I’ve always thought that the concept behind Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee was a strange idea. It feels like a throw-back to an era when processed food was glamorous – you don’t need to roast your own chicken or make your own gravy or biscuits or even chop your own vegetables to make chicken and dumplings! Just open a couple of packages!
On the other hand, I suppose this sort of show does make cooking more accessible for those who are intimidated by glossy food magazines and too-perfect tv chefs – and that’s a step in the right direction. I’ve read in a couple of places – and now can’t recall any of them specifically – our culture now fetishizes the chef (or the eater) while at the same time abandoning cooking ourselves. This NYT article from Michael Pollan is problematic but gets the point across – as a country, we are becoming morbidly obese on processed food while drooling over ridiculously complicated foods prepared on Top Chef or disgustingly huge portions on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. And I quote: “What can possibly be the appeal of watching Guy Fieri bite, masticate and swallow all this chow?”
In this context, anything that will get the average person cooking is a step in the right direction.
I mention all of this because tonight’s dinner would qualify as semi-homemade – an entree from the freezer with a side dish from the garden. While the Tarte aux Champignons (um, fancy thin-crust mushroom tart with Emmentaler and other cheeses) from Trader Joe’s heated up in the toaster oven, I washed, chopped, boiled, and sauteed a bunch of kale with onions and smoked paprika. While the kale could’ve used more paprika and/or garlic, it made an earthy counterpoint to the rich cheeses of the tart. I enjoyed it, but it was all a bit rich for Shane. A worthwhile experiment, though, and one that somewhat vindicates the semi-homemade style of cooking. Somewhat.