You may have noticed that the current “Migraine Musing” is from 2004. That’s because this week marks the 12th birthday for my little corner of the internet(s)! So, I decided to dredge up a classic rant, particularly for those that may not have read it when I first wrote it in 2004. It’s not at all a perfect example of this blog or its history, but it is one of the most read articles I ever posted. Shortly after I posted it, it was linked from Television Without Pity and the Food Network message boards. Reactions to my post may have contributed to the demise of the FN message boards at the time. Unfortunately, the post did not mean the end of the “show” in question. Since another show is referenced in the post, I went ahead and pulled that post as well, a rant on a “cooking” show once aired on the Discovery networks.
It may have to wait until tomorrow, but I have two other posts planned: a review of the Wilson Center program Dialogue, and a recent photo of the wee one!
SEMI-HOMEMADE = BARELY EDIBLE
Oh… Dear… Lord…
There is now officially a worse cooking show than Cookin’ in Brooklyn: Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee.
I want Martha Stewart back. That’s how bad this thing is.
The whole premise is Martha Stewart for busy women. You know – “homemakers.” Those women supposed to take care of the house while the man of the family earns the money.
I’m not even going to address the tired gender issues there.
Nope – I’m saving my venom for the wacked-out space case hosting the show, Sandra Lee, whom I have on more than one occasion named “Sandra Dee,” and not always by accident.
Remember my rant on Cookin’ in Brooklyn where I was (and still am) dumbfounded by the entire bag of pork rinds in the chili recipe?
This woman tops that. She tops it, adds more crap, and tops it some more. Then colors it pink.
Now, even I will cut a corner here or there when I can in a recipe to save time. However, at the heart of my cooking is a knowledge that fresh is best. Sandra Lee seems to think that as long as you provide enough alcohol, no one will know better. Ugh.
This trainwreck of a show is on a couple of times a week, and has become all but required viewing in our house. Not for tips or recipes, but simply to see what she has the gall to do next, and how much alcohol she requires to make it palatable. Virtually every show features a display to showcase the new recipes, and each show has some form of alcoholic cocktail, which she of course samples at every opportunity.
While Rachel Ray is not as bad, I am bothered a bit by these new cooking shows that emphasize two things: shortcuts and booze. Now, my alcohol consumption borders on teetotalling, mainly because I just have no use for “social drinking.” But I can see where every now and again a nice cocktail or glass of good beer or wine is a good thing. But this woman worries me. I realize she is in the “entertaining” business (you know what, so is Jenna Jameson now that I think about it), but does entertaining these days rely so heavily upon getting smashed?
Even if you were to “consume mass quantities” of alcohol, I cannot imagine people with any sort of palate at all eating much, if any, of her recipes. Well, actually, if you were to eat the actual recipes, they’d be better for you. At least you could take solace in the fact that you were getting more nutrition from the fiber in the paper than in whatever ingredients she uses.
Take the most recent episode of the show, “Mexican Fiesta.” The menu consists of:
Cream Cheese Flan
Let’s start with the fact that this Mexican Fiesta includes a dish from Sweden and a dish from Italy. That is the first issue I have here. It didn’t even phase Lee that two of her dishes were based on other continents.
Those Flan? Oy. Evaporated milk, condensed milk, eggs, honey, and cream cheese in a blender, then baked until they jiggle slightly in the center, about 45 minutes. They came out a little overdone, and I couldn’t get the image of the two different canned milk products out of my head. Alton Brown’s recipe for flan is milk, 1/2 and 1/2, vanilla, eggs, sugar. Sounds good. Lee’s just looked, well, odd.
Fiesta Fondue. Should you ever decide to make this, simply leave a note for your family, kiss the kids, pack a few outfits, and go to the nearest insane asylum, and settle down for a long winter’s nap. The first ingredient is cheese soup. From a can. Then jarred salsa, milk, and pre-shredded cheese. She then stirred all of this in her expensive non-stick pot with a wire whisk for a few minutes. At this point, my stomach was trying to find an easy exit from my body. One of the dippers she suggested? Jicama! Go out of your way to find and cut Jicama into sticks, but by lord… Don’t forget the cheese soup!
Guacamole. I love Guacamole, and it’s easy as hell: I spoon out 2 Haas avocados, and stir in some finely diced tomato, onion and garlic, and add a bit of lime or lemon juice, salt and pepper. Done. Easy. But, apparently there are shortcuts here, too. Lee takes two avocados and adds jarred salsa and sour cream (?!). Oh! And she also adds some “juice from a jar of peppers.” (More on this later.)
I’m not going to address the margaritas. I’ve said enough already about alcohol.
However. Las Chalupas and the “Mexican” Pizzas.
The Mexican Pizza starts with half a can of refried black beans, smeared on a Boboli pizza crust. She then topped this with (over-fried) chorizo and jarred salsa. On top of this goes “Mexican” pre-shredded cheese. After baking for a few minutes, the pizzas are topped with lettuce, tomato, crushed tortilla chips(?!), and ranch dressing!
I am just waiting to see this show “sponsored by Pepto Bismol.”
Ranch fricking dressing. Of course, from a bottle. (The “Hidden Valley” envelopes are too stressful, I suppose.)
And then the “piece de résistance,” which I believe is from the French for “dear lord don’t let her food near my children,” the Las Chalupas, which twice she told us were just like pizzas, but “so much better.” Then, if I may, why make the Mexican Pizzas?!
For the Pizzas she bought Boboli. For these, she actually fried flour tortillas in oil. Okay – she used way too much oil and the tortilla came out suspiciously like a cowpie, but I digress.
She then spread a meat mixture that would confound any good lunchlady: beef, “taco seasoning” (usually found right next to the MSG), more jarred salsa, and 1/4 cup “jalapeno juice.” More on the juice later.
You are supposed to take the fried tortilla, top it with meat and cheese, and broil until the cheese melts, then top it with lettuce, tomato, olives (the recipe clearly states that these olives must be “from a can”), sour cream, and “Store bought guacamole.”
Didn’t she just “semi-make” some?
At this point, even Mr Spock would throw up his hands, say “Eff it – there’s no logic here at all,” and leave the ship via the airlock in hopes of a swift end.
The garnish to these things is the store bought guacamole and sour cream, with fresh sliced avocado on top.
Yes. Fresh sliced avocado on top. Because of course you won’t have any left over from your store bought guacamole.
I’ve let it go long enough.
She never once opened the jar of peppers and used a pepper from the jar! She only used the juice. At the end of the final recipe involving “pepper juice,” Lee very proudly turned to the camera and shared “a trick.” And I am not making this up.
“Now, I want to put the juice away, but I want to show you a little trick. Run this [the jar] underneath the cold water so that you fill your peppers back up. Put this in the refrigerator and then the next time you go to make Mexican food, you have juice all over again. You didn’t have to buy a new jar.”
At least I can take solace in the fact that she has sired no young, and therefore has not propagated this drivel to the next generation.
But dear lord – she lived in Wisconsin for crying out loud. She should know better than to use pre-shredded cheese!
From January 31, 2004: