Boomers late bloomers in the kitchen, but making healthy strides
April 13th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
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On any given weekend, Kathy Murray can be found ensconced in her kitchen, perfecting her sourdough bread, freezing a week's worth of meals made from "as close to the earth as possible" ingredients and cooking up fresh fish and produce from her local farmers market near Pocantico Hills, New York. She did not learn this at home.

Like millions of her fellow baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964, Murray was raised by parents who had come of age in an era where food was often bland, not always abundant, certainly not a vehicle for pleasure and frequently packaged for convenience. While they were grateful for the solid, if uninspired meals their mothers put on the table, boomers hungered for more. Murray, and many like her, took matters into their own hands and reclaimed the kitchen as a source of joy, relaxation, creativity and, increasingly, health.

Janet Fallon, a single baby boomer, says her mother didn't like to cook, and as she and her three siblings and often joke, "It showed!" She appreciated her mother's basic meat, potatoes and vegetables, but after dining at a friend's home in high school and after sampling an almost impossibly exotic eggplant Parmesan, she knew there was something else out there.

Appetite whet, she began spending summers and holidays with her food-loving sister (also a boomer) who married by the time Fallon was 12. There, she learned to cook for pleasure, subscribing to every cooking magazine and honing her culinary skills. Decades later, she's amassed more than 10,000 recipes (arancini with sautéed porcini was on the menu the other night) and spends her time cooking to relax and joyfully entertaining for friends. Her now empty-nester sister, she notes, rarely cooks for herself.

Lisa Scalia, the middle of three sisters born near the end of the Baby Boom, says that while they were taught the basics, their mother just never really enjoyed cooking all that much. As adults, the sisters decided as a team to hone their skills and swap recipes, menus, techniques, equipment and ingredients, and for five years put those skills to work as volunteers at a local church.

Junior high and high school home economics classes filled in some gaps for many of the boomers. But as Todd Wiseman, born in 1964, said, "My wife refused to take it. For her, cooking was a necessity, but delivered very little pleasure." As a creative, expressive cook himself, he was delighted eventually to see his enthusiasm rubbing off and her confidence and skill growing.

As their youngest child departs for college, Wiseman says, "I suspect she will begin to experiment some, but primarily make her signatures. I, on the other hand, will make the dinner plate my canvas and plan to maintain my relevance and value by cooking for my wife."

So why weren't these boomers' mothers especially enthused about cooking? Many of them were busy working outside of home, had grown up in the hand-to-mouth Depression era, had seen their own budding creativity quashed by wartime rationing, or as former CNN producer and PR professional Leslie Linton says of her own mother, "She had to flee Austria because of Hitler and wasn't able to learn much about cooking."

The America that Linton's mother settled in was infinitely safer than war-torn Vienna, but the culinary landscape notably less evolved. As David Kamp wrote in his wildly popular "The United States of Arugula," "The state of American gastronomy would get worse before it got better. Throughout and immediately after the war years of the forties, the big food conglomerates were putting ever-more grotesque packaged products on the market, many of which were by-products of their efforts to produce tinned or freeze-dried field rations for the troops."

He continued, "In time, the packaged food companies would abandon any pretense of claiming their processed and frozen products were superior in taste, instead stressing their convenience."

This created a "manufactured sense of panic," according to Laura Shapiro, who wrote in her chronicle of 1950s food culture "Something from the Oven" that "at the heart of the industry's new definition of cooking was a ticking clock...Advertisements and stories plowed across the media reminding readers again and again how busy they were, how frantic their days, how desperately they needed products and recipes for quick meals."

Home cooks at the mercy of the clock and the omnipresent packaged food industry succumbed, and their boomer children bore the brunt of the blandness - until they took matters into their own hands.

Kamp gives tremendous credit to Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins bestselling "The Silver Palate Cookbook" for turning the tide. A quote from cooking authority Barbara Kafka on the cover of the current edition proclaims, "This is the book that changed the way America cooks," and he agrees.

