On “Chopped” and Homies…

In the interest of, “I cannot filter another string of profane, and very loud, lies and obfuscations from Donald Trump and need to loosen the rubber band a bit,” I submit the following for your consideration: a diversion.

I used to watch “Chopped” on Food Network. It seemed almost unavoidable since virtually every time I turned on the television, no matter the time or day, it was on. I don’t watch it much anymore because of the annoyingly PC agenda adopted by the network — a subject for another day. I also came to be irked by the peevish attitude of foodie “elitism” of some of the judges. They often seem to have an exclusively metro, if you will, approach to the food they judge or present. That the contestants themselves too often demonstrate an alarmingly crippling reaction to the pressure of a television cooking contest added to my irritation. It welled up in me, because rubber-meets-the-road reality seems to have gone missing from the chefs in the quantum warp of the “Chopped” kitchen. I had begun to feel as if I was involved in some weird sort of kitchen “Hunger Games” or Orwellian voyeurism where the fear of being “Chopped” seems surreal.

Now, I only prefer the show when the more accomplished celebrity chefs or novelty contestants like firehouse cooks battle it out for the pure fun of competition. Yes, being a novice foodie, I do marvel at the inventiveness and knowledge of the elite chefs; but, watching a beat cop come up with amazingly gourmet and downhome fare in the same episode is humbling. It was during one of those episodes that it occurred to me that most of us out here do “Chopped” everyday, especially on the days a kid breaks an arm or the boss keep us late, then invites himself and the client over to our house, not his, for a working dinner.

You know the time — that dark, fall afternoon when he announces that they can just follow you home. You scream inside yourself remembering the condition you left the house in that morning as you raced out running later than your usual allowed margin of lateness. That moment of calm you had planned-delivery pizza, a blanket, and hot tea to ward off sinus sniffles from the bite in the air, fades. But, you dutifully mumble something about having to pick up the kids from Grandma’s and write out the most circuitous directions to your house you can possibly construe. You shove them into the hand of your boss, and race out the door to take full advantage of the thirty minutes you just creatively bought yourself — after calling your neighbor to pick up the kids until your husband can get there to collect them.

That night is the one when you could demonstrate one of the 43 ways you have mastered to cook dinner with a rotisserie or canned chicken, if you had the time to stop by the store this evening. You don’t, so, you hit the driveway running for the kitchen and pull out the staples in your pantry: “elbows,” canned milk, canned chicken — uh oh, make that tuna — mushrooms, and cream soup. That’s it — a theme night with a retro casserole. Yes!

While the pasta boils, you take a swipe at the big surfaces in the front room with an old t-shirt, move on to the bath where you clean toilie, wipe the mirror, and then are off to pull up the covers on the bed and vacuum the walkways. Stuffing everything else in a closet, you run back to the pantry looking for toppers to crush for crunch on the top of the casserole, like Obama-banned potato chips. Yeah, even we working moms, homies, if you will, know the delights of differing textures in our food. It is then you see the canned pienapple and a couple of snack boxes of raisins. Mayo? Yes. Carrots? Three slightly rubbery ones (all the easier to grate, my friend) call to me from the crisper drawer (now there’s a contradiction in terms) of the fridge — salad!

No, we are not as plebeian as network foodies might think. We know how to steam fish in the dishwasher and clean most anything in the world with a jug of bleach or white vinegar, with the possible exception of the hazmat-suit-required messes left behind by the Occupy anarchists or some “Chopped” contestants. Now granted, except for a few connoisseurs and off the grid types in Maine, does anybody really know how to cook gooey duck? Certainly, that disgusting looking clam might challenge us, but, we could handle most of the surprises in those infamous “Chopped” baskets, including making a pasta sauce out of ketchup,some fresh veg and a beatup basil leaf. Unlike more than a few in that infamous TV kitchen, we can also generally do so without flying blood, fires and boiling liquid launched from the blender.

We would know not to try to cook a 45 minute risotto in 20 minutes or forget to season our food — a practical kitchen truth that seems to often escape the professional chefs competing on the show. We wouldn’t forget salt, because we like it. Again, according to the White House, we like it too much. That thought makes me wonder if the NSA has motion detectors on our salt shakers. I digress.

We homecooks don’t poo poo dried herbs, but can use parsley and kale in our cole slaw, and make a mean salad out of arugula and fresh basil. We know we can delay changing the sheets for a couple of days when life’s rigors demand by changing the pillowcases. We are smart enough to keep that corner of the living room ceiling with cracked sheet rock, from when Grandpa stepped through it when he was in the attic last year, a little dark.

