Category Archives: TBTAM Sing Along

Look at me, I’m Sandra Lee

You know Sandra Lee – She’s the queen of “Semi-Homemade” on the Food Network.

As my sister Ronnie says, Sandra doesn’t cook – she combines. She shamelessly mixes processed, pre-made ingredients with fresh ones to make it look like she’s cooking. It’s everything that’s wrong with American cooking.

Take for example Sandra Lee’s trio of recipes for macaroni and cheese – all using a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese as the main ingredient. To make it Mexican, add some spices and …more cheese. To make it Italian, just sprinkle some Italian breadcrumbs on top! And add broccoli to make it, well, disgusting.

Now, Kraft Mac and Cheese is the perfect “I’m too lazy to go to the market and get something healthy”cooking. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve had the stuff for dinner on occasion – but it’s a cave in to laziness, a sign of defeat, and I’m not proud of it. I certainly wouldn’t take a photo of it and put it on my website! (Oh, wait – I just did…)

Of course, I’m not the only one out here having problems with Sandra. Almost every food blogger has an anti-Sandra Lee post.

But Joe Desalazar has taken the anti-Sandra sentiment to a whole new degree, leading the charge with an “I loathe Sandra Lee” recipe meme on his blog FoodieNYC. This month, Joe is challenging us all to make Sandra’s latest recipe for overcooked chicken breast in cream of mushroom soup, and to post a picture of the entire mess on our blog.

Well, Joe, since I don’t have crockpot, I couldn’t make the dish. So instead, figuring it was time somebody did the obvious, I wrote Sandra Lee her anthem. And wouldn’t you know it? Since I stole the music from the musical Grease, the song is only semi-homemade!

I’m Sandra Lee (with apologies to Stockard Channing…)

Double click to play and sing along!
Look at me, I’m Sandra Lee,
I got no creativity.
Won’t make a meal using anything real –
I can’t, I’m Sandra Lee!

Watch me! I‘m not Julia Child.
I don’t use anything grown wild.
I’m corporate paid making semi-homemade.
I’m rich, I’m Sandra Lee!

I don’t cook, I combine.
If it’s canned, it’s just fine.
I don’t care if it’s healthy or green.
Get off your high horse, this is no cooking course –
Would you pull that crap with Paula Dean?

Don’t you wonder how I stay
so skinny when I cook this way?
It’s really no trick, my own food makes me sick –
I’m not stupid, I’m Sandra Lee!

Now just add a can of cream of mushroom soup, some baby marshmallows, canned mandarin oranges and a box of Duncan Hines cakemix.
Cook it in your crockpot for four hours and serve!

And remember –
Why make it healthy? Why make it delicious?
When you can make it –

Thanks to Rachel for pointing me to Joe’s blog. And to PinkPii for the instrumental music.

A Healthcare Wish List for Santa

I wrote a little song for all of you for Christmas.

Won’t you sing along with me? (Click on the song title for music – I apologize for the crappy sound quality, but it’s the best my 13 year old nephew producer and I could create at 10 pm on Christmas night.)

Happy Holidays to all!

Santa Baby

Santa baby, if you can fit it under the tree, for me
We need a national healthcare policy
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, Universal coverage costs a lot, but why not?
While you’re at it keep the premiums low,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Pay whenever we are ill
Pay for every shot and every pill
Next year it could be twice as much
But I know that you can foot the bill

Santa Baby, our healthcare outcomes should be the best, the rest
Of the world should learn from us, not us from them,
Santa baby, So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa honey, one little thing we really need for sure, a cure
For cancer and for chronic disease
Santa honey, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, if you decide to keep Medicare, No fair
Unless you pay the doctors what they’re worth,
Santa Cutie, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

One more task you can perform
Malpractice is in need of a major reform
I know you want it even if we don’t
And you can make it better even if we won’t.

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, please bring,
A President who’ll listen to science
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, down the chimney tonight!

The Soup that Never Ends….

It started out as Jessie’s turkey soup on Thanskgiving. A family standard and always delicious. Jessie makes a huge pot, so there was enought left over for all of us to take some home.

It was a bit thick after refrigerating it, so we add a couple of cans of chicken stock, a bit of barley and some chopped fresh mushrooms. My God, that was good. The broth was so rich…. It lasted us two dinners plus Emily’s lunch. But there was still some left over, and of course it had thickened up again.

Today I added some water and a chicken buillon cube and some gorgeous raw Kale with sesame seeds that Nellie left behind in our fridge after her stay at our apartment last weekend. We each had a bowl with dinner tonight and there’s still some left over.

Remember that song you sang as a kid? Time to sing it again….

The Perfect Scone

It’s moist and crumbly, it’s delicious, it’s delighful! It’s a recipe so special that it inspired a new musical sensation, and it’s my New Year’s gift to you, Dear Readers…

And so, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present – The Perfect Scone!