The book, he wrote, was "more disciplined and earthbound than 'The Moosewood Cookbook,' yet less intimidating and grown-up than the two volumes of [Julia Child's] 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking.'" This made it ideal for boomers who were busy conquering the work world, enriching their lives with cultural pursuits and raising families and still wanted to cook well, "but not all the time."

"The Silver Palate" presented an elegant and somewhat familiar compromise: either use the recipes in the book, or purchase the authors' pre-made, but still sophisticated, ingredients and foods. That empowerment, paired with the then decade-old organic food movement helmed by Berkeley, California, chef and food activist Alice Waters, began to turn the tide of American home cooking.

"My mom hated cooking and I learned in self-defense," says Susan Kessler. "Healthiness is an important factor in cooking since fat and cholesterol have to be minimized. If you are organized it's easy to get a meal on the table with fresh ingredients and flavor."

She blogs as The Frugal Diva, frequently writing about finding deals at farmers markets and on organic food. "Organic" is a word that comes up frequently in food discussions with boomers these days, and it's reflected in their buying habits.

A 2010 survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Whole Foods Market reported that more than four out of five baby boomers say they are now more concerned with what foods they eat, read nutrition labels more closely today and have a better understanding of how their food is produced than they did 30 years ago.

The survey asked 1,349 adults born between 1946 and 1964 about their current shopping and eating habits, versus in 1980 and clearly revealed a trend toward increased interest in minimally processed fare. While the economic climate of the current decade has led to more home cooking (59 percent of all the adults surveyed were eating dinner at home more often and eating out less), the boomer bent was distinctly health-oriented.

Fifty-four percent of boomers said they buy more organic and/or natural foods today. Seventy-four percent claimed they are now more concerned about fat and cholesterol and 70 percent worry over added growth hormones or antibiotics in meat and dairy products more than they did 30 years ago.

That's right on trend with how Scalia is cooking these days. She says that the meals she prepares for herself and her husband definitely skew more towards the healthy end of the spectrum. "We are both 50-plus, so I can't deal with the guilt of preparing unhealthy meals and compromising our health."

The pair eats meat, but primarily lean poultry and fish. Her husband is not partial to vegetables, so she "creatively" works them into the dishes so he'll enjoy them too.

Murray, who eventually became self-educated enough to be dubbed the "Julia Child of the class" in her high school yearbook, calls eating locally "a passion" - a far cry from the box mixes and prepared foods of her youth. Alongside her husband of 34 years, she picks fruit and vegetables, bakes bread and revels in the bounty of seafood brought in by nearby Long Island fisherman. She finds tremendous joy and creativity in making meals for friends and has passed that along to her sons as well.

She's even managed to please a couple of tough customers: her parents. They're big fans of her baking, and Murray is doing her best to "educate" them on her savory dishes. She says, "They like the caponata I make up but without pine nuts. They do not like seafood as much as we do and will not eat lobster."

And, Murray has finally caught on to her mother's greatest kitchen skill - convincing her daughters to cook for her.

For more on baby boomer culture, catch up on all our content at Age Against the Machine

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Esther Monroe

    Fantastic read. Thank you so very much.

    April 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  2. Coop

    Boo hoo John,

    Come on.
    It was fun growing up with the threat of atomic bomb attacks.
    Hiding under the desk in grade school during 'bomb drills' was
    what we became use to.
    Ah, those were the days...
    Thanks for the Cold War John. I'm sure you were responsible for that too.
    (...being the 'spokesman' for your generation and all...).

    April 17, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  3. John Mudd

    Boomers. The WORST ever for America. Their very existence was a disgrace for their parents. They caused
    us to lose a war, the first ever; brought the scourges of hippies, STDs and oral sex to America. Their negative
    impact will adversely affect America for the remainder of time. They have earned their fate of eternal damnation
    in excruciating torment and fire.

    April 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • BigEasy

      Out of Vaseline, eh?

      April 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
      • John Mudd

        Astroglide is better.

