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Mar 4, 2010 12:12 PM

Cooking Task You Detest the Most?

I'm generally not in to chopping, slicing and dicing.

And the worst items to C, S and D are cabbage--which makes a hell of a mess--and pork--which has a feel simultaneously slimy, gritty and sinewy--that I very much dislike.

Suffice it to say that a dish requiring loads of shredded cabbage and diced pork is a prep-work nightmare for yours truly.

Which cooking task most rubs you the wrong way?

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  1. Love chopping/slicing/dicing except for nuts.

    Despise deveining shrimp, absolutely hate doing it. Cutting up whole fryers is kind of a slimy mess too.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Val

      I forgot... HATE washing lettuce/spinach whatever, don't know why. It's okay with a salad spinner, but I have to monkey around to get it down and I'm usually to lazy. Hate this the most.

      1. re: corneygirl

        I also detest washing salad greens, even with a salad spinner. Can't explain it.

        1. re: cakewhole

          I third it. In fact, I hate making green salads, period (no trouble with pasta, potato, tuna or chicken). I can't explain it; maybe because it's in the "serve immediately" category, and by the time I've done the rest of the dinner, all I can handle is tomatoes thown on top of PREWASHED lettuce..?

          1. re: Michelly

            It's really not that hard to wash lettuce, but we go without salad just because we're too lazy prepare it. My mom always had us kids make the green salad. Hmmmm, guess she didn't like washing the lettuce either.

            1. re: shastadaisy

              salad making was also my chore -- that and setting the table.

              1. re: shastadaisy

                It's not that it's hard, it's just that it's a pain in the tuckus to wash and dry every single leaf even if you have a salad spinner.

          2. re: corneygirl

            When I worked at a pizza place when I was in college, I was often called upon to make salads. Being a pizza joint who primarily did deliveries (with a few tables), we didn't sell a lot of salads, though the owner of the joint would buy enormous bags filled with romaine lettuce. Needless to say, most of the lettuce would go bad.

            He would send me into the back to make a salad, and I would discover every single head of lettuce was completely rotten, slimy through and through. And he would say, "You go back there and find a salad in that bag". And I would. Half a piece from one head, to pieces from the next head. It was disgusting.

            To this day, I refuse to make salad at home. If we're having salad, my wife makes it.

          3. re: Val

            Val is right on the money about deveining shrimp. So slow and irritating. Add that to the shelling and making sure you got all the little legs off....phoooey!

          4. I actually groove on the chopping, slicing and dicing. I feel like I've really accomplished something when all the preps in their own little piles. I don't mind prepping, shelling and de-veining shrimp either, that Val despises. Some music, a bottle of beer, a towel to wipe off on and it can be very zen.

            What I REALLY, REALLY dread is chopping onions! Gah! The tears, the snot, the pain! Sheesh! I don't even LIKE them, so when I prepare a dish with onions it's truly a labor of love.

            29 Replies
            1. re: JerryMe

              Wear swim goggles. No tears whatsoever. Before I discovered that I hated chopping onions too; now it's no problem.

              1. re: Parrotgal

                lol the image ofsomeonein a kitchen wearing googles and chopping onions is hilarious

                1. re: kpaxonite

                  I use an old pair of snowboarding googles. They're very stylish.

                  1. re: kpaxonite

                    Actually, I've tried goggles. I still cry except the tears fill up the goggles. I've tried the chill before cutting. I still cry. I've tried the "cut from this side first" and the "cut from that side first". I still cried. I even tried the touch of Vick's Vapo-Rub under my nose that someone recommended. Oniony, Vicksy tears and snot.

                    Onions are simply a labor of love only, now.

                    1. re: JerryMe

                      "Oniony, Vicksy tears and snot."

                      have you tried cutting them under water?

                      the only other suggestion i'll offer is to make sure your knife is as sharp as possible. a dull knife will merely bruise the flesh and release more of the tear-causing vapors.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        I was going to make the same suggestion- a very sharp knife really reduces the amount of vapors released and makes onion chopping much more enjoyable- thats usually how I know its time to sharpen my knives!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Who can hold their breath that long? ;-)

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Also if your knife is REALLY sharp, the chore is over much more quickly.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              OR use a mandoline to get quick thin slices of onion (i.e., for caramelized onions, as I'll be doing today for my beef stew). If you need to chop them, you could do so then.

                              And USE THE FINGER GUARD they give you with the mandoline, for heaven's sake! :-)

                            2. re: JerryMe

                              i simply learned to not lean over the onions, it makes a huge difference.
                              try to stand as upright as possible and even lean your head away.

