Sunday Dinner with Rachel Ray…sorta

I must confess, until last summer at Book Expo America in New York City…I did not know who Rachel Ray was. Then my friend Season said excitedly that Rachel Ray was there and she HAD to go get her autograph for her husband. Now, had Rachel Ray been known for giving great advice on snagging designer shoes at PAYLESS prices…then I would have known who she was. But she was a cook…and the only class I ever failed was Home Economics and my cooking, while excellent of course, is composed mostly of salads and leftovers someone else cooked first.

Turned out that Mr. Season LOVED Rachel Ray. He watched her show and wistfully hinted that Season (culinary skills akin to mine) should attempt to create some of her recipes for him. Curious…I called Rodney on my cell phone. Rodney, in case you don’t know, is not completely a boyfriend and far removed from a husband, Nonetheless we’ve spent many years tolerating each other and he does have the privilege of being referred to as “Sadie’s Dad.”

I was surprised at his response to my query about his knowledge of Rachel Ray. He was ecstatic…and if you know Rodney…it takes a LOT to get some excitement out of him. Seems all those nights he walks across the street to his Lizard Pit as he calls his condominium…he’s spending them in front of his television longing for Rachel Ray…more accurately…her culinary creations.

He knew ALL about her. Where she lived…where all she had gone for food excursions…and was thrilled that she could travel on $40 a day AND drink beer with her dinners. Well…blow me away.

So I found myself in the line of Rachel Ray admirers hoping to get an autograph for Rodney and I did. Rachel Ray was a really nice person and even posed for a picture with me…I finally appeared on the bulletin board of Rodney’s office only because I was in the photograph with Rachel. Season also got a signed photograph for her husband. We’re lucky she even signed them for us. We were the only women in line not getting a cookbook or recipe signed as we pathetically asked for a photo to be signed to someone else.This was pretty good for us though, as we got to spend more money on ourselves in NYC instead of on a present for these two.

So today, I decided to try one of Rachel’s recipes and invite Rodney over. After an evening of visiting 3 supermarkets and finally getting home after 11:00 p.m. I had (or thought I did) all the ingredients to make something I’d watched her do effortlessly on television in 30 minutes. It was called the ROAD TO MOROCCO LAMB and it looked delicious. Forgetting all about geography, but recalling how much Rodney loved Indian food, I paid attention to her preparations and felt this was the recipe to dazzle him with. India…Morocco….they’re at least on the same ocean I think.

And finally…5.5 hours after I started the preparations…we sat down to eat. Rodney, like most men, arrived right before the meal was served. Men are usually pretty scarce in the kitchen during the preparations unless they are plying you with the wine you need to be using in the recipe in hopes of a dessert not on the menu…but that’s another story. He was amazed at how dazzling the smells were that overwhelmed him as he stepped into the front door. So far so good, because Rachel Ray had commented several times about how aromatic this dish was.

If you want to avoid Canine Chaos while dining, I suggest you plan ahead. In my case today, I was unable to procure a boneless leg of lamb as Rachel easily did with the abundance of butchers in NYC. Here, I had to make do with the only leg of lamb available at the local Walmart..complete with bone. So I trimmed the meat off the bone…cut off the fat…and cooked the bone and remnants ahead of time for Sadie. I fed her just as we were sitting down to eat and it was nothing short of miraculous She loved the lamb and broth mixed with her food and after eating, was content to lie under the table. She never begged even one bite!

Rodney too was silent during the meal. His only comment concerned the herb infused olive oil for dipping the rosemary-potato crusty rolls in (easily purchased already made at the store). He asked why I had it in an ash tray (I didn’t) but I ignored it because he is struggling to quit smoking and everything reminds him of ashtrays these days.

The meal was delicious and I didn’t’ even have to say to myself that I had outdone myself…with a little help from Rachel. Rodney was very complimentary about every aspect of the meal. ..and happy that I packed up the leftovers for him to have for lunch tomorrow. Sadie also has leftovers for tomorrow and so do I. It was a very satisfying experience and next time I attempt one of Rachel’s Meals in 30 Minutes…I’ll be most happy to have shaved my time down to 4 hours start to finish. I think we can count on a lot of Sunday dinners before I make it into the 30 minute window. After all, it sometimes used to take me and entire day just to eat something without Sadie knowing I was doing so…this is a monumental improvement!

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