Josh Ozersky, who writes the Taste of America column over at Time.com, recently wrote a post entitled “Why The Martha Stewart Show Had to Go,” regarding the Hallmark Channel’s decision to cancel Stewart’s show after seven years on the air.

But as America gets poorer, and even the cramped kitchens and half-full refrigerators begin to look like less of a guarantee, maybe the Martha Stewart lifestyle seems less like an aspiration and more like a cruel mockery.

I, quite frankly, think we need that kind of aspiration. I can’t afford a Stewart kitchen, decked out and impeccably designed, but I can certainly acquire tools that will make my cooking projects a little bit easier, and I can aspire to be an expert in my field, even if that’s cooking at home with low-cost ingredients.

Ozersky goes on to say that if forced to choose chef role model between Martha and Rachael Ray, he’d choose the latter.

I aspire personally to cook like Ray — fast and intuitively with stuff I actually have in the house; but I wish I could do the grand old recipes, the poached halibut and foie gras terrine, as well as Stewart does. In fact, I couldn’t see myself doing it at all. Her baking seemed especially terrifying to me. I live in an apartment; my table is filled with unpaid bills, take-out menus and cigarette papers. Where am I going to start putting mixing bowls?

This characterization is unfair. In addition to foie grass terrine and poached halibut, Martha Stewart’s magazine and website feature recipes for meatloaf, red velvet cake, and sloppy joes. I’m pretty sure that none of those things are the fancy-schmancy, time-intensive recipes Ozersky insinuates make up the bulk of Stewart’s offerings, and which is not to mention either that Ozersky’s unpaid bills, take-out menus, and cigarette papers have less to do with Martha Stewart’s relevancy and more with his unkempt house.

The assertion that Stewart is only relevant to older women, rich women, or skilled chefs is patently untrue. I’m 26 and find Martha’s recipes far more useful than most television cooks’ as I begin to learn the difference between a roux and a roulade, saffron from sage. I guarantee you that Rachael Ray isn’t going to teach you that and she’ll annoy you with the repetition of juvenile words like “yumm-o” and “EVOO” in the process.


The Pendulum Swings

With the industrial revolution, America lost its taste for homemade. Goods could be produced more cheaply by machine and were shinier, seamless, and dare I say it, without much character. I’m pleased to report that while most households still buy everything at the store, the movement toward homemade is experiencing a bit of a revival.

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, Yvette van Boven's Home Made, and Jodi Kahn's Simply Sublime Gifts

It beleaguers my mother to no end that I prefer to make at home what could easily be bought at the store—gift tags, whipped cream, and fancy cakes—but I like to do it, even if the cost savings aren’t terribly significant.

My current obsessions include making gourmet cupcakes and creating homemade solutions to organizational challenges like my need for a storage solution for holiday gift wrap. I also recently finished making my own light tent (the one you see in my recent Barbie photography post) which saved me a ton of money and which I’ve already used several times to take pictures of cupcakes.

On the less good homemade front, I’m the the throes of a fight with my stand mixer. Over the holidays, the motor on my trusty Sunbeam stand mixer gave out. I’d wanted to upgrade to a KitchenAid for some time before that but couldn’t justify the purchase, and was secretly a little pleased when the Sunbeam broke. Off I trotted to Macy’s to check out the after-Christmas sales, picked up a mixer on sale, and hauled what seemed like 100 pounds through the mall and back home. Upon walking through the door and checking out the Internet, I found that I could get a professional-level KitchenAid for a cheaper price than I’d just paid for my standard mixer, and so, I packed said mixer back up and returned it to the store.

The fancy, schmancy pro machine with all the bells and whistles arrived from Amazon this Friday and upon unboxing it and using it once, I discovered that it’s damaged and doesn’t quite work right. Today’s project is to pack it back into the box to be dragged to the UPS store on Monday. I really, really hope that the replacement they send will actually work and I can get back to baking.