December 15, 2006

I thought I’d go through Mark Siegel’s latest ICv2 interview and pull out the goodies promised by First Second in 2007:

  • The Professor’s Daughter, written by Joann Sfar and illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert
  • The Tiny Tyrant, by Lewis Trondheim
  • Garage Band, by Gipi
  • The Lost Colony Book 2, by Grady Klein
  • The Black Diamond Detective Agency, by Eddie Campbell
  • Life Sucks, written by Jessica Abel and illustrated by Warren Pleece
  • Laika, by Nick Abadzis
  • Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon
  • Yum.

    In the kitchen: Sandra Lee

    December 15, 2006

    I thought it would be easy to evaluate the cheflebrity of Sandra Lee, of Semi-Homemade fame. Her approach and aesthetic make her the anti-Martha, and for everyone who rolls their eyes at Stewart’s parchment-paper lined rigidity, there are plenty who will view Lee’s unnatural acts with envelopes of powdered ranch dressing mix with equal disdain. (Seriously, I think most people who cook regularly rest somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.)

    So why is it that I’m suddenly feeling reluctant to dole out too much mockery on a person who has actually taken a store-bought apple pie, crumbled it into packaged whipped topping, and layered it between strips of baked phyllo? What’s not to mock about that?

    For one thing, it isn’t like Lee has invented the “pimp my can” style of cookery. While James Beard and Julia Child were popularizing gourmet techniques, Poppy Cannon was dousing dubious ingredients with liqueurs and setting them ablaze in an attempt to make them more festive and glamorous. (High standards and derision for “home economists” aside, Beard himself shilled for Green Giant.)

    And while episodes of her television show can inspire Mystery Science Theatre-esque home viewing, there isn’t a whisper of cynicism to Lee’s presentation.


  • She seems absolutely sincere in the belief that her food is delicious, her decorating ideas festive, and her economies of time and money valuable to her audience.
  • She does not want for confidence, which is good, because any cracks would make the whole thing fatally uncomfortable.
  • “Cocktail time” really is the best time of the day.
  • Cons:

  • Some of her economies are patently false. Packaged flavor mixes are ultimately much more expensive than a decently stocked spice rack, and some of the mixes have really unpleasant additives and ridiculous quantities of sodium.
  • Seriously, she crumbled up a store-bought pie as an ingredient in a dessert, taking a perfectly good prepared dish and turning it into something needlessly complicated and, frankly, a little scary.
  • She is leading the charge in the degradation of the martini. If there’s a war on Christmas, there’s certainly a war on this innocent, uncomplicated libation. Nothing that includes pumpkin pie spice as an ingredient can be called a martini.
  • Summary:

    A lot of Food Network’s programming focuses, if not actually on a gourmet standard of cookery, then at least on higher-end preparations and ingredients. Not everyone wants to work that hard or spend that much, and given the popularity of Lee’s lifestyle products, a lot of people buy into her approach wholeheartedly. So while I personally would probably never try and replicate one of her recipes at home and I watch her program with horrified amusement, I think it’s great that not everyone has to have a pot of fresh rosemary on their kitchen windowsill to play along. She believes in what she’s doing. It’s not for me to wonder how.

    Junk mail

    December 15, 2006

    I’m probably being paranoid, but I’m wondering if some of my e-mails are getting filtered as spam. I’ve gotten e-mails from a couple of folks, written back, and never heard anything further, and I don’t want them to think I didn’t respond. And I know some e-mail servers see the “@yahoo” and consign it to the bin.

    So if you’ve written me lately, haven’t heard back and are thinking I’m just a snooty S.O.B., that’s probably not the case. It’s certainly possible, but it isn’t a complete lock. Drop me a line again and I’ll reply via another account that hopefully doesn’t make your mail server roll its eyes in disdain.