Men Who Cook
Six steps to help get your guy into the kitchen - and to love it.
By Elaine Magee, RD, MPH
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic- Expert Column
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Most women love the idea of a guy in the kitchen, whether the guy in question is their 13-year-old son or their husband of 13 years. There are a few women out there who are inclined to be territorial about their kitchen kingdoms, but my guess is they're the exception. In general, we love it when men cook.
After all, how would you like to come home from picking up the kids or yoga class to find your guy flipping quesadillas or stirring up a stir-fry for the family? On a lazy weekend morning, wouldn't it be heaven to wake up to the aroma of buttermilk waffles browning and turkey bacon sizzling in the skillet? And on a harried weeknight, isn't it a relief when your husband or son can whip himself up something without your help?
So what can wives, mothers, and girlfriends do to encourage men to cook more often? Here are six simple steps to not only help get your guy into the kitchen, but to love it!
Step 1: Encourage Your Man to Cook What He Wants to Eat
It's been my experience that what most men want to eat usually doesn't start with the word "petite" or end with the word "salad." Lesley Stiles, a Northern California chef, believes that if men get to cook what they want to eat, they are much more likely to spend time in the kitchen.
"Ask a fella if he wants to barbeque some steak or make a nice chicken salad -- you get my drift," says Stiles.
What's it going to hurt to let your guy decide what's for dinner on the days he reports for KP duty? So you might be eating beef more often than you would like. Balance it out by making fish and vegetarian entrees when it's your turn to cook.
For some reason, my husband pines for pork chops (not one of my personal favorites). So in the spirit of Step 1, I'm including an easy and light pork chop recipe below.
Step 2: Set Him Up for Success, Then Let Him Do It His Way
Guide your guy toward appliances that are simple to use, like rice cookers, George Foreman grills, and slow cookers. And when you're armed with a good nonstick frying pan or skillet and a can of canola cooking spray, most food items will not stick. You can also direct your guy to certain recipes or cookbooks that are easy to use.
Aside from perhaps some gentle nudging, you need to just step back and let him do it his way. After all, getting creative and making your own decisions in the kitchen is half the fun!
Step 3: Remember, Positive Reinforcement Works!
By golly, if your guy spends some time in the kitchen cooking for himself or others, he deserves some praise. Give him an "A" for effort, no matter what the result. Find something positive to say about the meal or dish he spent time preparing. If he feels his time and effort were appreciated, he'll be more likely to step into the kitchen limelight again soon.
Step 4: Offer to Do the Dishes
Have I mentioned how doing dishes is my least favorite part of cooking? I know I'm not alone. And my fancy stainless steel Miele dishwasher doesn't make it any more fun. If someone else does the dishes after I've slaved over a hot stove, I'm a happy camper.
I try to live by the "treat others as you would like to be treated" motto. And that means doing the dishes if someone else was kind enough to cook.
Step 5: If He's Really a Novice, Review Basic Kitchen Safety
Every cook, man or woman, can benefit from these basic safety tips:
- Have a small fire extinguisher and a first aid kit close to the kitchen. Make sure everyone knows where they are and what to do with them.
- Make sure all kitchen towels and hot pads (and anything else that can catch fire) are far away from the cooking area at all times.
- Don't reach over the stovetop when the heat is on. Watch that your shirtsleeves don't get too close to the heat.
- When using a knife, stay focused on the task at hand. Always cut away from yourself, and choose the correct knife. Use the small paring knife for peeling and small cutting jobs. The serrated knife is for bread and for soft vegetables, like eggplant and tomato. The large chef's knife works best for chopping.
- When opening the lid of a hot dish or pot -- even for a microwave dish -- open it away from you and let the steam subside before looking in.
- Be very careful when working with hot oil. When water or foods with a high water content are added to hot oil, the oil tends to splatter out of the pan.
- Make sure the handles of your pots and pans are toward the back or side of the stove, not in the way of passersby.
Step 6: Review Basic Food Safety
Even if your guy cook isn't a novice, these tips are useful. Frankly, we all need to hear this again and again:
- Before starting to cook and after handling raw meat or fish, wash hands and lower arms thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Really clean under your nails and around your fingertips. It might be best to remove rings and watches before washing. Wash your hands again after touching your face or hair, garbage, raw meats, or your pet.
- If you have a cut on your hands, it's best to wear rubber gloves, even if you have a bandage over the cut.
- When you use a utensil to stir or flip raw or partially cooked meats (or other perishable foods), use another, clean utensil once the food is cooked.
- Keep raw meats away from your fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Keep your raw meat package in a plastic bag from the store. Make sure meat juices can't drip on other foods in your shopping cart, in your bag of groceries, or in your refrigerator.
- Do not leave raw or cooked perishable foods out at room temperature for more than one hour. This includes foods left marinating at room temperature.
- It's safest to cool deep pots of food, like stew or chili, as fast as possible by setting the container in an ice-water bath. The level of ice water on the outside of the pot should match up with the food on the inside of the pot. You can also cool the mixture faster by pouring it into two or three shallow dishes.
- Preheat grill (indoor or outdoor) for high heat. Add Ortega peppers, ground sirloin, black pepper, barbecue sauce, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder to a large bowl. Use your hands or a dinner fork to mix it all together well.
- Divide beef mixture into four balls, then flatten into patties (about 3/4-inch thick).
- Grill or pan-fry burgers for about 4-5 minutes per side or until done to your liking. If pan-frying, use a nonstick frying pan or skillet and coat both sides of the burger lightly with canola cooking spray.
- Remove burgers from the grill or frying pan to serving plate and top immediately with desired cheese. Place buns on grill or in toaster oven to toast, if desired.
- Assemble burger by adding the cheese topped burgers to the toasted buns.
- Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, and honey to a small mixing bowl and whisk to blend well. Pour into a resealable, gallon-size bag and add the pork chops.
- Set bag in large bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to one day.
- Preheat broiler or grill. Remove pork chops from marinade and set onto the grill plate, or, if broiling, set chops in a 9x9-inch foil-lined baking dish. Broil or grill about 4 minutes, then turn chops over and continue cooking until pork is just cooked throughout (about 5 minutes more.)
Recipes for Men Who Cook
Here are a couple of simple, man-friendly recipes to help get your guy cooking.
Lean, Mean Bronco Burger
4 tablespoons canned chopped Ortega peppers 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin (usually around 6% to 10% fat) 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 4 tablespoons barbecue sauce (your choice of brand) 2 tablespoons minced onion 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 4 whole wheat or whole grain hamburger buns 4 slices pepper Jack cheese (any cheese can be substituted)
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: (using reduced-fat cheese and without adding salt): 440 calories, 40 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 19 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 67 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 637 mg sodium. Calories from fat, 39%.
Soy Sweet Pork Chops
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons bottled hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
4 one-inch thick, center-cut pork chops, trimmed of visible fat
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: 300 calories, 43 g protein, 4 g carbohydrate, 11 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 116 mg cholesterol, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 373 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 36%.
Published June 8, 2007.
SOURCE: Lesley Stiles, chef and community relations director, Contra Costa Certified Farmer's Markets, Northern California.
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