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The Loss of Simple Pleasures (as Exemplified in a Brownie)

 

 

 KAREN I. writes:

Have you seen the latest fake food product designed to save time? It’s called Shake and Pour Brownies by Betty Crocker. Preparing this concoction entails adding water, shaking for 45 seconds, then pouring the chemical laden goo into a greased pan. Apparently, mothers are now too busy to add eggs and oil to a box mix. The ad says it all.

Laura writes:

When people lose the capacity to enjoy great things, they lose the capacity to enjoy small things too. This is a good example of that principle. What could be easier to make than a brownie? It takes about 15 minutes to put together the batter, if that. And it’s even easier to go without a brownie at all. But here we see everything made so much more complicated. And revolting too. I guarantee you this tastes every bit as disgusting as other prefab brownies, which reek of chemicals.

— Comments —–

Fred Owens writes:

Fast food is a contradiction in terms. Fast and Food don’t belong together in any family or in anyone’s healthy diet. It takes 45 minutes to bake a potato in the oven, which is part of God’s natural plan. It tales 6 minutes to microwave a potato into some semblance of edibility, but I consider that a crime.

If traditionalists have an outreach program for heathens in the neighborhood, they might begin the conversation with a friendly chat about “fast food.”

Diana writes:

I agree with you about the pourable brownie batter. Unspeakable. It’s basically an inducement to gluttony.

But fast food can be good. Jacques Pepin wrote a book called Fast Food My Way.

Some types of foods benefit from a quick searing, grilling, etc. Of course, Pepin didn’t mean that ALL of our foods should be cooked quickly. And quickly doesn’t mean hurriedly.

By the way, I’ve never had luck with the ‘no knead’ bread-making technique. I think it takes a hotter oven than I have.

Laura writes:

When most people speak of “fast food,” they mean food prepared commercially, not food made with a recipe by Jacques Pepin. There’s all kinds of great things one can make quickly from scratch — even brownies.

Diana writes:

I was specifically referring to Fred Owens’ comment, “Fast food is a contradiction in terms. Fast and Food don’t belong together in any family or in anyone’s healthy diet. It takes 45 minutes to bake a potato in the oven, which is part of God’s natural plan. It tales 6 minutes to microwave a potato into some semblance of edibility, but I consider that a crime.”

Maybe my comment was a nitpick. But sometimes nits do need to be picked.

Brenda writes:

Once, about fifteen years ago, I sent a letter to General Mills, thanking them for all the wonderful recipes in the Betty Crocker Cookbook that I use the most (1984 copright, I think…..the page that had that information has been gone for some time!). In my letter, I praised the overall look and feel of the book, and how it was my go-to source for many recipes; indeed, that I basically learned how to cook and bake from this book, and appreciated the attention they gave the novice cook. My reason for doing this was simply to let them know that, with their help, I’d advanced well beyond the “novice” stage, & that I felt confident enough to cook for not just my family, but for guests as well. I never expected a reply, but I did receive one, about 3 weeks later: a form letter, thanking me for my interest in their products, and a few coupons for some of their convenience foods, including brownie mix!

Laura writes:

Some of the Betty Crocker cookbooks are very good, or so I am told.

Jim B. writes:

Your latest thread has hit upon a pet peeve of mine: fake food products that purport to “save time” that don’t even do that. I had to wean my wife off of “pancake mixes,” where you pay twice or three times as much for a mix that permits you to add one less ingredient to your pancake batter, thus saving five whole seconds. Oh, well, at least the pancakes end up tasting worse…

 Laura writes:

Agreed.

It amazes me that people buy Bisquick. It saves so little time and it tastes much worse than pancake batter made from scratch. I don’t know what they put into to give it that off-flavor.

The chief problem with all mixes of this kind is not that they create inferior results, which they definitely do, but that they prevent people from investing a little time into learning how to make things so that in the long run they can save gobs of money, make much better food and gain the sense of mastery that is perhaps the highest reward of cooking. Convenience products are habit-forming.

Michael Pollan, the food writer, advises in his book In Defense of Food, that people buy nothing in the supermarket that their great grandmothers couldn’t have bought. It’s a good general rule to follow.

Laura writes:

Here’s another example of an atrocious product: canned icing. The stuff tastes like sweetened rubber cement (or what I imagine it to taste like). Mixing butter, cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar gives a much better result  and is cheaper. It takes very little time to make it although one does have to make sure one has those three things. I think it is better to go without cake than to give in to these temptations, which kill the simple pleasure that a cake is.

Jane S. writes:

All part of the Left’s plan to rob people of basic skills. Soon, they won’t be able to use their hands for anything except pushing buttons on a screen.

Brenda writes:

Jane S. says: “Soon, they won’t be able to use their hands for anything except pushing buttons on a screen.” This brings to mind a song from the 60s, “In The Year 2525.” Some of the lyrics go like this: “Your arms hanging limp at your sides, your legs got nothing to do, some machine’s doing that for you….”

Diana writes:

Jane says:

“All part of the Left’s plan to rob people of basic skills. Soon, they won’t be able to use their hands for anything except pushing buttons on a screen.”

Is this a left/right thing? I thought that the companies that produce these insta-foods are profit-making enterprises, which is associated with the right side of the spectrum.

And it strikes me that the people who proliferate on the artisan-slow-real-food “lanes” are lefties. Back-to-the-land, organic, etc. This is my problem associating with other like-minded foodie types. I just know that they are leftists and don’t share their values, except with respect to food, eating, gastronomy in general.

Laura writes:

It is a left/right thing. The left blames the deterioration in food on evil capitalists, industrialists and the traditional Western diet while overlooking the role feminism has played. There is a strong argument against unconstrained market forces too.

Jane S. writes:

Some years ago, I knew a woman who specialized in tatting exquisite handmade lace. Her kids were still in grade school. She was a volunteer TA for their art classes.

She once said, “Children today do not develop fine motor skills. They can’t use scissors to cut out snowflakes or paper doll chains. They can’t thread a needle or sew on a button.”

Soon it will be that people can’t make brownies from scratch, or anything from scratch, because they don’t have the hand-eye coordination to do anything but pour the ingredients from a bottle.

Mrs. M. writes:

I hosted my cousin for an overnight visit a few summers ago. The following morning I made waffles from scratch with a waffle iron. He tore into the waffles and said, “You mean, you actually MADE these?”, as if homemade waffles were impossible to make. The story of instant chemical brownies brought that memory to mind!

Laura writes:

Isn’t that funny? Waffles are so simple to make.

That reminds me of the time we had neighbors over for dinner and the wife asked me, “Are these real mashed potatoes?” I said yes. She was used to instant potatoes. She said she hadn’t had real mashed potatoes in years. Now, I could understand if she was poor and could not afford fresh potatoes or if it was war time and there was rationing, but neither was the case.

Jane S. writes:

“I thought that the companies that produce these insta-foods are profit-making enterprises, which is associated with the right side of the spectrum.”

I don’t know what she means by “associated with the right side of the spectrum,” but I don’t know of any major corporations nowadays who do not fully support the Left’s agenda.

Here’s the “Corporate Responsibility” page of Clorox, a company that was once a solidly housewife-friendly brand, I’m sure. Now they’re behind diversity, LGBT, global warming, the usual panoply of politically correct causes.

As far as I know, they’re all like that nowadays. I don’t know of any major corporations that support a full traditionalist agenda: prolife, the right to bear arms, prayer in schools, etc. There was Chik-Fil-A but we saw how quick they caved in.

 Laura writes:

Food companies began pandering to the busy woman in their advertising decades ago.

Kelly writes:

And it strikes me that the people who proliferate on the artisan-slow-real-food “lanes” are lefties. Back-to-the-land, organic, etc.

That is because this is their religion –naturalistic pantheism or some New Age/occult-based garbage. Holistic/Anthroposophic medicine, Waldorf, moon phase planting, all have roots in the occult and New Age. It’s scary how many traditionalist Christians I have seen swallow that quackery, hook, line, and sinker. They shout about modest dress and then dabble in the occult. Mind baffling.

My go-to cookbook is a reprint of Betty Crocker’s 1950 Picture cookbook. Love it! The recipes call for so much less sugar than contemporary recipes and my kids don’t notice the difference at all. I compared my reprint to my friend’s original that was her husband’s grandmother’s, and there were no edits at all that we could find.

Laura writes:

I agree on your first point. However, as an aside, it is not surprising that people fall for anthroposophy (I was drawn to Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy at one point). Unlike the universalistic, abstract, bloodless Christianity of today (which is a pale shadow of the real thing), it at least recogizes that matter and spirit are one. So while I reject it, I understand the appeal. Ultimately, pantheism is not highly civilized, however much it requires in the way of expensive organic food.

Terry Morris writes:

Laura says that these “brownies” taste bad. I’ve said that they taste good, even delicious. At least that is what I’ve told my daughters, who’ve baked these kinds of brownies for me, in their Easy-Bake ovens, on several occasions in the past. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Such concoctions might be useful to Preppers though.

Laura writes:

Oh, these Shake and Pour brownies are probably delicious when they’re made in Easy Bake ovens.

Joe A. writes:

Our former suburban family of Goldwater Republicans went back to the earth in 1976. We planted crops, raised animals, and prepared our own food as a family even as dad held down a demanding career that kept him away from home all week long.

But there was no left or right about it. Simply put, my parents loved their children and wanted us to eat wholesome food made by our own hands. Besides, hard work builds character.

Believe me, Green Acres is even more fun when you live through it. Dear Lord I miss my parents and those miserable chores.

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