She Says, “Cook This” But I Say…

This is my idea of a recipe:

Remove tray from box; microwave on high for three minutes.

This is my newspaper’s idea of a recipe:

This newspaper page is 11” by 22” – that’s 242 square inches of work.

For starters, there’s the reading.  The introduction is close to 600 words, and the recipe instructions are another 650+ words. 

C’mon, lady!  Abraham Lincoln got his point across at Gettysburg in only 272 words.  Think brevity, not verbosity.

Then there’s the 10 – count ‘em – 10 photographs.

What is this – a graphic novel?

Then there’s the list of ingredients – 27 items, which means a trip to the grocery store and a cart that will look like this:

And there’s all the paraphernalia you’ll need to create this dish:  a size 16 foodservice scoop, sheet pans, a rimmed baking sheet, foil, a grater, a garlic press, measuring cups and spoons, olive oil cooking spray, an instant-read thermometer, a skillet, and an oven.

OK:  I have an oven, but as for the rest:

Then there’s the verbs.  To concoct this dish, you’ll have to split, remove, discard, roast, rake, break, stir, chop, grate, push, poke, crack, crush, beat, pour, spray, portion, roll, bake, tent, drizzle, cook, sprinkle, divide, and garnish…

Going back to brevity vs. verbosity, the recipe’s author does tend go on about her father’s famous meatballs vs. restaurant meatballs:

“My experience has proved that the perfect meatball is somewhat elusive even when eating out…They can lack flavor and be overcooked and tough or mushy and spongy.”


To combat this, the author generously shares her father’s techniques for making tender meatballs.  His secret?

“Don’t overwork the meat.” 

So apparently it’s OK to overwork the cook, but by golly – you’d better not overwork that meat.

She also offers an ingredients-combining technique “to cut down on the amount of handling the meat needs to endure.”

What “the meat needs to endure”?

What about what the cook needs to endure?

The big byword here is “gently,” as the author reminds us repeatedly, including here:

Even the recipe’s headline admonishes us to “handle with care”:

Geez, OK, I get it!  Don’t mash the meat!

And now, after all that reading of all those square inches and pictures, and shopping and ingredients and paraphernalia and verbs…

You’ll have this:

What is this marvel called?

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs with Quick Tomato Sauce

Clearly, the author and I have different definitions of “quick.”

And different definitions of “spaghetti.”

The spaghetti I know comes in a box like this:

The recipe “spaghetti” is made from the spaghetti squash, which looks like this:

But, the author assures us, if you want to use actual spaghetti…

“…go for it – no judgment here.”

Whew!  That’s a relief!

For all her verbosity, there is some information the author didn’t include.  Most recipes note the amount of time involved but the author didn’t, so I did it for her:

Shopping time:  Eight hours.
Prep/cooking time:  16 hours.
Recovery from shopping/prep/cooking:  Three days.

But…I decided to go ahead, dive in, and make this marvel.

And I discovered something else the author didn’t tell us.

Your kitchen may end up looking like mine did:

And you may end up looking like I did:

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