Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Down Faux With the Nearlys, Or, Food Network and the Battle For America's Soul

The groaning stacks upstairs suffer more than just the sum total of collected and inherited books, but also my predilection for cooking magazines. Oh, the ravishing beauty of Martha Stewart's Holiday Issue. The last 6 years worth. And Cooking Light. And..and...and... one Rachel Ray. Like Paula Deen's accent and Ina Garten's well, Ina Alien-ness (don't pretend you haven't noticed--everyone from to your grandma's knitting circle know she's creepy), "Rach" is a division in the TV Food world as significant as the Mississippi River. She's either The Hasty Pudding Hawtness or The 30-Minute Muppet Meal Master.

So I have made it a third of the way through the teetering tower of magazines, removing only those sections or recipes I want to keep, put those in sheet protectors and recycle the mags. Rachel's top of the pile and I start flipping through. Page after page of ads, fine. Many of them for Food Network related shows or products, yah, fine, it's the Circle of Life.

Then my Nemesis appears. A charming, round-cheeked ebullient couple, Southern in disposition and heritage we shall dub The Nearlys, Himself the Scion of a Down Home-Style family-run restaurant. Their perversion first became apparent two holiday seasons ago when they appeared in a Sam's Club ad. Depending on your geographical location, Sam's is the Walmart of the Costco world. They were shiny, happy people guiding their huge cart in and among the aisles of discount goods and produce, expounding the wonders of saving! Always cool with me, saving. You had me at $10.99 for two gallons of high-quality olive oil. You can find all your Holiday Entertaining Needs at Sam's Club! Spices? Flour? Butter and Ice Cream?No! Real Essentials **INCLUDING: Already marinated, pre-cooked, ready-to-heat meats, ready-to serve baked goods and prepared fruit platters.** Yes, in the real world we, the mortal, sometimes require these things. But you, the HIGHLY PAID RESTAURANT-OWNING-COOKING-SHOW-PRESENTERS are Cheater-Cheater-Pre-Made-Pumpkin-Pie-Eaters!

Especially as this last ad campaign featured The Nearlys adding pre-cooked chicken to Kraft Dinner, sprinkling on some bread crumbs and calling it Home Cooking Like the Restaurant-Owning TV Pro's. To be clear, Kraft Dinner claims a lock-hold on the inner child of my heart, how-EVER>>> What they have done is, I reiterate, CHEATING, and also an abomination to Kraft Dinner. Which these days, thanks to the brilliant deal at Costco, is now Annie's Homegrown Organic Shells & Real Aged Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese. Otherwise known as Bunny Dinner. (Most of Annie's products come in rabbit shape and bear the Rabbit Of Approval. They also bear the Laura's Inner 5-year-old Of Approval.).

Rachel *prides* herself on being able to mix some canned or boxed/prepared items with fresh to get you and your family fed with inventive, tasty, sometimes ethnic and adventurous foods in 30 flat, and by golly that is NO mean feat, cuz cuz, she gets there 9 times outta 10. If she uses a prepared cheesecake, she makes a sauce with jam and fresh fruit, juice, liqueur and other fresh stuff to make it nice but quick. Even Ina may not make her own tortellini, but she buys fresh and makes her own sauce, then spends an hour creating a bizarre table setting and looking blandly smug. They don't lay claim to restaurant chops then do ads and recipes for "the busy cook at home" that are nothing more than Open Packet A, Open Packet B, Combine in Dish and Serve. Or worse, just head for MegaOutletChain and buy someone else's cooking and plop it on a platter and still claim they're a chef.

Thus, We will travel The Third Way. I LOVE to cook. Every day I face a new challenge, sometimes from things which prove to be so simple I turn red with embarrassment because the only reason I never tried it before was, say, there seemed to be so many directions. Bread. I've seen it on TV, my friends do it, but it seems soooo intensive. Until I heard it so many times that a week ago I cracked and realised bread is getting the kind of yeast the instructions ask for, then letting the stuff sit a bunch of times while I go about my business with makeup tips, knitting and Bunny Dinner. Seriously, I was Afraid of Getting the Wrong Yeast. And Rising Time (insert absurd googlie-face here).

So onward to recipes! It may not always be Packet-Simple, conversely it may not always be Fancy and/or Pantsy. But it WILL be Somethin'-- dishy and delish with notes and advice from changes or alterations I have made my veryownself. See you Next Time, and bring your apron!
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1 comment:

  1. I so love your Blog! It is wonderful and I love that you discuss a lot of different subjects. It is so the way my mind works that I feel right at home!