Teaching Male Teens to Cook--A Horror Story
My son and daughter-in-law wanted to get away for a weekend--undoubtedly to indulge in those dark delights routinely denied parents of teenagers--so, in a moment of utter insanity (I must have been off my meds) I volunteered to hold the fort. I didn't know it was even possible to pack at the warp speed I then witnessed. The taillights were disappearing down the driveway in twelve minutes flat and my son then laid down enough screeching rubber to make three rescue Zodiacs. Hmm, I mumbled to myself, they did need to get away, didn't they. I wonder why. . . .?
Now, dear readers, you must understand that this particular Hub deals with male teens and their inability to perform even the most rudimentary kitchen chores, especially cooking. If I recounted my entire weekend experiences with my two beloved grandchildren and their battalions of friends, I would be writing a book, and publishers are hard to find. Furthermore, if you happen to be one of the six--I'm sure there are six of you out there--sets of parents on the entire North American continent who have managed to raise thoughtful, considerate, thoroughly competent male teens, stop reading this Hub. Total waste of your time. You'll think you're reading about youthful monsters from an alien planet.
Now, back to the rest of you poor, lost souls, desperately clinging to your vestiges of sanity and praying to the God of your choice that your much-loved Machines of Chaos will leave home before the Men in White Suits come to take you away.
Herewith beginneth the story and the lesson. . . . . .
WHY I WROTE THIS HUB
Saturday morning I entered the kitchen, twitching my way to the coffee maker. My grandson (17) was about to open a can of red kidney beans (pull tab. He can't operate a can opener). "What are you doing?" I growled (no coffee yet). "I'm starving," he replied. I said, "you know that isn't pork and beans, don't you." "Well yeah Grandpa, " he scoffed, barely able to control his sarcasm, "see the label: b-e-a-n-s". I gently took the can out of his hand, checking to see if he did indeed have an inverted thumb. Yes, it was there, on that hand anyway. "Why don't you make bacon and eggs?" I asked. Seemed like a reasonable question, 'cause he loves bacon and eggs, but I hadn't yet picked up on the magnitude of the problem I was facing. "Ah, ah, I......", he stammered. Then I understood. I fired questions at him--how do you boil water quickly? boil an egg? adjust the toaster? turn on the broiler? how do you make hamburger patties? And on and on. Nada on all counts. So I asked him one critical question--do you want to go through life being dependent on your women to take care of you? His answer was a resounding NO!
So this Hub is dedicated to all those young males out there, probably still at home, whose doting parents have inadvertently made their boys slaves to their own domestic incompetence--boys who now want to make some moves towards culinary independence. Gee, learning to feed yourself! Now there's a concept, lads! So now we begin.
FOR PARENTS ONLY
The preamble above has (I hope) been of some interest to you, but all HE really needs are the sections from So You Want to Feed Yourself? (just below) to the end. I'd suggest you print those sections, then tape them to his forehead. Better yet, have the sections tattooed on his forehead backwards, and give him a hand mirror for quick reference
I have no idea if this Hub will be of interest to you or your male teens. For that reason, I have included below only TWO breakfast dishes for hm to prepare. If you, or your son, like what you read here and you'd like to see more recipes for kitchen-challenged male teens, give me some feedback in the Comments section at the end. If enough of you have enjoyed the Hub and—most important—if your son actually tries one or both of the mindlessly simple recipes and succeeds, I'd very much appreciate hearing from you. If the interest is there, Ill continue with two more Hubs on Lunch and Dinner and further Hubs on domestic competence designed to amuse you while giving him some domestic mapping for a better life..
So it's really up to you guys. Let me know. As the classic line would have it--”I am here but to serve.”
SO YOU WANT TO FEED YOURSELF?
To my favourite male teen: Don't be insulted by the tone in the recipes below. We don't know each other and I have to make some assumptions about you, or I wouldn't know how to write this thing. So I have assumed you can't even spell 'kitchen', much less work in one, and that you know dick-all about cooking, If you DO know quite a bit about cooking, go hang with your friends or catch a few zees, or whatever, 'cause this piece is not for you. If you can barely cook toast, you're m'boy. Read on and learn.
