Off Campus

11 November 2004

Man Can Cook

I was looking at my calendar this week, and noticed that 11/4 was National Men Make Dinner Night. This got me to thinking about the long-standing misconception that men don't cook, or don't enjoy the act of cooking. Now you can immediately deflate this notion with a list of the World's Greatest (or at least Most Famous) Cooks, the majority of whom will be face-shavers. (Emeril, Wolfgang Puck, Chef Boyardee, the Keebler Elves....need I say more?) That aside, I think more and more men are comfortable cooking these days. I myself prepare most meals in our humble adobe, and have heard very few
complaints (of course, eating with a football helmet on does tend to block out such noises).

So, I thought I'd list my favorite dishes that I, a man of the male persuasion, enjoy cooking on a regular basis:

1) Pop-Tarts: This was one of the first meals I mastered, and something I still enjoy preparing from time to time. My flavor of choice is Chocolate, suitable for a sweet-toothy breakfast or late-night snack. I knock with the generic store brands, as the official Pop-Tart variety has gone way overboard with the choclateyness of the product, crossing the line into Instant Diabetes Territory ("IDT" on Nasdaq). It takes a bit of finesse to properly prepare a Pop-Tart; heat it too long and it's molten goo inside a cardboard shingle, undercook it and it's a cold, bland, dirt slice. I find that in order to get it just right, you need to monitor the process, popping the tart after 30 or so seconds and gently pinching the outer edge. It's just right when your fingers can sink in and feel the warmth. That sounds kinda dirty, so I'll leave it at that.

2) Boboli Pizza: Not just a do-it-yourself pizza, but a joyousexperiment in food construction and consumption. Boboli provides the bread, you slap on the sauce and cheese (I add a little garlic powder and oregano for additional flavor), chuck it in the oven (it won't fit in the microwave unless you, you know, shove it in), and ten minutes later you have yourself a big 'ol pie. I usually make it for myself one quarter/slice at a time, as the whole thing is just too much for me. If you're a hog, feel free to eat the whole thing by yourself. Fatty.

3) Campbell's Chunky Soup: The key here is to monitor the cooking of the soup so as to avoid the "chunky" aspect of it burning and fusing to the edges of the pot. A watched pot may never boil, but it also never needs to be thrown away because it has potato chunks welded to the inside.

4) Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream: I know what you're thinking: HOW DO YOU COOK ICE CREAM? You don't, you fool. BUT, in order to dig in to a fresh-from-the-fridge container of your fave flave, I find that by popping it into the microwave for twenty to thirty seconds can greatly aid you in getting the goldurn scoop to penetrate the stuff, and makes it less granite-like when you pop it into your gob. Please note that while I've listed a specific brand and flavor of ice cream, this procedure works for all varieties. (As a sub-side-note, I just wanted to mention that while Turkey Hill ice cream could indeed be great, I just can't bring myself to eat ice cream with the word "turkey" on it.)

5) Pepperidge Farms Chicken Pot Pie: This is one of my greatest nemesisesisessisi....foes. I find that if I follow the instructions, I open the microwave door after it bing-bongs and find that the center of the pie is still frozen solid. So, after another couple of rounds, I can usually equalize the middle of the pie with the outer rim. This, like the Pop-Tart procedure, is a game of finesse. Sometimes you eat the perfect pot pie, sometimes a burnt, disgusting one eats you.

6) 99 Steakhouse's Chicken, Broccoli, and Ziti: I know, I don't actually "cook" this initially, but the portions here are so inhumanly huge that I always wind up taking 3/4 of it home and comsuming it for another lunch and/or dinner. About two minutes in the microwave and it's once again a luscious treat. I'm now seeing the upside of the ever-growing portion sizes in America's restaurants: one of their "meals" equals four of mine!

7) Super Oreos: Super Oreos are a creation of my own design, actually more "preperation" than "cooking", but everyone digs them just the same. What you need is a healthy pack of Double-Stuf Oreos. (Regular Oreos are so lacking in Stuf that they will not be discussed here...oops.) Remove the DSO's from the package and carefully unscrew one half of each, so that each DSO yeilds a blank cookie side and a cookie-with-stuf side, combine the cookie-with-stuf sides and you have SUPER OREOS. Throw the blank cookies away, or use them as non-slip patches in your tub.

I hope that this little walk down culinary lane has helped you to see that YES, men do indeed cook (dinner and otherwise), as well as provide you with some tasty and almost-healthy choices for eating in the home.