In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

Aunt Sandy sez: "Look at me: I tablescaped my head!"

Have you ever sat around your home on some random weekday and thought to yourself “Man, I could really use a little more Sandra Lee in my life”?  Well, if so, today’s your lucky day, person who doesn’t exist.  Whenever you get yourself a hankerin’ for a little Aunt Sandy wackiness and existential confusion, just head on over to her website, click on her blog, and read away for the latest in lazy, drunken homemaking!  I did just that, recently, and found her newest entry particularly entertaining.  Parse along with me, won’t you?*

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This past Sunday, September 12, was Grandparents’ Day. It was especially fitting that the newest season of “Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee” premiered on the same day. After fourteen seasons of “Semi-Homemade Cooking,” my Grandma Lorraine is still the main inspiration for Semi-Homemade.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Wait just a second, there, darlin’.  I’m sorry: “Semi-Homemade” has been on television for 14 SEASONS?!?!  Perhaps the scripts for Arrested Development should have consisted of 70% recycled material and 30% original content.  Maybe then it would still be on the air.

She raised me on a very limited budget, but showed me how to make things beautiful while on a budget. Following her around the kitchen, I learned that personal touches and savvy shortcuts can make anything extraordinary.

“I remember one night when we only had three grand to completely transform our kitchen to reflect the meal she was making for dinner.  But, somehow, with a little elbow grease and numerous trips to various housewares stores, we managed to make our kitchen look like the inside of a Lewis Carroll-inspired whore house.”

In a surprise twist for the new season of “Semi-Homemade Cooking,” I’ve

decided to cook stuff that doesn’t look and taste like shit?

adapted my Semi-Homemade philosophy so that I’ll be cooking with 70% in-season, fresh ingredients and only 30% ready-made products.

Oh.  Check out homegirl, flippin’ the script.  Does this mean that we need to change the name?  Should it now be “Semi-Store Bought”?  “Mostly Homemade”?  “Still Fucking Terrible”?  “Why, God, Why?”

I’m excited that I will be able to provide alternatives – whether it’s a healthier option or a more convenient shortcut. To make things even easier for you, I will be updating SandraLee.com every week with each new episode’s recipes and tablescape tips for you.

I’ve got a great tablescape tip for you: instead of taking the time to make idiotic and vomit-inducing tablescapes to creep out your guests, don’t do that.

My  Garden Fresh party’s menu and tablescape is online for you now – it is perfect for putting together a fabulous, floral brunch to savor the last days of summer.

Let’s check it out, shall we?  Well, there’s the centerpiece, there are the accents, the ubiquitous cocktails, there’s the broc-  Oh, sweet mother of Vishnu.  Oh, sweet Colonel Kurtz’s horror.  WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!?!

I... Uh... There's no caption for this**.

According to the recipe, this is boiled broccoli covered with a lattice-work made from some sort of  yogurt, cream cheese, and onion soup mix concoction, and was created in the darker recesses of Edgar Allen Poe’s tortured psyche.  For those of you keeping track of irony, at home, this recipe was featured on the Food Network.

Many amazing episodes are ahead, with guests both old and new. My adorable nephew Bryce is returning. He helps me throw a colorful birthday bash in this Sunday’s episode (check out the pictures – we had a blast). My sister Kimmie will be joining me for four episodes.

Please tell me that Kimmie is a CIA-trained chef.

Of course, there’s my favorite Halloween special this season. I spent this past weekend shooting the Halloween episode at the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, New York. I can’t reveal  what costumes I’ll be wearing, but I promise it will be

…Cleavage-filled?

truly grand and medieval (hint hint!).

Ding, ding, ding! Slutty medieval wench costume, here we come!

I will be donning five elaborate costumes and whipping up five recipes in 30 minutes. It was loads of fun shooting, and I can’t wait for you to see the episode.

I can.  So, six minutes per recipe?  Yeah, that sounds about right.  I’m super psyched to test your six-minute roast chicken recipe.

This week, I’m in Birmingham, Alabama shooting photos for forthcoming issues of my magazine. Today, I’m headed to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and tomorrow, it’ll be all about “in the kitchen.”

I’m taking that as a threat.

I hope you are enjoying the new SandraLee.com, which is still in its testing stage.

Unlike your recipes, which have obviously been vetted in the most stringent of trial periods.

I would love to hear your feedback on the website or on Facebook, so that I can make it even better to become the go-to online kitchen helper for you, my fellow Semi-Homemakers.  Until next time, remember to keep it simple, keep it smart, keep it sweet, and keep it Semi-Homemade!

