The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

July 18, 2012

Cheryle Finley: TV shows put contestants in pressure cooker

JOPLIN, Mo. — Between the Travel Channel and Food Network, you can get your fill of food programs all day and night. Not only do I like to see what they are cooking and eating, but also who is in charge of the show.

Food Network is full of stars. It also features cooks who want to be stars. Why anyone would want to be on the show “Chopped” is beyond me. Contestants are given three baskets of food, which are opened up one at a time. They then must come up with an appetizer, entree and dessert from the baskets of ingredients. Of course, there’s always something in the baskets that makes contestants pause -- something like jelly beans or some fruit they have never heard of.

I can see it now: I open the basket and stand there crying for the entire 30 minutes that I’ve been given to come up with a presentable dish because I don’t have any idea what the heck the food is or how to cook it. No thanks.

“Cupcake Wars” would be a little easier because contestants know they are going to make cupcakes. But, if they make it to the final round, they have to produce 1,000 cupcakes, plus come up with a display to match the theme. Again, no thank you.

I’ve also been watching the show “The Next Food Network Star,” which has 12 people vying for their own show. Each one of them has a point of view, or POV, that is their specialty. One likes grilling; one is a throwback to the ’50s; one specializes in seafood from New England. I would love to be the next Food Network star without going through that nerve-racking competition. What would be my POV? Maybe chocolate. Maybe leftovers. Maybe the slow cooker. I’m full of ideas, I just need those producers to put me on the air!

Then there’s Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern from the Travel Channel. I don’t like to fly, so I don’t wish for their jobs of traveling all over the world. Adam Richman is also on the Travel Channel. He eats large quantities of regular food or small quantities of really hot food. Again, not interested. Well, maybe, just not in the hot food thing. He has a new show where he’s trying to pick the best sandwich in America. Now there’s a job I would love, if only I could take a bus or car to each location. Or I could change it up and go on a journey to find the best pasta in America, or the best fries in America, or the best pie in America. That might be a good contest for the Four State Area so no flying is involved -- kind of like the chicken wars between Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s that was televised. But I love just about all food, so this would probably end up being a coin toss.

If I had my own TV food show, I would remind you to stay hydrated when the thermometer hits these high temperatures. Avoid diuretics such as caffeinated drinks. Water is your best bet. Try a handful of frozen grapes, cold noodle dishes, ice cream, watermelon and smoothies. Another good way to avoid dehydration, besides plenty of water? Make sure you are getting enough potassium.

Five foods that will supply us with good amounts of potassium are, of course, bananas as well as dried prunes, spinach, avocados and oranges. Work one of these into your meals or snacks everyday, especially if you are outside for any length of time.

How about a TV show where I tell you things I remember? Of course, these ideas would be from many years ago because I can tell you about a favorite dinner from when I was 12 years old, but I can’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday. I forget what that’s a sign of. I remember when all cereals had “sugar” in the name -- Sugar Pops, Sugar Frosted Flakes, Sugar Smacks -- and no one thought it was a bad thing. I remember when we used clothespins to keep potato chip bags closed instead of buying a special chip clip. I remember Saturday mornings when Mom would bake a can of orange Danish rolls, and my sister, Sue, and I would almost eat the entire pan while watching cartoons. I can see it now: “The Good Ole Days with Good Ole Cheryle.”

Now, for dinner this week. The honey mustard baked chicken recipe comes from “The Country Cooking Recipe Collection,” and is easy to prepare. Instead of whole chickens, you could use wings. According to Kate Peterson, the cook who provided the recipe, prepare them ahead of time, chill, then serve as finger food. We also have two desserts today. The first one, chocolate cake, is from Susan Davis Mabe, of Lamar. She tells me her retired mother loves my column and is looking forward to the “finer things in life.” I hope they all come her way. Susan received this recipe from a friend while working at O’Sullivan a few years back. She has changed it a little to make it her own, using a Symphony candy bar, which is one of the best around. For best results, Susan says to be sure the chocolate is cold when you chop it. The second dessert is from my dear friend, Carol Parker. Carol knows I love dessert, and this dessert is one everyone will love. She uses vanilla ice cream, and while other flavors are fine, I think vanilla works best. Make this ahead of time and when you pull it out of the freezer after dinner, everyone will hope they have plenty of room left for a big helping. You will be lucky if there’s any leftovers. Thank you, Susan and Carol, for sharing these favorite recipes. Have a wonderful week and happy eating!


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