|
|
Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Fire up the oven and stand back

  • Bring on the comfort food. Life at times is cold and harsh, and sometimes we just need a plateful of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, with salad and a buttered roll, to make everything OK.



    Then there’s comfort TV. “Seinfeld” and several John Wayne movies spring to mind, though your list might vary.

    • email print
  • Bring on the comfort food. Life at times is cold and harsh, and sometimes we just need a plateful of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, with salad and a buttered roll, to make everything OK.
    Then there’s comfort TV. “Seinfeld” and several John Wayne movies spring to mind, though your list might vary.
    And some of us – I’m sure I’m not alone – are into the comfort of food TV. I think there’s a reason these seem to be clustered on Saturday mornings. We get around slowly and wait for the second cup of coffee to kick in before that fleeting illusion of a weekend full of possibility evaporates. These shows feel vaguely virtuous because you might learn something and might actually turn out something new for the family.
    Let’s not get too highfalutin, confrontational or far-fetched. No shows with the words “battle” or “throwdown” in the names. Nothing in which contestants are given a can a lima beans, a sprig of parsley and a raw, intact squid and told to make dinner for six. No, if we must have a theme, it ought to be: Let’s just cook.
    For years, the king of this genre was Alton Brown. His show “Good Eats” was the best thing on TV. The physics of pancakes, the history of capers, how to cook a hamburger. Everything passed the Hy-Vee test: If I can’t find the ingredients there, then it’s too much bother and I’m not much interested. It was grand.
    But after 14 seasons, how much more is there to say? Besides, Brown years ago started sliding over to the other side – “Iron Chef.” Godspeed, Alton, but this is a journey you have to make without the play-with-your-food followers you have mentored for so long.
    Still, it seems the brain trust at the Food Network and the Cooking Channel senses a lingering desire for “let’s just cook” tempered by the 2012 reality that money is tight. I count three pretenders to the thone, though each is a little suspect.
    Melissa d’Arabian is pretty solid on “Ten Dollar Dinners.” I am much in favor of eating well and saving money. That tomato and eggplant tian looks delicious, and – golly – I think I could actually make that.
    Then again, she’s the host of “Drop 5 lbs. with Good Housekeeping,” another sensible show that reeks of virtue and probably involves more effort and changing of habits than I’m willing to invest. “Let’s just cook” is one step removed from “let’s just eat,” and right now I can’t handle anything much more complicated than that.
    I was a little leery of Sandra Lee and “Semi-Homemade Cooking,” because the premise was someone else doing most of the work and then adding a can of cream of whatever. This is quick cooking, but it runs into some money. These shows could be called “30 Minutes and 40 Bucks.” (See Ray, Rachel.)
    Page 2 of 2 - But she has come around with “Sandra’s Money Saving Meals.” It’s as if the TV food geniuses did a couple of focus groups. Or read a newspaper. Bully for Sandra.
    The most straightforward of the three is Kelsey Nixon with “Kelsey’s Essentials.” She’s enthusiastic and seems adept at making beginners feel comfortable in the kitchen.
    With food, however, presentation matters, and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard a couple of utterances of “wahla.” That’s what used to be “voila” – translation: “there it is” – which I know is French and therefore suspect, but come on, people, let’s at least try. Besides, even the most hardened Francophobe has to admit the French turn out some pretty good food. Kelsey, I’m trying, but you have to meet me halfway. Non-standard pronunciation is bad for the digestion.
    OK, maybe it’s not all about the food, though I’m not sure she can hear me muttering back at the TV.
    I’m not hard to please. As I sit in the recliner with hot coffee and good intentions, I just want dulcet tones and understandable recipes. I’ll get up and make that leek-and-garlic soup in a minute. Promise.
    Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net.
      • calendar