        April 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Boomer here

      You're just jealous because we had a great time and the best music. :)

      April 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Thomas

      Sorry. We tried to tell you the environment wasn't infinite. We tried to tell you that the war in viet nam was a bad idea.
      Not sure where oral sex comes into this. We didn't invent STD's either. So, when St. Reagan said "Don't worry, be happy", we gave up and joined in.

      If it makes you feel better to blame boomers, feel free. It's not like it changes anything.
      There's plenty of delusion going around.

      April 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • KanneM

      I wouldn't say the Boomers are to blame, it's those g-ddamned hippies. (Southpark reference.) The "if it feels good, do it" generation was the turning point for the U.S. and for the world. And, it hasn't been a positive change, as anyone can see. "Tuning in, turning on and dropping out" isn't the way to repair the world. They were spoiled, privileged children who decided no one else deserved the peace and prosperity they enjoyed, not if it cost them something. Any "peace protester" who proclaims otherwise is suffering from cognitive dissonance.

      April 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Ribbet

      We're so there....

      My parents divorced when I was 2. Then, when 7, Mom moved us thousands of miles away from Dad/Grandparents.

      Dad cooked Zerp! Mom was a horrible cook: a) Tuna & Potato Chip casserole (w/ Cream of Mushroom Soup)!; and, b) Vile Hungarian Goulash!!! Over & Over Again!

      Food changed our life twice. In the '70s (a time of huge inflation & Arab Oil Embargos!) we learned Chinese Cooking: Tons of Veggies, Little Expensive Meat, Very Fast Cooking (after Rice & Slicing were done)!

      Recent Inflation and Discoveries of: Markets w/ many *Cheap* Ingredients we Never Tried, PBS Cooking Shows, Google & Food Forums exploded our skills, confidence, techniques, recipes & ingredients.

      Yes, we're Boomers who have become passionate Foodies, and are getting good at it. We love sharing our food-passion w/ family & friends. And yes, as we retire, we SHOULD have more time to obsess about food. But we do NOT: We think about/plan meals all-week long (minutes). But we spend hours cooking just 1-2 days/week – most of which we freeze, which lasts weeks, months or years!

      IOW, we've learned to eat better & healthier, at lower cost, at lower effort (easily/quickly-thawed meals satisfy most nights)! As the article suggests, many Boomers are getting better.

      April 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Mardigras

      Really?? Boomers 'invented' oral sex and it never EVER happened before the 60's? Wow, interesting. By the way, I'll have to let my parents know that my brothers and I are a 'disgrace'. But since one of us is the VP of a Fortune 500 Company, one of us is nationally recognized in Education, and the other has a degree in medicine AND law, I'm sure they already know.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  4. intelliwoamn

    I am a boomer whose mother was a lousy cook, and I can't be bothered to cook at all. I hate the mess, the wasted time, the extra expense (show me how to cook these meals and feed myself on $10 a week!) I can do that not cooking. I hate the clean up, the dirty dishes, the cutting and chopping, etc., so I don't cook at all, and have only 2 friends who really do. Most of us would rather do other things, instead of spending time standing in a hot kitchen

    April 16, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Spell Much?

      What a ray of sunshine you are.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • sham13ert

      You can feed yourself dinner for 7 days for a total cost of $10?

      What do you eat, grits and carpet?

      April 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  5. AleeD®

    Kat, thank you for churning up fun childhood memories.

    My folks were born during the Great Depression and lived thru the rationings of WW2. Through the years, they managed to feed 5 people on a shoestring in the most creative, healthy ways possible for the era. To this day, mom considers cooking a chore, akin to laundry or vacuuming, but she hates having the same meals over and over again. She got many of her recipes from Woman's Day, Family Circle and occasionally Redbook magazines and modified them to either her tastes or the families budget. She taught us how to cook & bake. Daddy encouraged us to try different things whenever possible.

