In the last year or so my sister and I taken to emailing one another links to blogs with "recipes". I use that word very lightly, because I'm not exactly sure you'd call some of them recipes. I mean, if I make a bowl of popcorn tonight and I put some butter and salt on it, would you call that a recipe? Or if tomorrow at breakfast I toast a bagel and schmear it with cream cheese would you need a step-by-step instructions? I certainly hope not. But some of the recipes have been that
Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich from The Hidden List. There are a list of ingredients and directions. Really? You couldn't probably come up with the ingredient list on your own? Or how about this gem: specific instructions on spreading marshmallow cream and peanut butter on bread. Silly me, I thought that was something we didn't admit to eating, not something we outlined in great detail.
Or how about this: "I knew that taco seasoning had to be something we could make at home. I have grown tired of looking for Taco Seasoning at the supermarket that doesn’t contain MSG. It couldn’t be that tricky to mix up, right?" What? You mean Mexican women don't use El Paso Taco Seasoning packets in their taco meat? Taco seasoning always seemed fairly self-explanatory. In fact, I cannot remember when/if I ever bought any pre-prepared mix. But in case you get lost somewhere between the onion and the cumin, thankfully, there are detailed instructions here for mixing your own taco seasoning.
The internet is just full of useful tidbits like this. Such as step-by-step instructions for tossing cooked boxed spaghetti with butter. It gets worse, much worse, folks. For the aspiring cook who doesn't know how to boil water, I present Iced Tea via Allrecipes.com. It says (I kid you not), "Like real iced tea, but do you hate boiling the water..." And goes on to describe running hot water from your tap over tea bags. Yep.
Yesterday I might have found one to top them all, and of course I email it to my sister: Roast Chicken. This "recipe" (and I know playing fast and loose with the word "recipe") is to salt and pepper a whole chicken and bake it until juices run clear. It's explained in not one, not two, but five (that's 5!!!) whole steps! She doesn't even truss it. And it still takes 5 steps to explain how to roast a chicken. No offense, but some food bloggers would be better suited to writing satire.
In extreme contrast, remember this antique book I picked up? I decided to find something to make from it the other day. And I found recipes such as this:
A scant cup of sugar, yolks of two eggs, three tablespoons flour, three cups milk for two pies, teaspoonful butter. Bake crust first.--Mrs. C.H. Wright.
Two eggs, one cup milk, pumpkin enough to thicken, sweeten to taste and flavor with mixed spices.--Mrs. Evert Adams.
Six Minute Cake
Break the whites of two eggs in a cup, fill to one-half with soft butter, fill to top with sweet milk. Sift together three times one cup sugar, one and on-half cups flour, one and one-half teaspoons of baking powder. Put all together and stir six minutes. Bake carefully.--Mrs. W.H. Robinson
I'm not completely sure what it means to "bake carefully."
One-half teacup butter, one cup sugar, one and one-half cup of flour, one-half cup of sweet milk, whites of four eggs, one teaspoon Royal Baking Powder. Delicious
Did you notice there are no instructions for the preparing the pans, preparing the crusts, temperature or length of time to bake, how to check for doneness or how to serve? I suppose it was just assumed that there were some things that everyone knew how to do. Any homemaker worth her salt wouldn't need to be patronized with how all the ingredients went together. They knew how to do that already.
In the antique Home Ec. book it states: "...it is important for a pupil to realize that the thousand and one recipes found in a single cookbook consists of about fifteen basic recipes, each having many variations." So, it would seem if we knew the basic fifteen or so, we could forgo the annoying instructions about how to boil boxed pasta or make a peanut butter sandwich or stick a whole untrussed chicken in the oven with salt on it. But then, makers of convenience foods would be out of a job and writers of cookbooks and food bloggers would actually have to learn to cook.
Of course, our other alternative is to zap some PopTarts: