Author Topic: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes  (Read 14083 times)

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veryfluffy

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Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« on: April 18, 2012, 07:34:53 AM »
One of the things I have noticed about American recipes is how they often start off with some kind of mix or tinned prepared product as the basis for a dish. So when I search for certain cake recipes, they will be based around a lemon or "yellow" cake mix, then add certain ingredients. Or the recipe will rely on a tin of a certain soup.

This is completely different in the UK. People either use the ready-prepared mix or jar of stuff more or less as is, or they make a dish using a recipe that prepares just about everything from basic ingredients. Yes, they might use stock cubes or tinned chickpeas instead of preparing these from fresh, and I even once went to a cooking class given by a top chef and he said not to bother making your own puff pastry because the bought stuff was just as good. But I've never seen a British recipe that used a cake mix or a tin of cream soup.  Delia Smith caused a bit of a ruckus when she put out "How to Cheat at Cooking", where each recipe might use one pre-prepared ingredient -- which was often quite a pricey item from Marks and Spencer, for example.

How common is it really to make recipes like this?

   

nrb80

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2012, 08:00:08 AM »
There are a lot of American recipes of that nature that are driven by food companies' marketing departments and have been for over 60 years.  We even have a million dollar cooking contest sponsored by Pillsbury for the best riff off a Pillsbury product.  Some of those recipes are driven by nostalgia (i.e. Green bean casserole), some are driven by convenience for quick cooking -- its easier to make instant pudding, throw in premade graham cracker crust, and slice fruit on top than make a vanilla custard pie.  In fact, that's tonight's dessert at our house - graham cracker premade crusts, 5 minute instant vanilla pudding, and sliced strawberries. 

I don't think its "typical" of American cooking - actually I think the riffs on premade foods are mostly an older style of cooking in the US, though the Cake Mix Doctor was from the 90s I think.  Its just another genre of recipes.   

cicero

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2012, 08:25:50 AM »
I live in Israel - here meals are more based on fresh produce than convenience foods and i think most people tend to still make food from scratch.

people might buy certain convenient components, such as bags of cut lettuce or frozen veg but for the most part people still buy fresh. every so often some entreponeur will try to market some convience item like sliced mushrooms or peeled pomelas but i notice tht they usually stay on the shelves.

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Bright

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 08:53:05 AM »
I'm British too and I have noticed this tendency for American recipes to contain packs and tins of soups etc.
 
When I was a child, about 20 years ago, I was so very, very sad when my mother discovered a cheat for making lasagne. Rather than making up a white sauce, she started using cream of mushroom soup. I loathe mushrooms, and was forced to eat around the mushroom soup. :(

She'd also make homemade soup, but she'd use canned soup as a base for it. She'd do minestrone and throw in a can of heinz tomato into the fresh ingredients to give it body, and her pea and ham soup would usually have a tin of pea and ham as a base.

So it's not just an American thing. I liked Delia's How to Cheat series, if just because she pointed out some really good convenience foods.

shhh its me

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2012, 09:05:49 AM »
  It's part marketing , part knowledge and part convenience.  I do actually think some things pretty normal.  Cream soups as part of a larger dish being one the big ones. I think part of the reason is we don't have the same cream you do in the UK.  Plus If your mom or grandma made Swedish meatballs with cream of mushroom soup , that's likely to be the taste your familiar with and there a good chance that's how you learned to make it.  Using that as an example I'd have to deconstruct the tinned soup first (making the amount of creamed soups a recipe calls for will almost always cost more then a tin), plus modify the recipe to include soup and not condensed soup.  That's a lot of trial and error in which can get real expensive plus the extra hours of making the soup/sauce once you get it right to change a recipe you already like.  It may be weird but if I was serving cream of mushroom soup as soup I wouldn't think of using tinned soup.   I know a lot more people who bake at least sometimes from scratch then who won't use a tinned cream soup.

nrb80 was right there is also still a ton  marketing aimed at incorporating prepackaged foods into recipes. On top of recipe contests which many companies have there are recipes.......... on the packages , in TV commercials,  cookbooks, in the coupon section on the newspaper conveniently often with a coupon for the product, in the grocery store  and company websites.

Zilla

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2012, 09:24:02 AM »
I actively avoid recipes that call for tinned soups or packets.  I won't even use bouillion cubes. (I prefer stock).


So the majority of the recipes I use don't call for these short cuts thankfully.


I agree with others, the prolific amount of branding for these shortcuts is quite dominant in certain areas.  I wonder though is it because America is a "newer" country and when people first came here, and life was hard settling this area, that when people invented easier ways to cook, they jumped on it.  Especially since it was hard to import it across the vast lands that made up of America.  And then it just became part of our "American" cuisine?  I can't express it well but do you understand what I mean?

Hmmmmm

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2012, 09:48:10 AM »
I actively avoid recipes that call for tinned soups or packets.  I won't even use bouillion cubes. (I prefer stock).


So the majority of the recipes I use don't call for these short cuts thankfully.


I agree with others, the prolific amount of branding for these shortcuts is quite dominant in certain areas.  I wonder though is it because America is a "newer" country and when people first came here, and life was hard settling this area, that when people invented easier ways to cook, they jumped on it.  Especially since it was hard to import it across the vast lands that made up of America.  And then it just became part of our "American" cuisine?  I can't express it well but do you understand what I mean?

No, I don't believe that is the reason as this use of canned or boxed items really took off in the 1950's when supermarkets were over flowing with packaged items.  The "housewife" was bombarded with images of "why spend 2 hours making your own broth when you can just pop open a can and then spend your afternoon playing bridge".

Campbell's was a marketing genius having food teams coming up with ways to substitute their soups in place of standard sauces. Example is the holiday favorite of green bean casserole that is normally prepared today canned mushroom soup.  Few people realize this was a replacement for a basic white sauce and that the recipe can be prepared without canned soup. 

I think the idea of dressing up cake mixes became popular in the 70's.  But in the US, sales of cake mixes is down dramatically because so many people have switched bake to scratch baking.  But Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker will keep trying.

But it's was interesting to me that the British use less canned food.  I loved watching the BBC Come Dine with Me series and got the impression from that show that prepared product use was the norm for for home cooks.


Zilla

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2012, 09:57:16 AM »

Snipped from pame:


No, I don't believe that is the reason as this use of canned or boxed items really took off in the 1950's when supermarkets were over flowing with packaged items.  The "housewife" was bombarded with images of "why spend 2 hours making your own broth when you can just pop open a can and then spend your afternoon playing bridge".





Canning and mixes were actually available and in widespread use in the 1800's.  Well before the 1950's which probably made it "fashionable".

Hmmmmm

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2012, 10:11:51 AM »

Snipped from pame:


No, I don't believe that is the reason as this use of canned or boxed items really took off in the 1950's when supermarkets were over flowing with packaged items.  The "housewife" was bombarded with images of "why spend 2 hours making your own broth when you can just pop open a can and then spend your afternoon playing bridge".





Canning and mixes were actually available and in widespread use in the 1800's.  Well before the 1950's which probably made it "fashionable".
. Agree but as I stated, the supermarkets, in even small communities, made the products more readily available, and the mass marketing really pushed the concept.

Zilla

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 10:21:23 AM »

Snipped from pame:


No, I don't believe that is the reason as this use of canned or boxed items really took off in the 1950's when supermarkets were over flowing with packaged items.  The "housewife" was bombarded with images of "why spend 2 hours making your own broth when you can just pop open a can and then spend your afternoon playing bridge".





Canning and mixes were actually available and in widespread use in the 1800's.  Well before the 1950's which probably made it "fashionable".
. Agree but as I stated, the supermarkets, in even small communities, made the products more readily available, and the mass marketing really pushed the concept.


Err Right, like I also stated, made it "fashionable", which is usually the goal of mass marketing.  At least here in the US.

Sophia

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2012, 10:49:59 AM »
There is also that Americans grocery shop a lot less often.  It was one thing that shocked me when I was in Germany.  People seemed to stop off at the grocery store every other day.  I like the once every two weeks schedule.  The only trouble with not shopping very often is that you don't have the fresh foods around. 

Then you have that the mixes are fairly cheap.  Cake mixes for example which are basically cake flour are cheaper than cake flour if you stock up when the mix is on sale. 

Also, it is very common to have recipe contests where the only requirement is that you include XYZ Brand Name ingredient.  The winning recipes then get put into magazines, then passed around ... 

