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Fri, Sept. 20

Column: We can beat Chef Flay's 15-minute sandwich mess

What's for dinner? Three little words. Spoken over a billion times a day, in millions of places, in thousands of languages, all for one reason: people like to eat. No politics, culture, customs, religion, geography, income, age or race can divide us! Eating is a universal human common denominator that brings us all together in the one place we want to be: the dining room. I almost said kitchen, and then caught myself, since just because we like to eat, doesn't mean we want to cook.

A woman in Prescott emailed me to say that she is "done with cooking" from now until October. She will toss an occasional salad, slice a piece of fruit, maybe chop vegetables and always pour a nice glass of wine while her husband does the rest. "His turn," is how she put it. When I told this to my husband Doug, he laughed and then accused me of making this up. I am a writer, so of course I make things up! But right now, somewhere in Prescott, there is a man cooking dinner! And right now, there are millions of men cooking (something and somewhere). Oh yeah, I am pouring a glass of wine.

I was raised in an era when families sat around the kitchen table once a day and ate dinner together. Before cell phones, texting, Facebook or the after school sports games that have taken over the schedule, families all shared a meal together. Every day. My mother ruled the kitchen and it was not a democracy in our house. She cooked, served and we happily (most of the time) ate what was in front of us. Except if it was liver, because then I would be sneaky and wrap it up in a napkin and hide it on my lap until I could toss it somewhere. Of course, times have changed. Now kids just refuse!

About forty years ago my father bought an electric knife since it was a brand new gadget that was supposed to make carving hams easy and efficient. Big cord, huge apparatus (sort of like a chain saw) it tore the heck out of the ham as the entire gizmo fell into the gravy (a wonder my Dad didn't get shocked or worse), making it one mess of a ham. We also had a brand new mixer that looked like something that might now go into a museum of "old kitchen artifacts." And when that mixer got going (two speeds, slow to ridiculously fast) it sounded like Sputnik had landed in our kitchen. One finger in the bowl would be left nicked and scarred for life. Yikes, cooking was dangerous!

Of course, cooking is now an art form, elevated by the numerous star chefs and competitive television shows that are suppose to enlighten us, the ordinary, on how to cook a meal. Oh, I love the show, "Beat Bobby Flay." Want to make a turkey sandwich? This world-renown chef will take us through the steps. Just pan sear the turkey in cranberry juice with bits of chopped apple, make a mayonnaise mixture with fresh dill, cilantro and lime, cook some bacon, slice some exotic cheese, and after baking your own bread, just arrange the blessed turkey, mayo sprouts, bacon, cheese with thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, then garnish with homemade cranberry sauce. So easy!

Well, Mr. Bobby Flay, there is a crazed woman in Skull Valley who will beat your hot mess of a sandwich and show you how real people make food. Grab a couple of slices of bread, some turkey, a jar of mayonnaise and voila! Done in one minute! Yes, I am submitting my "Bobby Flay Challenge" card and will wait for him and his entourage to arrive, cameras rolling, and will surely surpass his 15-ingredient, dirty every bowl in the kitchen, gourmet lunch any day of the week!

Now that we have all the modern conveniences, my friend Jolene, who lives in San Francisco, decides that women have become slaves to cooking. She went to some therapy program on empowerment and was asked to write down every repetitious thing she does in her life. The California therapist said to exclude self-care, such as teeth brushing. So Jolene said she has baked 3,000 chickens, 500 hamburgers and 300 hams! And since the therapist claims that repetition is a "waste of time" my friend said she is through wasting her precious time on repetitive activities that bring little value. Hold on, doesn't cooking have some value? Well, I know that eating does!

Dear Readers, do not start adding up all the repetitious things that you do! It will only cause distress. It cannot lead to happy thoughts if we start counting the most mundane of all tasks completed in our lives. And there is a way to cook without making it more complicated than we need to. Hopefully gadgets are there to help us, not hurt us. And if we get completely stumped, well, we can always go out to eat. That is what restaurants are for, to help us in our darkest moments, when hunger strikes but we simply do not want to cook.

Oh, do not forget that this April 22 we all have the perfect excuse to not cook, have fun and support charity. The annual fundraiser for the Daughters of the British Empire, the British Pub Night, is at the Celtic Crossings Pub in Prescott. A complete fish and chips meal for $22, with entertainment and a raffle - proceeds going to charities makes this the perfect answer to "what's for dinner?" Tired of cooking? See you there!

Email Judy Bluhm at judy@judybluhm.com or call her at 928-713-6100 for ticket information.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@Judybluhm.com.

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