We know it is probably best not to cook the holiday dinner in a get up that makes the diners, be they friends or family, consider if they are taking their lives into their hands by letting you in the house — yup, just like the guy that came to work on the dishwasher. That uncomfortable life truth also seems to escape a number of the show’s competitors who present on national television looking like a casting call for “Mad Max” to cook in varying degrees of orchestrated chaos. Another reality is brought to mind by the image. We have personal experience to attest that it is best not to sweat profusely into the food either — if you want the kids to eat it.

Though we can make a Beef Wellington, and have done, we know that a pure, simple Yankee pot roast is a thing of beauty. We have enough sense to know that if we want to cook a meatloaf, steak, chicken, or squat, barring a fish filet, in 20 minutes, which is about what we have most nights, we will have to break it down, take it off the bone, or pound it thin. It seems to me that, though some of the “Chopped” chefs can produce some impressive culinary concoctions, the rules of the practical kitchen can escape them. Some might argue that the pressure of the competition clock is to blame. I would counter that the pressure of the individually calibrated body clocks of three crying kids and a grumpy, tired hubby represent an exponentially increased pressure level. In other words, we don’t have to watch “Chopped.” We live it — rather successfully, I might add.

I do have to focus, however. It is time to take the appetizers out of the oven. Yes, I met the challenge of the appetizer round. I had also found a can of blackeyes in the pantry, you see. I drained and mixed them with jalapenos and the chunk of tomato leftover from making my husband’s lunchbox sandwich last night, then spread the Texas caviar on “toast points” made from a sack of bread heels I had in the freezer, theoretically to use in scratch stuffing at Thanksgiving.

Dessert you ask? Of course, I say. Think melted Easter candy in a pretty bowl next to apple slices. Fresh fruit a pipe dream? Then, dip dried fruit. Or, go for melted vanilla ice cream (aka creme anglaise) over bananas sauteed in sugar, butter and extract topped with crumbled up Girl Scout cookies for crunch. Or, S’mores makings on hand? Jello cups?

The smell the cumin and garlic powder I had shmeared on the caviar toast points before crisping them up in the hot oven brings me back to the moment. For now, it’s pinch my cheeks, bite my lips(gently), spray my hair upside down, call my kids and their Daddy up from the basement where my dutiful spouse has been playing “Chutes and Ladders” since he came in with them from the neighbor’s in better than fair state of cleanliness, bless her, and meet my boss, et al at the door with a Doris Day smile — and an apron. It is retro night, after all.

Yeah, I know I used a ‘run-on,’ but the home “Chopped” arena is, well, a definite 5K. And, if you’ll pardon the cheesiness-it is a food piece after all-The prize? Much more than the ten grand, granted?
In the interest of, “I cannot filter another string of profane, and very loud, lies and obfuscations from Donald Trump and need to loosen the rubber band a bit,” I submit the following for your consideration.

I used to watch “Chopped” on Food Network. It seemed almost unavoidable since virtually every time I turned on the television, no matter the time or day, it was on. I don’t watch it much anymore because of the annoyingly PC agenda adopted by the network — a subject for another day. I also came to be irked by the peevish attitude of foodie “elitism” of some of the judges. They often seem to have an exclusively metro, if you will, approach to the food they judge or present. That the contestants themselves too often demonstrate an alarmingly crippling reaction to the pressure of a television cooking contest added to my irritation. It welled up in me, because rubber-meets-the-road reality seems to have gone missing from the chefs in the quantum warp of the “Chopped” kitchen.
I had begun to feel as if I was involved in some weird sort of “Hunger Games” or Orwellian voyeurism.

Now, I only prefer the show when the more accomplished celebrity chefs or novelty contestants like firehouse cooks battle it out for the pure fun of competition. Yes, being a novice foodie, I do marvel at the inventiveness and knowledge of the elite chefs; but, watching a beat cop come up with amazingly gourmet and downhome fare in the same episode is humbling. It was during one of those episodes that it occurred to me that most of us out here do “Chopped” everyday, especially on the days a kid breaks an arm or the boss keep us late, then invites himself and the client over to our house, not his, for a working dinner.

