Technology and the Old Style Way

Since we got married, the hubby has been encouraging me to take cooking lessons from his Mum so that I can learn to cook his favourite dishes. While I am open to the idea of improving my haphazard and makeshift cooking style, I have found it rather difficult to learn how to cook under the tutelage of my MIL.  It was only recently that it really hit me as to why I ran into such difficulties…

I guess the fundamental problem lies in the fact that my MIL doesn’t trust modern technology, whereas I depend upon it like my body relies upon the blood in my veins.  I believe in automating and letting a machine do the hardwork because that is fundamentally what a machine was created to do – to make our lives easier. 

My reliance on technology extends well beyond the four walls of a kitchen.  For instance, when I used to live in Melbourne, I never visited a bank personally.  If I needed money, there was the ATM (and later EFTPOS where I could also withdraw money from the cashier’s till while buying my groceries).  If I needed to pay a bill, there was telephone banking (internet banking was still relatively in its infancy at that time). 

I throw everything in the washing machine, even the clothes with labels that state “handwash”.  While my MIL believes that handwashing produces cleaner clothes, I believe that nothing cleans better than the washing machine.  To my MIL, bread that isn’t kneaded by hand doesn’t taste as good, while I happily throw everything into the mixer for kneading.  I don’t particularly enjoy making bread by hand because I dislike getting dough stuck to my fingers.

In the kitchen, the microwave is my best friend.  In the kitchen, the stove is my MIL’s best friend.  I don’t trust myself to cook rice in anything other than a rice cooker.  My MIL prefers to use a pot to cook her chicken rice.  Even when her rice cooker went on the blink, she resisted using my rice cooker, claiming it was too “complicated” for her with all its fancy functions.

I like my machines because they allow me to just push a button and let everything run with minimal monitoring and guess work required by me.  For instance, one morning I wanted to steam a bun for my son and I started preparing the rice cooker since it has a steam function.  My MIL saw me and asked why didn’t I just use a wok with some water since it was faster.  Sure it may be faster but I would have to wait until the water was boiling and then I would have to keep checking on the flame and the bun to make sure everything was okay.  The steam function on the rice cooker, on the other hand, would do everything by itself and I would be able to prepare my own breakfast without having to worry about the bun.

Beyond our technological differences, the other difficulty I meet lies in the fact that my MIL often cooks using her instincts for quantities.  She doesn’t have a specific recipe that states, for example, 1 tablespoon, 3 cups, etc.  My scientific mind that dislikes having to “guesstimate” quantities, prefers specific instructions and quantities.  In order to replicate someone else’s masterpiece, how else can it be achieved if you don’t have their exact method?

This was the reason why I wanted to shoot a friend of mine who once gave me his “famous” mushroom soup recipe that merely listed the ingredients that went into it but not the quantities.  Anyone with a little bit of cooking sense can make a guess at what ingredients are required in mushroom soup, but getting a great tasting soup requires knowledge of ingredient quantities.

I suppose I sound rather spoilt by technology and perhaps rather lazy to do things by hand.  However, to me, it’s all about speed, efficiency, multi-tasking, minimising errors and simplifying processes.  Yeah, I guess that what having worked in the corporate world does to you…

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