The Food Network junkie’s guinea pig |

The Food Network junkie’s guinea pig

Heidi Rice
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Fried Rice

“Are you watching the drunk prom queen again?” Husband-Head said with a smirk as he passed through the living room where I was watching TV. “And I assume that her shirt matches the curtains and the table cloth like usual?”

I had to laugh because he was right. It did.

It was the Food Network channel, and I was watching Sandra Lee’s “Semi-Homemade Cooking” show, where everything is “70 percent ready-made and 30 percent fresh ingredients.”

Sandra Lee looks very much like Barbie in the kitchen, except that Sandra has a cocktail at the end of every meal, even though it is only 8 a.m.

I must confess that I cook as a hobby and I like watching cooking shows on the weekends. Not that I’m a gourmet cook or anything – but I do like to try new recipes and anyone at the local grocery store can attest to the fact that I am there almost every other day.

“You have a problem,” Husband-Head whispered, as he pushed the cart behind me in the store when I insisted he go with me the other day. “This is getting embarrassing. This is, like, the third time we’ve been here in the last four days.”

“Well, if you and the four-legged members of the family wouldn’t eat so damn much, I wouldn’t have to come in here all the time now, would I?” I hissed defensively. “Shut up and go get me a cantaloupe.”

But I like cooking because it’s something creative to do that doesn’t require sitting my happy butt in a chair and staring at a computer for hours on end. So I watch the Food Network channel on Saturdays while I talk to my sister, Gretchen, on the phone.

Gretchen, who lives in South Carolina, is actually a really good cook. And we both like to watch the various cooking shows together and critique the food – and the chefs.

“I think her boobs are going to fall into the batter,” Gretchen observed, as we watched Giada De Laurentis on “Everyday Italian” jiggle around in a low-cut T-shirt while she vigorously stirred something in a bowl.

“Why is she able to perfectly smash garlic and peel it in one try?” I wanted to know. “Mine never peels that easily.”

And while Giada’s recipes are good, not everyone can afford the ingredients – including parmigiano-reggiano cheese, fresh mozzarella, Gruyere cheese or prosciutto (Italian ham) – all which sell for more than $10 per package.

The next show was with Ina Garten from “Barefoot Contessa.” Ina is pretty cool, but she’s a little hoity-toity in her house in the Hamptons. Her recipes include high-end olive oil, gourmet mustard, meat that comes wrapped in a package from the butcher and freshly baked bread from the bakery.

“How come when you see her go to the bakery or the butcher, she never pays for anything?” I asked Gretchen. “She just takes her stuff and leaves.”

“Because she’s Ina,” my sister summed up.

Since Husband-Head eats many of his meals at the coffee table in front of the TV, he is often subject to watching the cooking channel whether he wants to or not.

“What the hell is ‘creme fraiche’?” he asked the other day during a show. “It sounds like something you’d try to do on a first date in high school. …”

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Guy Fieri, a middle-aged man who hosts “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” where he travels around the country in a convertible Mustang and eats the greasiest, most unhealthy food you can imagine.

“How come THIS guy hasn’t had a heart attack?” Husband-Head demanded to know as we watched Guy eating his fourth large cheeseburger in one show.

Then there’s quick cooking with Rachael Ray who promises to show you how to make healthy meals within 30 minutes.

That’s is, if you can last through 30 minutes of her cornball phrases that include “Delish!” “Yum-O!” and calling sandwiches “Sammys.”

“Why do all these chefs always say everything they cook is going to be so delicious?” I asked Husband-Head. “How come no one ever takes a bite of their food and spits it out or says, ‘Oh my GOD … that SUCKS!'”

So as I diligently watch the shows and try out the recipes, Husband-Head has to be the guinea pig who must eat my culinary experiments.

I can always tell if its a hit or not. If he likes it, Husband-Head will rave. If not, he won’t say anything negative, but will push it around on his plate and then try to sneak some dark chocolate out of the fridge. Sometimes he’ll sneak out and cook a pizza in his playhouse.

One time, we almost got divorced over ratatouille.

“It’s just herbs and vegetables!” I cried out.

“I don’t care – I don’t LIKE eggplant or zucchini,” he said defensively.

OK. But it doesn’t stop me from being a Food Network junkie. …

Heidi Rice is a staff reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Her book collection of columns, “Skully Says SHUT IT!” is available for purchase at the Post Independent,, or through her website at

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