Ironically, after reading this, I need a pitcher of some Sandra Lee cocktails.  Seriously, I feel like I’m living in a Kafka novel.  Anyway, until next time, remember to keep it sexy, keep it sleeping with high-priced call girls, keep it sarcastic, and keep it Semi-sober!

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*This post was inspired by the brilliance that is Fire Joe Morgan week at Deadspin.  The FJM guys do it way better than I do, but they do it better than everyone, so oh, well.
**Delicious “Broccoli Pie” photo is from foodnetworkhumor.com, always fighting the good fight.

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In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

Fucking UGH.

At the risk of beating a dead horse with a nail-studded axe handle until its carcass is rendered a bloody, pulverized mess, I’m afraid I have to address the continued ascendancy and asininity of Mr. Guy Fieri.  I have to do this because his increasing ubiquity has forced me to increasingly contemplate why I hate his fucking guts so much.  So, so much.

I mean, it’s pretty irrational that I would devote even a moment of my day to hating on some dude that worked hard and made a fortune for himself.  After all, he found a douche-niche in pop culture, and shoe-horned himself in there.  He has a family which he, presumably, has not Tiger Woods’d, I’m fairly confident he’s never killed a hitchhiker just to because he was bored, and I think it’s safe to assume that he’s neither Heidi nor Spencer.  Indeed, it appears from a recent newspaper article that he’s good to his friends and gives a lot to charity.  So, given all these apparent positive – or, at least, not hate-inducing – characteristics, should I just listen to his fans who invariably say “He’s just a guy who’s doing his job and being himself, who cares?”  Are they right, should I  just let a lucky, motivated guy be, as his followers would advocate?  Or is it still rational to hate him?  I’m going to the judges, and . . . they say “Green light to hate.”  You bet your sweet ass it’s okay to hate.  In fact, after reading that fawning article in the Press Democrat, I started thinking about it, and I realized that it’s not only okay for me to hate Fieri, in particular, but it’s also my duty to expand my hate to include everyone who has participated in the “Fieri Zeitgeist”.

As to Fieri, in particular, I know a lot of guys who are good to their families, who do charity and pro bono work, and who even have friends who like them, much like Fieri.  And, much like Fieri, a lot of those guys are enormous fucking douchebags.  You know them, too – the guy (or gal) who may be an okay person, on paper, but whose company you would spurn if a better option, such as stabbing yourself in the genitals, made itself apparent.  And, indeed, to paraphrase Chris Rock: being a good person to friends, family, and community is what you’re supposed to do!  You shouldn’t get points for doing that shit, especially if everything else about you is so nauseatingly insufferable.  We all know the litany of Fieri’s faults: the backwards sunglasses; the dressing like he’s an early-2000’s frat guy; the blond spikes; the fact that he wears rings while cooking; the fact that he wears rings, in general; and, you know, literally everything else about him.  Seriously, would you ever hang out with a guy at your office if he had the phrase “Aktuary Gangsta” on them?  My point is that even if he wasn’t a celebrity, even if millions of people didn’t think he was a cool guy, even if he was a normal dude in the IT department, I would still turn down any invitation to a guys’ night I knew he would be attending, for fear of having to give courtesy laughs to his idiotic jokes and the possibility of actually having to talk to him for five minutes.

As to the whole “Fieri Zeitgeist,” in general, this is what really bugs me about him.  Or, should I say, about America.  Much like the fact that Paul Haggis’ Crash has a shit-load of fans and a Best Picture Oscar, that those Epic Movie things still get produced, and that that Ke$ha broad is probably a multi-millionaire, their fame makes me simultaneously sad and outraged, not at Crash or Epic Movie or Ke$ha or Fieri, but rather at the people who allowed them get where they are.  It’s the same feeling I get when I contemplate the fact that Sandra Lee is actually on a network dedicated to cooking.  It’s just so fucking depressing.  You can’t even be mad at her – if people refused to watch a woman who made Kwanzaa cake, she wouldn’t be there, after all.  It’s the same thing with Fieri – people in this country are actually so dumb and apathetic as to think Fieri is entertaining.  We have elevated a guy who calls himself a “Kulinary Gangsta” into pop-culture status and a Lamborghini – because of spiked fucking hair andFlavor Town.”  And that’s where the Fieri Fans are correct; we can’t really hate Fieri for all the good fortune that’s been bestowed on him.  We should, instead, hate ourselves.  It’s our fucking fault.  But that, in its own right, doesn’t mean that the man, himself, is not hate-worthy.  He wears earrings, remember.

