Cooking Channel vs. Food Network – Cooking Channel Wins!

7 09 2010

I’m in total foodie mode… and I’m loving it.

I visited a culinary school last week and, as I’m trying to figure out how I can get a hold of tuition money legally, what does my channel surfing lead me to but the Cooking Channel. It’s a younger, more “indie” version of the Food Network and, in my humble opinion, it blows them out of the water. There are more baking shows and more internationally themed shows – there’s even one about Vietnamese food that runs on Sunday mornings. I like Vietnamese food, so that’s a plus for me. They also run old school stuff in the afternoon – Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet There are the usual big names, Mario Batali, Nigella Lawson, and Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) among others – but the best bit, the one that seals the deal for me is that on Saturdays at 10 pm they run the Two Fat Ladies.

I used to watch this with my grandmother, on PBS I think, ages ago. It a blend of comedy and cooking that is really fun to watch. Jennifer Patterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, two plump, British matrons, drive around the English countryside on a motorcycle (one rode in a side car) and cook and laugh – at themselves, and other, and always at vegetarians. The ladies use butter and lard and cream and everything else you shouldn’t eat, their jokes get a little bawdy at times, and either one is liable to break into song or verse at any time. It’s too politically incorrect to have been made here and when it ran on Food Network a while back it was heavily edited. I only saw two episodes on the Cooking Channel, but they seemed to be the full episodes. This makes a big difference with this particular show because, unlike Rachel Ray and other popular TV chefs, these two don’t bombard you with a never-ending stream of dialogue. They talk when they have reason to, so once someone starts clipping away dialogue, it can get pretty sparse. Even if the heavy, very traditional recipes laden with high calorie ingredients sound out-of-place and unsuited for our super high paced lives, the show’s emphasis on local, fresh, natural ingredients will sound very current.

So far, I’m enjoying the Cooking Channel and it’s fresher style and approach to creating an entire lineup dedicated solely to food. It definitely seems geared to a different crowd than Food Network. Maybe its younger people, maybe it’s more of a difference in tastes, but whatever the difference, I’d definitely suggest checking it out.

On a more personal, but still very “foodie” note, I have another large baking project for my family. My uncle’s turning fifty and I’ve been asked to make the cupcakes. I’m throwing in port wine taralli for added deliciousness. A portion of both cupcakes and taralli will be gluten-free. There will be pictures, but I honestly don’t know when they’ll show up. They’ll just surprise you one day.

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Family History On a Plate

8 08 2010

Last November my cousin got married and I made her wedding cake, which was actually a collection of gluten-free red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing. This recipe like so many others is on a small card stuffed in a cookbook in my mother’s kitchen. The chances of it getting lost are high and there are plenty of other recipes that my mother and I love and use often that are old, raggedy looking, and in similar random locations just waiting to be misplaced or used as scrap paper by my father who wouldn’t recognize a recipe if it jumped up and did a tap dance on the counter. There are some fragile ones that are decades old and written in my grandmother’s handwriting. She passed away a few years ago and I would be very upset if these old, brittle bits of yesteryear finally crumbled while in my possession. Others are locked securely in recesses of my mother’s mind. I once searched my house for over an hour trying to find her apple pie recipe only to have her tell me that it had never been written down to begin with. We have some beautiful cookbooks that I’d rather not see spattered with oil and stuff because they got in the way when I was making something delicious and messy. In short, this situation has to change.

With this in mind, and because my unemployment gives me nothing but time, I’m copying down all of the favorites old and new and making two archives of them – one for me and one for my mother. It will make sharing them easier and I’m sure my aunts will have a few to add to our collection. This will also give me a chance to make some of my favorite foods for no reason which is always good. I’m always pulling new recipes off the internet and now they won’t end up in some corner of a drawer never to be seen again.

Essentially, I’m writing my own cookbook.