                              1. re: JerryMe

                                I have a small fan that I use just for this purpose! It is one of those little fans with no case and fabric "blades" so it is totally safe to have around. Anyway, I turn it on and blow it across the cutting board left to right when I chop onions. No tears!

                                1. re: BackBite

                                  BackBite: The fan's a great idea. Now if you could just get somebody you don't like to stand "downwind".... mWAHAHAHAhahahah

                                2. re: JerryMe

                                  If you have a working and modestly powerful stove hood (that actually sucks air up and outside as opposed to just sending it back into the room as some do), put your cutting board as close as possible to the vent. I just learned this recently and it's fantastic. They hardly affect me at all. And I'm the kind of onion chopper who has to stop half way through because I can't even see out of my scrunched up, teary eyes.

                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                    Cut them next to gas burners on high. The open flame burns off the acid before it gets to your eyes. Works for me every time!

                                    1. re: 3foodies

                                      I let the cold water trickle in the sink, peel them under running water and cut them next to the sink. Works somehow, I think the water attracts the amino acid sulfoxide molecules or just washes them away, not allowing them to mix with the water in your tears to form sulfuric acid, which is what burns your eyes.
                                      If you refrigerate your onions, you'll have less chance of them releasing the volatile gases by slowing the reaction of the onion when cut and changing the onion chemistry slightly.
                                      Or just buy thoese cute googles; I just saw a a pair in pink for the ladies.

                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                        You are right on the money honey! I run them under cold water first and use a sharp knife so I can chop fast. No tears.

                                        The only time I get teary is in the summer when the kitchen is warm so my onions are warm too - they seem more vapouryish. If I remember I try to stick them in the freezer for 15 minutes before chopping.

                                1. re: JerryMe

                                  Chilling the onions for 2 hours prior to processing will prevent tearing because the sulfur compounds aren't as volatile.

                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                    Try breathing through your open mouth when you're chopping onions. The volatile oils don't bother me at all if I do it that way.

                                    1. re: JerryMe

                                      Have you tried using sweet onions? If i use regular onions, I always tear up, but never have a problem with sweet onions.

                                      1. re: JerryMe

                                        My brother was working for a knife company, and he said the secret was to breathe through your mouth, and definitely not your nose. Seemed to make some difference.

                                        I used to not make anything with garlic in it because I hated the way it made me smell (I feel like it got into my circulatory system) - I am making progress on this though.

                                        1. re: Memily_G

                                          it does get into the circulatory system -- and you'll have it smelling from your pores if you eat a *lot*.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            I cleared out the sauna at the gym once the day after a garliky feast. More room for me!

                                          2. re: Memily_G

                                            Breathing through my mouth has always worked for me.

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              I'm a mouth-breather by nature. I'll have to pay attention next time I chop onions to make sure I'm doing so then.

                                          3. re: JerryMe

                                            That used to be me. A second career in the restaurant business, and now I'm slicing and dicing onions like a pro -- no tears. Some of my peers have agreed with me, do it enough and one develops an immunity.

                                            It may look ridiculous but of all the home remedies I've heard for onion eyes, the goggles are the best!

                                            1. re: shaogo

                                              Goggles are awesome, unless you're about to host a dinner party! Goggle dents can take a while to go away...

                                          4. Not sure why my first try was deleted after I saw it post, but I'll try again...

                                            Folding. I hate folding whipped egg whites or whipped cream into anything. A soufflé, a mousse, cake batter, etc. I never know when to stop and usually over-mix and then everything gets deflated and soupy. If I see the words "then fold in" in a recipe, it's usually a deal breaker for me.

                                            1. The clean up! I can slice, dice, chop, fry, saute, bake, boil, braise, broil, simmer and steam all day long. But I HATE cleaning up my own mess.

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: boyzoma

                                                Putting away the dishes. Don't mind washing and/or drying. Detest putting them away. Same with unloading the d/w.

                                                1. re: Scott D

                                                  Same here. I don't know what it is. I just hate unloading the dishwasher!

                                                  1. re: Rheta

                                                    What IS IT about unloading the dishwasher that is so dreadful?? I hate it so badly!! All the dishes and glasses and utensils are so squeaky clean, yet I'll put it off as long as I can! I'm happy to see I'm not the only one!

                                                    1. re: southern_expat

                                                      I don't know what's so bad about it. When I was a kid I hated it, but after spending several years living in an apartment without a dishwasher, I find it to be a transcendent - or at least worthwhile - experience!

