In 1952, the Curmudgeonly Professor, who was a mere 20 year old college senior about to enter the perils of holy matrimony, bought his young 19 year old bride-to-be a Betty Crocker cookbook, having collected a few minor doubts that his mother-in-law-to-be had taught his bride-to-be much about boiling water and cooking gourmet meals. He did not know that this volume of the cookbook would become "the classic Betty Crocker cookbook." So when Rodale Press issued a reprint of it, naturally my wife ordered it, since the original was tattered and fell apart decades ago and she had such fond memories of that particular cookbook. The Rodale guy called this morning to ask her how she liked it, to which I explained that she doesn't like to cook, period, any more and just wanted it for a keepsake to remind her of how much joy she experienced when cooking for five kids and a husband for decades. She, in fact, admits that she hasn't used it yet. So the Rodale guy said he was sending a review copy of a cookbook for two people that my wife could return in three weeks if she didn't like it, and he hoped that would rejuvenate her interest in cooking. Fat chance.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has written an earlier post advising men not to buy their wives a Vita-Mix or, for that matter, a pressure cooker, a bread maker, a popcorn popper, a Ronco rotisserie, or, for that matter, any other modern cooking gadget or convenience. I reissue this warning, in case some of you about-to-be retirees, or you who are already retirees, do not get suckered into this temptation. Do not watch the rotisserie infomercials as a rapt audience recites in unison every two or three minutes, "Set it and Forget it." Do not watch the demonstrator remove luscious slabs of ribs, hunks of luscious salmon, and golden roasted fowl before your very eyes. The only reason to buy any of this stuff is if you plan to use it yourself. I have not met a retired female in the last eight years who testified that she "just loved to look up new recipes and cook gourmet meals for their dear husband," or that she "just loved to get out her rotisserie and heat up her kitchen and spend an hour cleaning it up and putting it away." As for pressure cookers, my wife's logic is as follows: "Why do you care if you can make split pea soup in a few minutes when we don't have anything else to do all day anyway so why not do it in the crockpot and let it cook for eight hours?"
My wife thinks she is so logical. Can't she see that technological progress dictates that we put stuff in the pressure cooker, turn it on, and have everything come out spectacularly in just a few minutes? That's why the Golden Corral buffet, for example, has a special "seniors" period of the day between about 4 and 6 or so with all kinds of enticing menu items for women who resigned from cooking the day their husbands cleaned out their desk, hauled five banker's boxes of junk home from the office, which, incidentally, are still sitting out in the garage, came in the front door at 3:30 p.m., exactly three hours before the love of your life, at least once upon a time, was supposed to show up, and announced, "Honey, I'm home. Forever. 24/7, sweetheart. By the way, what's for dinner?" "Oh my heck," the victims of the graduates into the social security rolls, say, "Can this really be happening to me?" Actually, since this is a family blog, it is likely that some June Cleavers may even utter a few heartfelt comments a tad saltier than that when they realize their domestic peace, tranquility, privacy, soap operas, and personal freedom have now been banished. "Did I really promise I would love this jerk until death do we part?", she says. "I had no idea when I was 19 or 20 or 25 that marriage really meant "hanging out" together each and every minute of each and every day after retirement.
Oh dear. They never mentioned any of this stuff in olden days when virtually all female high school students had to put on their cute little aprons and make brownies in their home ec classes and then become secretaries, nurses, librarians, or teachers when they finished college. The boys, of course studied vocational agriculture, auto mechanics, welding, and other he-man stuff. Now I notice in my home town of Powell, Wyoming that most of the FFA officers and contest winners are females and the males don't stand a chance. Times have definitely changed. But little progress is observed in the cooking department among retired women.
We would all like to know how many of you who have pressure cookers, Vita-mixes, rotisseries, bread machines, and the like, actually use them, how often you use them, and how many of you have abandoned them to the store room with your exercise bikes, treadmills, and other relics of good intentions. Just wondered.