So, in conclusion: (1) I feel absolutely justified in disliking Fieri as a celebrity, because I’m almost positive that I would hate him if he wasn’t one, and (2) The fact that he is a celebrity makes me hate the American populace, rather than Fieri, himself.  So, as always, The Chef’s Prerogative’s hate: totally justified.  Sorry about the friendly fire, America, but you were askin’ for it.

Well, that’s it.  That should hopefully be the last time we talk about Guy Fieri.  I have exorcised my Kulinary Demonz.

Poltergeist Lady sez: "This house . . . is clean."

In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

For Puritans, the Pilgrims were sexy as hell.

Little known fact: although Puritan in religious belief, The Pilgrims were sexy as hell.

As cavalier as I am about so many things (crime scene clean-up, lying on my resume, being a royalist supporter of King Charles I during the English Civil War), there is one arena in life in which I am steadfastly fastidious.  When it comes to cleanliness while cooking poultry, I conduct my culinary processes like a epidemiologist at the WHO.  This is mostly due to my crippling and relentless fear of contracting salmonella, which, as we already know, makes your insides melt and your genitalia spontaneously combust.  In general, I view raw poultry like Dustin Hoffman viewed those African Ebola sufferers in the movie Outbreak.  I don’t know where this paralyzing fear of poultry comes from, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I was once attacked by a flock of birds, narrowly escaping just in time to save my girlfriend, Tippi Hedren.

It is with this trepidation and white-hot fear that I approach my Thanksgiving preparation.  This year’s turkey, “Betty,” is currently in the fridge, hopefully benefiting from a dry brine.  Forgetting, for a moment, the fact that brines are inherently wet, I’m hoping that the application of a nice miasma of kosher salt kick-starts the osmosis process, or whatever the fuck, and will eventually bring about a moist, tender bird, without a hint of gut-rending enterobacteria.

On a related note: what asshole decided turkey should be the traditional thanksgiving meal?  The pilgrims had fucking lobster, you know; we couldn’t have done that?  Societal norms couldn’t dictate a nice surf & turf?  Trust me, I’d be much happier giving thanks with a nice steak that took ten minutes to cook and didn’t dry out to the consistency of balsa wood.  Anyway, here’s to hoping Betty – and all our departed sacrificial turkeys – turn out juicy, delicious, and with a generous side of tons of scotch.

In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

Food Network moved in when Rahm Emanuel moved to D.C.

Food Network moved in when Rahm Emanuel relocated to D.C.

As you are no doubt unaware, Food Network recently concluded its fifth season of The Next Food Network Star.  And I think I speak for all of us when I say: it’s about time!  America was clamoring for a new culinary master to adopt the mantle of “middling cook who makes food like every other housewife on the planet.”  Think of the things we’ll learn!  The myriad ways to make breaded chicken breast!  How to peel garlic by smashing it with the side of your knife!  How to make Kwanzaa Cake!  In case you never knew this show existed, let’s revisit the past winners and their invaluable contributions to The Network, shall we?

  • Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh.  According to Wikipedia, they still host a show called Party Line with the Hearty Boys, which no one has ever seen.  It airs right after The New Adventures of Old Christine.
  • Guy Fieri.  The poster boy for The Next Food Network Star.  He wears his sunglasses on the back of his head when indoors, and makes his signature cocktail with Axe Body Spray and a garnish of man rings.
  • Amy Finley.  Her show lasted six episodes.  For those of you keeping track, that’s five fewer episodes than the run of Cop Rock.
  • Aaron McCargo, Jr.  Hosts the show Big Daddy’s House when not winning James Beard Awards and assuming his executive chef duties at both Le Bernardin and The French Laundry.  Wears large hoop earrings, and makes Emmit Smith sound erudite.

Pretty stellar list, no?  I’m sorry, let me try that last sentence again: “Pretty stellar list?  No.”  Although, I guess that when you start out with a dozen-or-so contestants whose culinary points of view are some derivation of “I want to make gourmet food accessible,” regardless of the fact that they’ve never cooked gourmet food to begin with, you’re not exactly going to get the next Wylie Dufresne.