                                                  2. re: Scott D

                                                    Hah! Me too. I thought I was the only one. I don't mind washing dishes, but I simply can't stand putting away the clean dishes.

                                                    1. re: Indirect Heat

                                                      Oooh I hate that too. It's that scritchy feeling of dry dishes I hate- and the silverware takes FOREVER, asking the forks to behave and getting all the spoons piled correctly...

                                                      1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                                        "asking the forks to behave and getting all the spoons piled correctly"
                                                        LOL! i have a serious compulsion about putting away the dishes and silverware, but that's why i *like* to do it myself. everyone else does it wrong.

                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                          LOL! I think we're twins from different mothers, ghg. Stacking the dishwasher used to be Mom's job until she saw I could do it better. Then it became my job. I can fit more into a dishwasher than anyone else in my family (except my BIL gives me a good run for my money!) Drives me nuts when I see "empty space" in the dishwasher that is being wasted because of poor stacking. LOL!

                                                          As for putting away the silverware, I make it easy on myself...each compartment in the silverware carry-all in the dishwasher gets their own type of silverware - knives in one, teaspoons and forks in their own separate (larger) spots (I tend to use more teaspoons and forks than anything else), Tablespoons in their own spot (away from the teaspoons so I don't get them confused when putting them away when they're clean), and small "assorted other" utensils (small butter knives, tongs, etc.) in their own compartment in the dishwasher carryall. And ALL cutlery goes in handle down with the spoon bowls, fork tines, and knife blades UP for cleaning (except sharp knives, of course).

                                                          Yes. I know I'm a-r. But I get the silverware put away in less than 30 seconds when I do finally get around to emptying out the dishwasher. :-)

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Triplets, I guess. Linda--your silverware d/w loading method and mine are identical. A-R, I guess, but it seems sooo logical :)

                                                            I'm a little nutty w/grocery lists too. My friend's husband told her that if she made grocery lists like mine, he wouldn't mind doing the shopping. She teases me, but it just seems logical to organize by section of the store and aisle and even the direction in which the shopper will be moving and include tips for finding what I need--label colors, shelf locations, what's nearby. This eliminates the calls from the store: "They don't have . . ." or "they must be out of . . ." or "they musn't carry . . . ." (My husband has to be the world's worst shopper--or the blindest.)

                                                            Yes, I plead guilty to being a-r, but I suppose that's fodder for a whole separate thread.

                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                              The shopping list thing I got from my mother. It's not an exact science - especially when a supermarket changes where they put things - but it's in an order that most stores have their stuff, so it still works for me. I don't do the direction orientation or which shelf, as I'm the one doing the shopping, but I can see where it would definitely help the grocery-shopping impaired. :-)

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                harris teeter's shopping list generated from one's selections off the online weekly sale circular is automatically organized according to the store departments. very neat. it's the best online set-up!

                                                              2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                Me too! My list is very organized. I take it a step further when I am shopping though. I unload my cart in the order that I would like my groceries packed. I put all the cold things together, all the boxes that go in one cupboard together, the tins all together.... they don't always pack it exactly the way I'l like but I manage to not say anthing.

                                                                Love your idea about the cutlery - going to make some changes tonight and everyone will get a lesson on dishwasher loading! Thanks

                                                        2. re: Indirect Heat

                                                          What IS it about unloading the d/w? I hate it too, but otherwise I love my d/w, and would marry it if that weren't illegal in all 50 states, 10 provinces and three territories.

                                                          1. re: pear tart

                                                            Having spent many an hour washing dishes by hand, I'll never complain about anything having to do with a dishwasher. What a labor-saving device it is!

                                                        3. re: Scott D

                                                          me too! wonder why is that?? I hate unloading the dishwasher more though, so I've reverted to handwashing, but then there they sit for what I call air drying, and then follow with clean linen wipe. hm come to think about it, I just create more work for myself.

                                                        4. re: boyzoma

                                                          I'm with you all the way on that one!

                                                        5. Well, I hate deveining shrimp too, except it is more the thought of deveining since I've never done it. Don't mind most chopping of most anything. Nor do I mind skinning chicken or cutting it into pieces. I think I hate the thought of washing those bunches of large leaved spinach about as much as anything. When I do lentils and spinach, I like the mature stuff, and cleaning it is a pain. I fill one side of the sink and put all the spinach in the water and swish it around. Then I take those center stems out of every sizable leaf. Then, I have to spin the stuff in a salad spinner to take out most of the water. I may also chop it a bit.

