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Because Sloppy Joes are *such* a culinary challenge.
January 27, 2010 5:26 AM   Subscribe

Ellie Krieger is a well-known registered dietician and author of The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life. Her bio says she was "director of nutritional services at the prestigious La Palestra Center for Preventative Medicine for several years where she worked with a team of physicians, psychologists and fitness specialists to create a multi-faceted obesity treatment program." She's also the host of "Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger" on the Food Network. With this kind of pedigree, you'd assume her recipes would be the paragon of nutritious, healthy eating, right? Wrong. posted by shiu mai baby (98 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's just wrong.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:33 AM on January 27, 2010


Noooooo! I used to watch Healthy Appetite all the time and I loved her recipes. This seems so out of left field.
posted by custardfairy at 5:33 AM on January 27, 2010


Am I missing something here? I mean, that last link goes to the Food Network Humor site. So this is actually Food Network's idea of a joke?
posted by Shohn at 5:34 AM on January 27, 2010


I have to wonder if FoodNetwork.com hasn't been hacked. If so, it's a pretty subtle bit of hackery. That, or Krieger's recipes may have been sabotaged by a disgruntled FN employee?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:38 AM on January 27, 2010


I like Ellie as much as the next food obsessed person watching food network, but using fast food? That. Can't. Be. Right.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:39 AM on January 27, 2010


Shohn: it's just a blog called Food Network Humor, dedicated to making fun of the channel. The footer says it's totally unaffiliated with Food Network, though I'll admit that it's difficult to get that at first glance.
posted by Ian A.T. at 5:41 AM on January 27, 2010


I have to wonder if FoodNetwork.com hasn't been hacked.

From the first link: "At first, I thought someone hacked into the Food Network’s website and added the recipes, but sadly, they’re real. They’re also featured in this month’s issue of Food Network magazine, where they’re actually referred to as 'healthy dinners.'"
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:44 AM on January 27, 2010


Shoh: The Food Network Humor site was how I found out about the recipes. The recipes themself, however, are real and on the actual FoodNetwork.com webpage.

I really hope this is the work of a clever hacker or a ticked-off intern, but given the rise of the faux chefs like Sandra Lee -- who puts canned apple pie filling in a plate, tops it with instant oatmeal and a couple of pats of margarine and calls it "apple crumble" -- I think it might actually be legit.

I suppose one could argue that Krieger is taking something that's designed for one person to eat and turning it into a multi-person meal, but jeez, is ground beef really that expensive? These recipes are the antithesis to the foundation of good cooking: fresh ingredients simply prepared.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:44 AM on January 27, 2010


One part of me thinks its hacking, I mean she already has a healthy enough sloppy joes recipe—why make another one? Then again the photography of the Big Mac version is pretty high quality.
posted by stepheno at 5:47 AM on January 27, 2010


Oops, not the first link, the "Wrong" link.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:50 AM on January 27, 2010


A quick look around the Food Network site and Ellie Krieger's other recipes make me think these are the results of a hacker. Not only are those three recipes noticeably insane, they're also structured differently than the others. Look at the formatting. The real recipes start with an ingredients list; the "outrageous" ones don't. The real recipes' directions are in a single typeface; the "outrageous" ones use boldface to indicate ingredients.

This is a hoax.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 5:51 AM on January 27, 2010


Mrs Agogo saw this in their magazine over the weekend and we were intrigued by the idea. Not enough to actually try any of them, but intrigued. I assume that these are geared towards people that either don't care to work from scratch and are using the fast food item as a jumpstart. That and people that want a little OMG factor when they bring something to the office potluck ("Those sloppy joes are made from Big Macs! Isn't that just kooky!?!")

It reminds of those "White Castle Thanksgiving Stuffing" recipes that I kept seeing a few years ago.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:52 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


KFC and Taco Bell are both owned by Yum! which is the result of a spinoff from Pepsi.

So I guess these recipes on Food Network are a kind of Pepsi Ew.

(But seriously, I have little doubt these recipes were "suggested" by people interested in "integrating" advertising into the program.)
posted by DU at 5:55 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The part I don't get, though, is why Krieger? Why not Sandra Lee, or Melissa D'Arabian, both of whom use the angle of budget-conscious, easy food for people who don't really cook? Why use someone who has built their career on the concept of healthy food, which this swill most definitely isn't? It's completely bizarre.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:59 AM on January 27, 2010


Harvey Jerkwater: as Slack-a-gogo pointed out, these same recipes appeared in this month's Food Network magazine under Krieger's name, so the hack would have to be particularly elaborate, spanning both the website and the print edition.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:01 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Healthy dinners" seems a bit off, maybe "healthier than what you were starting with" would be more accurate. Looking at the KFC/Asian Chicken Salad recipe - she's taking one KFC two piece meal and stretching into 4 servings with the addition of cabbage and other ingredients. Not the healthiest starting point, but I'm sure it's better than just getting a few KFC meals for the family. Again, I don't quite see the point, but maybe some people need a starting point or gastronomical reference point.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:04 AM on January 27, 2010


At the very least, it's a blatant rip off of Fancy Fast Food.
posted by Vhanudux at 6:05 AM on January 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


ok. what is wrong with people? i don't know nuthin' bout the food network, & just happened to find this when i went to the site.
posted by msconduct at 6:11 AM on January 27, 2010


I wouldn't be suprised if the recipes were just put together by some staff writer and published under her byline.
posted by PenDevil at 6:18 AM on January 27, 2010


msconduct, breaded and deep fried mac 'n' cheese isn't all that novel. Midwesterners have been doing that for decades.
posted by Severian at 6:19 AM on January 27, 2010


Well, I don't know. The Sloppy Joe one uses one burger to make 4 sandwiches. The salad one doesn't mention it, but the soup also turns one burrito into four portions. If you don't mind the origin of your ingredients, they probably are healthy. Don't know if they taste good or not (though I would be bet not), but if you're addicted to Big Mac or Taco Bell, easting a Big Mac sloppy joe is probably a better alternative than eating a Big Mac.
posted by bDiddy at 6:19 AM on January 27, 2010


Also, maybe I should refresh more than every 20 minutes.
posted by bDiddy at 6:20 AM on January 27, 2010


Harvey Jerkwater: as Slack-a-gogo pointed out, these same recipes appeared in this month's Food Network magazine under Krieger's name, so the hack would have to be particularly elaborate, spanning both the website and the print edition.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

That's horrifying. I figured the... But the... It's not... It can't...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!

See, this is what I get for extending the benefit of the doubt to a major media company. Ye gods.

Let's see then. We could come up with a recipe for French Onion Soup using Burger King onion rings, a slice of grocery store white sandwich bread, and Velveeta...
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:21 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sandra Lee...

