Martha Stewart And Me


I love dessert.  No, not the regular lump of vanilla ice cream trying to drown a soggy slice of apple pie.  The desserts I love are works of art that take half a day to create and are just too elegant to eat.  The problem is I’m no damn good at them.

Let me explain.

First of all, I can cook.  Well, not really.  I can put the fire to various food items; you can eat them, and they taste alright, but….  Basically, I’m a little bit more than a frozen food microwave chef, but quite a bit less than someone who’s completely competent with pots and pans.  Therefore, unless I really have to, I restrict my culinary adventures to KFC – except dessert.  I love dessert.

Secondly, like most people who don’t have to do it every day, I look at gorgeous food creations and think, “How hard can it be?”

And thirdly, I’m a Never Say Die type of guy.  Show me a lost cause, and I’m in there like a dirty shirt.

So what happens is, Martha Stewart shows up on YouTube with a Banana Cream/ Hazelnut Torte on a field of Bavarian Chocolate with Mint Sprigs, Almond Slivers and Caramel Swirls, and I say to myself, “Hell, yeah! I can do that.”  But I can’t.  And we all know why.  Cuz Martha has a fleet of Bavarian elves who bake the torte, sliver the almonds, swirl the caramel and bring their own chocolate.  All I’ve got is a naïve belief that Ms. Stewart is America’s Sweetheart and not an evil crone who hates me.  Three hours later, I’m knee deep in a nine obscenity barroom brawl.  There’s a glob of brown something in the oven, defying Newton’s 3rd Law of Thermodynamics, a half a bag of spilled almonds under the fridge and a boiling pot of – “OMG! Caramel isn’t supposed to do that!” — on the stove.  (And I haven’t even discovered I bought the wrong kind of chocolate — yet.)  Time to surrender, slide this mess into the trash, and swear by all that’s holy to never ….  But then it happens again.  Martha’s made a Gingerbread Stonehenge with jelly bean Druids and a lemon zest, orange icing sun.  Gingerbread’s easy — right?  WRONG!

Over the years, I’ve made any number of after-dinner disasters, including a butterscotch butterfly that melted back into her chrysalis, a flock of chocolate birds that flew in all directions when the balloon exploded, and a strange frozen layered thing that slid into the sink when I wasn’t looking.  I’ve carved pears, sectioned oranges and made watermelon stars – and none of them looked anything like the picture.  I’ve combined, folded, melted, simmered and boiled.  I’ve cut diagonally, rolled vertically, pinched, poked and prodded with a fork.  I’ve sliced and I’ve iced.  And all to no avail — because nothing I’ve ever done has turned out the way it does in Martha’s videos.

But don’t cry for me.  Don’t weep for my defeats.  I may be beaten and bent, but I’m not broken.  I’m still standing.

“Do you hear me, Martha Stewart?  I’m still standing.  I’m still here.  And as God is my witness, one of these days, one of these days, my stuff is going to look like yours.  That’s right, Martha Stewart!  I’m coming for you.  I’m coming for you, and I’m bringing Hell with me!  You don’t scare me with your perky professionalism.  I’ll take you and four more like ya.  And Snoop Dog, too, if he wants a piece.  So get ready, Martha Stewart: I’m coming for you because I love dessert, and not you or any of your perfect videos are ever – ever — going to take that away from me.”

A Few Myths About Food

food myths

People believe all kinds of stupid crap, stuff that doesn’t really make any sense but somehow gets passed around as absolute truth.  Mostly these things are harmless, like poinsettias are poison or bananas grow on trees, but sometimes they get a lot more traction than that and start causing trouble.  For example, here are a few “facts” that don’t have a lick of evidence to support them, but people believe they are the key to a healthy life.

You should drink 8 glasses of water every day.  There is absolutely no evidence to support this myth.  Think about it!  Why eight?  How big are the glasses?  Can you drink them all in the morning and take the rest of the day off?  What happens if you drink nine?  Do you OD and start swimming upstream?

Smoothies are healthy.  Not necessarily.  If you make your own, you’ve got a fighting chance (depending on how much chocolate sauce you use) but if you buy them commercially, you’re getting sugar – lots of sugar.  That’s why they taste so good.

Salt is bad for you.  Wrong!  Banishing salt from your diet can hurt you just as much as eating too much.  Here’s the deal: use your head!  There’s no need to be a sodium evangelist, but you shouldn’t flash the salt shaker around like maracas, either.

