Friday, December 7, 2007

Sandy Proves Again, She Is No Cook...

She's More Like A Mad Chemist...

Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee
Country Cooking

Apple Pie Punch
Canned Corn Bread Muffins
Cherry Pie with Lattice Top
Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy
Pear Butter

To get the recipes:
Click here (Don't do it.)

We see Sandy in her den of iniquity. ..her pantry where she keeps all of her semi-food products to make her fake food creations. She reminds us that “good old-fashioned country cooking hits the spot every single time, but those favorites of yours take a long time to make.” Well, not with Sem-EYE Home Made, she assures us. Plus, we’ll see a beautiful tablescape that emulates hearth and home…Gag me and it’s only the first minute and a half.

THEN there’s a long beginning segment, which is way too long, explaining Sandy's philosophy of cooking...if you can use the word philosophy OR cooking when talking about her.

Sandy tells us she loves this “handy dandy gadget”…a chinois, for making pear butter. Oh, Sandy, you silly thing, That’s not a GADGET, it’s part of one's Batterie de cuisine.

For the pear butter, she strains canned pears, saving all the liquid. I guess, using fresh fruit is against the rules. She doesn’t even take the entire lid off the can of pears. That’s dangerous and lazy. Am I being petty? Just wait…

She “pops” the drained pears in a pot with 3 tablespoons of pear brandy. In this case it’s probably good she’s going to cook off the alcohol. We wouldn’t want our hostess staggering through the tablescape to her guests. She turns the heat to medium.

Ooh, now we get to talk about the corn muffins. Lucky us. She mixes 1 cup of jack cheese, pre-shredded from a package - bien sur - with 2 BAGS of corn muffin MIX. I sure hope anyone that uses a MIX does realize that there about 5 or 6 ingredients in a corn muffin. It’s just not that hard. Ok, maybe there are a big seven ingredients, but still, by the time you’ve added the bunch of required stuff to the mix, you might just as well have made it yourself.

She adds 2 eggs, each of which she breaks on the counter, leaving a bit of snotty residue behind. Bad Sandy! Next to be added to the corn meal mess, I mean mix, is 2/3 cup of buttermilk and 2 cans of “cream of corn”. I sure hope she doesn’t mean condensed soup…Oh, she means “creamed corn”.

Be careful stirring, Sandy says, because you don’t want to “break apart” the cheese. No, Sandy, that is NOT why you shouldn’t overbeat corn muffins. Craig Claiborne explained it beautifully: “When liquid and dry materials are stirred and beaten until a muffin batter is smooth and elastic, it forms ribbon-like strands that stretch when the spoon is lifted….(The resulting muffins) are tough and dry...the top peaked and misshapen.”

She sprays cans to use as baking forms with nonstick spray. I sure hope there was nothing toxic (other than her muffin mixture) in there. She says the cans don’t have to be fancy. What exactly does that mean? Sandy, maybe in that big pantry of yours, you keep the fancy cans segregated from the simple ones, but I tend to allow mine to freely associate.

She fills the cans two-thirds of the way up. She using tomato paste cans, which she tells us to make safe for cooking by boiling them in hot water. WHAH!!! Are you telling me you don’t have time to measure out cornmeal, flour and leavening, but you do have time to boil scummy tomato paste cans?

There’s more…”for an extra special touch, you’re going to COAT(?) the top” with the leftover cheese. Honey, you really shouldn’t have left cooking school. I suppose if you only had a vocabulary of 3 words :Tablescape, Crisco, coat, you could use that word. But it’s not the most precise term for what you’re doing. Actually, the term for what you’re doing I can’t say here, but let’s move on. She’s going to “pop” them in a 400° oven.

We go back to the pear butter with her handy dandy applesauce maker. (Really who says that twice?) I make so much applesauce that I could paint the entire house with it, and I have NEVER used a chinois. She pours her cooked pear mixture in. She uses the wooden mallet to push it into a small pot. She presses out a tiny amount and then quickly puts the whole shebang into the sink, so we can’t see how much is left in the strainer. She adds fresh (yay!) orange zest and juice with 1 cup of brown sugar. That’s more sugar there than there is pear purée. She stirs it and reduces it down.

She runs to check the muffins. She’s getting a bit breathless and rushed when she mentions all she has left to do. I sure hope she doesn’t get to it all. She takes out the corn can muffins. She’s surprisingly disorganized. She hurries to put the hot cans down, while she dashes to get the flour.