    Now, my baby sister is a creative, vegetarian gourmand and loves cooking all kinds of meals with her man in the kitchen. My big sister takes after mom because she insists grocery shopping & cooking are harder to do than laundry because she is trying to please 3 other people. ;) I have a family of two that is so easy to feed it's ridiculous. Hubby & I go grocery shopping together. I make what I want to eat and Hubby makes what he wants to eat. Nirvana!

    April 16, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  6. KanneM

    As I generally see my birth month listed as the last of the Boom perhaps I don't count. I grew up with a mother who was a Registered Dietitian, who worked as Home Economist and wrote cookbooks for camp stoves in her spare time. We enjoyed meals that were healthful, hearty and often creative. Mother, however, didn't take the time to teach any of us to cook when we were young, which we came to regret when she died at an early age. I was fourteen at the time, and my father, who up until then had been in charge only of grilled meats and Saturday morning breakfasts of waffles, didn't know how to cook, either. One evening over dinner, a few months after her death, my father looked up from our fortieth (or so) meal of waffles and grilled pork chops to tell me that "we need to learn how to cook." He took to it with the same discipline he brought to most endeavors and discovered that he loved it ! He spent the rest of his life cooking a creative dinner for himself every evening and for special lady friends when they were present. We both learned to love cooking, experimentation and variety.

    I've been cooking for my husband and I for over 20 years now. I've never lost the spirit of adventure and taste for good food both my parents shared with me. During lean times, that attitude and skill-set came in handy, as I continued to craft inventive meals on an often-stringent budget. I learned early on it's less expensive to cook fresh food from scratch than to buy packaged items; it simply take a little time to plan, procure and produce. I'm always looking for ways to share this knowledge directly with younger people who haven't had the same opportunity, or length of time, to learn.

    (I always enjoy the articles but feel the need to be nit-picky: paragraph four ought to read " Appetite whetted...")

    April 16, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  7. Hypatia

    BS and more crapola. I've been cooking quite well since I was 6. It's really too bad CNN can't do anything but spew unsubstantiated generalizations.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Pokeahiney

      So pouring milk in your bowl of cheerio's makes you a Chef? Amazing !!

      April 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • RichardHead@Hypatia

      I always laugh at people like you when you post " unsubstantiated generalizations " at a well written article concerning the History of Food. You obviously never opened a History book in school or you would realize.....
      The Greatest Generation saved your Azz from Dictators and Evil Doers.
      The Majority of Baby Boomer Parents grew up during The Great Depression and did NOT have two nickels to rub together. They did the Best they could to put meat or even vegetables on the table for the Family and the Children. Have you ever heard of rationing stamps? I didn't think so since you never opened up the History Book. There were days of NO Butter,milk,cheese or you were limited on what type of meat or how much you could purchase or were allowed. During this time,Family was the Most important thing and you clung to each and everyone of them. I followed my Dad overseas,yet in a different region of the world and during a different time. I ran through the jungle twice in my lifetime,was lucky enough to return home to Texas with only a few scars and could look at my Dad while grilling steaks for my family that I bought and cooked to say Thank You. Yes,you cooked at the age of 6, BUT only for yourself. As Boomers,we are different and have a debt to pay.

      April 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Handy Dandy

      Did we get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?

      April 16, 2012 at 8:34 am |
      • The Smart Aleck

        Nah. Just a case of multiple corn flake micturation.

        April 16, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  8. raggedhand

    Oh, for goodness sakes...could this article be more white-middle-class-mid-western-centric if it tried?

    "....... was raised by parents who had come of age in an era where food was often bland, not always abundant, certainly not a vehicle for pleasure and frequently packaged for convenience..."

    And where do you thing the spicy, tasty, ethnic recipes these boomers are experimenting with come from? For that matter, what about the wonderful European cooking that the white immigrants brought with them? Those recipes didn't magically materialize when Betty Boomer realized that there was more out there than she saw on the middle shelves of the Piggley-Wiggley.

