Thursday, September 24, 2009

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

I don't want to stomp my way onto Lisa and Laura's pop culture territory, but I had a great conversation about Rachel Ray while walking this morning with my friend Kathleen. RR's voice is like nails on a chalkboard, her "EVOO" mantra makes me want to hurl, and she kind of looks like a gremlin, BUT, and this is hard for me to admit, her dishes are practical, yummy, and easy to make. I've cooked more of her recipes than any other Food Network guru, and I love them all.

My favorite, Jamie Oliver (Otherwise referred to by the hub as my f*cking Brit boyfriend) cooks beautiful dishes inspired by his bucolic English country home. I would love to own a gorgeous English country home. Or a Tuscan retreat. Or a chateau in Bordeaux. What I do have is a 1/4 acre suburban plot with some pretty sad looking tomatoes and an overgrown patch of mint choking my tarragon, oregano & thyme to death. I'd give anything to step out my door to find fourteen different kinds of sage, but that's not going to happen. Don't get me wrong, Jamie still seems like the kind of guy who likes a pub and a pint, but his expectations of what the regular American cook has on hand are, um, high. Too high for me anyway.

Nigella Lawson is my Food Network girl crush (Funny, the husband doesn't have a problem with her.). For Nigella cooking is akin to a yummy-mummy noontime romp in the sack. She wears tight cashmere sweaters and sticks her fingers in her mouth a lot, and looks like she actually eats what she cooks. I love her. And if Nigella and Jamie hosted a joint cookery show, it would be the Food Network version of Cinemax Afterhours Programming. Total. Food. Porn.

But would I actually cook what they came up with? I don't know. I'd probably end up thumbing through my garish Rachel Ray cookbook, looking for something similar, but didn't require real Tahitian Vanilla or Golden Truffle Oil at $86 an ounce.

How about you guys? How many times have you actually cooked the stuff you've seen on the Food Network? What are your faves?


  1. Oh MY! You've hit on a good topic. Cooking and Writing are lovers, no?

    My husband is a chef so we make fun of these people all the time. I am a Paula Dean person. I've made her stuff. And, I am in a state of mutual agreement with all of your opinions. "EVOO" Gagg. Don't you get the feeling she creeps herself out? I do.

  2. I feel exactly the same way about Rachel Ray! Every time she starts to talk I immediately change the channel. I just can't stand that voice.

    My favorite food network show is Alton Brown's "Good Eats." He cracks me up, and I love how he refuses to buy any high-tech gizmos because he knows he can make one that works just as well out of a flowerpot, pipecleaners, and a hairdryer. Also, his food always looks DELICIOUS!

  3. Oh, and speaking of food porn... that's exactly how I would describe this magnificent blog:

    (Ignore the blog's most recent post of pictures of a new baby... he is not for eating!)

  4. Suzanne--I watch Paula just to hear her say, "budda" and "fleur" when she's baking. And, Rachel has got to creep herself out sometimes.

    Dee--Thanks! I'll check that link. And totally agree with you about Alton!

  5. Oh man, I steal from Paula Deen alllll the time, but I usually try to substitute in some healthier options (since she uses a LOT of butter). I say steal because I often claim that I came up with the recipe to friends and family...but they all know I'm lying (I've admitted it on the internet now at least 3 times).

    I also have a Rachel Ray cookbook though--they really are simple. AND I have (and I know this isn't Food Network, but they're good!) a Biggest Loser cookbook. I use their recipes but spruce it up in my own style--deeeelish, and pretty healthy!

  6. Wait...I basically just said that I use Paula's recipes but substitute in healthier options, AND I take Biggest Loser recipes and substitute in some less healthy stuff (let's be honest) basically am I saying that Paula Deen + Biggest Loser = Perfect Meal???

  7. I'm not gonna lie. I tried a Rachel Ray recipe once, and it was so freakin' bland I almost fell asleep. I have been hearing over and over that her recipes are easy and good, so maybe I should get her another shot.

    I'm much more of an Emeril girl myself, because he uses a f*ckton of garlic, onions, and spices, and that's totally up my alley. I'm a freak of nature and absolutely DESPISE all cheeses, mayo, sour cream, ranch dressing, and butter. So Paula's recipes never really appealed to me LOL!

    I loved this post. I heavily, heavily enjoy food porn.

  8. PS- I've always been annoyed with the EVOO thing because she ALWAYS follows it with 'extra virgin olive oil.' What's the point of using an abbreviation if you're not ever gonna let go of the fear that some people won't know what EVOO is? Explaining yourself everytime cancels it out!

  9. I hate Rachel Ray with the passion of 1,000 fires. My favorite recipe source is The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drumond. Do you guys follow her blog at all? It's fantabulous.

    AND this website has the most amazing recipes ever.

    As far as Food Network goes, I love Giada and Ina Garten. Ooh, and I couldn't agree more with your Jamie Oliver assessment. He's so hot. There's this other really hot Australian chef who does that Take Home Chef show...I love that show.

    Rereading this comment makes me realize that I eat way too much.

  10. Jo--I didn't know a "Biggest Loser" cookbook existed. Must check that out! And there is no such thing as too much butter!

    Amy--If I could add garlic to everything I would (and I kind of do). I grew a bunch last year and I'm going to try to do a bigger patch this year. And, you are absolutely right about the EVOO thing. Why does she do that? Nervous tic or something?

    L&L--I'm going directly to that site. How could you not love something called "Pioneer Woman"?

  11. Update, L&L--that site is fab! New addiction!

  12. Loretta- I'm flattered that our conversation made it to your blog! (And a little embarrassed that I am this far behind in reading it!) I will agree that while most other cooking shows are much more entertaining, I always find myself coming back to the RR recipes. She has taught me more about cooking than anyone else. However, with that said, I think the best way to handle her is with the sound off. Then you can see what she's doing, but you don't have to listen!