Sandy opens a packet of her garlic ranch dressing. “You normally would use it for salad dressing.” No YOU would, Sandy. The only thing that stuff is good for is to fill in the holes in the driveway. She sprinkles it on the bottom of a glass pie plate. She adds it makes a “great coating for fried chicken too.”

To the packet, she adds 1 cup of buttermilk (evaporated milk is okay too) and 1 egg. She tells us to get a “large, large” baggy. That’s funny, it looks like a normal gallon freezer bag size. Into this bag she adds ANOTHER packet of salad dressing mix (even those words disturb me) and 1 cup of flour.

She scurries over to add oil to the pan for her steak. She coats the cube steak with her 2 mixtures. Curiously, she doesn’t care which order you use. You may either flour and poison-powder it up FIRST and THEN buttermilk, egg and more powdery poison the steak, or do it the other way.

That is whacked. I’ve never heard of such a thing. Remember my mantra: flour, egg, crumb; flour, egg, crumb? Of course, here she has crapped up the egg with her poison powder, so it is a bit confusing. Come to think of it, she’s ruined the flour with the same powder. Not that any of you would actually make this, but I guess I would advise dipping it in the gook first, and then that cesspool of seasoned flour, even though in proper universe, the flour comes first. You, that I’m thinking about it, who knows? It’ll be equally dreadful, either way.

She’s put the steaks in.

The pear butter goes into a “cute Ball jar”. It looks like a mayonnaise jar to me. The steak is ready to turn “lickety split”. I’d like to split now. The still hot and already covered jars of pear butter go into the fridge.

OMG, she takes “a packaged product for gravy” and is going to turn it into gravy. That doesn’t even sound like food. I’m worried, frankly, that someone, even if it’s her own FN crew, will have to eat this. She “pops” the powder into a pan and adds 1 cup of buttermilk. (Does she buy one fresh ingredient a month and then force herself to use it in everything?) She stirs in 1 cup of chicken stock and says it makes the greatest gravy.

Back from a needed break, she takes a pie out of the oven. She busies herself making another one. She unfolds a store-bought crust (it’s actually probably safer that way) into a glass pie plate. She mixes store bought cherry pie filling with thawed frozen berries to cut the sweetness. Why bother, really? She stirs in 1 tablespoon cherry kirsch and pours it into the pie crust.

She sprinkles flour onto the work surface and unfolds another pie crust. She lays a lattice mold on top (I’ve never even heard of that before) and presses down. She cuts around with a fluted cutter and lays the faux lattice on top of the pie. She brushes the top with an egg (a real one) and sprinkles over sugar.

Sandy cuts a slice of the previous cherry pie and THEN serves the chicken fried steak with the gloppy gravy. She tests the muffins and serves them…from the cans.

She tastes the steak. It doesn‘t kill her (immediately).

She moves on to the apple pie punch. She mixes apple cider (juice is fine too) with spiced run and cinnamon schnapps. Then as a special touch, she adds the pear liquid from the processed pears. She garnishes it with overly large slices of red apple. She pours herself a taste…and another.“This sure is good”, she slurs.

She joins us at the tablescape. Ooh, her husband’s two sons, Matt and Teddy, are coming over. Goodie, a tablescape for the stepchildren. Will there be coal on a table covered with sackcloth?

The tablecloth is a flannel blanket. Yeah, I always find that’s comfortable to eat on…NOT. I guess it’s better than her aunt, who just hurls her quilts all over the dinner table.

Ok, the food is shown and OH MY, she using store bought mashed potatoes from the "refrigeration” section. I don’t even know what that is. She adds cream and, let me guess, BUTTERMILK and her happy white powder? No, butter and salt. She points out the cans of corn muffins. Better not to, I think. She shows us, “from her collection of log homes”, a favorite one on the shelf.

And then she says, “Everything is available on the Food Network website.” She doesn’t mean the knickknacks, flannel blanket and log home, does she? No, just the recipes. That’s bad enough. AND I’ve had enough. I feel sullied. I’ve learned nothing, except the lengths to which people will go to NOT COOK, to NOT BAKE and to serve a dreadful meal, which if buried in the back yard probably wouldn’t decompose for centuries…and THAT would be a terrible thing to do to mother earth.


Emiline said...

Oh goody- I've been waiting for a Sandy post.

I'm speechless. How does she have her own Food Network show?
Nothing sounds good. I stil don't get why she cleaned the cans. She served the bread in the cans?

She's always "popping" this and "popping" that.

I'm sorry, but adding booze to a dish, doesn't make it homemade.

It's sad that she's teaching people to cook like this...

