, usually I mix together a salad with leftovers
Dinner – 2 hours which included a bike trip to the grocery store with my Mom, an 1.5-hour extravaganza in the kitchen to prepare dinner, and another 20 minutes to do the dishes (which Dad and Eric took care of).
On a typical day, I think I spend roughly an hour in the kitchen cooking or preparing meals (more on the weekends) and I’m happy about that.
Maybe a 14-inch All-Clad Iron Fry Pan is a great birthday gift after all.