And, true to form, the Food Network decided to select yet another housewife to teach us invaluable skills which will allow us to make the same food ten other housewives on the Food Network are making, all in the hopes of getting us to never watch the Food Network again.  Melissa d’Arabian  emerged as the show’s victor, a few months ago, based on her show’s concept, which cast her in the role of the “Rescue Chef.”  Which would have been awesome, had it consisted of her covertly recovering hostages, rather than turning typical pantry ingredients into typical, boring meals.  An interesting thing happened on the way to inevitable first season cancellation, though: instead of Melissa’s original concept of helping out confused home cooks, Food Network was all, “Fuck this cooking shit – people hate to cook!  Let’s give ’em hints on how to cook as little as possible!,” and re-packaged the show as Ten Dollar Dinners.  I’m not sure if she cooks a dinner for ten bucks, or if she cooks ten dinners for a dollar, each, but either way, you can count me the fuck out.  I’m not saying you can’t cook something good for less than a ten-spot, but – and stop me if I’m repeating myself, here – the fact that a network ostensibly based on the glory and beauty of food is hamstringing someone’s ability to cook based on taste, rather than on time or pecuniary concerns, is kind of obscene.  Not “Sasha Grey” obscene, unfortunately, but obscene, nonetheless.

Ten Dollar Dinners: come for the carrots and embroidered tops, stay for the contrivance and banality.

Ten Dollar Dinners: come for the carrots and embroidered tops, stay for the contrivance and banality.

In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“.  It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes.  You’re very welcome.  That’ll be ten bucks.

This is Claire Robinson.  She's evil.

This is Claire Robinson, and she thinks you're an idiot. Apparently, given the fact that she has her own show, she's right.

I was thinking about writing about how to make a good consomme, but then I realized that that would be, like, totally hard, so I just said ‘Fuck it,’ and made some Kraft Mac & Cheese, instead.”
-Auguste Escoffier in Le Guide Culinaire

Oh, Food Network, I honestly thought I’d gotten out all my hatred for you with my last post on the subject.  It was a purging of all the hatred I had for you and your damn cheatin’ ways, and, frankly, it was cathartic.  Even when The Next Food Network Star came on, and you insisted on making the contestants tell me about themselves and their “culinary point-of-view,” I kept my cool and put it in perspective.  But then, Food Network, you invite Claire Robinson, your succubus of a paramour, into my home to assault my ear-holes.  Claire, for those of you readers who are blissfully ignorant of her marginal existence, has a show entitled “Five Ingredient Fix,” in which she, perhaps unsurprisingly, uses only five  ingredients to make her meals.  Why she does this – and more to the point, why Food Network thinks this is appropriate to put on the air – I have not a clue.  Jesus Christ, Food Network, it’s like I just forgave you for cheating on me with my best friend, but instead of walking the line and being a good partner, you go out and murder my parents.  No, Food Network, that’s a totally apt analogy.

You know, I’ve yet to see a Golf Digest article about how to play less holes of golf, or a Cigar Aficionado article about how to smoke less delicious cigars, or a Playboy pictorial featuring fewer glorious boobies.  One would assume that this is due to the fact that these media know that their consumers enjoy the subject matter they write about, and would like to do more, not less, of it.  Food Network, with its stable of shows about cooking less food, in less time, with less ingredients, seems to think that its viewers see the kitchen not as a place where delicious dishes are prepared and lovingly served, but rather, as a torturous room, the entrance to which is necessitated only by a housewife’s need to begrudgingly cook something so she doesn’t look like a terrible mother.  Call me an amazing and sensitive lover, but I’m a pretty big fan of this here cooking thing, and I like to do it a lot.   In fact, I get a little sad when I’m done chopping stuff and searing stuff and remoulading stuff.  Thus, it upsets me that the Food Network would put someone on the air whose claim to fame is taking otherwise fine recipes and excising all the ingredients which cause them to, you know, taste good.  It’s not about convenience or making food accessible, either – it’s simply a shtick that’s going to move cook books.  In other words, it’s complete and total bullshit which denigrates the culinary arts.  Cooking, after all, is about the passion and excitement associated with creating something delicious – that Ms. Robinson would endeavor to do the opposite makes me hate both her, and her network, all the more.  I won’t go so far as to say that I hope they both one day writhe in an eternal dumpster fire on the banks of the river Styx, but, on the other hand, I totally want that [FN1].

Auguste sez: "Don't let ze mustache fool you, I totally want to kill zees bich.  Zoot Alors!"  He also said "I surrender," but mostly because he's French, and I wanted to write an obvious joke about how the French always surrender to stuff.

Auguste sez: "Yeah, zis iz to-tall-y ridic-oo-lous. Zut Alors - mon mustache c'est magnifique!" He also said "I surrender!", but mostly because he's French, and I wanted to write an obvious joke about how the French always surrender to stuff.

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FN 1.  Holy shit, you should have seen my first draft of this thing.  I couldn’t publish it, not because any of its wonderful hate was unauthentic, but rather because I didn’t want to make my mom weep for the depraved, black-hearted spawn she produced.  Plus, you can only use the term “useless whore-bag shame-fuck” so many times before it starts to lose its impact.  That number of times, it turns out, is seventeen.