You know the time — that dark, fall afternoon when he announces that they can just follow you home. You scream inside yourself remembering the condition you left the house in that morning as you raced out running later than your usual allowed margin of lateness. That moment of calm you had planned-delivery pizza, a blanket, and hot tea to ward off sinus sniffles from the bite in the air, fades. But, you dutifully mumble something about having to pick up the kids from Grandma’s and write out the most circuitous directions to your house you can possibly construe. You shove them into the hand of your boss, and race out the door to take full advantage of the thirty minutes you just creatively bought yourself — after calling your neighbor to pick up the kids until your husband can get there to collect them.

That night is the one when you could demonstrate one of the 43 ways you have mastered to cook dinner with a rotisserie or canned chicken, if you had the time to stop by the store this evening. You don’t, so, you hit the driveway running for the kitchen and pull out the staples in your pantry: “elbows,” canned milk, canned chicken — uh oh, make that tuna — mushrooms, and cream soup. That’s it — a theme night with a retro casserole. Yes!

While the pasta boils, you take a swipe at the big surfaces in the front room with an old t-shirt, move on to the bath where you clean toilie, wipe the mirror, and then are off to pull up the covers on the bed and vacuum the walkways. Stuffing everything else in a closet, you run back to the pantry looking for toppers to crush for crunch on the top of the casserole, like Obama-banned potato chips. Yeah, even we working moms, homies, if you will, know the delights of differing textures in our food. It is then you see the canned pienapple and a couple of snack boxes of raisins. Mayo? Yes. Carrots? Three slightly rubbery ones (all the easier to grate, my friend) call to me from the crisper drawer (now there’s a contradiction in terms) of the fridge — salad!

No, we are not as plebeian as network foodies might think. We know how to steam fish in the dishwasher and clean most anything in the world with a jug of bleach or white vinegar, with the possible exception of the hazmat-suit-required messes left behind by the Occupy anarchists or some “Chopped” contestants. Now granted, except for a few connoisseurs and off the grid types in Maine, does anybody really know how to cook gooey duck? Certainly, that disgusting looking clam might challenge us, but, we could handle most of the surprises in those infamous “Chopped” baskets, including making a pasta sauce out of ketchup,some fresh veg and a beatup basil leaf. Unlike more than a few in that infamous TV kitchen, we can also generally do so without flying blood, fires and boiling liquid launched from the blender.

We would know not to try to cook a 45 minute risotto in 20 minutes or forget to season our food — a practical kitchen truth that seems to often escape the professional chefs competing on the show. We wouldn’t forget salt, because we like it. Again, according to the White House, we like it too much. That thought makes me wonder if the NSA has motion detectors on our salt shakers. I digress.

We homecooks don’t poo poo dried herbs, but can use parsley and kale in our cole slaw, and make a mean salad out of arugula and fresh basil. We know we can delay changing the sheets for a couple of days when life’s rigors demand by changing the pillowcases. We are smart enough to keep that corner of the living room ceiling with cracked sheet rock, from when Grandpa stepped through it when he was in the attic last year, a little dark.

We know it is probably best not to cook the holiday dinner in a get up that makes the diners, be they friends or family, consider if they are taking their lives into their hands by letting you in the house — yup, just like the guy that came to work on the dishwasher. That uncomfortable life truth also seems to escape a number of the show’s competitors who present on national television looking like a casting call for “Mad Max” to cook in varying degrees of orchestrated chaos. Another reality is brought to mind by the image. We have personal experience to attest that it is best not to sweat profusely into the food either — if you want the kids to eat it.

Though we can make a Beef Wellington, and have done, we know that a pure, simple Yankee pot roast is a thing of beauty. We have enough sense to know that if we want to cook a meatloaf, steak, chicken, or squat, barring a fish filet, in 20 minutes, which is about what we have most nights, we will have to break it down, take it off the bone, or pound it thin. It seems to me that, though some of the “Chopped” chefs can produce some impressive culinary concoctions, the rules of the practical kitchen can escape them. Some might argue that the pressure of the competition clock is to blame. I would counter that the pressure of the individually calibrated body clocks of three crying kids and a grumpy, tired hubby represent an exponentially increased pressure level. In other words, we don’t have to watch “Chopped.” We live it — rather successfully, I might add.

I do have to focus, however. It is time to take the appetizers out of the oven. Yes, I met the challenge of the appetizer round. I had also found a can of blackeyes in the pantry, you see. I drained and mixed them with jalapenos and the chunk of tomato leftover from making my husband’s lunchbox sandwich last night, then spread the Texas caviar on “toast points” made from a sack of bread heels I had in the freezer, theoretically to use in scratch stuffing at Thanksgiving.