KWANZAA CAKE!

(sorry, Pavlovian response there.)
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:23 AM on January 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow. That's just disgusting. I dont think it matters if one Big Mac is used to make 10 sloppy joes. Having even one drop of that heavily processed crap completely dilutes (sorry) the message of having fresh, simple ingredients.

I don't know what was traded in this deal with the devil but the comments on her site seem to indicate that her reputation is being seriously damaged.
posted by vacapinta at 6:25 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you don't mind the origin of your ingredients, they probably are healthy.

So there's no difference between the chicken (or beef) that's been chemically freezer-life extended and pre-cooked in who-knows-what and chicken (or beef) you can buy at the store? Especially when you can buy organic or some other "cleaner" option?
posted by DU at 6:25 AM on January 27, 2010


Sandra Lee, is she still on? I was obsessed with that show, just for the moment when she finished "cooking" and her human-like eyes LIT UP as she got suddently breathless and excited about her ugly-ass "tablescapes" and super-sweet hard liquor served at apparently every meal. It was transfixing.
posted by The Whelk at 6:29 AM on January 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Or as my friend said upon watching Ms. Lee "She's dressed like someone's making fun of her."
posted by The Whelk at 6:32 AM on January 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Practically? Not really. Did a blind taste test with some friends of KFC chicken and free range stuff from our local co-op. Dropped both in the same oil, used the same batter. No actual particularly noticeable difference. Of course one was way worse in terms of environmental damage, but in terms of flavor...*shrugs* anecdotal and all that though.
posted by Peztopiary at 6:33 AM on January 27, 2010


No actual particularly noticeable difference. Of course one was way worse in terms of environmental damage, but in terms of flavor...

It is news to me that the "healthy" in "healthy eating" refers to flavor.
posted by DU at 6:37 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I only just now realized that Sandra Lee's name is not an attempt to cash in on 50's nostalgia (at least not as blatantly as I thought). The actress I'm thinking of was Sandra Dee. And probably a side-helping of Peggy Lee.
posted by DU at 6:42 AM on January 27, 2010


From a number standpoint. Sloppy joe is310 calories, 13g of fat. Big Mac is 540 calories, 29g of fat. So yes. If you don't mind the ingredients, the sloppy joe is healthier. Of course, this assumes that the numbers on the food network page are accurate.

If you got a healthier alternative to the meat, yeah that would be better for you. But if you don't care or if you are crazy about Big Macs and are jazzed to see what you can do with them, then yeah this is better for you.

Maybe that's the audience for this article? Not the people who normally opt for organic or "cleaner" meat, but the people who buy Big Macs for dinner?
posted by bDiddy at 6:44 AM on January 27, 2010


Why use someone who has built their career on the concept of healthy food...

Woah woah woah. She specifies no-salt tomato sauce for the Sloppy Joe.

I like the use of "packets" as measurements for the ketchup and mustard, too.
posted by Jorus at 6:47 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The part I don't get, though, is why Krieger? Why not Sandra Lee, or Melissa D'Arabian, both of whom use the angle of budget-conscious, easy food for people who don't really cook? Why use someone who has built their career on the concept of healthy food, which this swill most definitely isn't? It's completely bizarre.

Of course, if it's straightforward product placement, this is kind of a genius move. If you were KFC, which cook's recipes would you rather sneak your way into? And if you were a Food Network marketing person, which cook's recipes could you charge the most money to be included in?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:50 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, these have to be advertising. What a pack of tools.
posted by rusty at 6:52 AM on January 27, 2010


Sloppy joe is310 calories, 13g of fat. Big Mac is 540 calories, 29g of fat. So yes. If you don't mind the ingredients, the sloppy joe is healthier.

Yeah, but what's interesting is taking a 540 calorie burger and make 4 sloppy joes with it, totalling 1440 calories . Betcha if you did away with the big mac entirely you'd have an even healthier meal, and seriously, how hard is it to brown ground beef? Come on now.
posted by splice at 6:53 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


But would a person that buys Big Macs for dinner actually be at all motivated to turn them into ingredients and make a meal from them? It seems to me that aside from someone going for kitsch the sort of person that eats at McD's is not likely to grab a bag and whip out a pan when they get home.
posted by oddman at 7:03 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Food Network has too many awful TV chefs and too many cooking competitions aimed at the brain dead. It wasn't always this way, but they have fallen on hard times.
posted by caddis at 7:04 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Agreed, caddis. Anthony Bourdain had some particularly vicious things to say about the fallen network -- and that was back in 2007. It's sad that his criticisms hold true today. (Bourdain? Vicious? Quelle suprise!)
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:16 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I don't want to cook, or have no time to cook, I grab fast food. When I want to cook, and have time to cook, I go to the farmers market and buy fresh ingredients and then cook with them.
I cannot concieve of a situation where I would buy fast food and then cook with it. I just can't.
posted by sandraregina at 7:30 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


ok. what is wrong with people? i don't know nuthin' bout the food network, & just happened to find this when i went to the site.

What is, indeed, wrong with people who don't think deep fried mac n cheese sounds like the best thing ever.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:38 AM on January 27, 2010


Her recipes are one step away from this (only the folks at Fancy Fast Food execute it with much more humor and elegance, if that is possible).


Dao Mi Noh Chow Mein (Fancy Domino’s Pizza)

posted by timpanogos at 7:45 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


When cooking from scratch is outlawed elitist, only outlaws the elite will cook.

But for the plebeian masses re-processing their Big Macs and Taco Bell burritos, take heart: doing so probably reduces the smell of ammonia in your ground beef.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:55 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Recipes of the Damned link was a great read, PBZM. Thank you.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:59 AM on January 27, 2010


Wow, suddenly I'm not so sad I got rid of cable. Food Network will be a sad, sad place when Alton Brown wraps up his show in a year or two.
posted by sararah at 8:18 AM on January 27, 2010


Humans are too stupid to continue living. They don't even know how to feed themselves.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2010


Humans People who watch Food Network instead of actually cooking are too stupid to continue living. They don't even know how to feed themselves.
posted by rusty at 8:32 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised Cory Doctorow isn't all over this. Maybe if she glued a brass cog to it and served it on a papercraft plate.
posted by electroboy at 8:46 AM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think it's a little sad that we're not allowed to have a sense of humor about eating and food. The idea of taking fast food and using it as an ingredient in a more complicated recipe is funny, and I'm pretty sure that the editors of Food Network Magazine realized this fact when they ripped off Fancy Fast Food.
posted by muddgirl at 8:46 AM on January 27, 2010


Food Network's stubborn search for the lowest common denominator continues to sink the network to new lows.

