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The Super Easy Way To Cook For Morons
November 20, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe


 
The tags on that cooking steak post are perfect.
posted by chunking express at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2009


@shitmydadcooks
posted by pineapple at 11:38 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


It is the only recipe there is for macaroni and cheese. Here is what goes into it:

1. macaroni
2. cheese.


This is missing the bread crumbs on top. If you don't have bread crumbs on top, especially kinda crusty ones stuck to the edge of the casserole dish, you are promoting communism.
posted by DU at 11:39 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Awl sounds like my goddamn dad. If my dad hadn't been in a goddamn gravelpit doing man's work. Backbreaking labor, real shit work for a family. Lissen, you want something to eat, here's a quarter, go to the front of the tavern and get a box of popcorn. Pie crusts, Jesus Christ.
posted by boo_radley at 11:40 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


What did people do before the internet?
posted by fixedgear at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2009


I'm an angry old man, and I approve this message.*

*Actually, no i'm not, and no I don't.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2009


I have barbecued a turkey and let me tell you, there is no better way to cook a bird.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2009


Awesome.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2009


Go rub some fig paste on your face and cook up a fondue, cheese striver.

Usually I don't like the rawr rawr cooking fuck yeah! blogs, but the phrase "cheese striver" is pretty excellent.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2009


Use your hands to mix your pie crust. Go smoke.

Not for my pie you don't, mister. (Unless, of course, you're making Stinky Ashtray Pie -- then... you know, sure.)
posted by heyho at 11:51 AM on November 20, 2009


Go smoke. Use your hands to mix your pie crust. (That's what I meant.)
posted by heyho at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2009


Grate two of your half-pound blocks, including the mildest one, completely. Look at the big pile of cheese you have now. Unwrap the third block, look at it, grate a little off the end, and think about how far you want to go. There are no wrong answers here. Relax your mind and listen to what the cheese is telling you.

I love this, and it made me very hungry! It also looks even easier than Nigella's mac and cheese recipe, which I tried earlier this week, and found to be fairly delicious.
posted by ErikaB at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Only a moron would suggest using cedar shingles for smoking a turkey.
posted by peeedro at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


No. Go rub some fig paste on your face and cook up a fondue, cheese striver.

Love the brassy delivery, but I don't actually like this kind of macaroni and cheese, personally. It's a little too sticky for me. But to each their own.

The pie description is a great reference for anyone new at pie. Overall, I really like the unfussy demystification of cooking. The writing style is lots of fun to read: it's as if Eloise grew up to write a cooking blog (which she totally would do). It's is a really refreshing antidote to the pinchy, perfection-obsessed approach of Cook's Illustrated and the like.
posted by Miko at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2009


I would love if more cookbooks were written this way. The mac and cheese recipe made me imagine the author in a steel-cage match with Christopher Kimball.
posted by Ladybug Parade at 11:57 AM on November 20, 2009


I would never follow these recipes. I can already make better versions of these things! But as someone bored and on the internet, I appreciate them.
posted by audacity at 12:00 PM on November 20, 2009


Stop being a wuss and use lard in your pie crust.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:02 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Awl is awesome, but:

Nor should you load up on Pine-Splittingly Fierce Extra-Extra Ouchy Sharp.

Fuck you, cheeseballs! You should be able to shave with your mac and cheese!

Yes, I also like my beer really hoppy. How did you know?
posted by dirigibleman at 12:09 PM on November 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


The love hate relationship the Awl has with the reader is very special.
posted by bearwife at 12:19 PM on November 20, 2009


I like how he cooks a steak. Although to be correct he should cook it over a fire, the way our ancestors did.

(1) By "our ancestors" I mean my dad.
posted by justkevin at 12:22 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


>> It is the only recipe there is for macaroni and cheese. Here is what goes into it:

>> 1. macaroni
>> 2. cheese.

> This is missing the bread crumbs on top. If you don't have bread crumbs on top,
> especially kinda crusty ones stuck to the edge of the casserole dish, you are promoting
> communism.

