23 November 2014

This has been irritating me for over 20 years!

I’m afraid I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks – sadly there have been not one but two deaths in my real man’s family and we have been both very busy and very sad, also away from home.

As I haven’t cooked much this seems a good opportunity to have a bit of a rant about something that has been irritating me for about 20 years. 

British cooks seem to have a bad rap in the States which I feel to be ironic to say the least and just one of several reasons this is ironic is the prevalence of “recipes" like these in books, magazines and on the web.

Creamy Pineapple Dessert kind of Thing!

1 large can crushed or chunk pineapple with juice
1 large box sugar free, fat free vanilla pudding mix
8 oz cool whip

~   Mix together and chill.

Vanilla pudding mix contains ...
modified food starch, less than 2% of natural and artificial flavour, salt, disodium phosphate and tetrasodiam pyrophosphate, mono and diglyceries, yellow 5, yellow 6, articificial colour, BHA
Cool Whip contains... 
hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, skimmed milk, light cream, and less than 2% sodium caseinate, natural and artificial flavour, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, and beta carotene
Why not just do this?  

~   Drain the pineapple well.
~   Whisk some double or heavy cream together with a few drops of vanilla extract and sugar to taste. Icing (confectioners) sugar will make for a smooth finish but soft brown sugar will add more flavour.
~   Fold in the pineapple and chill till needed.

Even better use slices of pineapple (fresh or canned in juice), sprinkle with the sugar and bake in a medium oven till caramelising.  Cool, chop and fold into cream whisked with vanilla extract.


Incredible (no kidding!) Melted Ice-Cream Cake

Here is the list of ingredients which is all I need to make my point – you can find the recipe here, on the highly esteemed American Epicurious site.


vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
flour for dusting the pan
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
2 cups melted ice cream, your choice of flavor
3 large eggs
Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting

I’m not sure about the above recipe but I have made cake from melted ice cream (you may remember there has been a lot of ice cream in my life) and all I did was mix about 165g self-raising flour into 225g of ice cream (melted). Sometimes I have added something else as appropriate – chocolate chips, fruit, nuts etc.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.

Speaking of plain white cake mix (they have yellow cake mix too) how about this little beauty?


Why not just make a cake?  There’s loads of quick and easy recipes about, like this one from the Beeb.

A “recipe” for Strawberry Fudge 

This contained just two ingredients ...


Candy Melts contain ...
sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, whole milk solids, non-fat dry milk solids, emulsifier (E122), salt, artificial vanilla flavour. 
Having read a bit about Candy Melts  it seems that some good white chocolate makes a far superior alternative.

The frosting contains ...
sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, corn syrup, corn starch, color added Including red 40, salt, mono- and diglycerides, modified corn starch, artificial flavor, polysorbate 60, potassium sorbate, soy lecithin, citric acid, sodium Citrate
I don’t have an alternative recipe immediately to hand but think I might prefer no fudge to all that stuff!

Beef Casserole

So far all my examples have been for sweet things but savoury dishes suffer from the same perviness. Many American recipes call for a can of chicken (or sometimes mushroom) soup as the liquid  and I can see that this could work depending on what is in the soup, of course – so perhaps not in this case; beef “casserole” with chicken soup in it – incidentally casserole means something different in the US to the UK.

1½ lbs ground beef
8 oz sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
½ an onion
2 canned corn
1 pkg Crispy Crowns (frozen)

Crispy Crowns contain ...
potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, corn flour, dextrose, disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate, onions, natural flavoring, corn maltodextrin and autolysed yeast
Anyhoo – that’s enough of that and you get the gist.  I started looking up some of the longer words and read of cancer and liver enlargement, autism and so on – scary. (Actually it’s a useful site to check on unfamiliar ingredients so here’s the link.)
Why, oh why, would anyone make “food” from so many chemicals when real cooking is not that difficult, probably cheaper and you know what’s gone into it? I did see one recipe that boasted “no flour or fancy measuring required, because we’re using cake mix”, so maybe that’s the problem; fear of measuring!  
Luckily we don’t cook this way much in the UK – let’s keep it that way. 
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In Other News ...

~   The Huffington Post (bless their hearts) seem to agree with me on the subject of English cooking!

~   Still lovely weather down here in Cornwall – our primroses are still in flower and this is Charlestown this afternoon.




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8 comments:

Zola Spud said...

Totally have to agree. I often search for 3-ingredient-recipes in an attempt to cut out the crap, especially regarding sweet treats - but stumble across these 'combine this packet of faux food with that packet of faux food' methods instead. Infuriating!!! I wouldn't touch those packets with a barge pole, let alone multiple their junk food effects by layering them.
Americans seem unable to make any form of icing without a list of ingredients as long as your arm, again from several.
Whatever happened to icing sugar + water...?
So glad I'm not the only one to have noticed this :-)

Anonymous said...

Also agree with your observations. On taking a cake to my new office colleagues one time, was asked if it was "made from scratch". I was puzzled by the question, because as far as I was concerned there is no other way!

And what about ready made mix for pancakes?

Jenny Eatwell said...

The only time I will even consider a recipe that starts "1 box of" or "1 can of" is when it involves a can of condensed soup - and then only at a pinch, because most of the condensed soup recipes I've tried have been unsatisfactory. It's just not a recipe, for starters - and they are so poor, in comparison with the real thing! I despair when I read some of the suggestions that appear on so-called recipe sites.

Suzy Bowler said...

Thank you ladies! I almost mentioned the pancake mix issue - bizarre - and the made from scratch thing.

Some of the instant stuff requires as much work as making it from real food!

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debs said...

have to agree its just down to idleness and lack of effort..no need in this world for packet cake mix!

Sue said...

I watched an American 'cooking' programme recently, and all she did was open boxes and packets and combine the things she found in then, very bizarre.

Needless to say I didn't watch it again!!

When I was reading through that cake recipe about adding extra ingredients, all that was going through my mind was why not throw away the mix and add flour and to your 'extra eggs, and then you'll have a cake anyway!!

Suzy Bowler said...

My thoughts exactly Sue!