There was a review of dishwashers that I read a few years ago. The test was washing some dirty dishes on the automatic cycle, where sensors look for debris in the flushed water. They had wine glasses with dried wine and lipstick, which they also checked for spotting, something with eggs cooked on, and a lasagna pan which was not scraped.

Only the laziest of people will not scrape out a pan when putting it into the dishwasher. If you feel targeted by this, good — you are a monster.

The winning dishwasher had minimal spotting and removed all the other debris, at the nominal cost of a four-hour run cycle that used three times the water of the others. To save someone less than ten minutes of work.

This will be the coolest year of your life. Not cool like a skateboarding trick or a sick rhyme. The least hot. The earth is warming, less land is arable, and we are using and polluting the fresh water available to us. This, the coolest year, will also be the year of the most abundant and affordable water and food of your life. It’s all downhill from here. Cool!

Home for the holidays, I read some recipe sites and I looked at some social media cooking. @chefreactions on TikTok and Instagram (maybe others) watches other peoples’ cooking videos and comments, wryly. Often it is a low score but then he says he would try it anyway. Why are we compelled by the abhorrent? Many of these videos are “one pan” dishes, meant to create the least mess. They discount measuring implements and bowls to beat eggs in, but whatever. Their desire is meals without mess, at the expense of taste and presentation. All of these dishes are Frankenstein’s monster, a mélange of the parts, not a harmonious blending of flavors and textures but an assault on the senses.

@oliviatied on Instagram (and @livforpasta on TikTok) is a private chef and shows the work to make beautiful platings of delicious food. There’s a lot of editing, but she shows the waiting: for pans to heat, water to boil. She shows the work to make purees and sauces. She doesn’t make dishes unnecessarily but she gets a lot of dishes dirty because they are tools to do a job.

There is a disconnect between these in that @chefreactions is mostly watching amateurs who do something they have to do (not the video but cooking every day) and @oliviatied is doing something she likes to do and is good at.

But read a recipe blog or look at a cookbook. These are all attempts to bridge the gap between duty and desire, drudgery and delight. And so the cookbook lies — onions will not caramelize in fifteen minutes, you do need to stir the risotto regularly (if not constantly)1, the best results for meat will involve time cooking the inside and searing the outside, usually in different pans and with different methods, the best potatoes require the work of cutting them uniformly, removing the eyes, marrying their starches to fats (butter and cream) or cooking them at different temperatures to have a fluffy interior and crunch exterior.

Gabe from Penny Arcade describes AI art, as part of his response to being found on the Midjourney list, “Instead of learning a skill these people would rather offload their creative potential into a machine never to be investigated. It’s not noble or innovative to give up yet that’s what AI art is.”

If you feel targeted by this, good — you are a monster. When I cook for myself, I’ll use “jar-lic”, pre-chopped garlic in an acidic solution (to prevent the growth of bad things as it sits in an anaerobic environment — botulism loves low-oxygen spaces, like submerged in water or oil). Jarred garlic is fast and easy but nowhere as good as slicing or chopping fresh cloves. It’s a shortcut and it only hurts me. But I would never suggest it to someone making a dish for the first time. The shortcut subtracts. I don’t use it when I cook for others, because part of making food is an act of service (although those doing it as a job should be fairly paid — service is not slavery and fuck every corporate board and all of the shareholders with their maximized returns).

We learn from our mistakes and our effort and we improve. The only thing we learn from shortcuts is how to sidestep the tedious and difficult and soon that is all we can do. Do you have anxiety over cooking? Good! Lean into that, tell your friends you are nervous, do your best, and laugh together if it fails. (If they mock you for it, drop them body off a bridge. Or ghost them forever.) You won’t make that mistake again!

Some things in life are tedious, but the dishwasher thing? If one person in a family always makes the food and washes the dishes, that’s not service, that’s a fucking job. Your family needs to pay you or start helping. And buy some parchment paper from a kitchen supply store — $60 will get you 1000 sheets, enough for many years. 12in x 16in (30cm x 40cm) will fit a half-size sheet pan which is roughly the same size as a cookie sheet or broiler pan and the size of most home ovens. It’s a hack, like the “jar-lic”, but it will save you some time scraping the pans before you put them into the dishwasher, and save electricity and water to run the thing.

  1. Stirring breaks down the starches in the exterior of the rice and emulsifies them in the stock to help create the creamy risotto sauce.