He covered that later:

Now take the rest of your cheese and spread it over the top in a nice solid layer. "Bread crumbs are great for extra cr—OUCH!" Yes, I just drove a meat fork through your hand. Bread crumbs do not go on top of macaroni and cheese. You know what bread crumbs are good for? Putting inside a meatloaf. A meatloaf is a loaf that contains many other things besides meat. But macaroni and cheese consists of macaroni and cheese.
posted by nooneyouknow at 12:24 PM on November 20, 2009


As a complete change of tone and subject, I really enjoyed the neighboring piece In the Weeds: City Island, which is amazing in at least four different ways. Maybe five.
posted by ErikaB at 12:25 PM on November 20, 2009


Offer around a pepper grinder. Freshly ground black pepper goes great with macaroni and cheese.

What? You're adding pepper? What is this, some Emeril-themed "BAM" kitchen? There are 2 ingredients: Macaroni, and cheese.

You don't get to knock quality-made macaroni and cheese with roux and bread-crumbs etc, only to add your own special touches. Take yer fancy pepper grinder back to Frenchy-town, commie!
posted by explosion at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


In the Weeds is an ongoing segment. It's wonderful.
posted by kjell at 12:38 PM on November 20, 2009


Ironically, for all his complaining about the NY Times being anti-pie crust, it's the NY Times' own Mark Bittman who gave me the only all-butter pie crust that works perfectly every time. Granted, you need to double it if you want to make a fruit pie, as Bittman has the delusion that all pies should be single crust. That's not Minimalism, that's downright deprivation.

Granted, I was taught one of the most evil, addictive ways to bake pie as a lad. My mom's favorite recipe was the "Foolproof Pie Crust" on the inside cover of her Better Homes and Gardens binder cookbook. It was all shortening. As shortening is all fat and doesn't melt at body temperature and relatively higher, you can do whatever you want with it, and the pie will have perfect crimping. It's foolproof, but also flavorless and the texture is inferior as you don't get the steaming effect that butter has as it melts and then boils.

After that, I tried using recipes from America's Test Kitchen that used part butter and part shortening. A step in the right direction, but the texture and the flavor still get masked by the weirdofat. Shortening is pretty much why every processed baked good tastes processed, and your home cooking will not be much better with it.

I switched when the transfat information became widely known, and never looked back.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:45 PM on November 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


I made my first pastry dough recently, and really if you want the easiest pie crust ever why use butter? Crisco doesn't have to be kept at any sort of temperature.
posted by muddgirl at 12:47 PM on November 20, 2009


Granted Crisco is gross, but we're not talking taste here.
posted by muddgirl at 12:48 PM on November 20, 2009


Lard. That is how you make pie crust.
posted by fixedgear at 12:50 PM on November 20, 2009


Half butter half lard.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2009


This is tiresome. There was a trend on the Something Awful forums a while back to write recipes in this manner, but even those guys got tired of it pretty fast.
posted by sid at 12:51 PM on November 20, 2009


Do I need to keep the lard crust extra-cold like with butter?
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on November 20, 2009


I do. Lard gets pretty squidgy as it warms.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:55 PM on November 20, 2009


Put some very cold water in there, and smush it together! Like, not very much water! Maybe half a cup, maybe 3/4s of a cup! Sometimes it's a whole cup, I don't know why.

That's because you didn't measure your flour by weight. Amateur.
posted by device55 at 12:59 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Look at this fucking candidate.
posted by chunking express at 1:02 PM on November 20, 2009


It would be pretty mean to make a pumpkin pie with a lard crust and serve it to a vegetarian.

Just a thought.
posted by muddgirl at 1:07 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I accidentally served a strawberry-rhubarb pie with a proper crust to a vegetarian once. Didn't realize until after the fact. The top crust was dinosaurs.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:12 PM on November 20, 2009


You want a painless pie crust? Use vodka, like the big-time, hotshot cook you are.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:12 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I put vinegar in my pie crust. It's awesome.
posted by Ouisch at 1:31 PM on November 20, 2009


I love this website.

Go ahead and snark, but most cookbooks are (at best) written for those who already know how to cook anyway and just want a few different recipes, or (at worst) pretentious elitist prose for people with well-stocked wine cellars and huge decked-out kitchens strung end-to-end with copper pots and Willams-Sonoma cooking utensils.

I love baking, which I find intuitive and easy, and when I apply myself I can make complicated main courses and fancy appetizers, yet sometimes the basics screw me over. Rice, for example, positively has it in for me. So I like a no-nonsense, here's-how-to-do-it-so-it-comes-out-perfectly-every-time approach to cooking.
posted by misha at 1:46 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shortening is pretty much why every processed baked good tastes processed,

Amen to that.

I put vinegar in my pie crust. It's awesome.

it's a good tip - even empirically, without having tasted it - a little "hit of acid" in baked goods adds complexity. Vinegar cakes benefit from some of that, too, though a lot of it is neutralized in cake recipes.
posted by Miko at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rice, for example, positively has it in for me. So I like a no-nonsense, here's-how-to-do-it-so-it-comes-out-perfectly-every-time approach to cooking.

I had lots of issues with rice, but the Best Recipe (or New Best Recipe) cookbook has a fabulous way of cooking rice that always works for me. No fancy rice-cooker required.
posted by Ouisch at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2009


Call me tightassed, but I prefer Cook's Illustrated recipes. These have a lot of 'until it look right' in them, which is not helpful to people who've never done it before.
posted by Fraxas at 1:52 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


And just in general, if you like the no-nonsense, here's-how-to-do-it-so-it-comes-out-perfectly-every-time approach, seriously, get The New Best Recipe cookbook. It's like cooking for engineers, and you can read the background info on how they came up with the best recipe, or skip directly to the recipe itself. It's awesome.

But I'm one of those nerds who isn't into cookbooks with lots of lush photography, so beware -- it's pretty much all text and instructions. But it works.
posted by Ouisch at 1:53 PM on November 20, 2009


Two things:

That's because you didn't measure your flour by weight. Amateur.

I'm pretty sure this is kidding, but in case it's not, I have a story. We were staying at my friend's shore house. He's a cheerful maniac, a US attorney who just successfully prosecuted a guy named 'two face.' In a previous trial he refused to take a break even though he had to take a giant piss, leading to some urinary tract problems. A tenacious bulldog. He's also an amateur chef and he loves to cook with my wife, who is a chef. He was making us pancakes after a pretty long night of drinking. He's talking non-stop and carefully weighing each ingredient - baking powder, flour, salt (!) as he goes. My wife had stuck to wine and wasn't as hungover as us beer and spirits guys, but even she got exasperated. So, yeah, make sure to weigh your ingredients. Or not.

I accidentally served a strawberry-rhubarb pie with a proper crust to a vegetarian once.

We took a vegetarian friend to our favorite Japanese restaurant. He was ecstatic over the best vegetable dumplings he'd ever had. We didn't have the heart to tell him that the chef later told us he used a dab of pork fat to y'know, hold 'em together.
posted by fixedgear at 1:54 PM on November 20, 2009


Go ahead and snark, but most cookbooks are (at best) written for those who already know how to cook anyway and just want a few different recipes

I take it your momma didn't give you a Fanny Farmer when you moved out of the house? They're not cookbooks, they're "Kitchen Bibles". You can supplement them with specialty books after you get the basics down.
posted by muddgirl at 1:56 PM on November 20, 2009


Basically the only cookbooks I own are "kitchen bibles." I won't buy speciality cookbooks -- I borrow them from the library, copy down the recipes that turn out well on a recipe card, then return the damn things.

I've seen too many people end up with mostly-unused cookbook collections that take up more room than their actual dishes and pans.
posted by Ouisch at 2:01 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're not cookbooks, they're "Kitchen Bibles". You can supplement them with specialty books after you get the basics down.
posted by muddgirl at 3:56 PM on November 20


I learned with the Red Rose Cookbook. I can't find a link - have they stopped printing them?!
posted by joannemerriam at 2:28 PM on November 20, 2009


I actually learned to bake (and dress a turkey!) from my mother's old battered ring-bound Better Homes and Gardens.
posted by muddgirl at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2009


Oh man, I love this. As someone too lazy to make a roux (most of the time), I can't wait to try that mac and cheese recipe. I'm still spicing it up, though -- Pioneer Woman has that right. Also, I now know how to cook a steak, so there you go.

(I'm sorry, Fanny Farmer. You'll forgive me, right baby? You know you're first in my heart.)
posted by kalimac at 2:38 PM on November 20, 2009


I have to admit, by the way, that I'm a desultory cook at best. I can't put all the pieces together unless those pieces include flour, sugar, butter, and fruit.
posted by muddgirl at 2:55 PM on November 20, 2009


Wasn't this Tony Bourdain's schtick? Except that he can, like, actually cook?
posted by Siberian Mist at 3:29 PM on November 20, 2009


It would be pretty mean to make a pumpkin pie with a lard crust and serve it to a vegetarian.

Not as mean as telling them that it's not vegetarian before they can decide not to eat it. ^_^

Seriously, if you accidentally or intentionally serve us meat/animal products, just don't tell us. We'll never know (unless obviously, we have allergies or something).

I had lots of issues with rice, but the Best Recipe (or New Best Recipe) cookbook has a fabulous way of cooking rice that always works for me. No fancy rice-cooker required.

I don't understand why it's the simplest thing in the world for me to make white rice in 20 minutes, but with brown rice (45-50 minutes), it's ruined half the time (either too wet/undercooked or burned/overcooked). I used to be better at it. I have no idea what happened ... any ideas?

I'm also making a chocolate pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Any suggestions on crust? I was planning on using the standard pate-brisee recipe I use for fruit pie. Does it need to be stronger/heavier?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:40 PM on November 20, 2009


I don't understand why it's the simplest thing in the world for me to make white rice in 20 minutes, but with brown rice (45-50 minutes), it's ruined half the time (either too wet/undercooked or burned/overcooked). I used to be better at it. I have no idea what happened ... any ideas?

I had this same issue with white rice -- I never had a single problem with it, just following basic package instructions for several years, then randomly it started turning up undercooked or burnt. But I have no idea what changed.

I haven't tried it, but the New Best Recipe suggests making oven-baked brown rice. Sounds like a nice idea, except I dislike the taste of brown rice no matter how it's cooked.
posted by Ouisch at 4:05 PM on November 20, 2009


Have you fucks forgotten the lesson for cooking steak so soon?

The Alain Ducasse method. The ONLY way to do it. HEAVEN!

Keep cooking your steak like Awl so boldly recommends and soon you'll end up being vegetarian in no time. That's charred dog food, not steak. Cracking pepper on a hotter than hell skillet? Fuuuuck. Burned bloody pepper on top of the dog food, great!

A hoot to read and the comments, raw, like steak tartare, another favourite of mine.

My cooking bible was Joy of Cooking. An old version that has a Game section in it.

Miko, Eloise cusses like a sailor too?
posted by alicesshoe at 4:14 PM on November 20, 2009


Basically the only cookbooks I own are "kitchen bibles."


Me too - I have a couple specialty cookbooks that are ethnic or seasonal, but equally sweeping in scope, and some that are vintage. But I can't stand single-ingredient, single course ("1001 Appetizers!") or celebrity cookbooks.

I grew up with the Wise Encyclopedia of Cooking, which is an excellent go-to reference. I'm not sure why the Joy of Cooking won out as the standard, when there are so many general Kitchen Bibles that could have taken on that role.


Miko, Eloise cusses like a sailor too?


She will when she's grown up.
posted by Miko at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The easiest way I know of to cook brown rice, stove top style*:
1. Make sure the proportion of water-to-rice is approximately 2 to 1.
2. Boil that mother for ten minutes, then turn the heat down to low for the next 30-40.
3. Eat and enjoy.