    The Hollywood-marketed people raised on Wonder Bread, Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, Jello molds, sloppy joes, meatloaf and canned peas aren't the only boomers out there and are certainly not the ones who should be held up as the norm. Many boomers (like myself) came from families that couldn't afford manufactured food and made everything from scratch using traditional recipes.

    If the small subset of the Ozzie and Harriet boomers are just now discovering what was being served next door in "those" houses, then more power to them. But don't write like we never existed. That's insulting.

    April 15, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • uaskigyrl

      That's how I feel about this article. I read about half way through before I rolled my eyes. My mother cooked a lot growing up and all sorts of tasty meals (even though she despises cooking but as a latina mama, that was her duty) and the white kids from the neighborhood would come eat at our house and the other latino houses constantly. We were Chilean, most neighbors were Mexican, and a few were from various countries in Central America. It was great growing up and I try to recreate that for my friends and family: the tortillas, the beans, rice, carne, pollo, and my ever favorite pupusa's and tamales. Mmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it...

      April 17, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  9. sir_ken_g

    My Mon was an OK cook – it was part of her Mom-job. But not adventurous.
    My taste buds have always been adventuring and cannot be pleased for the most part in small town Oklahoma.
    So I have cooked for a long time – starting with Jot Of Cooking and also Chinese in grad school.
    Now SE Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Italian, country French, whatever 200 cook books or so.
    If you have a well stocked spice cabinet you can do anything.
    Being a chemist helps.

    April 15, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  10. joni

    Those of uis born in the 60's are not boomers. My parents are boomers, born during WWII. They graduated high school in the 60's, went to college, served in Vietnam. By your outdated definition, none of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and many other boomer icons are members of the boomer generation (they were all born between 1940 and 1945).

    Luckily most demographers have realized that the Boomer generation started, and ended, earlier 1955-1960 depending on the source.

    I am a Generation Jones, tweener, post boomer. It's bad enough I will spend my entire life in the shadow of the boomers, but that doesn't make me one.

    This story describes my parents – not me.

    April 15, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  11. The_Mick

    As a scientist in retirement, I follow the cooking shows that tell you "why" we do things like sear meat before cooking it, the relative effects of salt, baking powder, and baking soda in making breads, or which potatoes make the best potato salad, etc. like America's Test Kitchen, Jacques Pepin, and Lidia's Italy. As I've found various recipes that are easy and work for me like I built up a broad knowledge of what works as well as why. But there's always a new delight. I recently learned I can make a great crock pot roast beef with 3-4 lbs of low-cost top or bottom round which you put in the dry crock pot and pat 1/4 cup of flour around. Then you take another 1/4 cup flour, a packet of onion soup mix, a packet of brown gravy mix (or enough mix from a jar for a cup of gravy), mix it with 2 cups of water, pour it around the beef, then set the crock pot for 4, 6, or 8 hours and you've got excellent textured but nearly falling-apart beef and absolutely wonderful thick beef gravy. I'm going to add a little more flour and brown gravy mix and another cup of water because that gravy is fantastic over the beef and potatoes.

    April 15, 2012 at 3:40 am |
  12. Italian Stalion

    My my parents were both born in the early 40s, and my mom is a fantastic cook as were both of my grandmothers. Just the smell of sauce cooking on the stove takes my back to my childhood and reminds me that someone out there loves me. I still use recipes passed down through the family and they are always a hit at dinner parties. In fact, I don't ever remember having a bad meal anywhere in the town I grew up. I don't know who these people are who can't cook, but they certainly didn't come from my community!

