Home Cooking

Now that the winter solstice season is here, many of us are enjoying some holiday feasting! I certainly am, and I hope you are too. As you know, many families prepare traditional holiday dishes that aren’t normally eaten at other times of the year — perhaps you even wrote about one such dish in your C 1: Introduce yourself. If you can incorporate such a dish into this assignment, great! But there are many ways to do the assignment. This assignment also builds on the “cooking” theme this week, seen in Topic: Slow food and Topic: Food and feasting at Stonehenge. Cooking is prehistoric — it is older than writing. Nowadays we have (written) recipes and cookbooks and YouTube videos, but the traditions of cooking used to be carried down by example and word of mouth. Actually, I think cooking knowledge is still primarily oral, not written, even though we have our fancy technologies for recording written words. You can read a recipe and still have no idea what to do. But if you watch someone and follow their example, then cooking is not too hard. Another angle about cooking and the humanities — cooking may be seen as a crucial technology that helped to support our big, costly brains, making us smarter than the other animals. So cooking is not just some thing we all happen to do — it’s part of who we are as human beings. (Or so I think.) You’ll need to find a way to do this assignment that works for you — of course! — but here’s what I really hope: If there’s a holiday dish that your family typically prepares this time of year, and if you personally don’t know how to make this dish, then I hope you take this opportunity to learn how to make it. (Even if you have made it before — if it’s a special family dish, then it’s still good for this assignment.) Spend the time with your elders who can teach you, and share the stories. If you have kids, get them involved, if possible. But, it’s up to you and your situation. You can also do something entirely different. Really, do whatever you want: For example, you could recreate the “roast beast” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Or you could create a “mid-century modern” gingerbread house. Or jump on the pandemic trend of baking sourdough bread. Or you could try out tofurkey for the first time. Or you could get some good cuts of meat from one of the best butcher shops in America. Or whatever. So, whatever you cook is really up to you. It does not have to be fancy or expensive, but it should have some meaning — more than just calories on a plate — that you can write about in the discussion. I’m open to anything — you can interpret “meaning” widely — but make sure to come up with some good idea about this food to share in your post. Now then, maybe you have a lot of experience cooking. In that case, you probably already have something in mind for this assignment. Go for it! Or maybe you don’t have a lot of experience cooking. In that case, now is the time to learn something! Start out modest. Do avocado toast, or oatmeal. Cooking directions Cook something, especially with family, if possible. (“Cooking” for these purposes also includes baking, and any non-trivial food preparation. But it really needs to be more than “opening a bag of X and heating it in the microwave.”) Learn the steps, the ingredients, the family stories, as relevant to your situation. Take some pictures. Have a good time. Writing directions Now, in your discussion post, document the cooking process, including one or a few pictures. Talk about items 1-3 below — be sure to hit them all — but it’s not necessary to answer every last sub-question. Just develop a discussion along these lines. First, what are the ingredients and the steps? What did you do? What challenges did you encounter? What went well? Does this qualify as “slow cooking”? Second, what is significant about this dish? Is it a family specialty? Does it have an ingredient that you have been wanting to try out? Is this your first time cooking ever? (And if so, what do you think about cooking?) Third, if a prehistoric Briton at Stonehenge could see you preparing this dish, what do you think they would be most surprised by? What do you think they would find familiar and easily understand? Finally, reply to at least one classmate, writing enough (at least c. 100 words) to carry the conversation forward, and commenting on something you find insightful. https://www.epicurious.com/holidays-events/gingerbread-house-photos-article https://www.vox.com/21826128/sourdough-bread-starter-recipe-easy-beginner-winter-pandemic https://youtu.be/p7SZ7Tciq44 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_CWRFkeyAw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvwtN-3DvZY

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