Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Martha Stewart Fail

A year ago I decided it was time to truly hone my domestic skills (i.e. lack thereof) and decided cooking was the way to begin said honing. I feel domesticity involves two foundational prongs: cooking and sewing. These two things above all others allows one to embrace domesticity like nothing else... no... not even cleaning or scrapbooking (see: Utah domesticity definitions). And since I do not have the equipment nor the time to really focus on the sewing portion (and lets be honest - the patience), I felt cooking was the best way to start. I enjoy baking; always have, but cooking to me involves more than cookies - it requires meals with more than three ingredients (see: grilled ham and cheese no longer counts (did it ever?)... alas). I have a vision of being that grandma who makes her family's heads explode with her delicate and fluffy rolls, her thick and luscious gravy, and don't forget the creamy buttery ethereal quality of her mashed potatoes. Mmmmm. Okay, I want to be MY grandma. Oh man, I could go for some mashed potatoes right now, right? Thanksgiving = best. holiday. ever.


To start the honing of my cooking aspirations I turned to THE true source of home-makery in America: Martha Stewart, pre-jailbird. And even post-jailbird I guess - what's a woman without a little spice? Eh? I mean, imagine your mother, you're sweet dear little mother, who knits doilies, quilts, cooks magnificent meals, and requested all seasons of Golden Girls on DVD for Christmas, doing time for extortion in the clinker. Martha Stewart blew America's mind in just that same way. Mamma's got a mean streak!

So Martha. Martha does a lot of creative, nigh amazing things in the realm of domestics. The woman is a household creative genius and no one - not even a judge and jury - could argue that. But let me tell YOU about Martha Stewarts Everyday Foods magazine. Fail. Fail. Fail.

I subscribed to Martha's food magazine a year ago and am saddened to report, did not rush to renew it this year. I remember first being introduced to this little foody magazine when I was living in Provo (suddenly it all becomes clear). I was grocerying with a friend of mine and she was getting ingredients as outlined in this magazine. They seemed like simple ingredients (nothing ridiculously fancy like "Algerian goat tongue." Do they even sell that here? What IS that anyway? I used to think that about fennel... yes... so exotic ;)), and simple procedures that didn't require 3 hours of prep work and another 4 of tieing, stuffing, marinating, basting, and burying in the earth for 2 days until the flesh softens and the seeds sprout. Strait-forward, simple, and doable. Sign me up!

And sign me up I did. Since then, everything I've ever attempted to cook out of that facade of a cooking magazine has sorely failed. I tried cupcakes... dry... I tried basic chocolate chip cookies... flat and crispy (and note I can make some really awesome chocolate chip cookies (kudos Sister C) thus at this point I'm beginning not to question MY ability, but the magazine's quality), and some monkey bread... hard and lifeless (and who wants lifeless Monkey bread? Nobody). At this point I'm thinking... alright, maybe just her baking recipe's are crap. I need to venture into the 'real food' genre to truly get a sense of my abilities vs. this magazines quality. I thus made some Mac and Cheese as described in the magazine - runny and and bland... then attempted some lemony chicken concoction.. and again... bland... and FINALLY, this Sunday, put together a lovely looking pasta,shrimp, and spinach salad that looked too easy for even the most inept cook to screw up... completely flavorless. I know what you're thinking - well - did you attempt to cook things that WEREN'T from this magazine to see if you fail at those too. Let me tell you my friends - I did. I did. I have Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa) cookbooks, some excellent recipes handed down from a Bishop's wife, and a few of Giada's Everyday Pasta recipes and they've ALL worked out spectacularly. Well, perhaps not spectacularly - but they didn't fail. That, I can assure you.

The only conclusion, as you can see by my extensive experiments... using EVERY OTHER recipe I've ever attempted as the control, Martha Stewart's Everyday Foods magazine is a total failure... for me. Granted, perhaps I just don't have that extra Martha touch so necessary to the success of her lofty empire. I mean if everyone had the Martha touch - who would be in awe of her unique abilities? It would literally take a criminal mind (ba dum chi!) to figure out the inner workings of what could possibly make these recipes workable, eatable, cookable! Is that so much to ask of a Food magazine? I don't think so. It's fraud I tell you. Book'er Dano!


heidikins said...

Yeaaaaah, I think Ms. Martha is a little creepy. Fail.


Nasher said...

I hear Alton Brown is pretty good as well. I haven't ever actually cooked any of his recipes but his show Good Eats is fantastic.