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More Soldiers for the 'Defense'

September 30, 1998

I read Marion Cunningham's Sept. 16 contribution ("In Defense of Home Cooking") eagerly. I am continually appalled by the number of "home meal replacement" items that are stuffed into grocery carts on a daily basis. Aside from the fact that future taste buds are assaulted with any number or sweeteners and bland muted seasonings, the amount of manufactured preservatives and chemicals ingested by our youth has got to be physically damaging at some point.

I am proud to declare for the first 15 years of my daughters' lives I prepared "scratch" meals almost daily, and homemade school lunches, despite working full time and volunteering. Each girl has a strong opinion on what constitutes an exceptional creme brulee, and each one has distinct preferences as far as anchovies in Caesar salad. They both look forward to professional careers and preparing "scratch" meals at home despite their schedules. They are both avid coupon clippers and discriminating "unit cost" shoppers. Basic math can be very handy in the grocery stores. Just recently I completed "Mom's Cookbook"--a collection of their favorite recipes for them to use with their roommates. I hope other moms will take a moment to realize that home cooking is not only delicious and budget-conscious but also a way of demonstrating love and teaching life skills.

Thanks for a great article. You're right on target

--GERRY D. JACKSON

San Gabriel

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Yes, yes, yes! Let me join my voice to Marion Cunningham's "In Defense of Home Cooking." Every word rang true and went straight to my heart.

I've always been a home cook, never a professional, and I cannot begin to count the hours of pleasure, amusement, relaxation and solace I've had from cooking. Even when working in the high-pressure world of film production--in fact, especially then--I'd come home as often as possible to cook for my family, for my friends, for myself. The moment I look at ripe, fresh produce, as soon as I start to chop garlic and smell it sizzling in the olive oil, I feel the tension draining away; I feel myself becoming more human.

And through the years, I've spent hundreds of late afternoons in the kitchen, stirring something on the stove while my children did their homework at the big table or ran in and out between soccer games and play dates. Those shared afternoons, in an atmosphere of steady, everyday nurturing are irreplaceable! Any question could be asked or answered in that room. And what a thrill to hear teenagers thundering down the back stairs, yelling out, "Hey, what smells so good?"

It is not just the pleasure of the table and greater nourishment and health that we derive from our home cooking, although these things are considerable. It is also a wonderful way of being together with our families and friends.

In my house, everyone comes to the kitchen. It's a big house, with plenty of space for gathering, but everyone comes to the kitchen: kids after school, guests at a dinner party, the gardener dropping in to discuss tree trimming. It doesn't matter--they're all in the kitchen. I succumbed and put an old sofa in there. I've had to have it reupholstered twice, while my living room furniture remains pristine.

What we've forgotten about home cooking, in our big rush to do everything and be everywhere, is how much of the home is created by the home cooking that goes on there.

Does that sound soapy? Well, fine. I'm not Mrs. Cleaver. I've always worked, often in high-profile jobs. I believe women should do anything their hearts desire. But I wouldn't trade my hours in the kitchen here at home for anything.

ANNA THOMAS

Ojai

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Thomas is author of "The New Vegetarian Epicure."

I just want to tell you how pleased I was to read Marion Cunningham's "In Defense of Home Cooking."

Though my husband and I prepare home-cooked meals quite often and I take my lunch to work most days, the convenience of prepared foods at Gelson's Market in Newport Beach and occasional evenings at a sushi bar make cooking at home a nostalgic experience.

After reading your article, I must tell you that I went home and prepared some patties made from a can of Alaskan sockeye red salmon. It was great mixing in the onions, egg whites, dill weed and other items and while they cooked, I microwaved (don't forget I was on my lunch hour) some fresh broccoli.

The afternoon lunch hour left me feeling wonderful. I felt healthy from what I'd eaten, I enjoyed the time with myself preparing the meal and I came back to work refreshed and calm.

Thank you again for heralding the pleasures of cooking in the kitchen. It is much more economical, and I want to do more in the kitchen in the fall.

VICKI ZIMMERMAN

Newport Beach

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