    April 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Rinsewind

      My parents were also born in the early 1940s. My mom hates hates hates to cook and so doesn't, although her mom was a decent cook of meat-and-potatoes variety. She was of Irish and Scottish descent. My dad's mom died when he was young, so his food was cooked, sort of, by his Irish father–who didn't know how to cook. Later his stepmom, also from Ireland, who had never raised a family was a terrible cook. I had to learn to cook in self-defense. So, perhaps the secret is–if you have parents born in the early 40's, not to have them be Irish! :-)

      April 15, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  13. pacman357

    Ha! I started to learn to cook in single digit ages (boomer, born in 1963). By my mid teens, I was already a better cook than my mother (sorry, mom, but it's true). The best part of learning to cook at an early age, and really working at it? When it came time for me to move out on my own, dating was more fun...when a woman found out I could cook, it was a very big plus. When I cooked for her parents, it was an instant hit with moms. After years of subscribing to the better cooking mags, watching cooking shows on TV, it turned out that something I enjoyed was a conduit to something I *really* enjoyed! The old saw about food being a way to a man's heart seems to apply equally to women. Plus, I got to enjoy some good food I'd have otherwise missed out on. To anyone who doesn't know how to cook, male or female, I'd say take the time to learn. It makes life much more enjoyable.

    April 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      pacman, it certainly does! Even when one doesn't have time to do anything elaborate, doing something real and simple and actually creating good food beats the socks off of simply sticking a packet of some barely-edible into the microwave, or hitting a drive up window.

      April 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  14. Tresa Jones

    My siblings and I were very fortunate to have a mom whose family raised their own food during the Depression and never went to visit without bringing something delicious with them. She cooked nearly everything from scratch, canned veggies and fruits from our large garden, meat from teh 1/2 cow she and my dad bought once a year and froze in various cuts. She wouldn't spend money on processed foods and even our few canned goods came from the dented can store. We all cook and are inspired by her yummy midwest menus (think custard, macaroni and cheese, pot roast, cloverleaf rolls, pies) I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

    April 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  15. Josie

    I grew up with a set of parents that liked to cook. As does me and my siblings, and it shows. I've shown friends how to make even something like gravy from scratch. My boyfriend loves it, he gets actual meals...better then the tv dinners he was fixing on his own.

    April 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Kevin

      Yummie! Gravy made in the pan that made the fried chicken!

      April 16, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  16. db

    I am happy to say I did not have the experience of a mom who did not like to cook. She came home and made the most delicious meals from scratch! In fact everyone in my family can cook! This includes cookies, cakes and pies. No boxes or packages here!

    April 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  17. Thinking things through

    I 'm a boomer who came from a home where both parents cooked, and loved to cook. Yes, we had our share of canned peas and brussels sprouts, and that casserole dish with canned beans and canned fried onions on top, but Dad would go adventuring for unusual ingredients (we lived in New York City for a period, so there were a lot of cultural possibilities). TV dinners were for us when the parents were out; I can't recollect them ever eating a TV dinner with us. They never even tasted a McDonald's until the 1980's. Once was enough for them. Mother made & seasoned our burger patties, and unlike fast food burgers, they were GOOD. Both my brother and myself have acquired the love of cooking - it's not a gender thing (I'm a woman). Despite a busy job, it's one of my main hobbies. Fresh, tasty, seasoned and healthy doesn't have to mean pricey. I'm proud of both parents for their pushing of the food envelopes of the day.

    April 14, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Don

      That's too funny. I also was fed tv dinners when my parents were out, and never once did I ever witness them eating one.

      April 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
      • Meredith

        our parents were not fools!!!

        April 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  18. sam

    Drinking ALcohol is not one of them,ASK THE MUMMIES

    April 14, 2012 at 4:57 am |
  19. MashaSobaka

    Anyone who wants to learn basic cooking skills should pick up a copy of The Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Both teach basic cooking skills, and both are full of quick recipes as well as general tips for improving dishes that you already make. Don't let the "French Cooking" scare you...a LOT of the recipes in there are fast, simple, and honestly very cheap to prepare. Yes, there are some fancier recipes for when you want to get your zen on in the kitchen, but mostly there is a lot of general knowledge that makes cooking a lot easier and a LOT more enjoyable. And The Joy of Cooking is honestly the bread and butter of anyone who needs to cook from home instead of eating out all the time.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Dave

      Very good advice. After you are comfortable with food, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee (I think) is great at explaining how everything happens.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • Atlanta Joe

