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Columnist Makes Confession of Secret Obsession

During the fun-filled, stressed-out 11 months that I’ve been writing “Mishegas of Motherhood,” I’ve developed a bond with my readers. Many of you have sent me supportive emails, and I encourage you to continue to give me all kinds of honest feedback via my new email: ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.

I feel that I can share almost anything with you, including secrets about myself that I don’t talk about with my best girlfriends, not even my own mother. My husband doesn’t have a clue about these innermost feelings either. It’s time that you hear the truth from me before any gossip sneaks out and the facts get distorted.

You know, before I came up with the name “Mishegas of Motherhood,” I had another title in mind. It was called, “But I digress…,” which refers to the tendencies of women, such as myself, to flip flop on topics of conversation sans transitions and explanations. The great thing about sincere female-to-female communication is that we can change subjects at our whim, and we instinctively follow each other’s detours of thought. This story, for example, is a digression. How many guys picked up on that?

Well, what I’m about to reveal is just between us, right? Like you’re not going to contact the Baltimore Jewish Times, are you? Okay, so here goes.

I’m obsessed with the Food Network. My favorites include anything with the adorably perky Rachael Ray, who makes every 30-minute meal look like a no-brainer. Plus, I’m amazed at how her long, floppy brown hair never dips into the spaghetti and meatballs. I also indulge in the true southerner Paula Deen because she brings class to comfort food. The friendly country cook also has a serious sweet tooth and isn’t afraid to use real butter. I’ll never forget how in one episode, the attractive silver-haired, chubby lady declared, “This mulled apple cider is so easy, ya’ll, it’s stupid.” Now that’s my kind of recipe!

I admit that I’m kind of intimidated by the gorgeous Italian chef Giada De Laurenttiis, who has the tiniest waist, biggest smile, and whitest teeth ever. To keep her girlish figure, I’m convinced that she spits out the baked ziti during commercials. Moreover, she never seems to break a sweat, not even under intense pressure at Iron Chef competitions. Speaking of beautiful, I’m also hooked on the impeccably dressed Sandra Lee, who I call Sandra Dee, because she plays an All-American goody two-shoes, even as she mixes another cocktail. To give you an idea of her perfection, her flawless makeup and fashionable outfits always coordinate with the color of her ever-changing kitchen décor, right down to the lavender dish towels. When it comes to her practical semi-homemade cooking tips, I noticed how she uses scissors instead of her teeth to tear open a bag of pecans. Interesting.

Finally, hunks like Michael Chiarello make it macho to toss a Ceaser salad. When the master of easy entertaining wears a kiwi-colored shirt, he’s as inviting as a Spring day. Likewise, guy-next-door Tyler Florence really knows how to heat up the kitchen. The other day he and an Israeli guest deep-fried the crispest and tastiest-looking falafels I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, Emeril’s giblet gravy does nothing for me. Sorry.

It’s no wonder that my daughter has inherited my fetish to watch the 24-hour cooking channel. In fact, Sari idolizes the queen of easy cuisine Rachael Ray. I’m serious. While Sari has mastered the hoola hoop, her latest trick is to hoard as many fresh veggies and boxes of organic chicken broth from the fridge in one trip, using both arms and her chin before she plops the cherry tomatoes and cucumbers on the countertop. Every time I heat the skillet, Sari asks me, “Mom, are you using E.V.O.O.?”

If that’s not weird enough, I sometimes like to pretend that I have my own cooking show in the privacy of my kitchen. That’s right, while I make banana chocolate chip muffins or zesty chicken spiral noodle casserole, I demonstrate to an imaginary audience how I pack down brown sugar or enthusiastically karate chop a red pepper.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons, too, during my culinary adventures. First, I try to remember to read the entire recipe before I get started. Otherwise, I get to the end and realize I was supposed to sprinkle the mozzarella on top during the last five minutes of baking. Another rule is to make sure I have all the ingredients before I crack the first egg. One time I was midway into the batter of chocolate espresso brownies when I discovered that I had no espresso powder and no bittersweet chocolate. What was I thinking? And one more thing…I sometimes forget that I have oatmeal cookies in the oven until I smell something burning. I hate when that happens.

And that brings me to another point. Why isn’t there any Jewish cooking shows? Is it because no baleboostehs wants to share their brisket recipes? Maybe it’s because viewers don’t want to clog their arteries with chopped liver and kreplach. Mediterrain fair, such as hummus and tabouleh, are hip these days, so I’m sure I’m onto something. Maybe if I keep practicing my techniques on chopping parsley, I will one day feel confident enough to pitch my own reality cooking show, called, “Mommmm, what’s for dinner??!!!”

Then again, I digress.

Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.