Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Things I've Learned From...

…watching the Food Network for almost two years. When I returned home from the hospital after the accident I had a lot of time on my hand (the other was firmly encased in a colourful purple cast). My pregnant, broken body was tucked into an extremely uncomfortable hospital bed in the middle of my living room which had quickly become my bedroom, bathroom and dining room. People brought me books, which was a nice idea – after all I’ve always been an avid reader. However, I found that I couldn’t concentrate and kept reading the same sentences over and over again. So much for getting through all those great classics.

I’m sure some people feared that I would start to watch daytime talk shows and soap operas. I couldn’t bring myself to do that either. Oprah and Dr. Phil were even more annoying than usual, Ellen didn’t make me laugh – even Regis couldn’t bring a smile to my face. I had no interest in soap operas. I kind of felt like I was living one – a really bad one, with really bad greasy hair and no hope of getting better in a week.

So what did I do? I watched the Food Network. I think this drove everybody but my father crazy. I don’t know what I found so intriguing. After all, I couldn’t cook either – I could barely sit in my wheelchair for 20 minutes. I like to eat but after the accident I had absolutely no appetite. I lived on Ensure – ahhh, nothing like the refreshing taste of chocolate flavoured chalky syrup. So, even though I’m not sure why I watched, I did log hundreds of viewing hours and learned quite a bit some of which I will share with you now.

  • Extra virgin olive oil is indispensable. A few months ago, I ran out and asked a friend to borrow some. She did with the qualifier that she had no idea how old it was. I was shocked! Olive oil MUST be fresh and of good quality!
  • Salt and pepper everything – in layers – and always measure with your hands. You NEVER shake directly out of the container. You have to FEEL the seasoning.
  • The list of foods that have a “nutty” or “buttery” flavour is endless.
  • I should really try cooking with anchovies because apparently when cooked, they don’t taste fishy at all but add a nice salty flavour to your food.
  • The best vanilla flavour comes from the tiny seeds inside the pods which you cut open and then scrape with the tip of the knife. However, I also learned that vanilla pods are very expensive and difficult to find.
  • It actually is quite easy to seed and chop a tomato and well worth the effort.
  • When pan frying something you want it to “caramelize”. Then deglaze the pan because all the flavour is in those “brown bits”.
  • NEVER use a cooking wine. Always use one that you would drink on its own. This can be difficult because if you like to drink it then isn’t it better to drink it rather than cook it? Ahh…wine….
  • A man who knows his way around a kitchen is very attractive – especially with good lighting.

I still watch the Food Network – a lot. Bennett seems to enjoy it too. I think his favourite is Rachael Ray. I’m not sure why – maybe because she’s so perky. Something his mother will NEVER be accused of.

Any other Food Network fans out there? Any more tips for me? Am I crazy? (OK – don’t answer that one)


Mummu and Poppa said...

Remembering the 'good old days - laid-up in the lounge bed and TV'. Hard to believe that the two year anniversary is coming up. Thank God that is all behind you (but never forgotten) and that we have both you and Bennett.

Now on to a more pleasant subject ... ah, yes, it is better to drink wine then to add it to a sauce and have all the alcohol evaporate ... the joys of cooking, tasting and drinking ... not necessarily in that order!

Cooking is a great 'outlet' for interpretation of 'any meal plan'! For those who don't enjoy 'your handy work' - maybe they would like to share their skills with you and cook you a meal. You could be the 'taster'! A change is good every once in awhile! All is fair in love and cooking.

You can't beat the '30 Minute Meal'. Bennett has good taste!

All your tips are great ... and where would we be without extra virgin olive oil? We use it in everything - saucepans to salads! It is truly great!

Today, TV is not worth watching. How much CSI can one take? Remember the good old 'Matlock' days? How many times we watched his shows (over and over) we don't care to count.

Strange that you should mention the Soaps, because today Mummu was on the computer and listening to the TV in the other room and low and behold 'Days of Our Lives' was on and guess what ???? Beau and Hope got married again ... now how many times is this??? All the same characters - same old, same old. The more things change the more they remain the same. After not watching since Kerry and Colleen were in High Schol, I was all caught up. No more need be said.

Well, we are glad that you are still learning and that from your learning we are being given a 'few tips'. Thanks a bunch and God Bless!

Love and Prayers
Mummu and Poppa
xxx ooo xxx ooo

grandma and grandpa said...

Hi Bennet,
Your mommy asked if she was crazy.
The answer is YES she is. I HATE the food channel and that is what I'm made to watch when grandma and grandpa visit. The 3 of you are such good company....NOT.......!
Now to mummu: Beau and Hope got married again??? They were divorced??? Well, I'll be danged. Who would have thought???
Lots of love, hugs and kisses
Grandma and Grandpa

Anonymous said...

