Sunday, January 10, 2010

Martha, Martha, Martha

Lots of people think that Martha Stewart is amazing, and they would like nothing more than to be her, or at least be able to all of the snazzy and creative things that she does.

Lots of other people think that Martha Stewart is evil, or at least can't stand her.

Either way, she inspires a lot of strong feelings and opinions.

I used to be closer to the latter line of thinking than the former.  It wasn't so much that I thought she was evil as that so many of her ideas and projects struck me completely impractical.  She elevated the rank of domestic goddess to absurdity.

Then a number of years ago, when there was still the faintest semblance of television reception in my household, I had a few opportunities to watch her show.  It was about the same time that more of my reading started to be about food, and I realized that while a lot of her ideas and projects still definitely did not fit into my world in any way, a lot of what Martha is about is food because she is the domestic goddess and food is a necessary component to home making and entertaining.  After all, at a dinner party, a fabulous meal can compensate for lackluster surroundings far better than fabulous surroundings can compensate for mediocre food.  So I started paying closer attention.

She's no Julia Child, of course, but Martha has the advantage of appreciating and enjoying good food as well as being health conscious, and no matter how much I swear up and down that there are foods that I will never give up no matter how bad they might be for me, I ultimately would like to find a balance of food that is good for me (or at least not life threatening) while being the kind of delicious that stimulates the happy pleasure centers in my brain.

I bought one of her cookbooks.  I started buying the Thanksgiving issue of Martha Stewart Living.  Now -- due to, I must admit, collecting Coca Cola rewards points -- I am a subscriber to both Living and Everyday Food.  (Every once in a while, one of my favorite vices finds a way to redeem itself.)

My first issue of Everyday Food only arrived the other day, and I have not yet had time to read it, but I have received three issues of Living so far, and I have devoured every single one.

The February issue has reminded me that making my own granola should be near the top of my cooking project list.  The tempting recipes include Potato-Onion Frittata (which will amaze my mother since I used to refuse to eat onions) and Steamed Salmon with Avocado (which reminds me that I need to find out what fleur de sel is), and mushroom risotto.  I want to try her Classic White Bread recipe (most likely the cinnamon raisin variation) just to see how it stacks up against other bread recipes I have tried.

The theme of the issue is, of course, Valentine's Day, which generally doesn't do much for me, but I find myself seduced by the Cloud Cupcake.  It looks a bit deadly -- as in, even one might be too much -- and cupcakes are most definitely not my forte, but I am intrigued, curious and tempted all the same.

There is even a full page ad for Cabot cheese which has a ravioli recipe I want to try (because making my own ravioli is also on the cooking project list).

In somewhat the same vein, an article about remodeling a farmhouse has me wishing for the range (from apparently), although not necessarily the extended version shown in the photograph.

Okay, if I am honest, the whole article has me wishing for a remodeled farmhouse of my own.

As with her show, and everything Martha, there are still plenty of her ideas which are beyond me, but they are fun to read about and look at, and occasionally I find something that I can actually use.  What really keeps my interest is the recipes.  I have to admit that I love the articles about food -- whether for simple meals or extravagant entertainment -- and the photographs have me devouring the recipes on the page.

There are those who may scoff, and there are those who may disagree with her methods, but I don't care what anyone says.  The woman knows what she is talking about, and I intend to learn from her.

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