I’m a devoted fan of the Food Network with a particular fondness for Ina, Giada, Bobby and anybody associated with “Iron Chef” and “Chopped.” But when it comes to Paula “Y’all” Deen, I turn the channel immediately. The thought of watching her lard every single recipe with either tubs of butter or vats of heavy cream makes me ill.
But then I read today’s Daily Beast article about her. Am I the only one who didn’t know she spent years in her house, crippled by agoraphobia? She couldn’t do anything except cook, it turns out. But then she saw a segment on the “Phil Donahue Show” in which agoraphobia was discussed. Suddenly, there was a name for what she had and she became determined to make it go away.
She not only summoned up the strength to go out, but she reinvented herself by cooking for other people. Now, she’s a multi-million-dollar business.
I had a character with agoraphobia in my novel Some Nerve, and did some research on the anxiety disorder. It’s not fun. It’s difficult to get over. It isolates some of its sufferers to the point of suicide.
So kudos to Paula Deen for not only beating it but for thriving.
Still, I wish she’d go easy on the butter and cream.
Michael and I were at a family event all day and I wasn’t sure if we’d make it home by 9pm, but we walked in the door just as the show was starting. We’ve both been looking forward to the start of this all stars competition, and the first episode didn’t disappoint. Such culinary talent!
My pick for the winner, Geoffrey Zacharian, lived to cook another day. Can’t wait till next Sunday night.
In case anyone missed it, here’s the story via the Huff Po.
For those of us who watch and love the “Barefoot Contessa” on the Food Network, the kerfuffle involving Ina Garten doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yes, she apparently bailed on two Make-A-Wish Foundation requests to spend time with one of her fans, a six-year-old boy with leukemia. But as someone who gets a tiny fraction of the emails and letters she gets that ask for a donation of time or money or a book, I sympathize. There was probably a better way for her to handle the situation, but how do you say yes to everybody?
Here’s my rule of thumb.
If you send me a letter asking me to send you a signed book for your fundraiser or charity, you can forget about getting an answer if your letter begins with: “Dear Author.”
If you ask me for a signed book for your library auction, I’ll need the library’s web site, not to mention its address.
If you’d like me to blurb your book, could you possibly use spell check in your letter?
Don’t worry, Ina. I still love you and I’m still going to try to cook whatever you’re making.
If you’re reading this and you watched the show, please give me your favorite moments! (I already know Lady Gaga showed up encased in an egg.)
The Grammys aren’t my favorite awards show, since it’s the Oscars and Globes that really float my boat, so I wasn’t all that crushed about missing it. Besides, Michael and I had a date with friends to make dinner here and watch a screener of the prize-winning documentary “When I Rise.”
The feature-length doc tells the story – much of it in her own words – of Barbara Smith Conrad, a black music student at the University of Texas in the late ’50s, just after the school had been desegregated, who had been barred from performing in the drama department’s opera production. The movie describes how she overcame prejudice and forged a career as an international opera star. Very moving and inspirational and highly recommended.
Also recommended was the brisket Michael cooked yesterday, giving it 24 hours for the flavors to really get going. Wow. Was it ever good. He used a recipe from Tyler Florence from the Food Network.
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, needles striped from the stem and chopped
On a cutting board, mash the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt together with the flat-side of a knife into a paste. Add the rosemary and continue to mash until incorporated. Put the garlic-rosemary paste in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil; stir to combine.
Season both sides of the brisket with a fair amount of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Place a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium-high flame and coat with the remaining olive oil. Put the brisket in the roasting pan and searcrust on both sides. Lay the vegetables all around the brisket and pour the rosemary paste over the whole thing. Add the wine and tomatoes; toss in the parsley and bay leaves. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 3 to 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices, until the beef is fork tender. to form a nice brown
Remove the brisket to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 minutes. Scoop the vegetables out of the roasting pan and onto a platter, cover to keep warm. Pour out some of the excess fat, and put the roasting pan with the pan juices on the stove over medium-high heat. Boil and stir for 5 minutes until the sauce is reduced by 1/2. (If you want a thicker sauce, mix 1 tablespoon of flour with 2 tablespoons of wine or water and blend into the gravy).
Slice the brisket across the grain (the muscle lines) at a slight diagonal.
The sauce that results from this recipe is to die for. It comes out carmelized, like candy. I’m so glad we have leftovers. Oh, and I made my chocolate cake with gluten free flour for the first time, since our friends are wheat sensitive. It didn’t quite have the same consistency; the cake was more like a brownie – not a bad thing, just denser.
Anyhow, Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! May your day be full of romance.
For those who aren’t as addicted to the Food Network as I am, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” is one of their shows. Not just any show, mind you. The chefs aren’t teaching you how to cook and nobody’s competing against anybody for a cash prize. Instead, the network’s personalities describe for you in luscious detail where you can go for the best….burger, fried foods, breakfasts, seafood, whatever. They share their favorite menu items in various categories and then take you to the restaurants where these gems are prepared. Talk about living vicariously. Every time I watch an episode, I literally have to force myself to stop drooling. Here’s a promo.
The other night they went beyond my wildest dreams and offered up “The Best Thing I Ever Ate – Chocolate.” I nearly licked the TV screen. Seriously. We were treated to the best chocolate pudding, the best molten lava cake, the best chocolate chip cookie, even a multi-course chocolate tasting menu.
Why am I bringing this up, other than I’d rather write about chocolate than almost anything else? Because they’re re-broadcasting the episode tomorrow. That’s right – Sunday, February 13th at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. I thought it was my civic duty to let you know. If you’re into chocolate – or any desserts, for that matter – don’t miss it. You’ll thank me.
If it’s rolling around in my head, it’ll find its way here – from what I’m writing, reading and watching to what and who makes me laugh. Also look for news of upcoming projects, answers to readers' questions, even recipes from friends!