Thursday, March 23, 2006

Something I've Never Understood

Cake mixes. They're supposed to save you so much time; I've heard women say they won't make scratch cakes, only mixes, because scratch cakes are "too much trouble". But what time does a cake mix save you? You dump the mix in a bowl, and you still have to measure out oil or butter, milk, and eggs. The mixing takes the same amount of time, so all the work the mix has saved you is measuring and pouring your flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and, assuming this isn't a plain butter cake, flavoring--or if you use self-rising flour, only the measuring of the flour; the dumping of it in the bowl would be the same as dumpting the cake mix in. You might also have to wash an additional couple of measuring spoons and possibly an extra measuring cup. All in all, a mix saves you maybe two minutes of time. Maybe a carrot cake mix would bump it up to nearly five minutes, since you no longer have to grate a carrot, but the point is mixes don't actually save you much work; they cost more (unless we're talking double coupons on top of a loss leader sale or something like that), they don't taste as good, most of us don't know what some of the ingredients are, they're less versatile than the ingredients for homemade cake, and yet they still don't save you any significant amount of effort. Why bother?

I haven't bought a cake mix since a day or two before I was married, a little over eleven years ago, and that was only because I wanted chocolate cake in what was still a bachelor's kitchen. If I want cake, I make one from basic ingredients I keep on hand. It's bucking a trend though. As I said (read "overgeneralized") to my husband, if women in my grandmothers' generation wanted cake, they made one from scratch; if women in my mother's generation wanted cake, they used a mix (possibly jazzed up with apricot nectar or something); and if women my age want cake, they go to the store and buy a cake. Maybe making any food at home is weird nowadays. I'm only an adequate cook (defined as "no one will starve around me"), but some people nowadays apparently can't cook at all; I have seen many grocery carts filled with nothing but frozen meals, deli items, and things like Pop Tarts.

Other things I don't understand include anti-Semitism and why people who say Shakespeare is "too hard" are sometimes the same people who insist on using only the King James Version of the Bible.

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