I have a confession to make.
...I'm a Food Network masochist.
I've made it through most of my life without tuning in to the Channel of Temptation, mostly because I'm a decent cook who can improvise with what we have on hand. Not to mention I'm a huge fan of the Cook This, Not That! cook books, and I never really had a reason to venture outside of the norm.
But then I had my baby and I did the whole "stay-at-home-with-a-colicky-ish-infant" thing, and I found that if I watched one more minute of CNN I was going to start barking like Wolf Blitzer. I needed something that wasn't violent, obnoxious, overly flashy, or commercial heavy. (Side note: do you have any idea how difficult that is to find between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM?!) So, whilst channel surfing during my pumpkin's nap time, I stumbled upon the Food Network. I thought "Huh...this could work. *click* 'The Pioneer Woman'? Sounds interesting."
And that's where it all began.
It started with a stick of butter. It always starts with a stick of butter. Then she threw in onions and garlic and red bell peppers that she cut up, 1-2-3, in no time flat. And then came the wine. She made a joke about cooking with the wine and saving a glass for yourself to drink...this woman gets me!
Before you know it - POOF - welcome to the most beautiful looking pasta primavera you've ever seen in your life. Her kitchen is spotless, the food is hot and on the table, her kids are eating, and smiling, and the end credits start rolling.
This, my friends, became my own personal American dream. Let's "Pioneer Woman" this thing we call life.
Now, all in all, I have to say that her recipes are not overly difficult. In fact, her spaghetti sauce makes my Italian husband talk incessantly about canning, and her potato soup warms my tummy and soul. The problem is that this woman cooks for a family who works on a ranch. That's right - they chase cows, pigs, and horses all. day. long. So you know what doesn't affect them? COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF EVERYTHING YOU LOVE. Bring on the fat, sugar, and salt folks! They're going to chase ol' Bessy down, give her a rancher family hug, brand the poor thing, then send her on her way - meaning they'll burn off every calorie of their delicious lunch and then some. Meanwhile, the hubby and I work at desks all day. No cow chasing. Which means we can't start every meal with a stick of butter.
And this made me kind of sad.
That's alright, though! I sift through her recipes and alter ingredients a bit so we can eat a full plate and not have tears of regret streaming down our faces.
...But her house. Her house - including her kitchen, which she cooks in ALL FREAKING DAY - is spotless. "Immaculate" doesn't even come close to fully explaining the condition of her living space. I mean, honestly, I've created a drinking game for "The Pioneer Woman" where you watch the show and look for things that are out of place. For every splotch on a cupboard, every stain on a counter top, every stray floret of broccoli on the floor, slam down five shots of the nastiest back-alley vodka you can find.
Guess what? I've never had to find a shady vodka dealer and buy a fifth so I can partake in this game. Because there is never anything wrong with her kitchen. Ever.
Meanwhile, in my kitchen on spaghetti night, it looks like two bushels of tomatoes decided to fight to the death and decided to drag in a mediator - ground beef - at the very last second.
So, needless to say, this made me kind of sad, too.
"But she's on the Food Network," you reply. "She's got people to follow her around all day Cinderella-style. Of course her place is sparkling!"
You are correct, reader. My full response, however, entails me pointing a finger at her kids. Her children are the happiest children I have ever seen in my life. Meanwhile, I try to put shoes on my baby so she doesn't get frostbite, and it's like trying to subdue a wounded badger.
This woman's show makes me both love and hate everything at the same exact time.
And guess what? It doesn't matter what show you watch on the Food Network - you will always end up hating yourself. Have you ever watched Giada cook?! That woman makes cutting a chicken breast look tantalizing and seductive. There is nothing seductive about raw chicken. And her recipes? Forget it. I want to eat my food before the four-hour mark.
So, I've cut back. I only allow myself the Food Network in small, manageable doses. I'm open and honest about my problem with those that I love, and I feel that I've come a long way. I have relapses - like that one awkward moment where I came in to find my husband watching Ree Drummond making twice-baked potatoes by himself and I lost my freaking mind - but all in all, I'm pulling through.
...Although I may or may not be recording every episode of "The Pioneer Woman" on my DVR.