Dessert you ask? Of course, I say. Think melted Easter candy in a pretty bowl next to apple slices. Fresh fruit a pipe dream? Then, dip dried fruit. Or, go for melted vanilla ice cream (aka creme anglaise) over bananas sauteed in sugar, butter and extract topped with crumbled up Girl Scout cookies for crunch. Or, S’mores makings on hand? Jello cups?

The smell the cumin and garlic powder I had shmeared on the caviar toast points before crisping them up in the hot oven brings me back to the moment. For now, it’s pinch my cheeks, bite my lips(gently), spray my hair upside down, call my kids and their Daddy up from the basement where my dutiful spouse has been playing “Chutes and Ladders” since he came in with them from the neighbor’s in better than fair state of cleanliness, bless her, and meet my boss, et al at the door with a Doris Day smile — and an apron. It is retro night, after all.

Yeah, I know I used a ‘run-on,’ but the home “Chopped” arena is, well, a definite 5K. And, if you’ll pardon the cheesiness-it is a food piece after all-The prize? Much more than the ten grand, granted?
In the interest of, “I cannot filter another string of profane, and very loud, lies and obfuscations from Donald Trump and need to loosen the rubber band a bit,” I submit the following for your consideration.

I used to watch “Chopped” on Food Network. It seemed almost unavoidable since virtually every time I turned on the television, no matter the time or day, it was on. I don’t watch it much anymore because of the annoyingly PC agenda adopted by the network — a subject for another day. I also came to be irked by the peevish attitude of foodie “elitism” of some of the judges. They often seem to have an exclusively metro, if you will, approach to the food they judge or present. That the contestants themselves too often demonstrate an alarmingly crippling reaction to the pressure of a television cooking contest added to my irritation. It welled up in me, because rubber-meets-the-road reality seems to have gone missing from the chefs in the quantum warp of the “Chopped” kitchen.
I had begun to feel as if I was involved in some weird sort of “Hunger Games” or Orwellian voyeurism.

Now, I only prefer the show when the more accomplished celebrity chefs or novelty contestants like firehouse cooks battle it out for the pure fun of competition. Yes, being a novice foodie, I do marvel at the inventiveness and knowledge of the elite chefs; but, watching a beat cop come up with amazingly gourmet and downhome fare in the same episode is humbling. It was during one of those episodes that it occurred to me that most of us out here do “Chopped” everyday, especially on the days a kid breaks an arm or the boss keep us late, then invites himself and the client over to our house, not his, for a working dinner.

You know the time — that dark, fall afternoon when he announces that they can just follow you home. You scream inside yourself remembering the condition you left the house in that morning as you raced out running later than your usual allowed margin of lateness. That moment of calm you had planned-delivery pizza, a blanket, and hot tea to ward off sinus sniffles from the bite in the air, fades. But, you dutifully mumble something about having to pick up the kids from Grandma’s and write out the most circuitous directions to your house you can possibly construe. You shove them into the hand of your boss, and race out the door to take full advantage of the thirty minutes you just creatively bought yourself — after calling your neighbor to pick up the kids until your husband can get there to collect them.

That night is the one when you could demonstrate one of the 43 ways you have mastered to cook dinner with a rotisserie or canned chicken, if you had the time to stop by the store this evening. You don’t, so, you hit the driveway running for the kitchen and pull out the staples in your pantry: “elbows,” canned milk, canned chicken — uh oh, make that tuna — mushrooms, and cream soup. That’s it — a theme night with a retro casserole. Yes!

While the pasta boils, you take a swipe at the big surfaces in the front room with an old t-shirt, move on to the bath where you clean toilie, wipe the mirror, and then are off to pull up the covers on the bed and vacuum the walkways. Stuffing everything else in a closet, you run back to the pantry looking for toppers to crush for crunch on the top of the casserole, like Obama-banned potato chips. Yeah, even we working moms, homies, if you will, know the delights of differing textures in our food. It is then you see the canned pienapple and a couple of snack boxes of raisins. Mayo? Yes. Carrots? Three slightly rubbery ones (all the easier to grate, my friend) call to me from the crisper drawer (now there’s a contradiction in terms) of the fridge — salad!

No, we are not as plebeian as network foodies might think. We know how to steam fish in the dishwasher and clean most anything in the world with a jug of bleach or white vinegar, with the possible exception of the hazmat-suit-required messes left behind by the Occupy anarchists or some “Chopped” contestants. Now granted, except for a few connoisseurs and off the grid types in Maine, does anybody really know how to cook gooey duck? Certainly, that disgusting looking clam might challenge us, but, we could handle most of the surprises in those infamous “Chopped” baskets, including making a pasta sauce out of ketchup,some fresh veg and a beatup basil leaf. Unlike more than a few in that infamous TV kitchen, we can also generally do so without flying blood, fires and boiling liquid launched from the blender.