I'm not exactly enamored with the cult of the chef that has been so strong over the past decade or two. It's created a situation where people are willing to pay a massive price premium to eat at a restaurant operated by a celebrity chef who chances are isn't going to be in residence on the night you go eat there.

However the shift in focus from celebrity chef to personalities that can cook (arguably) and throw in some home-grown folksiness has driven the Food Network into the ground. Yes restaurant style preparations with an insane amount of base ingredients are not accessible to the average cook but there is absolute no reason why cooking needs to be dumbed down to the Rachel Ray level.

If food network took the good parts of past cooking shows, such as how Julia Child taught people that classical french cooking is not something confined to Michelin star restaurants but can actually be accomplished (with modification) in the home, then I think they would have a good product. Spruce it up some, improve production values, give the show to a beautiful young chef with a light french accent (sex sells - witness the success of Nigella and Giada) and an updated Julia Child would actually work.

Further I think a show that illustrates how you can cook vegetarian or vegan or gluten free (insert other allergies) dishes that actually taste good would also be a worthwhile if niche market.

Adding more shows that involve recycling premade ingredients (Ray and Sandra Lee already own this marketspace) or yet more butter filled recipes (Paula Dean is enough) is not a good long term strategy.

Oh and drop the Food Network Challenges, I know they are really really cheap to make, but I detest turning to the network and seeing the nth iteration of let's make a cake inspired by a disney character...
posted by vuron at 8:47 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


James Barber, how we miss your sense and sensibility.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:57 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a pack of tools.

I was riding the subway thinking about how to frame this (since I am at least tangentially involved with the photos and very biased), but I'm just going to wing it.

First of all, it would be helpful to read the article. The part where the subtitle says: 'You don't have to give up your drive-through faves.' This isn't about being healthy. This is about being less unhealthy. It goes on: When a fan spotted Ellie buying multiple meals at a KFC to develop this recipe, she joked, "Hey, you're the healthy one...What are you doing here? This implies that a) this isn't normal for Ellie and b) her fanbase does in fact *gasp* eat KFC from time to time and c) they are aware of how unhealthy they are, hence the whole draw of watching a dietician. This isn't the Michael Pollan crowd, so you can't judge it on those standards. Food Network knows its audience well and is very successful. Last year they expanded their amount of magazine issues while Gourmet, considered a titan of the food industry, folded. I even wrote a small post about it.

The photos look really good - they ran full page in the magazine, very graphic with nice food styling to take out the fast food elements. It is even appetizing before you read the recipe. Kate Mathis is a great photographer - she's young, talented, and is a supremely nice person. I rep the prop stylist who picked out the bowls and background colors. We work with Food Network magazine a fair amount, and they're all really great people who work hard. Finally, we did a cookbook with Ellie and unlike a lot of authors she spent most of the time on set, very hands on to help the team get great shots. Most of the talent either doesn't even shot up, or just makes things more difficult. She is that rare combination of talent, ambition, and humility.

Finally, and I've said this before on posts like this, Fancy Fast Food is ridiculous. Of course a real hamburger looks nothing like an ad. On one hand you have a team of 15-20 people with a budget in the upper tens of thousands of dollars creating the perfect burger. And yes, they have 100 bags of buns and go through them all to find The One. And then they use tweezers to put sesame seeds on in just the right place. And then they retouch, and so on and so forth until the picture is no longer just a burger, but the apotheosis of burgers. The idealized vision of a burger if Buddha himself had hungrily reached into the heart of the sun and plucked out a warm and delicious burger more improbable than the universe itself. On the other hand you have a cold and soggy piece of junk that a restaurant makes by spending the least amount of money and effort, in order to increase their margins. Shave a cent off the production cost of one burger and you're talking serious money.

So sure, it is crazy that someone would take fast food and try to turn it into a healthy meal. But this is Food Network. In that same issue Con Poulos (hands down one of the most talented food photographers out there) shot a story about making cupcakes that taste just like brand name candy. I have to give them credit for figuring out how to run a successful magazine in times like these. They have a target audience and stick to it. And if Ellie stopping by KFC to sign autographs and use fried chicken to make a 'healthy' meal (thereby drawing attention to just how unhealthy it really is) is what it takes to get people to think 'outside the bun,' then I'm all for it. Kind of like how people complain about the millions of people who follow Oprah's book club. At least they're reading! You don't have to eat Ellie's BK Fish Sandwich lettuce wrap to appreciate how guilty it makes Burger King fans feel. For Food Network, its actually pretty damn subversive.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 8:58 AM on January 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


It's created a situation where people are willing to pay a massive price premium to eat at a restaurant operated by a celebrity chef who chances are isn't going to be in residence on the night you go eat there.

My husband and I went to Burger Bar in San Francisco (conveniently located inside Macy's!) We were eating our expensive, and tasty burgers and we actually got to see Hubert Keller doing a quick walk through.

It's weird. The guy created an upscale burger place. It's good, but lots of burgers are good. And my heart beat faster when he whizzed through. "Hey! I saw him on Top Chef. Cool." And then what?

It then occured to me that he didn't personally make my burger. Well, I didn't think he would have, and frankly, that year or so I worked at Jack-in-the-Box probably prepared me to make a burger at least as good, so really. Why was I there?

Indeed. Why?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:16 AM on January 27, 2010


I have made the best cassoulets from Chipotle burritos and some KFC. Hoo wee mama.
posted by everichon at 9:18 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the answer to the conundrum posed by Fast Food Fodder, aka Ellie Krieger's McNutrition, lies in Food Network programs like "Worst Cook in America," a reality bites competition I wandered across this week (sararah, I need to give up cable). I could not believe that real people could be such bad cooks for themselves if they had even a modicum of interest in their own palate or fuck that, their own physical & mental well being.

Given the premise and realization of that show (and moderately intrigued I went back & viewed the first two episodes on demand--I'll repeat, I really need to give up cable), I cannot be shocked that FN would publish these weird mashups of fast-food & fresh veggies. For the people on "Worst Cook" every one of these recipes is a vast improvement over their baseline.

The show may be available on the internets--I mean, i guess it is, I'm still in technology slumberland as far as how to access my favorite programming without cable and Food Network other than an occasional Iron Chef is not in my field of vision--so if anyone doubts that the mission of of Food Network is to pander to the gastronomically lobotomized among us. The people on the show are not de facto idiots, other than perhaps the celebrity chefs, neither of whom are particularly good teachers or mentors if the 3 episodes I've now seen are any indication (Anne Burrell & Beau MacMillan). There's an attorney, an operations manager, a grants administrator, an IT director and a website copy editor (ok, those last two may be de facto idiots). But they can tell you better than I can--if I did this right, this is the audition tape of one of the contestants--a mother of two children & full time home maker who cannot cook, but can buy at Mickey D's. If I did it wrong, it still should link to teh page with the auditions for the show. These people are stunningly inept.

