Tuesday, March 1, 2016

American Style Cooking

For me American style cooking is associated with hearty meals, more on the heavy side, full breakfasts/brunches with a lot of egg dishes, a lot of baked goods, affordable ingredients and rather too heavy reliance on convenience foods.

The latter is quintessentially American; I own an American cook book from the 1960s, when most women were still homemakers and it's full of recipes calling for a can of this and a jar of that. The USA food industry has been better developed than here in Europe where folks used to cook from scratch well into the 1980s.

(no, not this one, this one is the source of the first photo though)

I think American approach to cooking has a positive and a negative side. Personally I don't care for heavy breakfasts, I can't imagine why would anyone want to eat sausages and potatoes at 8 o'clock in the morning, but I like muffins and scones and other baked goodies which can be served for brunch or elevenses, and heartier dishes are fine for lunches or even a light dinner.

Another positive thing is the affordability which is important for anyone with a tight budget, seldom there is a need to purchase exotic ingredients with accordingly exotic prices, mostly there are standard items used such as cheddar cheese, eggs, bacon, flour etc.

American kitchen is also famous for it's oven dishes, it's like oven is more used than a cooking stove, quite the opposite to where I live. I actually enjoy it, since an oven dish can be assembled beforehand, put into the fridge and just popped in the oven when the time comes.

On the down side, as I have mentioned there is too much of certain things which aren't really good for you, such as sugar, corn syrup or frozen shredded potatoes. I usually dramatically reduce the amount of sugar and fat and avoid anything which calls for a can of a cream of anything soup or stuff like that. Sometimes you can simply omit certain ingredients though.

Anyway, American style cooking and baking can be great fun and some recipes have long become favourites in our home.


  1. Actually, I go for the sausage and potatoes at 5 in the morning.... :-) You might find rather telli9ng the fact that there is something sort of "populist" about cookbooks at the time: the ingredient were simple and cheap, and they assumed that the reader had the skills to use them.

    That said, they are rather heavy, but then again, your man needed his strength out there at work!

    I am reminded of one other thing from my Lebanese heritage... virtually every desert recipe STARTS with meting a pound of butter, and liquifying a pound of sugar... :-)

  2. Anonymous, pick up a handle, anonymous comments aren't allowed on this blog. Your next anonymous comment will be deleted.

    Sugar, btw, is about the worst thing we consume daily. Hearty breakfasts are traditional in some areas, in others, not so much. Here we just go for a glass of milk, a cup of coffee and a toast.

  3. I like bacon and eggs in the morning There is a lot of protein in them and they hold me for a long time. I also like thin crepe pancakes for breakfast. I use my oven or crock pot regularly. Like you said, it can be made ahead of time and easy to make for dinner guests. Barbecuing meats too often is not healthy, so the oven is a good alternative. I love all of the different kinds of salads When I come to Holland for a visit, I bring poppy seed dressing. It seems to be a favourite for my relatives.

  4. We sometimes eat full breakfasts on Saturdays, when we eat later than usual. Then we can take bacon and eggs, or I'll make waffles or scones. I still think it's lighter than sausages and potatoes:) In some countries hearty breakfast is a tradition, others like French, take a croissant and a cup of black coffee. I think we fall in between. I always serve fruit with breakfast, too.

  5. I like low carb breakfasts in order to avoid a new hunger attack at 11 o'clock but not heavy food. A boiled egg with Butterbrot and cheese is a good example for us. I avoid muffins or croissants early in the morning but after lunch everything settles down better. I see many children serving sugary items at 9 in the morning before breakfast or instead of it. Sweets should be a dessert not food to take when you are hungry. Not only calories but the amount of sugar and carbs make a difference between healthy and not healthy diets.

  6. Yeah, it's true about sugar. Sugar hasn't been a traditional European food at all, in ancient times honey was usually used as a sweetener which is better for you, however I'm not on a low-carb side. I love my potatoes with dinner:) However, I try to reduce the consumption of refined flour, white rice etc.

    As for breakfast, I think it's a matter of habit more than anything. Personally I nearly always have two slices of Scandinavian crisp rye bread for breakfast, one with jam (recently switched to a lower sugar amount brand), one with apple butter, plus a glass of milk and fruit. And tea (for me usually just warm water with honey). We eat porridge, too, or muesli sometimes. I eat my proteins with lunch and dinner.

    I read that American health organisations recommend no more than 6 tsp added sugar per day for women, 8 for men. I normally try not to exceed it.

  7. Yes, it's a habit difference. But drinking coffee only without breakfast is another habit around us. It is really unhealthy. I switched to coffee again because I have become too sleepy since introducing chicory. I just have to admit I'll always love the taste of real coffee and the effect it has in the morning. I have to drink the chicory too but being cheap barley and chicory coffee I'll use it somehow in a mocca cake or just drink it at dinner when coffee isn't welcome.

  8. I agree! It's very unhealthy to skip breakfast altogether, and a cup of coffee isn't really breakfast. I have a general idea that the younger generation don't cook, don't clean and don't have fixed meal times, but it's a topic for another discussion..


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