We would know not to try to cook a 45 minute risotto in 20 minutes or forget to season our food — a practical kitchen truth that seems to often escape the professional chefs competing on the show. We wouldn’t forget salt, because we like it. Again, according to the White House, we like it too much. That thought makes me wonder if the NSA has motion detectors on our salt shakers. I digress.

We homecooks don’t poo poo dried herbs, but can use parsley and kale in our cole slaw, and make a mean salad out of arugula and fresh basil. We know we can delay changing the sheets for a couple of days when life’s rigors demand by changing the pillowcases. We are smart enough to keep that corner of the living room ceiling with cracked sheet rock, from when Grandpa stepped through it when he was in the attic last year, a little dark.

We know it is probably best not to cook the holiday dinner in a get up that makes the diners, be they friends or family, consider if they are taking their lives into their hands by letting you in the house — yup, just like the guy that came to work on the dishwasher. That uncomfortable life truth also seems to escape a number of the show’s competitors who present on national television looking like a casting call for “Mad Max” to cook in varying degrees of orchestrated chaos. Another reality is brought to mind by the image. We have personal experience to attest that it is best not to sweat profusely into the food either — if you want the kids to eat it.

Though we can make a Beef Wellington, and have done, we know that a pure, simple Yankee pot roast is a thing of beauty. We have enough sense to know that if we want to cook a meatloaf, steak, chicken, or squat, barring a fish filet, in 20 minutes, which is about what we have most nights, we will have to break it down, take it off the bone, or pound it thin. It seems to me that, though some of the “Chopped” chefs can produce some impressive culinary concoctions, the rules of the practical kitchen can escape them. Some might argue that the pressure of the competition clock is to blame. I would counter that the pressure of the individually calibrated body clocks of three crying kids and a grumpy, tired hubby represent an exponentially increased pressure level. In other words, we don’t have to watch “Chopped.” We live it — rather successfully, I might add.

I do have to focus, however. It is time to take the appetizers out of the oven. Yes, I met the challenge of the appetizer round. I had also found a can of blackeyes in the pantry, you see. I drained and mixed them with jalapenos and the chunk of tomato leftover from making my husband’s lunchbox sandwich last night, then spread the Texas caviar on “toast points” made from a sack of bread heels I had in the freezer, theoretically to use in scratch stuffing at Thanksgiving.

Dessert you ask? Of course, I say. Think melted Easter candy in a pretty bowl next to apple slices. Fresh fruit a pipe dream? Then, dip dried fruit. Or, go for melted vanilla ice cream (aka creme anglaise) over bananas sauteed in sugar, butter and extract topped with crumbled up Girl Scout cookies for crunch. Or, S’mores makings on hand? Jello cups?

The smell the cumin and garlic powder I had shmeared on the caviar toast points before crisping them up in the hot oven brings me back to the moment. For now, it’s pinch my cheeks, bite my lips(gently), spray my hair upside down, call my kids and their Daddy up from the basement where my dutiful spouse has been playing “Chutes and Ladders” since he came in with them from the neighbor’s in better than fair state of cleanliness, bless her, and meet my boss, et al at the door with a Doris Day smile — and an apron. It is retro night, after all.

Yeah, I know I used a ‘run-on,’ but the home “Chopped” arena is, well, a definite 5K. And, if you’ll pardon the cheesiness-it is a food piece after all-The prize? Much more than the ten grand, granted?
In the interest of, “I cannot filter another string of profane, and very loud, lies and obfuscations from Donald Trump and need to loosen the rubber band a bit,” I submit the following for your consideration.

I used to watch “Chopped” on Food Network. It seemed almost unavoidable since virtually every time I turned on the television, no matter the time or day, it was on. I don’t watch it much anymore because of the annoyingly PC agenda adopted by the network — a subject for another day. I also came to be irked by the peevish attitude of foodie “elitism” of some of the judges. They often seem to have an exclusively metro, if you will, approach to the food they judge or present. That the contestants themselves too often demonstrate an alarmingly crippling reaction to the pressure of a television cooking contest added to my irritation. It welled up in me, because rubber-meets-the-road reality seems to have gone missing from the chefs in the quantum warp of the “Chopped” kitchen.
I had begun to feel as if I was involved in some weird sort of “Hunger Games” or Orwellian voyeurism.