I learned to cook at age 10, because my dad was one of those people that could have made it to this show: he had two culinary specialties--he could make beans & franks and he could make franks & beans. Since my mom was either in traction or undergoing operations my entire 10th and 11th years, I learned to cook out of self-defense.

Bottom line--many, many people (not any of you, of course) are complete morons in the kitchen, and would welcome a recipe that allows them to buy a Big Mac & spread it out over 4 people, because it equals less bad in their minds.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:20 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


ok. what is wrong with people?

Paula Deen will deep fry anything.
posted by contrariwise at 9:24 AM on January 27, 2010


I miss when Food Network Challenge followed real cooking competitions, like cowboy cookoffs and burger competitions and such. Now it's just a bunch of people who want to be the next "Ace of Cakes" guy making ugly fondant monstrosities.
posted by JoanArkham at 9:25 AM on January 27, 2010


I don't really understand why people are losing their shit over this. It's nothing I'd choose to eat myself, but what exactly is offensive about it (other than the fact that a dietician has been reduced to hawking fast food)? It's food. Most of us hit up a takeout joint every so often--is it worse to add fresh ingredients? The KFC recipe in particular looked a lot like something my mom would do with the cold roasted chickens she buys at the supermarket, and I never realized that was a crime against gastronomy.

People's buttons get pushed by weird things sometimes. If you are shocked and appalled by the low standards of the Food Network, I respectfully submit that you should get out more.
posted by Epenthesis at 9:25 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


that year or so I worked at Jack-in-the-Box probably prepared me to make a burger at least as good

I'm gonna say probably not, unless there's something going on at Jack In The Box I'm not aware of.
posted by sanko at 9:28 AM on January 27, 2010


I have to admit I'd probably be willing to eat a burger at Keller's Burger Bar. Paying $16 for a Kobe Burger that almost certainly doesn't have meat by-products is not completely redunkulous further in comparison to some of the other options at the Mandalay Bay. Even if I was willing to eat Foie Gras, I don't think I would shell out the $60 for the Rossini Burger though.

You know I'd probably even be willing to run up a credit card bill to go to El Bulli in Spain or Masa in NYC with the understanding that I really wasn't getting $300-500 worth of food but was paying for the experience of eating at an elite restaurant. But ultimately I'd be paying for a Veblen good.
posted by vuron at 9:50 AM on January 27, 2010


Epenthis, I can't speak for everyone, I only know what bugs me about it is this: these recipes are just one more indication that Food Network thinks the very, very worst of its viewers. The buffoonish executives who thought it would be a splendid idea to dump the contents of a fast food burrito into chicken stock and call it tortilla soup, and who did so under the laughable veneer of it being "less bad" for you than eating the whole damned burrito in its original state, fucking hate their audience, and it saddens me greatly because being better than this is not hard, it's not unattainable, and it's definitely not an elitist concept. Their disdain for people is palpable. This idea that mediocrity is a-ok bugs the shit out of me, and in the last few years the Food Network has all but made mediocrity their guiding principle to everything, when they should be showing people how it is very, very possible to make healthy food within your time and monetary budget constraints.

Food is important. Good food is vital. No, there's nothing wrong with wanting a drive-thru burger from time to time, but a huge swath of this country assumes that that's their only option, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Why can't Food Network step up and say, you know what? Give up the bucket and let us show you how to cook for your family of four using fresh, inexpensive ingredients that are readily available in even the most limited grocery stores.

Every single day there is a new study about how we America is the fattest nation, the obesity epidemic, blah, blah, blah. Food Network has the perfect opportunity to step into the fray and offer people an accessible way out of the madness, but instead they're going the path of least resistance, and it's pathetic -- especially since they haven't always been like this.

I know I already linked to the Bourdain rant above, but it's what he had to say about Rachael Ray that really echoes what I'm trying to get across here:
Complain all you want. It’s like railing against the pounding surf. She only grows stronger and more powerful. Her ear-shattering tones louder and louder. We KNOW she can’t cook. She shrewdly tells us so. So…what is she selling us? Really? She’s selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that mediocrity is quite enough. She’s a friendly, familiar face who appears regularly on our screens to tell us that “Even your dumb, lazy ass can cook this!” Wallowing in your own crapulence on your Cheeto-littered couch you watch her and think, “Hell…I could do that. I ain’t gonna…but I could–if I wanted! Now where’s my damn jug a Diet Pepsi?” Where the saintly Julia Child sought to raise expectations, to enlighten us, make us better–teach us–and in fact, did, Rachael uses her strange and terrible powers to narcotize her public with her hypnotic mantra of Yummo and Evoo and Sammys. “You’re doing just fine. You don’t even have to chop an onion–you can buy it already chopped. Aspire to nothing…Just sit there. Have another Triscuit…Sleep….sleep….”
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:54 AM on January 27, 2010 [12 favorites]



Paula Deen will deep fry anything.


At least she takes a stand. That's a culinary voice, there. She's saying something, and it's not one more lecture about how to sear a steak or make guacamole. "Eat until you die!!!!" At least she takes a stand.

I love cooking shows and I miss Mario, though when I first watched him I hated him for being such a pedant, and then I took a hard look at the shows on either side of him and saw how that happened.

I'm also really sad about Gourmet, I went into the bookstore the other day and thought 'huh, think I'll pick up this month's Gourmet' and realized -- no more.

I have years' worth of cooking magazines ordered by month, and I like cruising through the January magazines in January, etc. It's a very nerdly pursuit. Thinking about food and planning food is one of my favorite things. I find Sandra Lee's entire existence ineffably sad. Why bother eating at all? It's like they're looking for a cure for food.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:56 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I could not believe that real people could be such bad cooks for themselves if they had even a modicum of interest in their own palate or fuck that, their own physical & mental well being.

Believe it, because I'm one of them. Not because I don't care about food or about myself, but because I have no "ear" for cooking and it brings me no joy to do so.

I also have the experience of cooking for my family at a young-ish age due to my mother's illness, so it's not like I don't know the basics. (Although we were kind of macrobiotic at the time, so I never really got the hang of cooking meat. I still avoid it when I can because I suck at cooking meat and always end up overcooking it.) Now that I'm all grown up and live alone...well, I think I just got burned out on cooking. Plus, I now have a deep loathing of brown rice and certain other whole grains. Cooking is a huge hassle for me. It's not a particularly enjoyable experience, and by the time I get finished with making even the simplest things I'm sometimes too tired of it to want to eat any of it. The crock pot has been my one salvation, because I can make up a big batch of stuff and freeze half of it and still have tons of leftovers. But that's really only good for the winter months.

