Saturday, June 23, 2007

Someone.... please... get Sandra Lee under control

Yep, add me to the list of the many, many, many people out there that cannot stand Sandra Lee.

Don't know who she is?? My husband calls her "Stupid Cooking Lady." If you've ever been flipping thru channels and landed on Food Network and see a blonde woman cooking, and watched for a few minutes until your mind put together all the off and gagging flavors she's putting together, the horrible execution of dishes, and the sheer insanity of it all.... that's Sandra Lee.

I'm all behind the concept. I practice it often. I call it "Semi-Half-Assed Cooking (TM) ". Canned stuff, a little help from the products now available in most grocery stores.... if you're someone who works a 9-5 job, you really almost have to take shortcuts along the way to get food on the table. But there are ways it can be done well, and well, Sandra Lee does not do that.

Today's new episode was just totally out of control. "Watch Sandy remake recipes from Mario Batali and Bobby Flay." This meant unrinsed canned beans, spice packets and just WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Let her keep attaching mango slices to chicken to make it "look like a zebra". Continue with the many cocktails. But stay the hell away from not just pretending to be like a real chef, but being BETTER since you're half-assed results are better than theirs because they're half-assed.

There is a time for half-assed cooking. Get home at 7pm from work and just too damned tired to think about picking up fast food... bring on the half-assed cooking! Pull some cheese tamales and chili out of the freezer, warm tamales thru, nuke the chili, dump chili on top of tamales... ta-da!! Dinner is served!!

I guess that's the thing that drives me the most nuts about the show. Half-assed cooking should not pretend to be anything more than half-assed cooking. And every show of Semi-Homemade is presented as dishes she's serving up for a party or company. Please. You have to wonder about the mindset of someone who claims to love entertaining, yet won't put a decent effort in to it to proove that you do enjoy it and you value the company of your guests enough to make a fuss.

And this episode struck a particular chord.... I'm a cookbook lover. And, actually, Bouchon is the first resteraunt cookbook I've ever purchased. I've had a horribly terrible, disappointig and heatbreaking breakfast at the Vegas outpost that did still give a glimpse to know that with some better line cooks, this stuff could be awesome. And really, as often as we are in Vegas, I've tried to get the hubby to try it with me but he finds it all way too fussy for his tastes. So... with the cookbook, I can at least try the stuff at home. And if I blow it, it's my own damned fault!!

There are some things that will be Semi-Half-Assed (TM) while I cook from it. Onions confit? They'll be done in a crockpot. I've been doing them that way for years (based off a recipe from Lara Brody's "Slow Cooker Cooking" - great book). Total high-end ingredients? Wish I could, but I live in the real world with a mortgage and car payments and I can't always go top-dollar.

But, I have enough respect for the book, Thomas Keller and the recipes to know damned well that the way it's being done as described in the book is the right way to do it. In any cookbook, that holds true.

It would take a particular brand of insanity to do something like the Trout with Hariots Verts and Almonds using canned green beans and a spice packet, and still call in inspired by Thomas Keller. I know little of the man itself, but I think for any human proud of their craft, it'd be gounds for having the person hunt you down and admister a swift and brutal beat down.

And I can take Sandra Lee ruining traditional recipes. All said, it's kinda fun to watch her do it, in the whole reality show "I'm sooooo much better than her" way. But when she tries to drag other people down... it's disturbing. It's disturbing that these talented chefs are reduced to that (no doubt due to selling their souls to the Food Network somewhere along the way) . It's disturbing that SHE really thinks these recipes are of the quality of the name associated with them. And it's most disturbing that people may actually make this recipes and NOT explore the work of the real chefs.

No comments: