Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY CHERYL JOST
This just in from CNN correspondent Linda Ciampa: ?Pat Barker has kept a log of what she has served over the years. Like most Americans, her diet has been changing since the 1950s.

?Instead of sausage for breakfast, there is now whole grain bread.

?In 1955, over the course of 21 meals, Barker cooked all 21 at home. In 1996, over the same period of time, she cooked 10 meals at home and all others were eaten out at restaurants.

?Barker has proof of what she fed her family over the years because a marketing company, interested in tracking national trends, asked her to keep a food diary of what she ate and why.?

That poor woman. Can you imagine logging every meal your family has eaten in the past 50 years?

Since Ms. Barker was doing research for a marketing company, my best guess is that she had to note what brands of products she utilized and their amounts in addition to her menu plans.

It?s my speculation that any restaurant dinner or sack lunch had to be dutifully recorded as well.

I wonder if she was ever tempted to alter her menus in an attempt to bring them up to a better nutritional standard?not for the sake of her family?s health, but because she knew others were going to be analyzing her every cooking endeavor.

I think it would be in the back of my mind if I were in her shoes. It would be so disheartening to think of some marketing analyst reading through my notes, shaking his head in disgust while envisioning this family of pasty looking, hollow-eyed people who hadn?t had the advantages of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

And then there?s that why question. Remember? She wasn?t only asked what she ate, but why she ate it.

Now the marketing analysts aren?t looking for some deep-seated psychological root for why Pat eats. They aren?t really interested in the tapes of ?clean your plate? that run through her mind at mealtimes.

No, they want to know how Pat spends her money so that they can let their clients know how to market their products most effectively. They?re looking for answers like, ?It was convenient,? or, ?My family enjoys this product.?

So, what?s with the paperwork, the stress to impress and the pressure of trying to figure out why she chose everything she and her family had ever eaten over a span of almost 50 years, Pat Barker has my sympathy.

Poor, poor Pat. I hope she did better with it than I would have if I were in her position.

I?m afraid my food diary would look something like this….

Monday: Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans

Why? Had a day off and husband was complaining that there was no room in the freezer because the turkey was taking up too much space.

Tuesday: Leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans

Why? Husband was complaining that there was no room in the refrigerator because of all the leftover food.

Wednesday: Turkey Surprise Casserole.

Why? Good question. I don?t know why I even tried. I spent two hours getting dinner ready only to have everyone whine ?What?s this stuff?? when I brought it to the table. The kids just put their noses into the casserole dish and declared their intentions of just skipping supper.

Thursday: Tacos

Why? Tired of turkey.

Friday: Subway, Sonic and McDonald?s.

Mom?s night off from the kitchen. Husband made grand tour of town and brought food home. I ate club sandwich, daughter ate chicken nugget Happy Meal, son ate two corn dogs and cheese fries while dad had a No. 1 cheeseburger with onion rings. Well, to be honest, everyone ate dad?s onion rings.

Why? No one can agree on one place to eat.

Saturday: Cereal, chips and salsa, peanut butter sandwich, vitamin pills.

Why? Husband was gone for the evening and for some reason that I can?t understand, if he isn?t home, the kids and I just ?make do? for supper. Doesn?t seem to make much sense, but that?s the way it is.

Sunday: Pizza.

Why? Because if we don?t use the kid?s Book-it coupons that they were awarded in school for completing a reading program, they will expire and we won?t get the free pizza. And if the kids are getting pizza, we might as well get another for the adults, right? Good marketing, Pizza Hut!

It?s pathetic, I know. Poor, poor Cheryl.

* * *

January is National Oatmeal Month, so in honor of the occasion, I submit to you the following recipe taken from the Quaker Oats Web site.

Snickerdoodle Mini Muffins

Topping:

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Muffin:

11/2 cups flour

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbs. baking powder

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

4 tbs. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

Spray bottoms only of mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Mix topping ingredients and set aside. Combine muffin ingredients and blend until dry ingredients are moistened. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle with topping and bake at 400 for 12 minutes or until lightly golden in color.

For regular sized muffins, bake about 18 minutes.

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