Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Mar 20, 2014 12:23 PM

Relative always ruins good food

My sister-in-law is always taking good food and ruining it with weird ingredients. E.g., I'm at their family's place making guacamole (avo+garlic+lime+salt) and she gets really excited about her "secret trick" and adds freaking sour cream! Or I was helping re-use leftover chicken by crisping it up for tacos and she insisted on adding some gross taco flavoring packet, ugh! She always has these "tricks" that she's so proud about and that I'm afraid to tell her ruins the simplicity (and healthiness!) of food. But I'm a recent addition to the household so I'm afraid to push on this.... any tips?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Wait, you're a guest in her house? Using her food, or yours?

    1. Not her house, in her parent's house (along with my wife and their other siblings) for holidays etc. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I'm definitely aware I'm a guest (which is why I've never said anything about this). Usually people pitch in with different meals and snacks and so forth.

      13 Replies
      1. re: garlicman

        I would try to find a way to let her do the cooking then. Save your efforts for your house. Then, don't let her in the kitchen.

        1. re: chileheadmike

          But then the OP risks looking like a slacker.

          There should be a way to gently tell her that you have preferences and talent, too.
          It sounds like she doesn't know of or respect your culinary talents.
          Is she older than your wife- the "older sister"?

          1. re: monavano

            of all the risks inherent in this situation, the risk of "looking like a slacker" is BY FAR the least dangerous risk to to take on.

            1. re: monavano

              Perhaps you live in a *magical* family? I have a very large family and extended family. There is a hierarchy and seniority is a reality. This is a female family member at her parents home...she gets to be the shot caller there.Junior needs to learn how to bide his time and make his move once he is truly accepted. Why risk upsetting his new SIL? Over what? His culinary POV? Pick your battles in life.

              1. re: MamasCooking

                Exactly, it's a marathon and not a sprint. Since the OP is the new guy maybe it would be best to either bring prepared food, cookin the style the family prefers, or be the guy who does the dishes for now. Or he can ask his wife for the best way to handle her sister.

          2. re: garlicman

            In her parent's house, she probably feels she's got more room to be bossy in the kitchen. I get that.

            Well, a couple suggestions would be to tell her what you'll be in charge of and you wouldn't HEAR of her lifting a finger to help you. Her job is to just enjoy something that you yourself are an expert at.
            "Oh, honey, let me do the work- you rest and I'll let you know when it's done"
            Or, "how about we try it this way and see how it turns out. I've made it without mayo and can make it creamy without the extra calories, which is great for me right now"

            It's a tough one, but I'm sure you'll get some ammunition here!

            1. re: monavano

              or give her some food prep task to keep her occupied and not messing with what you are doing. Being that it's her parent's house, she probably wants to be puttering in the kitchen.

              1. re: BeeZee

                And might feel that her parents' kitchen is territorially hers, and your the interloper.
                She certainly believes she's further up the proverbial totem pole.

                1. re: BeeZee

                  BeeZee - I have been known to do that. the challenge is that I hate to chatter while I'm cooking, so I have to come up with enough tasks to keep them occupied while I tune them out and still stop them from removing things from my prep area to 'put away' since I didn't dump it all in at once.

              2. re: garlicman

                Good plan. Not your house, not your business.

                1. re: garlicman

                  If you're making the food, you decide how it's made. Say something like, "That sounds really interesting, I look forward to trying it when you make it next time!" or "Secret ingredient? Tell me about it while I finish this up." Or invite her ahead of time to collaborate on a set recipe.

                  I think this situation can be solved graciously and without insulting anyone's food preferences. SIL thinks she's doing you a favor, so just make it a favor of advice instead of action.

