Me and Sandra Lee

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When I told the Gapers Block editors last week that I wanted to take them up on their last-minute offer to interview Food Network celebrity chef Sandra Lee, creator of the Semi-Homemade television and cookbook empire, their response was instructive: “You’re not going to shred her, are you?”

While it’s true, this blogger does not suffer fools gladly, in my estimation, Sandra Lee is a pretty savvy gal. In fact, we both have something in common. When I first moved to Chicago in 2003 and promptly went broke, I knew I had to learn how to feed myself from my own kitchen or live in a box beneath the Michigan Avenue Bridge.

I started with the “special preparation methods” on the back of several boxes of Zatarain’s rice and proceeded to work my way through my cupboard, night after night doctoring every ounce of pre-packaged food I could find.  As I recounted the story on these pages, my own personal semi-homemade introduction to my kitchen inspired me to become a (now quite accomplished) home cook, saved me a bundle of money, and allowed me to enjoy a good quality of life at a time when life’s pressures seemed bent on making sure that wouldn’t happen.

On those terms, I applaud Sandra Lee. Her rubric of “70% ready-made products with 30% fresh and creative touches” has empowered many American moms–and anyone else with a surfeit of kitchen fear who’s cared to listen–with a confident ability to navigate a week’s worth of family meals and feed themselves and their loved ones, without breaking the bank or losing their cool.

All that said, I invite you over to Gapers Block today to read my interview with the Queen of Semi-Homemade, Sandra Lee. The first blog post to ever inspire me to make a spam and pineapple casserole.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you?

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