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I have no tolerance for people that can’t cook.

That sounds harsh.  I’ll rephrase:  I have no tolerance for people that don’t make an effort to learn how to cook.

That sounds awkward.  I’ll rephrase again:  I hate lazy people that aren’t creative.

Perfect.

Really, I am out of patience with the argument that cooking from scratch is hard, intimidating, or expensive.  Sure, it can be those things, but sitting down on a stool can be hard, intimidating, and expensive if you make it that way.  (Don’t believe me?  What if the stool is a delicate antique, you’re blindfolded, and you have a gun to your head.  How’s it feel now, bucko?  That’s right.  Now don’t ever question my analogies again.)

My attitude comes directly from last night’s dinner.  I made pan-fried Cajun catfish with asparagus and fresh bread.  It was lovely and fancy-looking and easy and cheap (like a smart, drunk debutante at Walmart (Don’t question!)).

It was, in fact, the counter-point to the terribly small-minded argument in favour of giving your kids fast-food and Hamburger Helper because they are “cheap, easy meals.”  If you know me you know that I hold a special, hate-filled part of my heart for American food practices.  It makes me angry.  I consider the way that many people in the US (and to a lesser extent, here in Canada) feed their children to be negligent at best, and abusive at its worst.

Most of all, it makes me mad because it is avoidable.

Take the catfish meal for example:

  • Three large pre-marinated catfish fillets:  $9.70
  • One large bunch of fresh asparagus:  $3.25
  • One loaf of French bread:  $2.49

Total cost:  $15.44

Even with the 13% kick-to-the-teeth HST, the whole meal still comes in under twenty bucks.  I could cut it down further still by replacing the bread with brown rice (about $0.25 worth makes enough for the two of us plus leftovers) or sweet potatoes (might work out to $1.50).  That would add up to $11.45 before tax, less than two super-value meals at McDonalds.

That kills the “bad food is cheaper” argument.  Now how about the easy part?

Can you throw bread crumbs in a bowl?  Can you pour a quarter-cup of olive oil in a non-stick pan?  Can you turn on the stove-top?  Can you dredge a piece of fish through crumbs, toss it in the pre-heated pan, flip once after six minutes, leave for six more minutes, and turn off the stove?  If you can do these things, you can make Cajun catfish.

Don’t even get me started on the asparagus.  (Soak, snap, steam, serve.)

And watch your fingers when you cut the bread.

Twenty minutes, front-to-back.

COOKING IS NOT HARD!  It can be hard when you look for complexity, nuance, and subtlety, but the basics of making a real meal with real food that hasn’t seen thirty-eight steps of processing are simple and intuitive.  And it can be cheap.  And it can be fast.  And it is worth stepping outside of your comfort zone to keep you and your family from turning into salt-laden, fat-ridden, junk-food-addicted marshmallows.

Catfish will go home with anyone.

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