How Does Food Network Say to Do It?

imgresI have watched Food Network almost from the very beginning (which Wikipedia tells me was 1993). I watched Tyler Florence when he was on a program called How to Boil Water. He was something like 15 years old. I still prepare a chicken enchilada recipe I learned from him on the show.

I watched Emeril Lagasse entertain crowds via his over-the-top personality and garlic-laden cooking. I don’t believe I have ever cooked a single one of his recipes as they are way too complicated. Still, he was a founding food star on Food Network and fun to watch.

I watched the early Bobby Flay programs back when he had only married and divorced a couple of women and Giada De Laurentiis wasn’t even a gleam in his eye. I don’t believe I have ever even looked at one of his recipes because frankly, he annoys me and always has. How could he cheat on his beautiful and talented wife Stephanie March? You know how friends choose who they are going to stick with following a divorce? I choose Stephanie! I loved her on Law and Order. Still, I watched his shows. How could I not? They were ubiquitous.

I was a fan of Paula Deen up until, during, and after her remarks about her use of the “N” word. Her honesty was refreshing and it isn’t like she didn’t learn from her mistakes. But man-oh-man did she need a better PR strategy. As for her recipes, yes indeed I have used many. I make her cinnamon ice cream very often. It’s my go-to recipe for ice cream. If I make vanilla ice cream, I simply leave out the cinnamon and add vanilla. Boom.

You can still find reruns of Alton Brown’s Good Eats on the Cooking Channel – Food Network’s annoying little brother. Good Eats used to be on at 10 o’clock at night Monday through Friday. While it’s unimaginable to me now to think about not being in bed reading by 9:30, I recall watching the show as I waited up for Court to get home from wherever he wasn’t supposed to be. Alton Brown is seriously funny and his show was irresistible. Nevertheless, I found he made things so difficult. I remember that in his show about baking cakes, he advised that the cakemaker should weigh the two cake pans to ensure you are putting exactly the same amount in each. My apologies to all of you first-borns who actually do this, but – SERIOUSLY?

At first I took everything the chefs and cooks said as religion. For example, they said (and continue to say) you simply can’t be a good cook without a gas stove. For many years I lamented the fact that I cooked on an electric glasstop stove. A couple of years ago it hit me that, despite my use of an electric stove, I was a perfectly fine cook as was my mother, who mostly cooked on an electric stove, though I have a distant memory of a gas stove and her having to use a match to light it. It is this memory, in fact, that prevents me from reconfiguring my kitchen to allow cooking with gas, as I am terrified of blowing myself up. That, and I don’t have $30,000 for a kitchen remodel.

My favorite chef, as well as my favorite cooking show of course is Lidia Bastianich. She is not on Food Network, but instead appears on PBS. Next to my mother, Lidia is the person from whom I have learned the most about cooking. I own all of her cookbooks, and all are well-worn. I find I talk to myself while cooking as though I am talking with Lidia. I have had the good luck to eat at one of her restaurants on several occasions  — Becco in NYC. Each time I have fervently wished that she would appear out of the kitchen so that I could run up to her, throw my arms around her, and thank her for teaching me to cook.

I am pleased to tell you she never did.

I will also tell you that many of my grandkids also watch Food Network. The other night I watched Cake Wars with the McLains (aka, The Cousins) at their bequest, and Kaiya and Mylee often watch Chopped with their Dad. It brings tears to my eyes.

While I now take what the chefs tell me with a grain of salt (remembering, for example, that I am not rich enough to own a house in the Hamptons, nor do I have a sous chef to prepare my ingredients), I have learned a lot from watching the chefs on Food Network.

Next week I will tell you what I’ve learned.

And for kicks……

Homemade Cinnamon Ice Cream, Adapted from Paula Deen and Food Network
Yield: 2-3 quarts

2 c. half-and-half
2 cinnamon sticks
½ pint heavy whipping cream
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 qt. whole milk

In a saucepan, combine half-and-half and cinnamon sticks. Cook for 20 minutes over low heat (do not boil) Remove cinnamon sticks and chill milk for 4 hours.

With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the chilled sweetened condensed milk and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

Add chilled half-and-half. Pour mixture into the canister of ice cream freezer. Freeze according to the ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions. Place ice cream in another container and freeze for several hours.

Thursday Thoughts

Mylee is tearing up the cheese for the soup.

Mylee is helping me make soup.

I cook with my grandkids. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Whether or not this activity has had an effect on any of them remains unseen. What I do know, however, is that many of them like to cook. I have talked about Alastair’s love for food and cooking in my blog before. You might be aware that for a while, Addie contributed to my blog through a kids’ cooking segment. (She is now a very busy 7th grader, so she hasn’t much time to fiddle around with my blog.) Kaiya and Mylee both love to help me cook when they visit, and it’s an activity we often enjoy together. Yesterday I watched Mylee make her presentation as Afternoon Kindergarten Student of the Week at her school, Willow Creek Elementary. One of the questions the teacher asked her was What do you want to be when you grow up. I was absolutely certain I knew her answer, as she has always told me she wanted to be a doctor.  Anyhoo, her answer to the teacher’s question? “A chef,” said Miss Mylee. Who knew? One thing I will tell you is that when I was 5 years old, I would never have heard of a chef. The days of Food Network.

Mom and Court

This is one of my favorite photos of my mom, helping Court do heaven-knows-what at their home in Dillon.

Happy Birthday, Mom
Yesterday my mom would have turned 89. She died when she was 68 years old following a long illness. Having myelofibrosis certainly didn’t stop her from enjoying her life, however, at least not until the very end. She was so, so young when she passed away. I miss her every day. I miss her especially when I watch my grandkids and think about how much she would have enjoyed her great grandchildren. She was unable to meet a single one of her great grands. She loved all of her grandchildren, but I think we all agree that she was partial to her girlies. I wish she could have met Kaiya and Mylee. I don’t know if you celebrate birthdays in heaven, but just in case: Happy birthday Mom!

Who Was Lady and Who Was Tramp?
The other day when Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole were spending the day with us, I brought out my apple peeler. It’s Fall, after all. The inevitable Apple Crisp. I don’t know why I think Apple Crisp can only be made in the Fall, but I never, ever make it at any other time of the year. And I never fail to make at least one in the Fall. Anyhoo, my old-fashioned apple peeler peels the apple in one very long strip. It is simply too tempting to ignore. So this happened…..

Kaiya Mylee eating apple peel

I told the girls they looked like the dogs in Lady and the Tramp during the romantic kiss scene in which the two dogs eat the same strand of spaghetti leading to the kiss, which made Kaiya giggle as only Kaiya can giggle. “Nana, what kind of dogs are Lady and the Tramp?” she asked. Now that is Lady and the Trampkind of a good question. I’m pretty sure Lady is a Cocker Spaniel and I’m pretty sure Tramp is a mutt. I haven’t seen the movie for 50 years, but I think that was the controversy. No?

Yesterday morning I was in the locker room at 24 Hour Fitness. I noticed a woman getting dressed for, I don’t know, work? A social function? A wedding? It doesn’t matter. What struck me is that she was wearing a really pretty red dress with a square back that was cut a little low, but not inappropriately so. What I particularly noticed, however, is that she was wearing a red bra. I know this because the straps were entirely visible. I have noticed this many times before. Women nowadays use their bra as part of their, well, I don’t know, accessories? I wasn’t a bit horrified. I just remembered how when I was young, we went to all sorts of lengths to make sure our bra straps were hidden. We wore strapless bras, bras that crisscrossed in the back, halter bras, anything so that the dress hid the bra straps. Most were highly uncomfortable. If only……