This recipe is the culmination of a year long search for that elusive pastry, and was well worth the journey. I want to thank those who commented on my previous scone posts, especially Waynetta, Chairwoman, Katy, and Laura, all of whom shared their recipes and suggestions. I consider this recipe to be a group effort. In the end, the recipe I created was closest to that of my sister, the OBS Housekeeper, without whose nagging I would never have finally finished this culinary journey. OBS, we tried your recipe and even taste-tested it with Irene, who gave it the thumbs up. In the end, though, I went for an ever so-slightly different recipe containing butter instead of Crisco.

Here is what I learned about scones along the way:

1.The British scone is more akin to an American biscuit, and the American scone is more like the Irish scone. I have been looking for the perfect British scone.

2. Most scone recipes do not have enough liquid, and are too dry for my taste. Perhaps this is where the clotted cream comes in…

3. Technique is paramount. Work quickly once the liquid is added. A soft shaggy mass is what you are aiming for. Just fold it once or twice, pat it down and cut out your scones. Don’t mess too much.

4. Use only double-acting, aluminum-free baking powder. Here in the US, that is Rumford Baking Powder. (Thanks OBS for this tip.) Or, do as Cooks Illustrated does, and make your own baking powder (1/4 baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cream of tarter make 1 tsp baking powder.)

5. I really love scones!

The Perfect Scone

2 C flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder (Aluminum-free)
6 tbsp butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 C heavy cream, half & half or a combination
½ C chocolate chips, raisins or other small dried fruit bits

A bit of milk in a small bowl

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrneheit.

Mix together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter using pastry cutter till it is the consistency of coarse corn meal. Add chocolate chips and mix until they are coated.

Make a well in the center, and pour in cream. Mix with a wooden spoon just enough to get all the dry ingredients incorporated. Dump the dough onto a table. (It should be a shaggy soft mass.) Fold the dough once or twice, then pat the dough into a circle ½ inch high. Cut with a biscuit cutter. (Size of cutter depends on if you like little or bigger scones. Standard size is 2 inches)

Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with a bit of milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 8-10 scones.

Category: Food

A Tart Pretty Enough for a Song

This asparagus tart is just so pretty, I don’t know what else to say, except to tell you that it is a combo of several recipes I found, with a dash of champagne vinegar that I thought of all by myself.

I have no idea if it tastes any good, because I am freezing it and reheating it on Sunday for Easter dinner. But you know what? I really don’t care how it tastes, I am so in love with how it looks.(Addendum 4/17/06 – It was delicious. But next time I’ll try freezing it uncooked.)

My daughter thought it was so beautiful that she sang it a song with her guitar. You see, Friday nights are chick-flick night, since Mr. TBTAM has a regular Friday night tennis game, so my daughters and I were watching The Wedding Singer while I was making the tart. We fell in love with the movie even though it is Adam Sandler and corny. After the movie was over, my daughter wanted to learn the chords and words to the song Adam sings to Drew about growing old together. So she went on the web and found them and was teaching herself the song when I called her in to the kitchen to see the tart. When she saw the tart, she decided it was so pretty that we had to sing to it, so she brought her guitar into the kitchen and we all sang the song to the tart. I think it will make it taste even better on Sunday.

Hey, if people can talk to their plants, we can sing to our food, okay?

Colorful Spring Asparagus Tart

Make a Pate Brise pie crust in a tart pan with a removable bottom, and bake it till just set and barely golden. (See instructions for pie crust here.)

Peel and trim 1 lb young asparagus. Further tirm the ends of 16 spears to make 3-4 inch spears for arranging on the top of the pie. Cut the remainder of those spears, and the rest of the asparagus into 1 inch lengths. Cut 15 cherry tomatoes in half and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 12 inch saute pan. Slice 1 onion thin and saute over medium low heat till soft, about 7 minutes. Add asparagus and saute for an additional 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus are just tender. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp champagne vinegar about halfway through the saute, and just a dash of salt and pepper. Remove from heat to cool enough to handle.

Mix 3 eggs with 1 cup half and half, 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsely, 1 cup coarsely grated gruyere cheese, and a little salt and pepper.

Remove the 1 spears and set aside. Spread remainder of asparagus and onion mixture into tart pan. Pour egg mixture over top. Arrange 16 spears on top like spokes on a wheel, pushing them ever so slightly into the egg mixture. Scatter the cherry tomatoes on top. Brush the edges of the crust with an egg wash.

Bake on a cookie sheet for 30-35 mintes, until golden and just set. You may want to cover the edges with foil for the last 15 minutes of baking time. Let cool slightly before serving. Can be made ahead and frozen, then reheated before serving.

Sing to Your Tart

If you want to sing to your tart too, here’s the music and words!

Grow Old With You

I wanna make you smile whenever you’re sad
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad
All I wann’a do is grow old with you.

I’ll get your medicine when your tummy aches
Build you a fire if the furnace breaks
Oh it could be so nice, growing old with you

I’ll miss you
I’ll kiss you
Give you my coat when you are cold

I’ll need you
I’ll feed you
Even let ya hold the remote control

(Music solo break)

So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink
Put you to bed if you’ve had too much to drink
I could be the man who grows old with you
I wanna grow old with you