Sunday, October 05, 2008


I kind of hate Rachael Ray. And considering my generally strident opinions around here lately, that's putting it mildly.

And I put it mildly because I don't really hate her. I used to watch her religiously. As in, I was disappointed that I didn't get off work earlier so that I could catch both episodes of "30-Minute Meals" every day. In my defense, I was living in a tiny apartment at the time, without another mammal to talk to. I may have lost one or two of my admittedly scant marbles.

Back then, I thought it was just tremendous that she could throw together dinner with reckless abandon, extolling the virtues of the GB (for the unindoctrinated, that'd be the "garbage bowl," into which you can efficiently corral your trash) but still managing to make a mess that could rival the Woodside on an average Tuesday.

Completely unrelated aside: The Killers are on "Saturday Night Live" as I type this, singing a song to which the thrust of the chorus is "Are we human / Or are we dancers?" I'm irrationally angry about it, but only because it is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Where was I? Oh yes, Rachael Ray. Neither human nor dancer, I'd wager. As the years went on, I became weary of the yum-os and the EVOOs and the delish-es. The cutesy titles take their toll. To whit:

Banana Cheesecake
Crab and Corn Chowda-Mac
Blue-Rugula Burgers
Chicken Marvalasala (I saw this episode. She couldn't pronounce it, either.)
Sliced Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sorta-Caesar Salads
Red Wine Rice with Grapes (Oh my vomit.)
Grilled Fish Sammies with Garlic Tartar Sauce and Baked Waffle Fries with Spicy Bloody Ketchup and a Slaw Salad (That "bloody" sort of comes out of nowhere, doesn't it?)

Yes, I got those titles from the Food Network Web site, and yes—the activity was painful. But the one thing I despise most about the RR rhetoric is the "stoup." She proclaims it to be "not quite a soup, and not quite a stew." As though anyone cared. No one ever looked at a menu or a grocery store shelf and thought, "Gosh ... Chicken soup or chicken stew ... HOW CAN I DECIDE????"

Unless one has a predilection for getting panicky and confused in the grocery store.

Unfortunately, she's getting worse. Now she promotes "choups," which sound like an STD but are actually (allegedly) a hybrid chowder and soup. Again, memo to Rach: Who caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaares? It should be tasty goodness, in a mix of chunky textures, that warms you on a cool evening. Preferably in front of a ski slope in front of a window in front of a fire in front of a rug in front of a cable-knit in front of ... pectorals.


This is a really long lead-up meant to distract you from the fact that I did a lame thing: I made soup. Not soup, in fact. Stew. Brunswick stew, to be precise. My grandmother makes the most. phenomenal. Brunswick. stew. of all time. You could eat the entire pot and not even be sure why. And I was having a day and a half, full of exclamation points being overruled by question marks. That is the kind of evening that calls for soup, no matter what you call it, and I was craving Grandma's Brunswick stew. I needed a vegetarian recipe for it, and Google said the best was the one in the Moosewood cookbook.

Veggies galore:

Potatoes, carrots, zucchinis,

onion, garlic,

and frozen corn, okra, and lima beans (that's what makes Brunswick stew GENIUS. And by GENIUS I mean the best thing to happen to the universe: the lima bean. Do not attempt to dissuade me on this. In college I subsisted for a year on frozen corn + lima beans cooked in the microwave with a Kraft single melted on top. It's disgusting, but I adored).

That's a lot of therapeutic chopping. Ooooooooooooooooooooooohm.

The onion and garlic go on to sweat for a bit, followed by the carrots.

I tend to buy baby carrots, because it's frustratingly impossible to buy a single carrot or two on the Woodside. Upside: Snacks.

After that, raw veggies go on to soften.

followed by the liquids:

vegetable stock, brown sugar (not a liquid, I know), tomatoes, Worcestershire, white vinegar, and tabasco.

I didn't have enough canned tomatoes, so I chopped up my remaining fresh tomato, which gave the whole thing a better taste. I hate canned whole tomatoes. I will not apologize for it.

It only had to sit and marinate for 30 minutes,

a manageable stretch for any time-strapped person. While that bubbled, I put on my Martha Stewart hat and attempted a biscuit—a Cracker Barrel biscuit (courtesy Google). Flour, shortening, and buttermilk conspire to make

dough. Brilliant! Rolled out and baked 8 minutes.

Yes, this is them unbaked. Know how they looked when they were baked? The same. Dense and dry. I should surrender my baking permission slip.

Know what made it all the better? Pat o' butter.

But the soup was delicious. Healthy and filling and wintry before its time. Or, as Rachael would say, healthillingry. Yum-o!


What's Next? says:
at: 4:10 AM said...

And I come home for an exhausting 24 hour trip to and from LA to find this wonderful mixture in my fridge just waiting to be warmed up and paired with a a toasted cheese sandwich! Thanks K! Hope you puppy sit for me again really soon.

at: 6:31 AM said...

Fabulous post. I know your grandmother's Brunswick stew and I second your culinary memory. Wish I had some in my fridge right now!!!

John-Bryan Hopkins says:
at: 7:06 AM said...


do you deliver?

Juarez Family says:
at: 9:20 AM said...

Hahaha I think if you wordled your blog today it would have the word HATE really big!!

Anger management, sister.

mmmmm chowder soup....

K. says:
at: 9:53 AM said...

juarez family: check it—"hate" doesn't play THAT big a role.

and so it goes: please don't tell him about her hot dog salad. i don't want him to have a seizure.

at: 7:36 PM said...

Well now, thanks to you, noun contractions are assailing my eyes every where I turn. The SkyMall catalog I just got advertises a "Slanket"--a blanket that has built in sleeves so your arms can be warm whilst you eat your stoup.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.