Most of the world's great chefs are men. Think about that. You can barely boil water, and if your parents are away for a few days, you just about starve because you don't know what to do. Ridiculous. Makes you look like a loser wimp--which you are NOT, right? So let's start turning this all around. Oh! by the way, a man who can cook is a real turn-on for girls and women. Think about THAT.
I'm not going into a lot of detail here. What you're reading is a survival manual, just so you can cook a few simple things that are good for you and are usually around your house anyway. If you get really curious about nutrition, check out the Canada Food Guide at
or the U.S. equivalent at
The food you eat is converted into energy, muscle-building protein, and disease-fighting compounds that keep you strong and healthy. Take in good-tasting garbage and you get crappy muscle tone, susceptibility (look it up) to disease, and general ill-health. If you're so lazy that you don't care, just keep munching greasy fries, chips, candy bars, chocolate sauce, and ice cream. Your physical decline won't happen overnight, 'cause your body is in its prime, but bad eating will lead to badness guaranteed.
Some basic info you do need about the main food groups:
protein --meat, fish, eggs, pretty well all dairy products, peanut butter on whole wheat bread (note that. Peanut butter alone or on white bread is not a complete protein)
starches--potatoes, rice, bread products, pastas
minerals -- vegetables, fruit
Now, keep in mind that this is merely a survival kit, a starter towards knowledge of food and how to prepare it. Period. You should eat a balanced diet of foods selected carefully from these three groups, with special attention to protein--but you aren't going to, are you? So, knowing that will be the case, I'm not going to rail on you about how you must eat your fruit and vegetables, etc. Waste of my time. I will say that grabbing a banana or an apple or an orange is easy to do, and any one of them IS good for you. Try it.
PREPARING TO COOK
Stoves emit heat. Gas stoves emit heat and flame. Heat is dangerous and must be respected. None of the recipes below requires high heat; nonetheless, cooking is a commitment and you must stay close to the stove and watch what you're doing. Never answer or make calls on your cell when you're cooking. Pay attention to what you're doing.
Make sure that frying pan and pot handles are turned either towards the back or to the side of the stove. If a handle projects into the walk-by area at the front of the stove, you could knock that pot to the floor, spraying boiling liquids all over you and putting you, not at your table enjoying a nice meal, but in the emergency ward waiting for someone to deal with your excruciating pain.
If your dog is yappy and distracting, put him out of the kitchen. And don't get absorbed in the TV while you're cooking. Ideally, turn it off (ha! I dream. . . . .).
Wash your hands before you begin preparing any meal. Critically important!
Make sure that frying pans, pots, spoons—any utensils you're cooking with—are very clean. Bacteria love unclean things and they can transfer their nastiness to the food you put on your plate. A marvelous way to get very sick.
Raw chicken and raw pork, raw eggs, and numerous other foods can carry salmonella, E-coli, and other dangerous bacteria. Usually, the cooking process kills these nasty devils, but you must nonetheless be careful handling these foods. For example, after you've touched raw chicken getting it into the frying pan, wash your hands.
Never place cooked food back on the “raw” plate. This is an absolute Rule. Cooked food must be put on a clean plate.
Take foods from the fridge or freezer to your preparation area then to the stove as quickly as you can. This is especially important on warm summer days. Room temperature heat accelerates the growth of bacteria.
You can't avoid it. It's grossly irresponsible to make a mess and expect someone else—probably your mother—to clean up after you. Little children do that. You are not a little child. TIP: put a couple of squirts of dish detergent in the sink, followed by about 4 inches of hot water. Then as you finish using utensils, pots, frying pans etc., just slide them into the sink. When you've finished eating, anything stuck on the pots is nicely loosened and easy to clean up.
When you know what you want to cook, check the lists of equipment and food you'll need, and get everything grouped on the counter or beside the stove, ready to go. Make sure you follow this essential step. If you don't, you'll be running around the kitchen like an idiot trying to find things when you should be cooking at the stove.
OKAY! End of all the general stuff. Remember, everything you've read so far applies to everything you're going to do in preparing the mindlessly simple recipes that follow. I'm not going to keep telling you to wash your hands, for example. You're a young ADULT, dammit—
so now let's separate the men from the boys.
