Sun | Jun 20, 2021

The cooking dad

Published:Thursday | June 14, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Heather Little-White, Contributor

There is no universal law that says men should not cook, but we have been socialised that women take on household chores while men take on leadership roles outside the home, moving into positions of authority in businesses and institutions. Needless to say, men depend on women to feed them, be it in the home, at the office or buying food on the road from restaurants operated by women.

What if women were to be taken from the face of the Earth and men were left behind, how would they eat? Not every man could climb a tree to pick fruits so he should be able to cook for his sustenance. The question is, 'what is the least he needs to eat that gives him the most vitality, consistent with good health, long life and can it possibly taste delicious?'(Graham Kerr in Minimax Cookbook). Analysis of the question sums up the essence of what a father needs to cook for good health.

Least: Small portions of food that lead to lower consumption of calories and permanent weight loss.

Most: For vitality to deal with everyday activities

Consistent: Change in food habits must be consistent with sound nutrition for good health.

Long life: Selecting and preparing food for a better quality of life with less dependence on medication. This is important for the incidence of diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, cancers and other lifestyle diseases.

Delicious: Presenting food in manner for good taste and enjoyment.

An investment

Teaching fathers to cook is an investment in their longevity as they learn how to minimise the risks by cooking scientifically to maximise enjoyment through warm aromas, bright colours and crunchy textures.

The essential points that your dad will learn during his cooking lessons include:

1. Knowing the essential cooking utensils - pots, pans and other tools of the trade.

2. Reading a recipe and understanding culinary terms.

3. Calculating quantities for dishes to be prepared and for making a shopping list.

4. Substituting ingredients in a recipe to reduce the amounts of fat, salt and sugar used to prepare a healthy meal.

5. Selecting cooking methods that apply to different healthy dishes.

6. Stocking basic supplies in the kitchen - spices, cheese, canned fish, oils, vinegar, baking ingredients, eggs, grains, pastas, dried and canned legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

7. Selecting quality products. The cooking lessons can include a trip to the butcher.

8. Storing and preserving products in glut in season.

9. Setting the table for the occasion.

10. Styling and presenting dishes that will excite family members to eat.

10. Serving alcoholic and non-alcoholic wines with meals.

You may be wondering who is going to spend time to teach dad to cook at this stage of his life. But there are culinary specialists who can take dad through the rudiments of cooking and actually get him to think of a career change in the food service business. Family members can pool together and sponsor dad for a course, by getting him a gift certificate - a real treat for Father's Day. One of the dishes that dad could learn is Braised Chicken with Pepper Sauce. You may want to try this recipe for him on Father's Day.

Braised Chicken with Pepper Sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil with a dash of sesame oil

4 chicken legs

1 cup onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 red sweet pepper, seeded

and finely diced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary,


1/2 cup non-alcoholic wine

2 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon cornstarch

mixed with 2 tablespoons

de-alcoholised white wine

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon



1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large skillet on top of the stove, heat the oil and brown chicken on both sides. Remove chicken to a cutting board and take off skin. Use paper towel to absorb any excess fat from the chicken.

2. In a separate pot, sauté onions and garlic until softened. Briskly stir in tomato paste and add pepper, rosemary and wine, scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze it. Add chicken, chicken stock, cornstarch mixture and lemon zest and slowly simmer.

3. Transfer chicken to a casserole dish and place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

4. Serve with stir-fried pak choi and carrots and polenta (turned cornmeal)

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Minimax Cookbook.