Low-Fat is a healthy alternative.  If you eat like Henry VIII, maybe, but regular people need a certain amount of fat in their diet.  The other thing to remember is stuff that’s labelled Low-Fat is only low-fat by comparison.  Compared to what, you ask?  Good question!

You need to walk 10,000 steps a day.  Once again, there is no evidence to support this.  However, unlike most modern myths, this one actually has an origin.  One of the slogans to promote fitness before the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo was Manpo-kei which, literally translated, means 10,000 steps.  Somehow, it got morphed into a fitness fact.

Energy drinks are healthy.  Not even close.  Read the label/do the math. They’re loaded with enough sugar to qualify them as junk food.  Plus, there have to be some serious chemicals in there to turn the liquid you’re drinking bright blue, or neon green.

And finally:

Organic food is chemical free.  No it isn’t.  First of all, on our planet, the wind blows, and very few organic farms are hermetically sealed.  Secondly, there are all kinds of chemicals that are allowed in “certified organic” food; it’s just that nobody mentions them.  And finally, “organic” is a term that has a slippery definition, so slapping it on a label doesn’t mean much.

Diets Don’t Work


Diets don’t work.  Yeah, I said it.  Okay, I’ll admit that in some parts of the world, diets do work, but they’re mostly involuntary.  (Yeah, I said that, too.)  Here’s the deal.  Western society is awash in food, and for the last 50 years, we’ve been fighting a tremendous battle to keep it out of our mouths – and — we’re losing.  The problem is, like most contemporary situations, we want a quick fix, and we’re willing to lie to ourselves (and others) to get it.  So, when we say, “I’m going to change my life, burn my fat clothes, join a gym and start eating healthy from now on,” what we actually mean is, “God, I hope if I stop eating all the stuff I really like for a while and take the stairs at work, I’m going to be able to fit into my underwear again.”  Folks, that’s not the way to do it – because:

Food is everywhere. – Walk down any High Street in Europe or drive down any highway in North America, and you’re going to find food.  Fast food, slow food, food you can eat right now, food you can save for later, food from a farmer, food from a factory, food from a chemistry set, and even food that started life as something completely different.  My point is it’s easier to avoid heroin if you’re an addict than it is to avoid food if you’re on a diet.  Spend a day out in the big, wide world and you’ll come home so pissed off about all the stuff you CAN’T have, you’ll eat the sofa.

Our culture is built on food. – You have to look far and wide to find any social interaction that doesn’t involve food — breakfast meetings, dinner parties, potluck, barbeque, cake and coffee, tea and biscuits and it goes on and on and on.  Even our mating rituals revolve around food.  Want to get to know somebody?  Go out to lunch.  Want to really get to know somebody?  Go out to dinner.  Want to get laid, married or engaged?  Go out to an expensive dinner.  Nobody ever says, “Hey, I think you’re an interesting person.  Let’s get together and drink some water.”

Snacks – The harsh reality is snacks are the food we eat in between the time we’ve finished eating (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the time we start eating again.  Nobody west of the Vistula is actually hungry.  It’s just a contemporary twitch — and good luck trying to break that habit.

Most people are like me.  — I have a car, a microwave, a dishwasher, a Roomba, a thing that cuts up my vegetables and two guys who show up every once in a while to work in the garden.  I also have a television, a computer and a flat screen thingy that reads to me.  On ordinary days, I don’t get enough exercise to fill a mouse’s ear: on lazy days, I could be in a coma.  In the 21st century, we simply don’t move enough.  So it really doesn’t matter how many calories you’re not eating; if you work at a desk all day and spend your evenings cultivating your ass groove in front of a TV or computer – you’re pretty much screwed.

So, what’s the solution?

The Mediterranean was the first Eden, and by all accounts, Adam and Eve were pretty hot property owners, so it makes sense to eat the way the Mediterraneans do.  What’s not to like?  Fish, chicken, and the occasional cow, 50 kinds of pasta, 100 different sauces, who knows how many cheeses, olives, avocados, enough garlic to scare your friends, bread that doesn’t taste like sawdust, all the salad, fruit and veg you can get your mitts on, red wine, white wine and — at the end of it all — coffee and tiramisu.

No fuss!  No muss!  And it beats the hell out of kale and quinoa on a cracker!