I wish I was the kind of person who could just open up the fridge and pantry and spice rack and throw something together awesome. I've joined a CSA to try to force myself to make use of plenty of fresh veggies, but it's still an uphill battle to make myself cook something with them. And I still rely on recipes - which I'll alter occasionally. So I have a sympathy for people who feel totally lost in a kitchen. I can do the basics, but I don't seem to have natural "feel" for it. I really wish I did, because I know it's better for me.

So I can't cook, and I also can't keep herbs alive, even though I try every spring. When the apocalypse comes, I'll be the first to be thrown to the zombies.
posted by Salieri at 10:00 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


When the apocalypse comes, I'll be the first to be thrown to the zombies.

If it's any consolation, your post zombification life will be a neverending smorgasbord of ready-to-eat meals.
posted by electroboy at 10:04 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


The photos look really good

?!?

Did you really just try to justify these insane recepies by saying "We took some really nice pictures of them"?

I don't really understand why people are losing their shit over this..The KFC recipe in particular looked a lot like something my mom would do with the cold roasted chickens she buys at the supermarket...

That's exactly it. You could make the same recipe healthier, tastier, and cheaper with chicken from the supermarket.
posted by straight at 10:13 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also have the experience of cooking for my family at a young-ish age due to my mother's illness,

Just to throw a little Freud on your granola, that isn't really the sort of circumstance that leads to a lifelong love of cooking.

Although my parents cook together and have the world's most tension-filled Thanksgiving dinner prep routine, so maybe I shouldn't like it either. I figured out their problem though and resolved it for myself at least--I never start cooking until pretty much everything is chopped and laid out, even herbs. It's cut down on frantic searches and babbling about 'why can't we keep the freaking butter in one place' and the sudden panicky chopping of celery.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:16 AM on January 27, 2010


I think it's a little sad that we're not allowed to have a sense of humor about eating and food. The idea of taking fast food and using it as an ingredient in a more complicated recipe is funny, and I'm pretty sure that the editors of Food Network Magazine realized this fact when they ripped off Fancy Fast Food.

Yeah, I think so, too. It's kind of cool to deconstruct a Big Mac into something else. Does cooking have to be only for health? I agree that the majority should be, but somewhere in there should be some enjoyment, not only of the actual eating, but also in the art of cooking. But, what do I know? I use canned tomatoes.
posted by bluefly at 10:17 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Food Network thinks the very, very worst of its viewers.

That could be not be further from the truth. They run a business, and as such their goal is to bring in more viewers. They aim for the middle 80% of the market in order to survive.

Your comment that generalizes about a 'huge swath of the country' is itself elitist. Bourdain can bitch all he wants about Rachael Ray but honestly - he is selling the exact same thing. He is a brand, and he sells himself. Take another look at his self-hating rant:

Complain all you want. It’s like railing against the pounding surf. He only grows stronger and more powerful. His ear-shattering tones louder and louder. We KNOW he can’t cook. He shrewdly tells us so. So…what is he selling us? Really? He’s selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that elitism is quite enough. He’s a crass, familiar face who appears regularly on our screens to tell us that “Even your dumb, lazy ass can be a foodie!” Wallowing in your own crapulence on your Cheeto-littered couch you watch him and think, “Hell…I could do that. I ain’t gonna…but I could–if I wanted! Now where’s my damn jug a Diet Pepsi?” Where the saintly Julia Child sought to raise expectations, to enlighten us, make us better–teach us–and in fact, did, Anthony uses his strange and terrible powers to narcotize his public with his hypnotic mantra of drinking smoking and expletives. “You’re doing just fine. You don’t even have to chop an onion–you can buy it already chopped. Aspire to nothing…Just sit there. Have another sheep testicle…Bitch….bitch….”
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:22 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look I think Rachel Ray is grating and the FN really shouldn't be getting rid of all their actual chefs, but let me tell you what they did for me. I was a bad cook. I didn't enjoy it, I had terrible intuition about it, I used lots of boxed things. The only thing I had going for me was that I like to eat.

And then I started watching the Food Network including 30-Minute Meals. And what watching shows about food and yes even shows that didn't have great food is that it made cooking accessible to me. As I watched, I realized that cooking didn't have to be complicated or time-consuming and what I made based on those recipes was far better than what I had been making myself.

Once I got into the kitchen and my understanding of food and cooking became more complex, my cooking evolved into something more complex. And I still love reading about cooking and watching shows about food (although I have definitely branched out from the FN). Now I bake and make pate a choux and make homemade stock and have a digital scale. I've learned about sustainable farming and cooking and I go to farmer's markets. But I don't know if I would have ever gotten here without that introduction I got from the Food Network and Rachel Ray.

So maybe we can chill out and be a little less scornful of what people eat or are willing to cook--we all have to start somewhere.
posted by Kimberly at 10:23 AM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Along the same lines as Kimberly, I have to say that 30-Minute Meals was the gateway drug that took me from 'box food' -- Helpers, mixes & the like -- to actually having the confidence to whip something up without a recipe.

Yes, Rachel Ray is cloying and takes shortcuts but that whole "Even your dumb, lazy ass can cook" thing actually does help people take their first baby steps into the kitchen.
posted by Jugwine at 10:44 AM on January 27, 2010


> Food Network thinks the very, very worst of its viewers.

That could be not be further from the truth. They run a business, and as such their goal is to bring in more viewers. They aim for the middle 80% of the market in order to survive.


And I submit that these things are not mutually exclusive. It's entirely possible to hate the people you're all too happy to exploit.

Your comment that generalizes about a 'huge swath of the country' is itself elitist.

Oh spare me. 25% of Americans eat fast food every day. Americans eat out an average of 4-5 times per week (PDF). 47.5% of the average American food dollar is spent on food prepared away from home. It's not elitist if it's a fact, hoss.

Bourdain can bitch all he wants about Rachael Ray but honestly - he is selling the exact same thing. He is a brand, and he sells himself.

He is a brand, absolutely. I've got no problem with that whatsoever. And there's nothing wrong with selling yourself and your product. The thing I'm taking issue with here is that, as Kimberly's post above proves, it is possible for people who don't regard themselves as cooks to begin with to do better, be better, be healthier, when it comes to food. The shitty recipes I linked to in the original post demonstrate that The Food Network little to no interest in being better, or in helping its viewers get and stay healthy.
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:45 AM on January 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Food: Just one more thing for people to be assholes about.
posted by electroboy at 10:51 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's not elitist if it's a fact

You're assuming that people eat out because they are not as 'enlightened' as you are, enlightened enough to cook healthy meals. Cooking a healthy meal is a luxury for a lot of people because they don't have the time. Kids, job, it isn't easy. Making pate a choux and homemade stock and going to the farmer's market times time, effort, and patience to learn.

