I’m not a Rachael Ray fan, but I don’t like the way everyone beats up on her. I think what she’s trying to do is to give people the confidence to get back into the kitchen and that gets lost in all the fuss about her goofy cheerleader-like demeanor and her growing empire. Her recipes are okay. Mostly she uses fresh ingredients, though sometimes pre-sliced or pre-washed ingredients take a starring role. Her recipes are nothing spectacular, but they aren’t horrible either. For that, we have the satanic Sandra Lee and her Semi-Homemade madness.
Sandra Lee might be trying to get people back in the kitchen but if it’s with fake processed scary awful-tasting pseudo-food then what’s the point? Also she seems to care more about how to make food look good than actually taste good. So where do the Fix-it and Forget-it books that so routinely top the New York Times Bestseller lists fall? Are they more Rachael Ray or more Sandra Lee?
The latest book in the series, Fix-It and Forget-It 5-Ingredient Favorites: Comforting Slow-Cooker Recipes is clearly in the Sandra Lee camp. It demonstrates that clearly, much of America believes the only way to get something tasty on the table, with ease, is to rely on lots of processed, packaged low or no-nutrition foods. I mean things like canned soup, processed cheese, spaghetti sauce mix, frozen hash browns, grape jelly, soft drinks, canned mushrooms and chicken nuggets. These all rank high among the so-called “Five Ingredients” that legions of contributors use in recipes which are to be found in the book.
I have no burgeoning empire like Rachael Ray, but I too want people to go back in the kitchen. I want them to love cooking and eating as much as I do. I don’t want them to be intimidated. I want them to be inspired. And there is nothing in Fix-it and Forget-it to inspire, but plenty to make anyone who cares about good food sad.