packbat: Wearing my custom-made hat and a smirk. (hat)
[personal profile] packbat
(You can tell I TVTropes too much, can't you?)

0: Selected. This is (almost1) the theoretical minimum - telling someone else what you want so they can prepare it for you. When you call the pizza place, this is what you're doing.

1: Heated. Whether it be oven, microwave, or boiling water, this degree of preparation consists of "take prepackaged food and make it hot".2 When you put a toaster pastry in the toaster, that's this.

2: From mix. At this point, you begin to put some genuine effort into the dish - at the least, measuring and stirring - but the tricky parts of the recipe are still taken care of for you. As you might guess, this covers any product with "mix" in its name - chili mix, cake mix - as well as those horrid "mac & cheese" boxes with the powdered chemical byproducts.

3: From ingredients. The minimum level to actually count as "cooking from scratch" - here you go all the way back to butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, chopped nuts, egg, semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon water, and drop by half-teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets to bake at 375 °F for 10-12 minutes. If you went to a grocery store, bought items with fewer than five ingredients listed on the label, and put them together at home to make the dish, that's this.

4: From organisms. When you go hunting, fishing, berry-picking, or the like, you've reached this level.

5: Farmed. When a dish is composed of food you grew yourself - from a tomato patch to a laying chicken all the way up to a full-fledged farm - you have reached the top of the scale.3 Congratulations.

As a rule of thumb, if all the major components of a dish are on the same level, the dish should be counted on that level. (If you shoot a deer and fry up a cut with seasoned salt, it's still a "4".) However, if major components span multiple levels, that should be indicated. (A pie filling made from ingredients and baked in a store-bought shell is a "1 to 3".)

1. I say "almost" because going to a dinner with a set menu would remove even this degree of control over the proceedings. ^
2. On reflection, pouring milk into cereal would probably count as this level too, despite no heating being involved. ^
3. Technically, the human mind can conceive a more basic level, but it's not commonly practiced. ^

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packbat

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