I'm not obsessed with Rachael Ray or anything despite what anyone might have said about me at one time in my life. As far as the premise of the movie Julie & Julia, Rachael Ray is 100% the Julia in my life. I certainly mean no disrespect to legendary influence Julia Child has been on millions of cooks everywhere, but I have never even looked at one of her cookbooks or watched a complete episode of her show. Not even once! With that being said, she was a little "before my time," but I know that many of the chefs I watch today and go to for ideas were completely captivated by her. So, in many ways, I'm sure there's even a little of Julia in my kitchen indirectly.
James and I were married for about two years when we got cable. When I found Food Network and Rachael Ray located on channel 49 (it's since changed to 46 for me!), my life really did change. I hate to sound all melodramatic about it, but folks, she really taught me to cook! I cooked before I watched her and started collecting her cookbooks, but I really cooked once I found Rachael! She taught me that great meals don't have to be complicated or fancy-schmancy to be amazing. Even though my dad taught me to try new things as a teenager, as a wife cooking for her hubby (this was BM-Before Matthew, not the other gastrointestinal BM, sicko!), I just never tried to cook anything out of my comfort zone.
She taught me that you can do more than Hamburger Helper in 30 minutes! She helped me understand ingredients that I had never even heard of, much less tasted before. She helped me find the guts to cook pretty much anything. I'm not saying that we eat all of these diverse meals seven days a week, but I definitely have found my way out of the prepackaged box since then.
Today, I own more of her cookbooks that I can even think of right now and I have no intention of cooking my way through one of her books anytime soon as Julie cooked her way through Julia Child's book in the movie. However, I will always be thankful for the influence Rachael Ray has had in our kitchen. I'm pretty sure James is thankful for the influence she's had in our kitchen too!
So, Rachael, wherever you are today, thanks for showing me "that a great meal is never more than 30 minutes away!"