                2. Alternate Post:"Relative makes boring tasteless food.
                  My new BIL is makes the most boring tasteless food and he snubs any attempt I make to help him snazz it up, claiming that I will make it 'unhealthy"! Who cares how healthy it is if it tastes like wet cardboard? I tried to show him a trick to use sour cream to make the guacamole more creamy but he refused and we were stuck with lumpy watery green glop in a bowl. Then I tried to put some of my favorite Mexican seasoning on the taco meat , another no go, I guess we are just expected to eat plain old baked chicken in a tortilla and call it "Tacos". He is new to the family and I don't want to be pushy but one more of these flavorless meals and I am just going to have to high-tail it to Applebees first."

                  I jest, but food is very personal and people can be easily insulted when told something they like is "not right" or can be done better.

                  or you could challenge her to an Iron Chef style showdown and let the family decide who's Guac reigns supreme.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: JTPhilly

                    LOL. I totally deserve that. But c'mon, avocados are already creamy, there's no need to add sour cream, it's completely unnecessary and dilutes the delicious avo taste!

                    And I'm not against seasoning things, duh. She actually poured this extremely salty and gross "Taco Bell" seasoning packet all over it then put water in the pan and turned it into chicken glop.

                    1. re: garlicman

                      I was not questioning your judgment, agreed on all points. Just pointing out how she might see it a bit tongue and cheek

                      1. re: garlicman

                        Perhaps she doesn't like "the delicious avo taste"? I say cut her some slack...this definitely falls under "life is too short". (Unless you have to eat 3 meals a day with her for the rest of your life).

                          1. re: magiesmom

                            So what? I'm a cook and I take pride in what I make. I don't care how new I am to a clan I'm not letting any one dump crap into what I'm making. If she doesn't like it the way I make it that's fine and she can take some and doctor it any way she likes. But I'm not going to put up with someone changing the entire dish. Good way to lose a hand.


                          2. re: garlicman

                            I remember when I first ate "improved" guacamole - agree that it is a crime against Mesoamerican culture.

                            1. re: garlicman

                              Out of curiousity -- is it possible that you have attempted to take over the kitchen, which is normally SIL's domain? I'm wondering if maybe she always makes the guac and tacos, and you came in and said "I'll make the guac, I have a great recipe that's oh so healthy" and "I'll make the tacos because I make delicious ones" when that's normally something she does. Could you be invading her territory?

                            2. re: JTPhilly

                              Haha. Made my day. Totally sympathize with garlicman, but I am also the person who 1) adds sour cream to guac and 2) uses Taco Bell seasoning for tacos... And yes, the instructions say to add water and cover :)

                              1. re: JTPhilly

                                like... food preferences are a very individual thing and basically we like what we're used to. She's used to doing it one way and you've come into the family and want to do something different.

                                Next time she wants to season your food say 'I like to make my own seasoning mix - it's really not difficult' (or, 'I have to watch my salt intake so I have to use salt-free spices') and show her how to mix the basic spices to do it herself without needing a premixed packet. It might open her eyes...

                                My inlaws are premade prepackaged food junkies... they're older and have serious health issues and need to do things the easy way. I don't tread on their toes, I just go along with it, and in fact I took some tips from THEM to find packaged foods that I enjoy as well - I'm not in good health either and the less effort I have to use in the kitchen the better...

                              2. If it's a control thing with SIL (and it kinda sounds like it is), let her screw up the food however she wants, and you do the clean-up. You'll get max points for being 'the son-in-law who does the dishes', and you'll avoid any potential head-to-head battles.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ricepad

                                  Agreed. This is a turf war you can't win.

                                  Just serve really awesome food at your place. And watch them go back for second helpings, while trying really hard not to ask for recipes or give good feedback. Been there, done that, I know my food is better. They know it too, which is why they never want me to host an event unless I invite them all over.

                                2. Prep and finish the dishes to be shared at ~your~ house.

                                  Deliver to the party when they are completed. If you need to store them consider a cooler in your car.

                                  Plan B is to host at your house. Your kitchen. If SIL tries to "help" thank her profusely, pour her a glass of wine and gently steer her out of the kitchen.

                                  When you are "group cooking" at the parents/grandparents house you just have to kind of roll with it. Families have their traditions and what-not.