Kathy said...

Sue you are hilarious! Thank you for a great recap of a terrible show. Mashed potatoes from the refrigerated area? what? do they sell that, there?

Jennifer said...

Now now...I have to stick up for the most hated people on FN (Emeril, Sandy and Rachael). LOL. I don't necessarily follow her recipes but I have learned some cool tricks from Sandy.

THAT said...lord does that girl love her processed food, eh? Gah-ross!

DebCarol said...

Missed this show.. thank goodness. But have to say, her "tablescapes" often scare me,,, but not half as much as the food. In most cases it would be far easier to prepare all of her featured "meals" from scratch than to go to the lengths she does to make them "semi-homemade".

garry said...

You know, as the person who prepared the family meal for four on a nightly
basis, I can understand the need for
"semi-homemade". All in the name of time. So I used to defend her tactics.

Now, however, she HAS become an evil scientist. She's not cutting corners anymore, if anything, she's creating MORE steps, MORE things to buy at the store.

Rather the shows name should be..."Semi-Conscience".

But I agree with Kathy, yours was a great recap, Sue. It sounds like a dreadful meal.

(I've got to get me one of those icon things, too. Maybe some baby bok choy or something...)I'll look into that...


Emiline said...

Did you watch RR's new Holiday Feast show? In the orange kitchen.

I rolled my eyes so many times during the course of that show, they stayed that way.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I feel the same way about Aunt Sandy. It seems anything she makes just looks gloppy and gross.

I swear that she makes MORE work for herself and uses more (expensive) ingredients than someone who actually cooks mostly from scratch. She could cook a great meal in less time if she put more effort into the dinner and less into those stupid tablescapes. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm fine with a nice tablecloth, some nice napkins, and plates that coordinate on my table. Is that wrong?

What's the deal with the cans? Is there a reason why she couldn't make muffins in an ordinary muffin tin? I never saw this episode, so I'm really scratching my head.

I am still trying to wrap my brain around crockpot cake. *sigh*

Sue said...

Hi Em,
I know it's hard to believe, but for some reason she BAKED her corn muffins in the cans. I have no idea why. I love your remark about how adding booze doesn't make it homemade. She does seem to hit the bottle a bit. I noticed that in the few other shows of hers that I've watched.

Thanks Kathy,
I've NEVER heard of that. I halfway expected BOXED potatoes, but already made?!

Jennifer, Sweet Thing,
Emeril isn't hated, is he? I'd love to know what you learned from Sandy. How to paint the inside of your refrigerator to match your artificial cocktails and tablescapes?

THAT is such a good point! Instead of fiddling with fake stuff and opening packets, she could have made real food.

Sue said...

Hi Garry,
I never thought I’d say this, but I’d prefer to hear that you had been cooking for your family using RR’s recipes, rather than Sandy’s. RR, at least, uses real food (okay maybe 80% of the time), even if it’s always animal proteins, simple carbohydrates and saturated fats.

But I’m glad you’ve seen the light. And, yes, it does seem as if a lot of her machinations are actually more work, using more store-bought ingredients than if you’d just used a few fresh things. I guess that’s the point. Just a few fresh ingredients can make a sterling dish. That’s not the case with Sandy’s renditions of recipes.

Hi Emiline,
I haven't seen the orange kitchen yet. I have to check it out. Doesn’t that mean that at least 30%of her wardrobe would clash with it?

Hello Shortie,
There’s really no excuse for her. You’re right…those tablescapes are a colossal waste of energy and effort. She should have to buy MANY carbon credits every time she makes one. I’m with you about simplicity when setting a table. I‘m just glad when people don‘t use Flintstone dishes (although they do have their place) and their sleeves.

The can thing was just a complete puzzle. There was absolutely no reason for it. It wasn’t as if she was cooking at a campfire.

Jennifer said...

Shortcuts mostly- like taking a ziplock bag and making it a little baggie you put your frosting in to pipe on a cake...stuff like that. I took Home Ec years ago but it was really basic. I had to learn everything from people on TV, honestly. LOL! Sad, I know...

Sue said...

Ok, Jen, that's not completely evil. But if Sandy had just told you to buy 3 sizes of piping bags with 3 or 4 nozzles ten years ago, you'd be prepared for any piping situation. Watch Ina to learn from. Or Giada. Just cut the fat in Ina's recipes by half.

Do you have Joy of Cooking? It's not the BEST cookbook in the world, but it may be the most comprehensive. It probably addresses every cooking query there is...Santa, are you listening?