Now, I only prefer the show when the more accomplished celebrity chefs or novelty contestants like firehouse cooks battle it out for the pure fun of competition. Yes, being a novice foodie, I do marvel at the inventiveness and knowledge of the elite chefs; but, watching a beat cop come up with amazingly gourmet and downhome fare in the same episode is humbling. It was during one of those episodes that it occurred to me that most of us out here do “Chopped” everyday, especially on the days a kid breaks an arm or the boss keep us late, then invites himself and the client over to our house, not his, for a working dinner.

You know the time — that dark, fall afternoon when he announces that they can just follow you home. You scream inside yourself remembering the condition you left the house in that morning as you raced out running later than your usual allowed margin of lateness. That moment of calm you had planned-delivery pizza, a blanket, and hot tea to ward off sinus sniffles from the bite in the air, fades. But, you dutifully mumble something about having to pick up the kids from Grandma’s and write out the most circuitous directions to your house you can possibly construe. You shove them into the hand of your boss, and race out the door to take full advantage of the thirty minutes you just creatively bought yourself — after calling your neighbor to pick up the kids until your husband can get there to collect them.

That night is the one when you could demonstrate one of the 43 ways you have mastered to cook dinner with a rotisserie or canned chicken, if you had the time to stop by the store this evening. You don’t, so, you hit the driveway running for the kitchen and pull out the staples in your pantry: “elbows,” canned milk, canned chicken — uh oh, make that tuna — mushrooms, and cream soup. That’s it — a theme night with a retro casserole. Yes!

While the pasta boils, you take a swipe at the big surfaces in the front room with an old t-shirt, move on to the bath where you clean toilie, wipe the mirror, and then are off to pull up the covers on the bed and vacuum the walkways. Stuffing everything else in a closet, you run back to the pantry looking for toppers to crush for crunch on the top of the casserole, like Obama-banned potato chips. Yeah, even we working moms, homies, if you will, know the delights of differing textures in our food. It is then you see the canned pienapple and a couple of snack boxes of raisins. Mayo? Yes. Carrots? Three slightly rubbery ones (all the easier to grate, my friend) call to me from the crisper drawer (now there’s a contradiction in terms) of the fridge — salad!

No, we are not as plebeian as network foodies might think. We know how to steam fish in the dishwasher and clean most anything in the world with a jug of bleach or white vinegar, with the possible exception of the hazmat-suit-required messes left behind by the Occupy anarchists or some “Chopped” contestants. Now granted, except for a few connoisseurs and off the grid types in Maine, does anybody really know how to cook gooey duck? Certainly, that disgusting looking clam might challenge us, but, we could handle most of the surprises in those infamous “Chopped” baskets, including making a pasta sauce out of ketchup,some fresh veg and a beatup basil leaf. Unlike more than a few in that infamous TV kitchen, we can also generally do so without flying blood, fires and boiling liquid launched from the blender.

We would know not to try to cook a 45 minute risotto in 20 minutes or forget to season our food — a practical kitchen truth that seems to often escape the professional chefs competing on the show. We wouldn’t forget salt, because we like it. Again, according to the White House, we like it too much. That thought makes me wonder if the NSA has motion detectors on our salt shakers. I digress.

We homecooks don’t poo poo dried herbs, but can use parsley and kale in our cole slaw, and make a mean salad out of arugula and fresh basil. We know we can delay changing the sheets for a couple of days when life’s rigors demand by changing the pillowcases. We are smart enough to keep that corner of the living room ceiling with cracked sheet rock, from when Grandpa stepped through it when he was in the attic last year, a little dark.

We know it is probably best not to cook the holiday dinner in a get up that makes the diners, be they friends or family, consider if they are taking their lives into their hands by letting you in the house — yup, just like the guy that came to work on the dishwasher. That uncomfortable life truth also seems to escape a number of the show’s competitors who present on national television looking like a casting call for “Mad Max” to cook in varying degrees of orchestrated chaos. Another reality is brought to mind by the image. We have personal experience to attest that it is best not to sweat profusely into the food either — if you want the kids to eat it.

Though we can make a Beef Wellington, and have done, we know that a pure, simple Yankee pot roast is a thing of beauty. We have enough sense to know that if we want to cook a meatloaf, steak, chicken, or squat, barring a fish filet, in 20 minutes, which is about what we have most nights, we will have to break it down, take it off the bone, or pound it thin. It seems to me that, though some of the “Chopped” chefs can produce some impressive culinary concoctions, the rules of the practical kitchen can escape them. Some might argue that the pressure of the competition clock is to blame. I would counter that the pressure of the individually calibrated body clocks of three crying kids and a grumpy, tired hubby represent an exponentially increased pressure level. In other words, we don’t have to watch “Chopped.” We live it — rather successfully, I might add.