                                                          Now someone is going to post a really cool and easy method of doing this, and I'm going to be mad I've been doing it the hard way all these years!

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                            Oh that is so funny because I, too, have never deveined a shrimp because I know I'll hate it too much!

                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                              sueatmo-You're cleaning the spinach the only proper way known to humankind. All the pros do it the same way. You could spare yourself by leaving the stems on, though. They're not that tough, unlike other greens.

                                                              1. re: sueatmo


                                                                I guess I hate deveining shrimps as well. A few is fine, but it get really tiresome soon. Therefore I like to buy big shrimps. Even if I am to diced the shrimp into small bits, I still buy the big ones because there is less deveining :)

                                                                I just realize that I am not the only one who use a salad spinner to wash vegetables :) Seriously, no one has ever told me and I looked at that thing and think "Hmm, it looks like a washing machine and I bet I can use it to wash my vegetables".

                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                  CK, that's my strategy too--buy the larger shrimp so there's less deveining. Ugh...that darned poopy-vein sticks to everything, it's disgusting and tedious work.

                                                                  1. re: Val


                                                                    :) Gald we agree. So do you devein both the top (back) and the bottom (belly) or just the top? Many people only do the top, but I do both. The bottom (belly) side is more challenging. If it is just the back side, then it is not as bad. :)

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      i can't speak for Val, but i remove both. why even bother if you're going to leave one in there?

                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet


                                                                        Agree. Yet, I know many people only remove the top (back) one and that one is easier to remove. To remove the bottom (belly) one, I have to partially straighten the shrimp out.

                                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        wait.... there's an underside vein too?
                                                                        are those on all shrimp or just the really big ones?

                                                                        1. re: AndrewK512

                                                                          I believe all shrimps, large or small, have two "veins" Through the top on is really the digestive system and the bottom one (underside) is nervous system.

                                                                          Next time when you devein, try the underside and you will see it.

                                                                          Most cooks only remove the top one.



                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            I never knew of this nervous system issue. I'll have to give it a shot and see if I now make the most lucious shrimp ever! Thanks for the info.

                                                                          2. re: AndrewK512

                                                                            the underside vein/nervous system may not taste as bad as the digestive tract, but i can't stand the texture - i find it to be even stringier.

                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                              They can come up with seedless grapes, why not veinless shrimp?!

                                                                          3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            @chemicalkinetics, the underside vein always seems hairlike to me and quite I only do the top-side one.

                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                              @Val, have you ever gotten a hair stuck in your teeth while eating? ick. ick. ick.

                                                                              *that* is why i remove the underside vein ;)

                                                                              1. re: Val


                                                                                That is cool, but I just want you to know. The underside one is more difficult to remove and you will be looking for at least twice the amount of work :)

                                                                          4. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            I once had to devein, get this, 20 pounds of shrimp for one of my parents' huge parties. My dad said it was cheaper that way. I really wanted to stab him with my knife at the end. Consequently I'm very good at it now.

                                                                            Oh yeah and I had to do a fancy shrimp flambe cooking extravaganza for all the guests too! So I'm good at that too. Did get lots of oohs and aahs though.

                                                                            1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                              I bet you lost all desire to eat shrimp for a while after that.

                                                                              I sometimes find that if I prepare a dish/meal that is incredibly labor-intensive, I totally lose my enthusiasm to eat it when it's finished.

                                                                          5. re: sueatmo

                                                                            Perhaps it's because I had to do it when I was a teenager working in a restaurant kitchen... I'm with you on washing mature spinach!

                                                                            I can slice and dice until the cows come home (am actually rather proud of my knife skills). I'll even willingly de-vein shrimp -- by the five-pound box. But when it comes to getting the sand out of spinach (or leeks for that matter) I really can't stand it.

                                                                            For the other "icky shrimp de-veiners" I offer up my secret: I watched a guy in a seafood market on the shore working with shrimp. He was de-veining them with a flick of the wrist, seemingly, because he'd been doing it for 30+ years. The way he was drinking from his mug, I thought he had booze in there. When I asked him he said that he drinks hot tea with lemon -- as hot as he can stand it -- while de-veining shrimp. It keeps his hands warm. So nowadays when I de-vein shrimp I make sure to have plenty of nice hot Oolong or Peppermint tea at hand and it just makes the whole task much less unpleasant. But get used to having shrimp goo all over the outside of your mug.