      I couldn't agree more with your recommendations. While "Joy" is chock full of recipes for almost everything , across a wide range of cuisines and tastes, the beauty of Joy to me is that it teaches you HOW to cook if you let it. Absorb the techniques and food knowledge basics that Joy provides, supplement it with the now widely available and free on line cooking videos to observe technique in action-and frankly you'll never really even likely NEED recipes again. You'll simply know what to do with various foods–and a cookbook will become no more than a confirming reference point for what's now instinct. I almost always include a copy of Joy now as part of a wedding gift on the grounds that sooner or later, the recipient will need some bit of cookery knowledge–and few books I've ever seen offer as encyclopedic coverage of food and cooking basics as Joy.

      April 14, 2012 at 7:50 am |
  20. Richard

    Why is it when a above-average person is shown in the kitchen they always have a glass of red wine (of course the appropriate one) and looking at the other person? Why can't the person be in a different pose? Where is the creativity?

    April 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Sunny

      It's a baby-boomer woman's fantasy pose...immaculate kitchen, dinner in the oven, handsome well-groomed guy in an apron plying her with red wine - so that she needs takes a nap after the gourmet meal while he finishes up by washing the dishes.

      What you don't see is that while she's napping, he gets first dibs on the remote control ~sigh~

      April 14, 2012 at 12:13 am |
      • Thinking things through

        Actually, he's got the apron on. Maybe he's the cook. (And she'll be the one to sneak out and get the remote control...) In my family both genders always cooked.

        April 14, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  21. jamesnyc

    What does this article have to do with anything? This is like something you would expect on Goop. A lot of boomers right now are looking for jobs in an age biased job market and can't afford this "fresh food" nonsense. They have to get by on the quick and dirty. Stop sticking your heads in the sand and face reality and get our representatives to get our jobs back.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Sunny

      James, a CREATIVE cook can make a delicious, decent meal out of next-to-nothing. Fresh foods are healthier for you, especially if you're "boomer" age. They're worth the investment, even if you're out of work. And if things are really that tough, visit your local food bank.

      Heck, if you're in NYC, why not join up with one of the "Freegan" groups. They'll be glad to help you get started and teach you how to find and prepare free meals! (Google them)

      Now's the time to learn and adapt...since you seem to have the extra time on your hands. :)

      April 14, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • MashaSobaka

      Meals prepared from fresh ingredients are cheaper than pre-prepared meals, you dork. I make poverty-level wages, and the crappy frozen dinners and takeout nonsense that all costs way too much money for the reward of NOT being filled up is just not economically feasible for me. I can make myself a delicious Italian, Thai, French, Chinese, or American meal in under half an hour for a couple of bucks. Anyone who can pay an enormous markup for the luxury of having someone else prepare their "fast and dirty" food is NOT struggling with the economy, no matter what they try to tell themselves.

      April 14, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  22. Nate

    This article is so all over the place that it doesn't even come close to documenting the "trend" that the headline seems to suggest.

    Most importantly, though, someone who was born in 1964 like the guy who wants to cook to "maintain his relevance" is only 47/48, and doesn't qualify as a "boomer" no matter what the outer boundaries of the category say in your little reporter's handbook.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Rosey Goodman

      I agree.....I am no boomer even though I was born in 1963. I feel more caught in the middle between the greying hippies and the so-called Gen X'ers. I am punk all the way and that reflects in my kitchen warfare and iconoclastic approach to dishes be they classics or not. Oh to be able to AFFORD the ingredients some of these oldsters access. C'est la vie.

      April 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  23. Mayling

    I too am a boomer – the latter end of it anyway but my mother even though had a full-time factory job and sold clothes on the side loved to cook and made great tasting and imaginative dishes. I don't know if it was a cultural thing or not but she would cook from American, Italian, Spanish, Irish, French, Chinese, German, Mexican and other cuisines all the time! I instead only like to cook on special occasions and special dishes and for parties or crowds but don't like to cook for daily living!

