Food Stuff

Feb 17, 1999 at 12:00 am


Now that Valentine’s Day is over, and you’ve met the love of your life, fallen head over heels, and planned an incredible future together (which is, of course, what happens every Valentine’s Day, right?), it’s time to get a few things straight. Such as who does the cooking, and who does the dishes afterward.

Depending on your point of view, neither chore is as bad as vacuuming the living room with just a straw and a freezer bag. But if you’ve fallen into the rut of always being the one who cooks, it’s probably for one of the following reasons: Because you’re good at it. Because you’re better than your partner at it. Because nobody else wants to do it. Or because you’re the only one who knows how to read the directions on the frozen entrées.

If this sounds like you, and you’re beginning to resent your status as chief cook, it’s time to pick up a copy of When I Cook, They Run: The Art of Miserable Meal Making, by Karen Kallet (Twenty12 Publishing, $14.95, 128 pp.).

Kallet, who lives in Arizona and includes on her résumé a stint as senior director of advertising and promotions for a major airline (no, she doesn’t disclose which airline – make your own guesses), has a simple premise for this anticookbook: You, too, can prepare food so bad it’ll make them beg you not to cook. (Think airline meals, and you’re on the right track).

Kallet’s path to culinary freedom is mapped in recipes rated for their gross-out factor, from one to five. One means, "It’s not so bad," while five means, "That’s disgusting! I wouldn’t eat that for all the money in the world."

There’s a saying that goes, "one person’s treat is another’s poison," but such differences of opinion hardly seem to count here. Kallet has taken great pains to come up with recipes that are likely not to appeal to anyone, except perhaps kids who get a kick out of being grossed out.

Some of the recipes sound, well, reasonably weird. Bacon in cold chocolate sauce (rating: 5) could be good, if the bacon was crispy enough. And jalapeño gelatin squares (another 5) would go well with a Southwest-style meal.

Others sound reasonable, until you consider the ingredients. A dish called "Veggie Dredgie Mooch" (rating: 2) requires just four items: One package frozen vegetables, one cup marshmallows, one can liver pâté and one can frozen lemonade. Yes, it’s a one-dish meal.

Reading this book is an entertaining escape from the kitchen, but actually whipping up a batch of whipped cream chimichangas or deep-fried liver strips is probably more effort and expense than it’s worth.

If you really want to send ’em running, I suspect just raving about your fabulous new cookbook will be enough.

–Alisa Gordaneer


Look snazzy in the kitchen with an apron signed by Oliver Stone, Joan Baez, Luciano Pavarotti or one of several dozen other celebrities. How? Attend the apron auction at this year’s Taste of Troy, Sunday, Feb. 28, at 1685 Big Beaver Rd. The event, which benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Troy, runs from 1-4 p.m., features treats from some of Troy’s best restaurants, and costs $30 per person. Call 248-689-1687 for more info. ... Nabisco has taken the prize-inside idea one step further: You could win a shiny blue 1999 VW Beetle if you find an Oreo cookie printed with the word "CAR." All it takes is chowing your way through enough bags of specially marked Oreos to find the winning cookie – and the willpower not to eat it.