Re: Not eating common meals. yechh.
From: porcupin (
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 03:48:13 -0600
Patty F Gourley wrote:
> I have learned a lot from John Poteet's comments on the list, especially
> about food, cooking, stoves etc, and I found his closing comment to be
> surprising:
> >Where I no longer eat at common meals.  yechh.
> Can you go into some detail about why you don't?
> As a burning soul who's looking forward to common meals this summer when
> we move in, I HOPE that our meals will be fun.   I also know they can be
> a shitload of work, not always  delicious and often chaotic.  So, do you
> have some words of wisdom for those of us who haven't experienced common
> house meals yet  (only potlucks---years and years and years of endless
> potlucks).
>  How do we keep common meals enjoyable and NOT yechhy?
I think I have several complaints about our common meals here.  One is
that the food is generally too oily, bland, (Moosewood I think)
frequently under or overcooked, and heavily focused on dessert.  I think
this is largely the result of cooks that are inexperienced with the
recipes they are using or inexperienced at cooking in general.
As a former resteraunt cook I am frequently surprised at the culinary
ignorance of the average person.  Most adults nowadays are very poor
cooks.  If you doubt this look in the carts of people at the
supermarket.  Everything is in a box, can, jar or freezer package.  Open
the package boil and eat.  I am not blaming these people, I merely
intend to give background.

Some hints for commons cooks:  

Cook what you know.  If you haven't made Pad Thai five times at home how
can you expect to make it for fourty.  The same goes for black bean soup
or spaghetti.

Keep the menu simple.  Pasta, sauce, salad, bread, butter, and iced
tea.  Watermelon for desert in the summer.  This eliminates the hassle
of getting four hot things right at 6 o'clock.  Believe me this is more
than enough work for anyone.

Salads are frequently overdressed or otherwise undressed entirely.  The
best way to dress salad is to take a bowl that is big enough to freely
toss the salad.  Pour in as much dressing as you think you will need. 
Now move the bowl until the dressing coats the sides and pour out the
excess and toss the salad in the bowl.  That will put just enough
dressing on the salad for most people without making it soggy or getting
puddles of dressing when you dress it yourself.  Remember to set a third
of your salad back undressed in case someone likes it that way or you
have made too much.  Dressed salad doesn't keep.

Fresh herbs, onions, garlic, basalmic vinegar, olive oil and olives. 
Plant several thymes, oregeno, marjoram, sage,mints, savory, epazote,
rosemary, parsely and borage. (Shepherds Garden Seeds 860-482-3638) If
you use the herbs with a strong hand people will respond favorably. 
These should be planted in abundance as they are easy landscape plants
and improve your health incredibly.

Wine.  No mediterainean cuisine is prepared without it.

Kids should eat adult food.  The rest of the world thinks americans are
nuts for letting their kids whine at meals.  Unless the meal includes
hot chiles the kids can probably eat what you do.  If they insist on
spaghetti without sauce chop some parsely into it and make them eat a

Minimize dessert.  This makes me really unpopular with some of the
heftier residents of Valley Oaks Village but you have to focus your
attention on the meal.  Unless your entree, salad, vegetable and
condiments are restaurant quality (not Denny's!!) you are just asking
for poor dinners, weight gain and damaged health by having anything but
fruit available for dessert.  

Read, read, read.  Read the food section of your best large city paper
every week.  Get a subscription to Sunset, Vegetarian Times, and Organic
Gardening.  Go to the local used book store and be amazed at all the
cookbooks that you can buy for under $5.  some of the best recipes I
have ever used have come out of Sunset magazine and the San Francisco
Chronicle.  These recipes are usually simple, uncomplicated and

Be prepared to call out for pizza.  Mistakes happen, please don't serve

That's all for noe but as you can see there is so much more...

John Poteet
Valley Oaks Village
Chico CA

p.s.- "Chocolate and The Art of Low Fat Desserts" by Alice Medrich ISBN
0-446-5166-X  The brownies alone make this book worth special ordering. 
(if you must make desserts make it worth the poundage)

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