I like to watch the Cooking Channel when Jamie Oliver's show is on. I love to watch Jamie cook in his rustic studio kitchen or outdoors in his gardens, concentrating on one ingredient at a time. He loves his pastas to be sure with his Italian cooking training, but he is a master at using fresh, local ingredients. I love Jamie's infatuation with real food and I've eaten in his restaurant named 15 in London. His influence on his apprentice chefs is obvious. The meal my daughter and I had there was amazing from start to finish. We had called ahead and told them we were gluten-free and the waitress already knew exactly which dishes were GF and could answer every question we had about the food. It was outstanding!
I watch David Rocco's show for a different reason. His show is set in Italy. He often ventures into the dreamworld of the Italian countryside with its Agfachrome lighting - amber sunlight flickering over hazy orchards and green expanses. I watch this show for the mood - fresh, local food once again cooked in a rustic style, often al fresco. Both of these shows are soothing to watch and they often give me ideas to use the fresh produce I get from Everyday Local in Lancaster, PA each week. This week, my "bundle" contained Boston lettuce (from a local hydroponic organic grower), cremini mushrooms, three organic potatoes, three amazingly huge bunches of mint, cilantro, and parsley, local organic apples, and something new: celeriac, aka celery root, looking much like a pineapple cut in half lengthwise. I have never cooked celeriac and I love the challenge of a new vegetable (or meat, or fruit, or whatever), but more on that later.
I turned on the TV a bit early tonight and saw a show listed called Hungry Girl. Jamie came on after, so I figured I'd give it a try. Oh. My. God. What a disaster of a show. None of the soothing outdoor scenes of Jamie's gardens or David's Italian countryside. Instead we are treated to a garish kitchen with an orange stove, the word YUMMY spelled out on the wall above in 12 inch letters, and an array of brightly colored appliances spread haphazardly on the countertops. A bit like Rachel Ray gone mad. Then, the food (I use that word very loosely), oh dear. Tonight's theme was chocolate. OK, I thought, you can't go wrong with chocolate. Wrong. You can go so very wrong. Hungry Girl made several recipes and, I kid you not, each one started with a packet of diet cocoa, followed up with some combination of the following ingredients: nonstick cooking spray, marshmallow fluff in a plastic jar, cake mix from a box, non-dairy non-fat whipped cream, icing from a can mixed with vanilla soy milk to make a pourable icing, no-calorie sweetener, and non-fat "eggs" from a carton. She exclaimed over and over again the virtues of these lower calorie, non-fat easy recipes. "Look! It's only 220 calories instead of 600 and no fat!" she cried with glee. Oh. My. God. Again. I told my daughter that this woman couldn't eat more differently from us if she tried. I don't think she ever steps into the outer reaches of a grocery store. She shops the middle aisles exclusively. No wonder she is a hungry girl. I fear for her health - she is young now, but soon the ravages of a diet built on fake foods are bound to set in, poor thing.
Back to soothing. Here is what we had for dinner:
Grass-fed T-bones, so darn tender that they almost melted in your mouth. Just a sprinkle with salt and pepper, a quick broil, and done. We couldn't finish both, so I have one to enjoy for lunch tomorrow. Then, a little celeriac apple soup:
So easy. Chop up half an onion, fry in butter until soft, add peeled, chopped celeriac, add one chopped apple, and gently simmer until soft. Add 2 cups of water and cook until very soft. Blend all until smooth. Add a little salt or even cinnamon if you like. This makes three small servings or two larger ones. So, so good. And I didn't have to open one box or package. In fact, none of these ingredients saw the inside of a store (unless you count the salt).