About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ina's Inspiration

I was in the audience last night to see Ina Garten in person as her Conversations with Ina road show came to town.  It was a blast as my friend and I sipped wine and listened to the warm and friendly celebrity chef chat about her career and answer questions.  I'm sorry I didn't prepare for the question part but I knew I couldn't come up with anything that only took 30 seconds for her to answer.  I would have loved to have a heart to heart with her over something complex like why she uses fennel in her chicken stock or why she prefers pears instead of cherries in her clafouti.  We could have talked for hours about the correct internal temperature of various meats.  I just know we're simpatico given the opportunity. Right?

I was first introduced to her food at a luncheon some years ago.  It was delicious and there was a new sophistication about it. I sincerely complemented the hostess on the meal and she told me her recipes had come from the Barefoot Contessa. Who?  I headed straight to the bookstore and was captivated by the photos and text. Her television series is my favorite of that genre where she instructs and shares in the setting of her lovely home.  That kitchen and lifestyle sells well.

I've been thinking about doing a video for this little blog and decided I'd pretend the cameras where rolling while I was making my grandson's birthday cake today.  It was kind of like a game I used to play with my next door neighbor when we where young; "let's pretend we in a commercial".  Could I explain what I was doing and be charming and friendly at the same time. No body's watching so why not?  Well, let me tell you, not everyone is cut out to multitask.  I seem to always make faces, bite my lower lip while chopping and  lick fingers instead of smiling.  Ina said she turned the Food Network down a number of times before agreeing to film the first 13 episodes.  She's more than just a good cook and now I have to admire her overcoming camera shyness as well.

As much as we all love and admire Julia Child, she turned up her nose and dismissed Ina as ordinary.
She didn't recognize the time had come for a new wave of cooking and timing is everything.  I have all the original French Chef series and still can't deal with Julia pounding a nail through an eel's head in preparation for bouillabaisse.  Ina Garten is among the best of the new generation of cooks to guide our palates and domestic conscience from processed mass to stylish, doable cooking for busy people who prefer to enjoy their meals with friends and family.  The  term "home cook" has replaced "home cookin" implying a more worldly fare.

If there's anything I took away from her program last night, it was respect for her intelligence and her work ethic.  Notably absent from her resume is any formal cooking education but she has an MBA and worked in the White House as a budget specialist.  Then fate took a hand and she turned to her love of cooking. She ran a highly successful specialty food store for 20 years, is the top selling cookbook author in the country and hosts a highly rated TV cooking show.   She is one smart lady who has worked her tail off and deserves all the success she has achieved.

Today, I did a version of the 3 tiered birthday cake she made on her show for a little girl.  Thanks, Ina!

Happy Birthday to my precious Whit!

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