Two quick points ...

1. I agree with Grandma The Food network is starting to wear on me too. Guess what is on TV right now?

2. As a former closet Days of our Lives viewer ( my sisters and Barbara made me watch) his name is BO Brady. He is not french so his name is not spelled Beau.

Well that's my two cents,
Daddy aka Jim

Anonymous said...

Well Jim,
I'll be waiting for your 2 cents.
I was going to spell "Beau's'" name "Bo". However I wasn't too sure of the spelling so I reread your mothers comment. AND,she spelled it "Beau" and be darmed if I"m going to argue with your lovely mother............A question comes to my mind. Are you still a closet fan of Day's of Our Lives?
Lots of love, hugs and kisses
Your loving mother in law

Anonymous said...

I never get a chance to watch it. Barbara and Bennett are always watching the Food network.

Daddy aka Jim

Kara said...

Jim, you're is spelled Bo, however, from what I remember from my Days of Our Lives viewing days, Bo was 'tres beau', so I believe we should accept either spelling!

Barbara...great post. You're funny! I've come to love the Food Network too, mainly out of my dislike of all other daytime tv. Here's what I've learned from the Food Network:

- Watching "Unwrapped" will always make me gorge on junk food.

- Carrots, celery and onion...aka mirepoix...are the magical beginnings of many a dish!

- Massaging a choice cut of meat is not to be frowned upon, but is actually encouraged as the best way to season before grilling.

- Bob Blumer...the guy in the toaster/trailer, has never made a single dish that I would even consider eating.

- Those cake decorating challenges make me crave cake for days afterwards.

- Gordon Ramsey, though an aggressive, foul-mouthed and rather unattractive Brit who drops the f-bomb every chance he gets, is still oddly compelling.

Mummu and Poppa said...

OK! Enough already! Some people just have too much time on their (my) hands.

Althoough I've never met Kara she is quickly becoming one of my 'favourite people' (Beau vs BO - he use to be - and still is - Beau). I know I have made other 'spelling errors' on this Blog and no one has cared enough to correct them ... what does this tell us???

How come the viewing audience seems to age much more than the TV cast members? Once again, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!

Even though Daddy Jim is once again 'correcting-his-mother' we are glad to see him adding to the Blog. Strange that the topic of Food brought him out. Ha! Ha!

Bennett, you fit right into our family as we are all 'good eaters'.

... although some are better cooks than others ... and why doesn't my cooking look like the delectable meals whipped up on TV? ... and this one is especially for Mommy Barbara - why not add french fries and corn right to the gravey? Ah, memories - there are a few? Kids just never let us forget.

Well, today is physio and Dr. appointment day so we will be in touch later. Good luck Bennett. Keep on charming everyone you come into contact with and everything will be fine. Make it a good one.

Love and Prayers
Mummu and Poppa
xxx ooo xxx ooo

Barbara said...

Mummu - Ah yes...Matlock. I don't think I've ever watched a full episode. I was always fast asleep halfway through. And of course food would bring Jim out of hiding and the opportunity to correct his mother although why he is so concerned with the spelling of Bo/Beau is a bit puzzling.

Grandma - You don't know what you're missing with the food network. Eating with you is always an adventure - I would think you would be more interested in watching the "experts".

Kara - You points are excellent. I can't believe I forgot about celery/carrots/onions and the good old meat massage (I think I just swore or put two words together that could be taken the wrong way). I also forgot to mention how it is important to let the meat "rest" before cutting or serving. You are obviously a true fan of the food network - a kindred spirit indeed. As for Gordon Ramsey - I couldn't agree more.

grandma said...

Why on earth does a piece of meat have to rest???? It seems to me that it was resting in the butcher shop wayyyyyyy before you bought it! They had to kill a cow to get it to rest? Why does meat have to be MASSAGED? I'm sure that I would enjoy and appreciate the massage a lot more than a slab of meat would!!!
Oh, by the way Barbara, what do you mean that eating with me (my cooking) is an adventure? You know darned well that I NEVER (shiver) cook!
Now on to Kara. I think that you are just as crazy as Barbara!
Lots of love, hugs and kisses

Bonnie said...

I'm with you re the cooking channel. I watch that and Discovery Health (I like watching Trauma - Life in the ER - - Go figure!). I watched the next great Food Network star this past week. Maybe you and Bennett could audition. I know you would both steal everyone's hearts.

Thanks for all the cooking tips. I agree re the wine - why would you cook with something you wouldn't drink - and - then again - why would you not drink it vs cook with it??

Auntie Bonnie