I was watching a show on the food channel and they said when canned food got really big (I think early 50's) that grocery stores would have an entire aisle of canned stuff. 

shhh its me

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2012, 11:03:24 AM »

Snipped from pame:


No, I don't believe that is the reason as this use of canned or boxed items really took off in the 1950's when supermarkets were over flowing with packaged items.  The "housewife" was bombarded with images of "why spend 2 hours making your own broth when you can just pop open a can and then spend your afternoon playing bridge".





Canning and mixes were actually available and in widespread use in the 1800's.  Well before the 1950's which probably made it "fashionable".
. Agree but as I stated, the supermarkets, in even small communities, made the products more readily available, and the mass marketing really pushed the concept.


Err Right, like I also stated, made it "fashionable", which is usually the goal of mass marketing.  At least here in the US.

  It's not "why do American use so many canned goods?"  , it's "why do American see a can of soup as an ingredient? when in England it's a can of soup"  There are proportionally just as many canned things in England(not always the same type of food)

It might have been the negative view of canned goods , possible brought on by a dependence when settling Alaska etc. or the 30s and 40 image of a Hobo eating a can of bean over a garbage can fire .Canned food was for camping and cowboy.  I think that  forced the manufactures to change their markiting.  I think we still have a more negative view of canned goods then England ,  it's perfectly acceptable to get some canned Heintz baked beans with your breakfast in a  nice restaurant in England and dinners still advertise mushy peas.  My husband has often commented that in England he had more choice of ready meals and that those meals were better. They have canned "cakes" in England (I say cake but I'm sure that spotted wingadingdingy or treacle is officially considered  cake)


CakeBeret

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2012, 11:35:52 AM »
In my circle, it's uncommon to not use canned stuff or mixes. In fact, I'm considered a radical for not using them.

Growing up, cream of mushroom soup was a staple. Beans come out of a can. Soups, stews, and cuts of meat were flavored from a packet. When I moved out of my mom's home and then got married, I had no clue how to cook without those things. I was legitimately confounded at the idea of making, say, green bean casserole or potato soup without cream of mushroom soup. And actually, I had a hard time finding recipes for the things I wanted to cook that did not use those ingredients.

It took a couple years and some research and experimentation to learn to cook without canned goods and mixes. Now I am a very competent cook and I don't have to rely on canned, boxed, or packaged goods to make a great meal. In fact, at Easter someone forgot to bring the requisite "3 cans of green beans and 1 can of cream of mushroom soup" for the green bean casserole. In my family no holiday meal is complete without it, so I made a good flavorful white sauce and mixed it into some frozen green beans. It was very tasty. :)
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veryfluffy

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2012, 02:22:41 PM »
It's not the existence of canned foods or prepacked mixes -- the stores are full of those here, every conceivable vegetable, soup, sauce, etc. Kits to prepare everything, to pretend you have cooked it for around the same price as a ready-meal. And there are aisles and aisles of ready-meals in the supermarket. And some people never, ever cook anything from scratch and rely completely on prepare foods to be heated up, and would never think of baking something since you can get very good everything readymade for not much more than it costs to make. It's more the use of mixes and tinned items in recipes that doesn't seem to happen much here. It's like a dichotomy between fresh ingredients vs mixes or premade food, where in the US is a continuum that sees a lot of people using prepared items as ingredients to some degree or other.

   

Thipu1

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Re: Using mixes/prepared food in recipes
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2012, 08:06:06 PM »
As other posters have said, published recipes can give the impression that people in the US depend heavily on mixes and prepared foods.  I was once asked by a Irishman if I knew what a parsnip was.  He was not joking.  He seriously doubted if Americans ate any fresh vegetables or gardened. 

Many of the recipes online are relics from a time when mixes and kits were thought to be 'modern' and 'convenient'.  This was in the 1950s and 1960s when my parents bought their first refrigerator with a freezer on top.  We still had the garden in the back yard but hey, we could enjoy the novelty of TV Dinners. 

My mother and I shopped in very different ways.  She made a once a week trip to a big Supermarket where she bought everything for the week.  I live in a neighborhood where I have many choices and shop for food every day.  There are places I can go to buy fresh meat, fresh fish and fresh produce. 

  Yes, I use canned tomatoes for my home-made pasta sauce but it isn't open a jar and pour it on.