I think the recipes do take a step in the right direction - they present fast food as clearly unhealthy, and then try and make it better. You and I won't make them, but for someone who eats fast food regularly it is a step in the right direction. You have to start somewhere.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 11:00 AM on January 27, 2010


The problem with Rachel Ray, Sandra Lee and Company is that they are fundamentally presenters and not cooks.

They are presenting a recipe, probably developed by an assistant or someone writing into the show, not one that they developed themselves. They are going through the motions, generally most of the ingredients are pre-prepped, they show before and after (a necessity in a 30 minute show I know), and they are interspersing the 'cooking' with meaningless banter.

If you are lucky they might tell you a couple of substitution ingredients but they really aren't teaching you anything about cooking other than "set oven to 350 or brown at medium heat", technique is lacking, discussion of flavor profiles is lacking, the science of cooking is lacking.

In contrast a show like Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection really focuses on the core elements of cooking a dish. It's all about technique, the science of cooking and flavor profiles. It's also not particularly accessible to average home cook.

Alton Brown's show is kinda the optimal middle-ground. It's got a good mix of technique, science and flavor profile discussion but it's not totally focused on the Science! it also has a personable presenter who makes simple recipes interesting and accessible. As a result he's able to entertain as well as educate the audience.

The best cooking shows are that mix of entertainment and education. When I was growing up the Frugal Gourmet and Yan Can Cook exposed me to a different way of seeing food. Alton Brown's show does that, and even though I find the presenter annoying it seems like America's Test Kitchen does that. The problem is that these types of shows are few and far between.

Food network focused on the celeb chef in the past, and even though Flay is a total douchebag it seemed to attract viewers even though a lot of what the Celeb Chefs are doing is way too difficult for the average home cook.

Then Rachel Ray caught on and they realized that they could go with presenters instead of chefs and get better viewership. The problem is that by going after the bigger audience they are abandoning the hardcore foodie audience. Top Chef America kinda is a bone to those guys but it's also a "competition" so it gets additional viewership.

There are a ton of hours in the day, I don't see why you can't have smart engaged cooks who actually teach you about cooking as well as the perky presenter types but it seems like Food Network is firmly committed to the perky presenter style show.
posted by vuron at 11:02 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Food Network little to no interest in being better, or in helping its viewers get and stay healthy.

But, why should it? I don't have cable, so I'm basing my knowledge on watching FN when I'm on vacation, but I'm pretty sure they are selling entertainment. And what's wrong with that? The vast majority of people watching the shows are not going to actually cook those recipes, and they want to show recipes that are fun, tasty, interesting, or cool to see being made. People like Alton Brown not only for his nerdiness, but because he uses a clay flowerpot and a foil box in the sunlight to roast a chicken. I think there is a somewhat untapped market for a health channel (again, I don't have cable, there may already be one), but that's not what FN is aiming for. (When I did have cable, my favorite FN show was the Two Fat Ladies. The amount of butter they used was astounding. And where else could I see rabbit and pheasant and spotted dick being made? That was an education in itself.)


I'm not a fan of Rachel Ray, so I'm pleasantly surprised that some people here found her show a useful entry into cooking! You've altered my thinking of her, fellow posters! (Another good entry into cooking is the Everyday Food show on PBS).
posted by bluefly at 11:09 AM on January 27, 2010


You're assuming that people eat out because they are not as 'enlightened' as you are, enlightened enough to cook healthy meals. Cooking a healthy meal is a luxury for a lot of people because they don't have the time. Kids, job, it isn't easy. Making pate a choux and homemade stock and going to the farmer's market times time, effort, and patience to learn.

Oh for crying out loud, have you read anything at all that I've been saying over and over and over again in this thread?

I am not claiming some enlightened high moral ground here. I am saying that it is easy to cook healthy good food that doesn't have to include pâte à choux or homemade stock or whatever the fuck you want to use as evidence of an elitist boogeyman you're dead-set on proving here.

In an hour you can roast a chicken with garlic. Estimated cost? Around $10, and it would feed a family of four. Throw in another two bucks and you can steam some broccoli on the side in ten minutes. In a half hour you can boil some pasta and dress it with a simple tomato sauce that consists of canned tomatoes (btw, nothing at all wrong with canned tomatoes, bluefly), garlic, a couple tablespoons of oil, and some herbs. Estimated cost? Even less than that. These are just two really obvious examples, and both are way healthier than what most fast food restaurants offer.

It *is* easy to cook good food. It *can* be done within the confines of even the most modest of budgets. It *is* possible to cook for your family even though most people are overscheduled to the point of breaking. That is my point. That is what I wish The Food Network was doing for people. I honestly don't know how to make it any clearer.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:12 AM on January 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Keep in mind that you're a person that likes to cook. I like to cook too. But many people view cooking as just one more chore, like doing the laundry or cleaning the toilet.
posted by electroboy at 11:26 AM on January 27, 2010


Ignoring, of course, the time it takes to make a grocery list and do the shopping, as well as the time and space needed to ensure that food is kept fresh.

Honestly, shiu mai baby, you are starting to become incredibly insulting. I grew up in a household with one disabled parent and another parent who worked two jobs to make ends meet. We rarely had dinners full of fresh ingredients, or really any sit-down dinners at all. To continue harping on the fact that doing so IS possible, and CAN be done, implies that my parents were neglectful. To claim that Food Network didn't DO ITS PART to teach my parents how to cook is just downright illogical.
posted by muddgirl at 11:27 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Alright, infinitefloatingbrains, I'll bite.

The fundamental problem here, which has caused everyone to recoil in horror, is that these recipes are being rubberstamped with the name of a nutritionist and dietician. If this was yet more crap from Rachael Ray, nobody would bat an eye. But this is fast food, gently wrapped in a veneer of health, with every gram of unhealthy ingredients intact. Moreover these recipes are expensive and impractical and serve nobody but the corporations who have obviously paid for these product placements. Any half-decent recipe would involve less work, less cost to the consumer, and they would be better for you. I can make a sloppy joe in the time it takes you to buy a Big Mac. To suggest that people "don't have the time" to cook healthy is hilarious given the extra effort these recipes demand to go out of their way to include very specific, expensive ingredients. It's clear that the Food Network has no interest in actually teaching people how to cook or eat well, and all that matters for them is to capture viewers and sell product. Fine, they're a business. They should probably fire Ellie, then.