    April 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  24. Cardboard souffle

    That's right. Prepare a week's worth of wholesome meals, then freeze the flavor out. Great move.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      On Sundays I usually prepare a bunch of food for lunch for the week, and it lasts in the fridge up until around Thursday's meal. No freezer needed. I do freeze stocks that I prepare, but hardly any pre-cooking otherwise goes into the freezer.

      April 14, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Ribbet

      Ugh! What an Idiot!

      We make Feijoida, and Brine 40lbs of cheap Turkey Once per year!


      Feijoida costs us ~$120. That's mostly for smoked meats, inc. smoked beef tongue. But the STARS of the show ain't the meats: it's the smokey black beans (really cheap!) and the Raw Onion/Jalapeno/Lemon Juice condiment!!! Everything freezes/thaws perfectly! $120 lasts ALL YEAR, w/ cheap rice & sauteed greens.

      Ditto 40lbs of Cheap, Brined Turkeys @ Thanksgiving:::

      – They last ALL year as Broth, Bits, Steaks, etc.

      – We cut 'em up, strip skin, then brine everything.

      – Skins are slow-simmered to become Cracklings

      – Backs, wings, giblets are browned w/ lots of veggies to create great brown stock. Stock is frozen for Soups/Stews. Bits of meat are frozen for Tostadas, Tacos, Soups/Stews.

      – We freeze big pieces to bake/enjoy later.

      IOW, you're comments are opposite our experiences! We buy foodstuffs when deeply discounted, treat 'em well, then freeze 'em! They last months, or longer!!!

      April 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  25. Frozen TV...

    Great culinary (if you can call it that) nostalgia! I'm a boomer and my siblings and I grew up on Morton's Chicken Pot Pies, Swanson frozen TV dinners, Chinese "pu pu platters" and MacDonald's. Back then, MacDonald's was the new craze, and their billboard (there was only one MacDonald's for miles around) still boasted of how many meals sold!

    April 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  26. JBJingles_from the casa

    Two words...canned green beans. Never again.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • JustWatchin

      canned peas and canned spinach too. some canned things just cant touch fresh, or even frozen.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  27. ABuckeye

    Terrific article. I, too grew up with a mom who worked outside of the home, and my mom really did not like to cook. However, she always put a hot meal on the table, and I cannot complain except for the red flannel hash I could not stomach. Some hash and beet concoction that turned everything beet pink. I still enjoy a bowl of slatines and milk, and fried bologna sandwiches are a guilty pleasure. I did not know those were poor people's foods until I saw Russell Crowe in the Boxer and they had both dishes. I love to cook, and part of that is because I make the time to and my family appreciates my efforts. I sure hope we appreciated my mom's efforts, too.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  28. Truth™

    I have to concur with RichHead on this one...We didn't have a microwave until I was halfway done with college, and my big sis used to do the bulk of the cooking since we were latchkey kids. I always took for granted that the fridge would be stocked. It is a travesty in our country that for far too many, that is not reality.

    Great article M'am!

    April 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  29. RichardHead

    Another Great article Kat, One of Your best yet. Never once in the article did the "Boomers " ever bad mouth their parents about the food put on the table. As a child growing up in the 50's I could never fathom my Dad selling Newspapers on a street corner in Detroit for ten cents and getting two cents per copy sold. Nor realizing my Mother was cleaning houses of the better off people with her Mother and getting the same wages. No TV,video games,micro waves etc. It was the toughest of times for America. Yet,they survived and strived to make Life for their children Better than they had. In a way,Today's Baby Boomers are saying Thank You to their Parents by taking care of them in the Best way they know how. I would cook my Dad Fried Bologna and scrambled eggs,one of his favorites as a kid. My Mother loved anything chocolate,so I found her old recipe for Roosevelt cake and would make that for her. Times have surely changed.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Thanks so much! I have a few beloved Boomers in my life who have excellent taste, but can't cook a lick - or at least don't bother. I always wondered why that was, so I went to find out.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
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