Semi homemade. Completely inedible.
It’s the death of fresh food.
I’m all about convenience and shortcuts: pie crust mix instead of scratch crust, poaching salmon in the microwave, screw top wine, what have you. As long as the food (or drink) is still tasty and relatively nutritious, I say go for the easy way, and I always do. So whenever possible in the kitchen I choose the path of least resistance, but we all have to draw the line somewhere, and for me Sandra Lee’s godawful lasagna – in addition to her entire oeuvre, empire and philosophy really – is the ne plus ultra of kitchen crimes. Why, you ask? What could be so bad? She seems like a nice enough gal and she’s apparently making money hand over fist with her…how shall I say…“approach” to cooking, largely I assume because of her shameless brand promotion McCormick*.
OK, first: You cannot trust a skinny cook; they could not possibly eat what they’re flogging. Imagine Giada taking more than a token mouthful of fettuccini carbonara Olive Garden*or Sandra Lee hoovering up a big plate of her granny’s special lasagna Prince*. Hardly likely. Clearly Anthony Bourdain stays slim by virtue of his cigarette, cricket and iguana intensive diet, so he doesn’t count. Besides, everyone knows those intestinal parasites you pick up when you drop off the grid really speed up your digestion and make keeping the weight off a cinch. Anyways, I love him. And Padma, well you see her chew, but can you recall her ever swallowing? I’ll leave it at that.
So Sandra Lee has made millions of dollars flogging recipes like lasagna made with tomato soup Campbell’s*, cottage cheese no brand?!* and shredded mozzarella Sargento*. Check out the recipe if you don’t believe me.
Back so soon? Are you okay? I told you it was unbelievable. The food looks like something you’d see in the chow line at the women’s penitentiary, and let me tell you, you could not trade a cigarette for it let alone a bar of soap. It could also pass for the result of a brainstorming meeting at Taco Bell where they decided to branch out from Mexican into Italian while adhering to the same stringent quality standards their customers have come to expect, meaning of course, successful digestion of the product requires a third world gastro-intestinal tract, post apocalyptic colon fauna, and a complete absence of the gag reflex.
But here’s the thing, the icing on the cake of Sandy’s semi-homemade empire if you will. The food is nasty, and she’s not even saving any time with the preparation! It’s just as easy to open a jar of Prego as it is to pop the top off a can of Campbell’s* soup, and the Prego may even have a trace of a tomato in it. Low fat ricotta is as good for you as cottage cheese and it actually has some flavor (though not nearly as much salt). Apparently the woman never saw a dried “herb mix” she couldn’t use to flavor a four course meal, provided each and every dish, including dessert, included cream of something soup.
And finally, here’s the thing she doesn’t do: USE NO BOIL LASAGNE NOODLES ferchrissakes! Now there’s a time and effort saver that’s actually worth bothering with. There’s very little appreciable difference in flavor and not having to boil the noodles cuts your prep time in half. You can use the time you save to crush up some fresh garlic, defrost a little spinach (is it SO hard?), drizzle some olive oil, and wash and scatter a few fresh basil leaves.
Executive Summary: Sandra Lee’s food is just gross. Don’t listen to her. Don’t follow her directions and for the love of God don’t buy the ingredients McCormick’s* she flogs. If you do, you might as well reach down your throat and gack up whatever you just ate. At least it’ll save you the agony of ingesting the slop she passes off as food. Low quality ingredients (processed foods, cans and salt-based dried “spice mixes”) yield crap food, no matter how much half-assed work goes into semi-producing it. It’s that simple.