For Food Network, its actually pretty damn subversive.

Yeah, abandoning an attempt to educate the consumer in favour of integrating advertising for McD's and KFC. Damn subversive.


Here is my ultra-subversive "Really Sloppy Joe" recipe:

1. Saute whatever leftover cooked meat is lying around in the fridge. Or use fresh ground beef if you are feeling enlightened.
2. Add a dollop of something tomatoey. Really, anything will do. Ketchup, Ragu, leftover cold pizza toppings, whatever. Mix. Cook until hot. Add liquid if the mix is getting dry. (Water, broth, beer, wine, V8...)
3. Spice however you damn well please. I like chilies.
4. Put on whatever bread you want.
5. Eat.

Ta-da, I've made a recipe that's both healthier, easier, cheaper, tastier, and definitely more accessible than anything in your magazine. I'll assume my check is in the mail.
posted by mek at 11:32 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ignoring, of course, the time it takes to make a grocery list and do the shopping, as well as the time and space needed to ensure that food is kept fresh.

Uhh, guess what? All the recipes being discussed in the FPP require that time investment, too. Plus the additional time investment of ordering yourself some fast food. That's basically twice as much as a normal recipe: Not only do you have to go to the supermarket and get all the other shit you would normally need, you have to hit the drive-thru on the way home to get that one Big Mac or Burrito or KFC meal the recipe requires. In other words, RTFA before you start "feeling really insulted."

AskMefi is absolutely riddled with posts on how to eat healthy, cheaply, with next to no time expenditure on weekdays. Not only is it easier than you think, it saves you a ton of money on take-out and probably adds a decade to your life expectancy.
posted by mek at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Muddgirl, I'm sorry you had such a tough childhood, and I'm sure your parents did the best they could with their circumstances. But you're drawing your own conclusions from my posts, and why you've elected to personalize the opinions of one stranger on the internet as some kind of judgment of your own parents is downright mystifying.

Eating is one of the most basic things we do. Food is an integral part of our culture. Why is it so outlandish, then, to wish that an organization that calls itself The Food Network would aim higher than sloppy joes made from a Big Mac, especially when that recipe is being pimped by a nutrition expert, and especially when you could make the same thing for less money and have it be healthier?
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:41 AM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fast Food, Take-Out and Restaurants all have their place.

Even though I don't eat fast food much at all anymore, I do pick up to-go food and eat at restaurant relatively often.

That being said, shopping for ingredients and cooking up a meal is not a ridiculous time commitment.

Unless you are eating 3 meals a day from fast food restaurants (yes some people do) you are going to the market at least occasionally so chances are you can actually pick up some food in addition to toilet paper and beer.

Cooking at home gives you control over ingredient quality (most fast food is remarkably low quality food), seasoning (most fast food has too much salt and not enough other spices), and portions (haha do I even need to justify this). In addition your average cost per person is significant reduced.

Fast food is convenient, it's easy, and does offer some alternatives (I don't cook separate meals for multiple family members very often) but I know it's unhealthy for me and will likely reduce my life expectancy.

As such I try to cook a good amount. However I generally don't have time for elaborate meals and preparations. If the combined prep and cook time is much above an hour (with prep hopefully 10-15 minutes) it's not something I can typically do on a weeknight.

The problem I see with Ray is not so much that she aims for 30-minute meals (that's an admirable goal) it's that she really doesn't do that much with those 30 minutes. In contrast you can watch a cooking show like Top Chef and a chef can do sooo much in a 30 minute quick challenge. Granted they often have considerable experience and above average ingredients but restaurant quality food shouldn't be impossible for a home chef to simulate.

I can learn more from a 3-minute segment of the F word than an entire episode of Rachel Ray. If my time is precious I'd rather spend it learning good techniques and recipes than listen to a presenter mangle yet another 30 minute meal.
posted by vuron at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


No plate of beans recipe?
posted by chairface at 12:08 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any half-decent recipe would involve less work, less cost to the consumer, and they would be better for you.

As a recipes, they're extremely unwieldy and require ingredients that aren't just sitting in the cupboard. The Hawaiian fish lettuce wraps call for: tartar sauce, Asian chili sauce, Canadian bacon, pineapple, scallions, Bibb lettuce leaves, and sesame seeds. I doubt anyone would make them, especially with an actual BK fish sandwich, that's just gross. As a concept - fast food is bad and you should use lettuce instead of bread and one sandwich has enough calories for a 4-person meal - they serve a purpose. But I'm definitely not defending the recipes.

Ellie was given an assignment and she worked with what she had. She emphasized that fast food is unhealthy by presenting it in an interesting way. It isn't integrated advertising. Ellie's quotes are extremely denunciatory of all the original items, ie 'I almost fell off my chair when I saw that the original burrito had 1610 mg of sodium.' The thing is - all ingredients are unhealthy when consumed in excess. She is a dietician, and the article only reinforced that.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 12:14 PM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am saying that it is easy to cook healthy good food that doesn't have to include pâte à choux or homemade stock or whatever the fuck you want to use as evidence of an elitist boogeyman you're dead-set on proving here.

Yeah, and I'm sympathetic to some of your points here, but it seems a little inconsistent to talk about fast, healthy cooking like sauteing canned tomatoes and garlic in olive oil and putting it on pasta, and then slam Rachael Ray because she's not more like Julia Child. That kind of meal seems much more Rachael Ray than Julia Child (though I have to admit I've only seen a couple of Ray's shows, while on airplanes). I've personally found that Child's recipes are generally a multi-hour time commitment.

I think there is a legitimate criticism to be made against Rachael Ray, especially by a professional chef noting that she's not that great a cook, but if the claim is that the Food Network should be showing even very busy, financially strapped people that they can cook a healthy dinner, the move away from chefs and toward people like Giada or Rachael Ray is, frankly, a move in the right direction. (Sandra Lee, though: *shivers*.)

Of course, I am nowhere near familiar with Rachael Ray's whole oeuvre, but on the episode I remember seeing, if I recall correctly, she was roasting broccoli and sauteeing some steak and making a quick pan sauce afterward. Sounds fine to me.
posted by palliser at 12:22 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


IFB: So these recipes aren't for cooking? That's an interesting position to take.

I shouldn't have railed so hard against Rachael Ray though, it's Sandra Lee who is the guilty party here.
posted by mek at 12:27 PM on January 27, 2010


Muddgirl, I'm sorry you had such a tough childhood

My point is, it wasn't a tough childhood. It was a normal, regular, every-day childhood. A childhood where my parents made executive decisions about what was and wasn't important, and prioritized the activities that they could accomplish and activities that they wanted to accomplish. Cooking wasn't one of those activities, and I didn't and don't have a problem with that.