* Rice cookers are for the lazy, or for making your single-pot 'ah crap I have to run to the store/call my parents/make sweet love to my SO'-type meals.
posted by Minus215Cee at 4:41 PM on November 20, 2009


A bit of a warning about the vodka pie crust: It tends to come out better in low humidity (like winter, when the recipe was written), and it's designed so that you work in over a 1/4 cup of flour. If you're used to rolling out dough with as little flour as you can manage, which is the conventional method, you'll get a sticky mess because it's so wet.

I hate to say it, but Mark Bittman's All Butter pie crust is more reliable for me. It may just be that I'm used to the old way of rolling out a pie, but that's just how I am. As a guy who really likes science, I was hoping it would be the perfect pie crust all the time, but I guess you can't always win.

As for the variation in liquid amounts being written in to recipes, I always thought it was about humidity, variation in the protein content of different brands of all purpose flour, and the hardness of the water, and not just volumetric measuring errors. Since you want just enough water to hold it together (any more, and it gets tough from too much gluten, and any less and it just won't roll out well) Of course, this would not be the first time I was wrong.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:42 PM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have two 3-ring binders with plenty of pockets and dividers. The cover of each binder is a clear plastic envelope so the recipes that I use a lot but haven't quite memorized such as Buttermilk poundcake and Mahogany chicken are right there on the front. The inside pockets are stuffed with magazine and newspaper stuff that I clipped but the pages are mostly recipes culled from library books and the internet.

Unfortunately I also have about 10 other cookbooks, plus a pile of old Cook's Illustrated that I use and once in awhile I can't remember which book something is in. God help me if I get Alzheimer's.

Now, as to pastry. I use all butter and the vodka trick. Here is my pro-tip: When the pastry has come out of the food processor, dump it into a line on a lightly floured surface. The pastry needs a good schmear to blend the butter and flour but you don't want the butter to melt. Melted butter is what makes the crust tough. Run your hands under the cold water for a few minutes and then only use the heel of your hand. Quick schmear. Now gather into a ball and wrap loosely in plastic wrap. Smash down with a dish so you have a disc rather than a ball. Chill for at least an hour.

After rolling out and shaping in the pie pan, chill in the refrigerator again. Remember, you want cold pastry in a hot oven.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:49 PM on November 20, 2009


This is the recipe for macaroni and cheese. It is the only recipe there is for macaroni and cheese. Here is what goes into it:

1. macaroni

2. cheese.

It does also include butter and milk. Think of them as more cheese.

"But I make a lovely macaroni and cheese already," you say, "with a rich bechamel sauce, and I—" Shut up, you. Put a sock in it. There are many, many fine and delicious dishes that include some kind of macaroni and some kind of cheese, along with other things. They are not macaroni and cheese. They are other things.


This is how far I got before I recognized this as (my college roommate) Tom Scocca.

I myself am a bechamel man, which is why we don't live together anymore.
posted by escabeche at 8:09 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Macaroni and cheese isn't supposed to be crunchy you gross jerks. Macaroni and cheese is a pasta dish. I guess you guys make linguini or something then throw it in the deep frier right before serving?
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 10:23 PM on November 20, 2009


This is tiresome. There was a trend on the Something Awful forums a while back to write recipes in this manner, but even those guys got tired of it pretty fast.

This is true but on the other hand if recycling old memes from SA was against the rules then most likely Metafilter either wouldn't be around at all, be an empty clubhouse like Plastic, or a retard free-for-all like Fark or Digg.

Take a moment, consider the MF user base, and just be thankful pics aren't allowed here.
posted by hamida2242 at 1:30 AM on November 21, 2009


That's because you didn't measure your flour by weight. Amateur.

You really don't get it, do you?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:45 AM on November 21, 2009


I'm eating Fundamentalist Mac and Cheese now. It's... okay. I'll eat the pan that I made, but I won't make it again.

I expect macaroni and cheese to be a little more casserole-y, with a cheese sauce. This is not a cheese sauce. It is just cheese. Cooked macaroni stuck together with blobs of melted cheese. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But... meh.
posted by ErikaB at 8:22 PM on November 23, 2009


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