I hope you enjoy Starting from Scratch, my second book, published each week online, one chapter at a time. Before the book’s final publication, I hope to sprinkle readers’ thoughts, opinions and advice throughout. After all, you each have helpful systems and solutions in the kitchen worth sharing. In addition, for each section, I’m food bloggers and culinary experts – for this excerpt, it’s Dani Spies, author of a wonderful blog in her name.


It’s hard to believe that Julia Child first appeared on television over 40 years ago! More recently, in 2009, the Food Network grew 29% to its all-time high. A 24-hour Cooking Channel launched in May of 2010, and even other channels are adding food shows, according to USA Today.

A case in point, my spouse nearly had a cow one evening when he was cooking dinner to the tunes of Monday Night Football, and Luke, my son, asked him to turn on the “Cooking Channel.” In instances such as this, I remind him that chicks dig men who can cook. Regardless if Luke turns out to be a chef, football player or a rock star, at the rate he’s singing and dancing now, he’ll be a step ahead of the rest if he knows how to cook a thing or two.

But back to the Food Network, my personal favorite happens to be the author of some of my favorite cookbooks as well – Jamie Oliver. Though he has now gained superstar notoriety, I used to watch him years ago when he was scarcely known. His enthusiasm for cooking is contagious; and I hope his efforts to improve kids’ lunches spread like wildfire!

My second favorite show on the Food Network, and Luke’s absolute favorite, is The Barefoot Contessa. In fact, when I turn on the Food Network and she is not on air, he will make a fuss and exclaim, “Mom, when is the good one going to be on TV again?” Not too long ago, he pulled one of his small chairs in front of the kitchen TV so he could closely observe Ina and the dishes she was preparing that evening – all while I finished up dinner.

Dani actually agrees. “I learn so much for watching cooking shows!  I have the Food Network on constantly and am always picking up ideas, tips, flavor combos etc.  This is a great way to learn how to cook!”

Whether you want to prepare Southern food, Italian, semi-homemade or healthy food, you’ll find a show on television to suit your style and taste. Even if you aren’t able to triple task and complete your meal in 30 minutes, you will likely benefit from the overall experience of watching. You’ll get ideas for new ingredients and dishes, new types of preparation and likely a few “rules of thumb” that might make the experience much easier and more enjoyable.

One note of caution. Television isn’t always comparable to “real” cooking at home. Not only are the shows taped, but celebrity chefs have a slew of sous chefs, make-up artists and food stylists to make everything look easy and delicious (and to make the chefs look far more beautiful than my post-workout, end-of-day, dinner-making appearance). Everyone makes mistakes, even if we never actually see the ones made behind the TV scenes. So tune in, learn what you can, and don’t worry if the outcome isn’t fit for the big screen!

About Dani

Dani Spies, HHC, AADP is a L.A. based Health Counselor and an ACSM Certified Fitness Trainer.  She is a graduate of The Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York City and holds a B.A. in Psychology from William Paterson University.

Her blog, danispies.com, is all about making good food SUPER EASY so people can eat well and feel great! She created the site four years ago to reach others wanting to learn more about nutritious ingredients and simple cooking techniques. She uses both written recipes and short videos to demonstrate how easy this can be.

Photo courtesy of Mathilde’s Cuisine.

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