Why is it so outlandish, then, to wish that an organization that calls itself The Food Network would aim higher than sloppy joes made from a Big Mac, especially when that recipe is being pimped by a nutrition expert, and especially when you could make the same thing for less money and have it be healthier?

Because you're assuming that a Big Mac isn't food. And I can guarantee that it is. Food Network sells food. Not healthy food. Not unhealthy food. Just food. The dietician was having a little fun with stereotypes about different kinds of food. I appreciated the humor in the article. Many other people did, too.
posted by muddgirl at 12:39 PM on January 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, obesity crises!
posted by mek at 12:59 PM on January 27, 2010


My point is, it wasn't a tough childhood. It was a normal, regular, every-day childhood. A childhood where my parents made executive decisions about what was and wasn't important, and prioritized the activities that they could accomplish and activities that they wanted to accomplish. Cooking wasn't one of those activities, and I didn't and don't have a problem with that.

Your complaint was that shu mai baby's "continued harping on the fact that doing so IS possible, and CAN be done, implies that my parents were neglectful".

"Making executive decisions about what was and wasn't important" is most certainly compatible with the fact that cooking IS possible and CAN be done. Your parents chose not to do it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't possible, nor does the fact that it was possible "imply" that your parents were "neglectful". They decided not to cook; that's all. Hell, if that were neglect, then child services would look more like Disneyland on a Memorial Day. What's more, nobody here has said anything about "neglect", other than you.

You're reading an awful lot into a simple fact about cooking -- that it can be accomplished with very little time, money, and effort, assuming you choose to do so. I don't see how the example of your parents (who, by your own admission, chose not to cook and did you no harm by it) is enough to refute that.
posted by vorfeed at 1:12 PM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


infinitefloatingbrains: You make a batch of fine points there, and I can totally see the relevance and likely truth of all of them. I'm sure that, to a person, the folks involved in this are fine people who I'd like, on a personal level. And I recognize that Food Network is a mass-media enterprise, and as such has to go after that big middle 80%, and this is one way of doing so.

My terse comment probably didn't make it clear that I know very well I'm not the audience for this. It also probably didn't make it clear (or, clear enough anyway) that I am, quite frankly, an elitist when it comes to food -- not that I don't think anyone and everyone could or should cook for themselves and eat well. I certainly do! But I recognize that that vast 80% swath is mostly ordering take out or grabbing fast food, when they're not heating up some kind of boxed frozen abomination, and lounging on the couch watching the spew that Food Network dishes out.

So if I could clarify my comment: Everyone involved in producing or watching Food Network, with the exception of Alton Brown: What a pack of tools. And Alton to the extent that he has to be associated with the wretched refuse that is the rest of Food Network.

I'm sorry if you (whoever you are reading this) are included in this admittedly broad group. If you don't like being a tool, stop watching trash, and stop eating trash. And please, be assured I am only judging a small (tool-ey) part of the multifaceted and unique snowflake that I know for a fact you truly are.
posted by rusty at 1:33 PM on January 27, 2010


I get a 404 erroe when I click on the recipe links. I went to foodnetwork.com and Ellie Krieger's recipes and could not locate the Sloppy Joe (didn't try the other two). Is FoodNetwork cleaning up?
posted by CCBC at 3:11 PM on January 27, 2010


make that "error"
posted by CCBC at 3:11 PM on January 27, 2010


Holy crap, CCBC. I think they might've taken them down, because I'm getting 404s as well.

NOW WE WITNESS THE FIREPOWER OF THIS FULLY ARMED AND OPERATIONAL METAFILTER.
posted by shiu mai baby at 3:30 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I applaud your work in this thread, shiu mai baby. It helped foster an interesting discussion at dinner tonight.
posted by jbiz at 6:02 PM on January 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Surely, Muddgirl, surely everyone can aspire to more than just "food". If it was just "food", then we could all drink nutritionally balanced protein shakes from now til judgement day.

Also, calling a big mac just "food" ignores an incredibly rich - dare I say sumptuous? - cultural, social, financial, geographical and, yes, nutritional history that goes into one of those burgers. It's not just some random foodstuff that satisfies an urge. On the contrary, I guarantee you that there has been more thought put into a big mac than any meal any us have cooked in our entire lives. It is thought that revolves around one key concept, and that concept isn't "food", or "tasty" or "fast" or anything like that. It's "how can we make these cheapest and sell them most?"

Ignore those histories and that concept at your peril. It is that ignorance which makes your nation the most obese on earth (followed by mine, I might add), with one of the few life expectancies in the western world that is going backward.

It is just food like plutonium is just dirt.
posted by smoke at 3:04 AM on January 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thanks so much for that, jbiz. It was definitely a livelier discussion than I would've guessed it would be when created the post, but I'm glad to know you enjoyed it.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:36 AM on January 28, 2010


The concept intrigues me, as I get the feeling it could be done in a way that isn't so damned awful. Like maybe you could use some onion rings as a better topping for a quick green bean casserole, or half of a Chipotle burrito to make some hash.

Still, the problem is that fast food ready to eat is kind of like the intersection between familiar, kitchen based foods, and the industrialized world of processed food. While it may look and smell like a burger, it's loaded with chemicals so that it looks that way after a long process. It's not going to behave like normal food, and you also don't tend to cook food after it's done. Plus, you're paying for processing and branding (advertising and marketing) on top of bulk ingredients. At best, I can only see breaking even, even if you do decide to count what little time you save (plus time in the drive through and gas spent).

Really, she'd be much smarter to pitch a holistic approach to preparing a week's worth of meals from one piece of cooked meat. For variety, I guess she could alternate it with chicken breasts and vegetarian meals. "Make this huge pot roast on Sunday. It's super-easy, just put everything in the pot and let it braise for 3 hours. Then, on Monday, chop up a cup of it for this quick pasta and meat sauce..."
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:43 PM on January 28, 2010


An update for anyone who's interested: It would appear that Food Network has now replaced the gross recipes with far more pedestrian (and arguably healthier) versions.

What's odd is that the user reviews -- which had been one-star scathing tirades when Ellie was using Big Macs as a building block -- are now all generically positive. What's even weirder is that most of the positive reviews pre-date the fast food kerfluffle.

My guess is that there had been Kreiger-approved versions of these recipes before the article came out, which were then replaced by the fast food versions, which were then returned to the original after people flipped out.

A search for "big mac sloppy joe" on Food Network's site no longer returns any recipes, so I'm guessing they've all been scrubbed for good.
posted by shiu mai baby at 8:10 AM on February 2, 2010


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