I’m gearing up for Thanksgiving, and this year, I’m cooking for 22 people! I have hosted before but never quite so many people, plus these kids keep getting bigger and eating more and more! And not fitting at any sort of kids table.
So, I’m kind of crowd sourcing ideas. While gathering info on whether to get a pre-cooked turkey or not, someone suggested an Ina Garten dish they always make ahead. It had something to do with oven space etc. etc., but it got me thinking. This one time, when my littlest ones were about in second grade, I broke my ankle when I tripped carrying a laundry bin down the stairs. That led to several weeks on the couch for much of the day (also known as housewife fantasy scenario) and lots of Food Network. During that time, I feel I gained a deep understanding of TV Chefs. I’m not as quick to judge as I am a person who just sees that my legal name is Elizabeth and calls me Liz, but I do draw some conclusions. To wit:
I put her in the Martha Stewart category. She seems like she’d be a crap friend, but you have to admit she knows how to cook. You don’t go to Ina for extremely healthy suggestions, but her insistence on high quality ingredients lifts their profile out of the Paula Dean category. Ina’s often baking for a crowd at he chi-chi hamptons abode, but she works to please her perfect hubs Geoffrey, who is always fresh from the market picking up some “really good” tomatoes for Ina. Ina’s not sure whether it’s good for Martha Stewart to feign friendship with her or if it’s the other way around, because she has a delusional streak. If you like Ina Garten, I know I can trust your recommendations but I’m also nervous I’m not quite cool enough to be your friend sometimes.
Paula is exactly what marketing execs want you to think the american south is all about: dippy, wacky and a little chubbed up, with a side of racism. It kind of sucks that the trail of lawsuits that seem to follow her live up to the reputation. Her food is very decadent and rich, emminently satisfying. There’s nothing a stick of butter and some brown sugar can’t enhance in Paula’s book. I’m not sure she’s wrong. If you like Paula Deen, we can share a Cinnabon without judgement, but I’m watching to be sure you stay away from the opioids.
You probably know what I think about Tricia Yearwood’s claim at the top of her show that “among close family and friends, I’m equally known for my cooking [as my singing].” I don’t know if Tricia is trying to downplay her singing, or if she’s just delusional. Probably the latter. She has a fun show and seems not to take herself to seriously judging by the blooper reel she sometimes includes. The recipes are usually nothing special, packaged as a friend’s specialty or a thing she always made for a relative because they loved it so much. (Did they?) I mean we all have grandma’s special this or that, but it takes that and a couple CMAs to get a cooking show. If you like Tricia Yearwood, I want to have dinner with you, but I’m cooking.
Giada is either actually italian or was sent to italy to learn to cook when being pretty wasn’t going to pay the bills. She is a very good cook and for the most part her Italian dishes are authentic and spot-on. She has a big head and a tiny body, and I just know that the one bite she takes of whatever she makes is the only food she gets that week. I am also way more likely to cook her food now that she left her husband and was rumored to be canoodling with John Mayer. If you like Giada Di Laurentiis, lets go clothes shopping together!
Molto Mario, as I know him, is the best! Molto was making rustic italian cuisine when we were all eating McDLT’s! He knows what is what. His bolognese was once described to me as a bowl of little food-orgasms. I remember he once even had JaquesPepin’s daughter on and shut down her criticisms of her own dad without making her feel bad. The only thing better than following a Mario Batali recipe is eating in one of his restaurants. Can’t say that about Emeril! If you like Mario Batali, we should make like Gwennyth Paltrow and Mario did and eat our way through Italy together!
You are a kindred spirit if you too love the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. She is a fellow redhead, mother of four and blogger. She is unlike me in that she home schooled her kids and lives in Oklahoma. And of course, she’s built a huge, money making brand (I gotta get on that). The Pioneer Woman is the site I refer to most for Thanksgiving recipes. She knows how to cook crowd pleasing classics and understands that momma needs a good salad she’s willing to share too. If you like Red Drummond, we should walk past the lake of shining waters and look for the dryads together like Anne of Green Gables and Diana.