Yup. It is the most important meal of the day. The food you take in here after being shut down for eight hours sets up and supercharges your metabolism and propels you into the day. Or not. So pay attention. The two breakfast dishes below are written up in mindless detail, and I want you to follow every step this first time. Even so, it still takes only minutes and will give you hours of energy.
BACON 'N EGGS
(total prep time: 12 mins)
two or three slices bacon
½ cup hash browns
¼ cup chopped onion (optional)
1 tbsp. hot sauce (optional)
¼ cup butter or margarine
tbsp. of water
2 slices bread
salt 'n pepper
2 tsp. jam or honey or...? (optional)
blob of ketchup or A-1 (optional)
medium size fry pan, with lid
empty can (or other container) for bacon fat
small wooden spoon
two paper towels
dinner plate & cereal bowl
small paring knife
knife 'n fork
HOW TO DO IT
- put placemat on table,
- put folded napkin on left, fork on top of napkin
knife on right
dinner plate beside stove. Paper towels on dinner plate
put fry pan on stove element, turn heat to medium
while pan is warming, chop onion into small bits ON A CUTTING BOARD. Leave the bits,
when pan is warm, put bacon strips in (do NOT increase heat)
WARNING---when cooking bacon, turn on range fan, close kitchen door, open window
after 2 mins. use tongs to lift end of piece of bacon. When colour changes, turn bacon over. Watch the fatty ends—press down gently with tongs if needed to make them cook
when bacon is cooked--do not overcook--remove & place on paper towels
turn oven on to 200 degrees. No more!
if you have a double sink, put can in empty sink & carefully pour bacon fat into can. If no double sink, put can on PAD on counter. Leave can in sink or on counter to cool.
put fry pan back on stove
put butter in pan & use wooden spoon to coat bottom of pan
put onions in pan & swirl with wooden spoon until onions are soft (you can sort of see thru them). Add hot sauce & swirl some more. Add a few shakes of salt & swirl again
add potatoes, mix with onions, pat down with flipper & let sit still for two minutes. Turn potatoes over with flipper; let sit for another two minutes
using tongs, lift bacon off paper towels. Throw paper towels in garbage. Return bacon to plate.
carry plate to stove. Using flipper & wooden spoon if needed, scoop hashbrowns onto plate
put dinner plate, with bacon & potatoes, in warm oven
place cereal bowl in sink
hold an egg over cereal bowl
tap egg shell gently in centre with sharp edge of paring knife
- place both thumbs in crack & prying gently outwards, gently drop egg into bowl. The important idea here is.... Gentle. Repeat with other egg.
- carry bowl to stove and slide eggs into fry pan
watch the eggs. When the white part has turned from clear to mostly white, pour the tbsp. of water into the pan & quickly put the lid on fry pan.
wait about one minute
remove lid . Egg yolks (the yellow part) should have a whitish film over the top.
put on the oven mitt & remove dinner plate from oven
place dinner plate on place mat
carry fry pan over to table & gently lift each egg with lifter onto plate.
turn OFF stove element
turn OFF oven
put fry pan, lifter,wooden spoon, cereal bowl,tongs, & anything else you used, into the soapy water
put the oven mitt away in its drawer
YOU DID IT! Enjoy your breakfast!
........now make me proud: wash the dishes and wipe down the stove, counters and table...........
TOAD IN THE HOLE
(total prep time : 8 mins.)
1 slice white bread
3 tbsp butter
medium size fry pan
HOW TO DO IT
- put fry pan on stove element, turn heat to medium
wait two minutes
while you're waiting, cut or tear a hole, about 1½” across, in the middle of the slice of bread
drop butter into pan & swirl around
place bread in centre of pan
hold egg over the hole, & using the sharp paring knife, gently tap shell in centre & drop egg in hole
after about two minutes, gently lift bread & look. If it's getting too brown, add a little more butter to pan
when egg is almost cooked and underside is brown, gently flip bread over
wait one minute & remove your Toad in the Hole with flipper
enjoy your breakfast