Tag Archives: Food Network

Culinary crack

I don’t do reality.

Reality TV, that is. Count me out of any televised competition that involves voting anyone off, sending anyone home or criticizing anyone to his or her face before millions of viewers. To my mind, while contestants are willing, there’s nothing more disturbing than watching someone being humiliated. Maybe this goes back to the days when I was always picked dead last for teams.

Since the inception of Survivor and American Idol, I’ve proudly shunned these competitions and rolled my eyes at my friends who get all wrapped up in discussing who’s faring how each week, using contestants’ first names as if they were their buddies.

I find it disgusting to hear people talking about “Scotty” and “Taylor” and “Adam” as if we knew them personally, getting into the dynamics of the competitions and the personal attributes that are going to make or break their success.

There but for the grace of God go I.

I am hooked on The Next Food Network Star. Or I guess it’s just called Food Network Star this season. I wouldn’t know; I never watched the previous six seasons. In Season 7, I haven’t missed a single episode, as contestants are called to create signature dishes, work around situational constraints, endure criticism by celebrity chefs and demonstrate their on-camera presentation skills, for the chance to have their own Food Network show.

As it often works with addiction, I was lured into my first taste by a peer. In the late Spring, a friend from church was generating buzz and support for a fellow church member who had auditioned to become one of 15 finalists. Ever loyal to my churchies, I faithfully went online every day and voted for Mary Beth Albright, whom I had met a few times. She’s a dear.

Mary Beth indeed became one of 15 finalists so, when the season debuted June 5th, I was there—in front of the television. My husband and son jumped on the chuckwagon.

Soon our family conversations, even during the week, centered around the fact that Penny was a good cook but wasn’t likeable, that Alicia’s constant crying was going to hurt her chances, that Mary Beth was going to have to punch up her dishes if she’s to survive. When Paula Deen praised Mary Beth for putting buttermilk and panko in her meatloaf, I immediately altered my own meatloaf recipe. We bristle when the judges speak to our girl harshly, even though we know she can take it.

Every Sunday night, at the end of each program hour, our house is filled with gasps and exclamations, shrieks and high fives, as Mary Beth escapes—often narrowly—the judges’ cleaver.

I recognize that my addictive behavior is hurting my relationships. We’ve left family parties early to make it home in time (we’re a DVR-less household) and already, I’m fretting over how to broach this with friends who are hosting us at their beach house Sunday night. Would it be impolite to request an hour in front of their television? Or is it better to leave a day early to make it home in time for the final four?

Seriously, I’ve got the shakes.

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Filed under Family and Friends, Food, Movies, Television and Radio

Say what?

You gotta love Paula Deen. She’s a word nymph’s dream, blessherheart.

As a celebrity chef, she’s not my favorite. She lays it on a little thick for my taste—everything from the abundance of saturated fat to the exaggerated drawl. (Please let it be known I appreciate the difference between an accent and a drawl.)

I try to love her, really I do. Largely, it’s that I have trouble getting past her mispronunciations and speech gaffes.

For the record, “vinaigrette” has three syllables. It’s vin-ai-grette. Not vin-e-gar-ette. She’s not alone; restaurant servers aplenty mispronounce the salad dressing. Actually, Paula stretches it to five syllables, splitting the last one in two, like a generous slice of her pink lemonade cake.

But another goof in the same episode as vinaigrette got me thinking of another common mistake that we haven’t talked about here. She said she greases the pan to “assure it doesn’t stick.”

Shall we go over “assure” versus “ensure” versus “insure?” It must be confusing to some, so let’s give it a shot. Those who already know this can skip ahead to today’s assignment.*

Insure: to guarantee against loss or harm. The diamond is insured against theft. Think “insurance.”

Ensure: to make sure. I will grease the pan to ensure the cake doesn’t stick. Think: I drink Ensure to ensure I get enough nutrients.

Assure:  to inform [someone] positively. “Assure” almost always, if not always, precedes an object. I assure you, it will not happen again. The doctor assured him the drug was safe. Think: Rest assured. (you, implied, are the object)

Pretty simple.

*What, besides vinaigrette, do you find to be the most common food mispronunciations? In the meantime, here’s one person’s take. Note another Paula citation, for stretching “paprika” to four syllables. Good, I’m not the only one who counts.

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Food, Movies, Television and Radio

Work stoppage

Here is a suggestion for office managers all over the United States. You might as well close up shop this week because little is going to get done.

I admit it has been a while since I worked in a traditional office setting. But for the 20 or so years that I did, what I remember about the week before Thanksgiving—except for the occasional harried lame-duck Congressional session—is the fervent exchange of information pertaining to food for three full days preceding the holiday.

I predict that, for the next two and a half days, the majority of office computers will be connected to Epicurious.com or the Food Network and that cookbooks will be pressed against the glass of copiers churning out recipes to be shared among staff members. Conversations normally confined to the lunch room will spill generously into working hours, as colleagues seek other’s advice for the best way to satisfy Aunt Minnie’s taste for goose liver pâté.

Just walk down the hall and you’ll hear the great debates—stuffing cooked inside the turkey or out? Roast turkey or deep fried? Giblets in the gravy or not? Pumpkin pie or pecan? How many fruits and vegetables can be slipped into stuffing without the children tightening their lips? (In my house, the answer is zero.)

More e-mail will be generated between employees and their families than within the company, so as to make expectations clear about arrival times, covered dishes and football schedules.

One person (there’s one in every office) will be attempting the latest Martha Stewart centerpiece and individual place decorations and feeling the need to draw her colleagues into the challenge.

A worker or two will try not to get caught missing of an afternoon, while dashing out to buy napery.

Okay, so the word is out. But am I wrong?

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Filed under Family and Friends, Food, Holidays, Technology and Social Media