One way I got through all our snow and ice days--five in the last two weeks--was to watch the Food Network channel. When I was doing idiot work at my desk, I kept the volume on; when I needed to concentrate I muted it but kept the picture so I could check every once in a while. Some of those chefs have become friends of mine, though they don't know it. Ina Garten is cheerful, soft spoken, and the kind of person you'd like to eat lunch with (if she catered it of course). For any who've read the Diane Mott Davidson catering mysteries, I've decided Davidson had Garten in mind when she created Goldie the caterer. In my mind's eye, Goldie is Ina. Then there's Guy Fieri with the spiky hair and all those weird concoctions he eats at Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dumps. It makes the mind boggle that any one man could eat so many high fat, high calories, high everything concoctions, but I've heard that he says the bite you see him take on TV is the only bite he takes. Still, the old-time, down-home, far-out cooking he discovers is mouth watering.
Lately I've been fascinated by two Robert Irvine programs: one is America's Worst Cooks, in which people who claim they can't cook apply for the class. Irvine and his fellow chef, a woman whose name escapes me, are merciless on these people, but those who aren't dropped out of the program end up pretty good cooks. I think I'm a good cook--and most people who eat at my table agree--but I don't think I could live up to that program. Irvine also does a program where he has 48 hours to rescue a failing restaurant. He redecorates, re-invents the menu, trains the staff, and generally turns a failing restaurant into a new one. Last night, he demoted the head chef, derided the prepared foods they were using (the canned corn beef hash tasted like dog food [I love it with ketchup] and another prepared item was costing them ten times what it would if made from scratch in the kitchen). And, of course Bobby Flay is everyone's hero these days. I wish the recipes they cook were more accessible. I'm often too pressed for time to check them on the web.
And who can talk about Food Network without mentioning Paula Deen --I have never seen one woman, even with that outrageous southern drawl, use so much butter, sour cream, heavy cream, you name it and it's fattening. I would never dare cook--er, okay, eat--half the things she cooks, but they do look delicious.
I admit a few cooks irritate me, like the lady who prides herself on the inexpensive menus she cooks--too cute. But then Giada and her Italian food--yum!
While I'm on the subject of food, Betty and I wanted comfort food tonight, so we went to the Star, the restaurant she and her husband own and where I used to work once a week for several years. We both had our mouths set for a bacon cheeseburger, which we split, and a salad. Wonderful! Bino cooked it just right, so it was pink in the middle and juicy. I have sent an email to Guy Fieri saying he needs to check out this restaurant--I may send another describing the Star Burger, which tops a burger with cheese, chili, onion, pickles, jalopeno, and bacon. Now who could eat that?
I read today about a longtime boookseller who invented the rule of 50. Read 50 pages of a book, and if you decide it's not for you, you can set it aside without guilt. But as the woman aged, she realized her time to read was limited and there were still so many books, so she changed the rules. After you reach 51, subtract your age from 100 and that's the number of pages to read before you decide a book is not for you. I so rarely abandon a book--it has to be really bad--but I have been known to do it.