Gourmands have dismissed Food Network star and best-selling cookbook author Sandra Lee as a down-market Martha Stewart for her trademark Semi-Homemade approach, which makes easy meals out of ingredients like canned corn and french onion soup mix. But Lee, the live-in girlfriend of Governor Andrew Cuomo, doesn't care about catering to her critics.
Her haters, she insists, are elitist foodies who don't understand the needs of the average American family. I'm not a foodie or a fan of canned vegetables, but I applaud Lee for taking the lessons she learned from her own poverty-stricken childhood and passing them on to everyday penny-pinched people. I mean, seriously, this woman could probably copyright the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
Born to teenaged parents in 1966, Lee was essentially raising her four younger siblings and taking care of her prescription drug-addict mother by the age of 12. Plenty of young girls in her position would have cracked under the pressure, but Lee coped by becoming pretty much the most resourceful tween ever, figuring out ways to feed her family on welfare and food stamps, making and selling potholders for extra cash. How awesome is it that the very skills she developed under such duress would propel her to celeb status? Lee baked and basted her way to attaining the too-often unattainable American Dream -- which, I guess, makes her literally as American as apple pie. Who cares if she made the crust from a boxed mix that was on a two-for-one sale? She baked the damn pie, didn't she?
Like I said, my own food aesthetic falls somewhere between generic brand-loving Lee and locally-grown Gwynnie, but I appreciate the "we're all in this together" sentiment Lee shares with our largely economically-compromised country on her shows Sandra's Money-Saving Meals and Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee. She's down-home and down-to-earth.
Do you admire Sandra Lee's creatively practical cuisine?
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