I admit to having a little bit of a Food Network obsession. I don't watch much TV, and most of the TV I do watch is typically mutually agreed upon recorded programs I watch with my husband. When he's not home and I feel like watching, I invariably turn to the Food Network. And, really, I could sit there and watch just about any of those shows, because despite my MIL's reason for not watching (she can already cook), I feel like I learn a little something with almost every show I watch (even though, no matter what she'll tell you, I can cook too). Whether it's not to wash mushrooms and raspberries or the fact that cold butter is the key to flaky pastry.
Of course I have my favorites, and these change with my moods. If I'm in the mood for fantasy, I go for Barefoot Contessa. If I'm feeling competitive, Iron Chef is perfect, and if I'm feeling a bit cosmopolitan, I love to watch Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives. Its appeal is actually two-fold, as they highlight unique and excellent restaurants around the U.S. and they get the chefs to give quick tutorials on how to make a couple of the restaurant's specialty items.
I'd been trying to keep track of some of these spots, in the event that I ever visited the city in question, but I'm getting overloaded with must-visits. So, I'm thinking of dedicating one of my many currently blank journals to future culinary vacation spots and roadtrip stops. I do occasionally get the urge to try out one of the featured recipes myself (after cutting a couple ingredients, substituting a few more, simplifying and generally trying to cut fat and calories), so it's a win-win, even if the final product only vaguely resembles its inspiration.
A new favorite is The Best Thing I Ever Ate, where celebrity chefs and restaurant owners highlight their favorite foods in a given category. On Friday's episode, one of the guys' favorite snacks was a particular pickle, so they did a little piece on this homemade pickle company...and I think, just maybe, I can adjust my own delicious pickle recipe (a la Emeril) to make it a little easier. Awesome!
I will tell you that I'm sort a cooking celebrity in my house too. For years, while my boys were eating lunch or dinner, I'd stand at the kitchen island cooking and pretend I was doing a cooking show--my mom even made me a stand-up sign. The boys loved being 'audience members' and insisted on seeing into the bowl after ever step. I really could have used one of those overhead mirrors hanging from the ceiling in my kitchen... Maybe someday.