Friday, December 23, 2005

Friday Frozen Dinner: The Twelve Days Of Christmas

Ah, the holidays. Vacations are starting, guests are coming in, much chocolate and wine is being consumed. The next time I see y'all, it'll probably be 2006.

Everyone have a fantastic holiday season!

....On the twelfth day of Christmas, Food Network gave to me:

Twelve Giadas grinning

Eleven Saras sniping

Ten Sticks of butter

Nine Bobbys boasting

Eight Daves a-twitching

Seven Tylers flirting

Six Dirty restaurants

Five Ra-chael Rays!

Four Emerils yelling

Three french hens

Two Alton Browns


One hungover Sandra Lee

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Food Network Tidbits

Whew, what a week! Anyone else feel like today should be Friday?

Here are a few Food Network-related tidbits:

The promise [of a 30 minute meal] is a siren song to anyone arriving home hungry at 6 p.m., to novices cowed by Emeril Lagasse's restaurant creations, to women who think Giada De Laurentiis and Sandra Lee are too thin to be teaching them how to cook.
  • I don't really have a horse in this race, but let me just say that believe that good cooks can be thin1, bad cooks can be fat, and no one should be intimidated by the creations on Emeril Live. At any rate, at least check out the photo of Rachael.

1The exception to this is Low Carb and Lovin' It. I saw a few episodes of this and I was hatin' it. First, I think the guy is unbelieveably creepy. Second, he looks really unhealthy. Last, his food is gross.

2I think USA Today's Pop Candy blog is the best mainstream media-affiliated blog out there. She's a good writer, she scores the best interviews and she's a must-read for celebrity gossip scoops. Add it to your newsreader!

Monday, December 19, 2005

All Star Holiday Party Hangover

As you know, I was eagerly anticipating the Food Network's All Star Holiday Party. Although my cable was out for most of the weekend due to a storm, I was able to catch the All Star show late last night.

Rachael Ray cooked a nasty looking Christmas pasta while Bobby Flay looked on in disbelief. Okay, maybe I'm projecting but I sure as hell was looking on in disbelief.

Emeril and Paula seem like old friends; albeit type-A control-freak old friends. The ham looked delicious.

Sandra Lee, true to form, mentioned getting drunk only 2 minutes into her segment with Bobby Flay. Bobby was pretty chill and did not insult anyone or have any objects inserted into his nether regions.

Sandra Lee's dips were disgusting. Every time I watch her show, I think she's going to finally make something that is going to tempt me and so far it hasn't happened. And the spooning of the dip into the zip loc piping bag was so unnecessary! It was like she wanted an excuse to show off her zip loc "skillz".

Michael Chiarello is sexy: there, I said it.

Did Candace Olson raid Pier One for the table decorations? I kind of dug the colors, but I don't dig 100% matchy-matchy decorating schemes. It just looks so...forced.

The last cooking segment featured Paula and Rachael baking a pumpkin roll cake. Rachael constantly interrupted Paula, and she kept bragging about how she doesn't measure and how she doesn't know how to bake. I don't know why Rachael so proud of this fact or why she thinks it's endearing, because it's neither.

At one point Rachael chided Paula by saying, "Tell us what you're doing. You're talking over everything and you're not telling us what you're doing." What?! The last few times I've watched 30 Minute Meals I had no idea what was happening because Rachael's stream-of-consciousness rambling added no value to the show whatsowever.

Paula was exceedingly patient and a real gentlewoman; if I were Paula I would have taken my cast iron to the side of Rachael's head. Rachael's ADHD goofiness is tiresome enough on her own show, but she couldn't even hold it together for 10 minutes as a guest of Paula's. Rachael has disrespected Paula, all of Food Network, and the audience for far too long.

"What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? ... And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sara's Secrets Are Out

Sara Moulton is a fine chef. In fact, she probably has the most impressive resume of any Food Network host. Sara's Secrets is always informative and her dishes look really good. She has no obnoxious gimmicks or annoying sayings. People who have met her in person say that she's warm and friendly.

I should like Sara's Secrets. But I don't.

For one thing, Sara always seems to be screwing up her dishes. She'll omit a main ingredient or will undercook something and she always says, "Oh, don't worry, yours will turn out better." What? I understand that things don't always turn out as planned in the kitchen (believe me, I understand!) but I'm sorry, if you're the executive chef of Gourmet magazine and this is not live tv, then it should be right!

Sara bugs me when she's alone in the kitchen, but if she has a guest she is intolerable. Sara insists on being top dog in the kitchen and always seems tense and impatient with her guests, so I'm not sure why she even invites people on the show. She's always interrupting the guests and once I even saw her wrestle a whisk from her guest's hands1!

Besides, whenever she has guests on I find myself constantly wondering how tall she is2:

On December 31, Sara's Secret will be removed from the Food Network. Sara's Secrets will be moved to PBS, where all the real cooks seem to be headed these days. Although I personally don't care for her show, this may signal the wrong direction for the Food Network. As I've written before, I want diversity at the Food Network and I hope they're not ditching Sara in order to make room for yet another Rachael Ray venture or an Unwrapped spinoff.

Sara is a heck of a cook and I am going to scope out her new cookbook, Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals. Move over Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray, Sara is going to school us all in how to create fast, easy meals without resorting to cheeseburger salads and corn nut cakes.

1When it comes to being bitchy with one's guests, Giada is one of the worst. Check out this clip.

2For the record, she's "less than five feet tall".

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Frozen Dinner: Back Care with Rachael Ray

Many years ago I waited tables at a popular chain restaurant. I learned a lot during my 2 year tenure: I could memorize the orders of a 6-top, handle being triple and even quadruple sat by the ditzy hostesses, and fend off the advances of our slimy line cooks.

One of the most important things I learned was to never go anywhere empty handed. Something always needed to be done, whether you were opening the restaurant, handling a rush or doing sidework. And, why take multiple trips if you could do it in one? To this day, when I'm cleaning house I'll carry big piles of stuff in order to save time. It's not uncommon on cleaning day to see me running around with 2 pairs of shoes, 4 magazines, a hair clip, 2 water glasses, 3 bills, and a houseplant (don't ask) just because I don't want to backtrack through the house.

Rachael Ray must've waited tables at some point, because she's a big believer in the "one trip" philosophy. She gathers up great piles of cookware and ingredients and makes her way from the refrigerator or pantry to her cooking space. Like everything else she does, she has little names for what she does: if it's just a few spices it's an "easy carry" but if it's 40 lbs. of miscellany, it's a "tricky carry". Those tricky carries look like a strong man event sometimes, and I'm worried she's going to throw her back out. I may carry a lot of crap around the house, but you'll never see me struggling with something so heavy my knees start to give.

Rachael, I know that it's part of your schtick, but with everything else that's going on, you don't need to be doing a pack mule imitation.

Easy carries:

Tricky carries:

Call the chiropractor carries: