At 20, my daughter Lucy is a harsh critic of television hosts. Ellen, she watches with delight whenever she can, loves her dance, loves her politics. Tyra Banks never received another blink of her viewing eye after an episode on unusual phobias when she revealed her fear of… dolphins.
And then there's Rachael Ray. Lucy can't stand her. Because she calls Extra Virgin olive oil EVOO, out loud, and starts to talk about American Idol as she's fricasseeing, and suddenly it's all about who should win instead of how to steam broccoli rabe. And because Rachael says, "Yum-o."
I don't share those objections, because I never watch any Rachael Ray television shows.
No, I just read her food mag, Every Day With Rachael Ray. I like the 30-minute recipes that do not entail 45 minutes of finding ingredients here in Knoxville—and her wise remarks like, "Personally, I'd rather grill indoors because that's where the air-conditioning is!"
But… ah, there's always the qualifier. Rachael does like to harp on how she and her husband return to Italy each year on their anniversary. I just read about it over and over. This may have a little to do with the fact that I inadvertently bought the February/Valentine issue a second time in March, because it was still on the shelves at the South Knoxville Wal-Green's, but stop rubbing it in, Rachael!
And then there are her pet-friendly recipes. For example, in February 2009, the issue which I for some reason always remember most clearly, she taught us how to make Patty Melts. For dogs. From poultry seasoning, ground turkey, and Swiss cheese, with butter for grilling.
I ate a much less complicated dish on Valentine's. In South Knoxville, not Montalcino, thank you very much.
Still, I must admit Rachael occasionally hits the mark with a frugal, easy, recipe like the one to the right, that uses up ripe bananas and the whole wheat flour left over from bread machine fantasies that don't come true.
Which almost makes up for my other gripe. The Pet Friendly page has pretty cute little pet photos, but they only list the doggies by first name and breed. Maybe Rach is worried a sick-o will find out where they live and kidnap them from the playground? Or maybe they don't list the owners' names because they know once their friends find out they're willing to follow five-part recipes to make mini turkey burger patty melts for their dogs, they'll expect equal treatment.
Whatever the explanation, I'm going to turn Rachael's Alcoholics Anonymous-caliber identity protection for dogs to my advantage. If they ever feature some non-descript retriever mixes in the Pet Friendly photo, I'll tell all my friends that's my dog! Just not his real name. Maybe I'll wait until they feature a dog known only as Flipper, and send the news to Tyra Banks.
Penny Cakes (for Dogs)
- 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 carrot, grated, plus more for garnish
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup honey
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. each ground allspice and ginger
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 6 oz. softened cream cheese
- Preheat the over to 350F. Grease two 12 cup muffin pans. In a large bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, carrot, egg, and honey; stir in 3 cups water.
- In another large bowl, stir together the spices and baking powder, mix into the carrot mixture.
- Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Bake until firm and dry, about 45 minutes. Let cool, then top each cupcake with more grated carrot and smear with cream cheese.
Condensed from Everyday With Rachael Ray, June/July 2008