I do have to focus, however. It is time to take the appetizers out of the oven. Yes, I met the challenge of the appetizer round. I had also found a can of blackeyes in the pantry, you see. I drained and mixed them with jalapenos and the chunk of tomato leftover from making my husband’s lunchbox sandwich last night, then spread the Texas caviar on “toast points” made from a sack of bread heels I had in the freezer, theoretically to use in scratch stuffing at Thanksgiving.

Dessert you ask? Of course, I say. Think melted Easter candy in a pretty bowl next to apple slices. Fresh fruit a pipe dream? Then, dip dried fruit. Or, go for melted vanilla ice cream (aka creme anglaise) over bananas sauteed in sugar, butter and extract topped with crumbled up Girl Scout cookies for crunch. Or, S’mores makings on hand? Jello cups?

The smell the cumin and garlic powder I had shmeared on the caviar toast points before crisping them up in the hot oven brings me back to the moment. For now, it’s pinch my cheeks, bite my lips(gently), spray my hair upside down, call my kids and their Daddy up from the basement where my dutiful spouse has been playing “Chutes and Ladders” since he came in with them from the neighbor’s in better than fair state of cleanliness, bless her, and meet my boss, et al at the door with a Doris Day smile — and an apron. It is retro night, after all.

Yeah, I know I used a ‘run-on,’ but the home “Chopped” arena is, well, a definite 5K. And, if you’ll pardon the cheesiness-it is a food piece after all-The prize? Much more than the ten grand, granted?
In the interest of, “I cannot filter another string of profane, and very loud, lies and obfuscations from Donald Trump and need to loosen the rubber band a bit,” I submit the following for your consideration.

I used to watch “Chopped” on Food Network. It seemed almost unavoidable since virtually every time I turned on the television, no matter the time or day, it was on. I don’t watch it much anymore because of the annoyingly PC agenda adopted by the network — a subject for another day. I also came to be irked by the peevish attitude of foodie “elitism” of some of the judges. They often seem to have an exclusively metro, if you will, approach to the food they judge or present. That the contestants themselves too often demonstrate an alarmingly crippling reaction to the pressure of a television cooking contest added to my irritation. It welled up in me, because rubber-meets-the-road reality seems to have gone missing from the chefs in the quantum warp of the “Chopped” kitchen.
I had begun to feel as if I was involved in some weird sort of “Hunger Games” or Orwellian voyeurism.

Now, I only prefer the show when the more accomplished celebrity chefs or novelty contestants like firehouse cooks battle it out for the pure fun of competition. Yes, being a novice foodie, I do marvel at the inventiveness and knowledge of the elite chefs; but, watching a beat cop come up with amazingly gourmet and downhome fare in the same episode is humbling. It was during one of those episodes that it occurred to me that most of us out here do “Chopped” everyday, especially on the days a kid breaks an arm or the boss keep us late, then invites himself and the client over to our house, not his, for a working dinner.

You know the time — that dark, fall afternoon when he announces that they can just follow you home. You scream inside yourself remembering the condition you left the house in that morning as you raced out running later than your usual allowed margin of lateness. That moment of calm you had planned-delivery pizza, a blanket, and hot tea to ward off sinus sniffles from the bite in the air, fades. But, you dutifully mumble something about having to pick up the kids from Grandma’s and write out the most circuitous directions to your house you can possibly construe. You shove them into the hand of your boss, and race out the door to take full advantage of the thirty minutes you just creatively bought yourself — after calling your neighbor to pick up the kids until your husband can get there to collect them.

That night is the one when you could demonstrate one of the 43 ways you have mastered to cook dinner with a rotisserie or canned chicken, if you had the time to stop by the store this evening. You don’t, so, you hit the driveway running for the kitchen and pull out the staples in your pantry: “elbows,” canned milk, canned chicken — uh oh, make that tuna — mushrooms, and cream soup. That’s it — a theme night with a retro casserole. Yes!

While the pasta boils, you take a swipe at the big surfaces in the front room with an old t-shirt, move on to the bath where you clean toilie, wipe the mirror, and then are off to pull up the covers on the bed and vacuum the walkways. Stuffing everything else in a closet, you run back to the pantry looking for toppers to crush for crunch on the top of the casserole, like Obama-banned potato chips. Yeah, even we working moms, homies, if you will, know the delights of differing textures in our food. It is then you see the canned pienapple and a couple of snack boxes of raisins. Mayo? Yes. Carrots? Three slightly rubbery ones (all the easier to grate, my friend) call to me from the crisper drawer (now there’s a contradiction in terms) of the fridge — salad!

No, we are not as plebeian as network foodies might think. We know how to steam fish in the dishwasher and clean most anything in the world with a jug of bleach or white vinegar, with the possible exception of the hazmat-suit-required messes left behind by the Occupy anarchists or some “Chopped” contestants. Now granted, except for a few connoisseurs and off the grid types in Maine, does anybody really know how to cook gooey duck? Certainly, that disgusting looking clam might challenge us, but, we could handle most of the surprises in those infamous “Chopped” baskets, including making a pasta sauce out of ketchup,some fresh veg and a beatup basil leaf. Unlike more than a few in that infamous TV kitchen, we can also generally do so without flying blood, fires and boiling liquid launched from the blender.

We would know not to try to cook a 45 minute risotto in 20 minutes or forget to season our food — a practical kitchen truth that seems to often escape the professional chefs competing on the show. We wouldn’t forget salt, because we like it. Again, according to the White House, we like it too much. That thought makes me wonder if the NSA has motion detectors on our salt shakers. I digress.

We homecooks don’t poo poo dried herbs, but can use parsley and kale in our cole slaw, and make a mean salad out of arugula and fresh basil. We know we can delay changing the sheets for a couple of days when life’s rigors demand by changing the pillowcases. We are smart enough to keep that corner of the living room ceiling with cracked sheet rock, from when Grandpa stepped through it when he was in the attic last year, a little dark.

We know it is probably best not to cook the holiday dinner in a get up that makes the diners, be they friends or family, consider if they are taking their lives into their hands by letting you in the house — yup, just like the guy that came to work on the dishwasher. That uncomfortable life truth also seems to escape a number of the show’s competitors who present on national television looking like a casting call for “Mad Max” to cook in varying degrees of orchestrated chaos. Another reality is brought to mind by the image. We have personal experience to attest that it is best not to sweat profusely into the food either — if you want the kids to eat it.

Though we can make a Beef Wellington, and have done, we know that a pure, simple Yankee pot roast is a thing of beauty. We have enough sense to know that if we want to cook a meatloaf, steak, chicken, or squat, barring a fish filet, in 20 minutes, which is about what we have most nights, we will have to break it down, take it off the bone, or pound it thin. It seems to me that, though some of the “Chopped” chefs can produce some impressive culinary concoctions, the rules of the practical kitchen can escape them. Some might argue that the pressure of the competition clock is to blame. I would counter that the pressure of the individually calibrated body clocks of three crying kids and a grumpy, tired hubby represent an exponentially increased pressure level. In other words, we don’t have to watch “Chopped.” We live it — rather successfully, I might add.

I do have to focus, however. It is time to take the appetizers out of the oven. Yes, I met the challenge of the appetizer round. I had also found a can of blackeyes in the pantry, you see. I drained and mixed them with jalapenos and the chunk of tomato leftover from making my husband’s lunchbox sandwich last night, then spread the Texas caviar on “toast points” made from a sack of bread heels I had in the freezer, theoretically to use in scratch stuffing at Thanksgiving.

Dessert you ask? Of course, I say. Think melted Easter candy in a pretty bowl next to apple slices. Fresh fruit a pipe dream? Then, dip dried fruit. Or, go for melted vanilla ice cream (aka creme anglaise) over bananas sauteed in sugar, butter and extract topped with crumbled up Girl Scout cookies for crunch. Or, S’mores makings on hand? Jello cups?

The smell the cumin and garlic powder I had shmeared on the caviar toast points before crisping them up in the hot oven brings me back to the moment. For now, it’s pinch my cheeks, bite my lips(gently), spray my hair upside down, call my kids and their Daddy up from the basement where my dutiful spouse has been playing “Chutes and Ladders” since he came in with them from the neighbor’s in better than fair state of cleanliness, bless her, and meet my boss, et al at the door with a Doris Day smile — and an apron. It is retro night, after all.

Yeah, I know I used a ‘run-on,’ but the home “Chopped” arena is, well, a definite 5K. And, if you’ll pardon the cheesiness-pun intended, it is a food piece, after all-the prize is so much more than the ten grand, granted?

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