Saturday, June 13, 2009

What is convenience?

Today I attended a Pampered Chef party at the clubhouse in my mobile home park. Yes, I admit it. I'm trailer trash. But vegan trailer trash.

I joined seven others from the park. The consultant (also from the park) had laid out her equipment on some tables in front and was demonstrating how to make some artichoke tarts.

Now, years ago I attended the only other Pampered Chef party I have been to. I didn't know anything about the company then but thought perhaps the equipment was for people who really like to cook, and maybe it would be great equipment. I soon discovered that instead it is all about "convenience". The recipes and equipment are all intended to make cooking as easy and fast as possible. Our host - consultant demonstrated how easy it was to make these tarts, using about seventeen pieces of equipment.

Yes. The list of equipment was longer than the list of ingredients. Among the items she used:

* a garlic press
* a food chopper
* a wooden thing to press dough into a cupcake pan
* a large measuring cup/bowl
* a pizza wheel (I kid you not: she chopped parsley with it)
* cupcake pan
* a melon baller
* a cherry pitter
* and more

I have some specialized equipment myself. I have a mandolin, a salad spinner, a rice cooker, a crock pot. Most of the time, though, I rely on two knives - a chef's knife and a paring knife - plus a cutting board, and some pans for cooking. It doesn't take much to be a vegan chef. And I suspect that I could have put together the same recipe (relying on vegan cheese, of course, instead of what she used) in the same or less time with a lot less equipment.

The trick is knowing how to use your equipment. Learn how to use and care for two decent knives and you are well ahead. You will also have a lot less to clean up.

1 comment:

Elaine Vigneault said...

I really like this post. It's so true: convenience isn't just about how quick it takes to cook, it's about how much time and effort goes into preparing and cleaning up, too.