Really, I do. When I was really, really stupid about food, Rachael Ray took me by the hand, led me to the kitchen and said, "Really, it's not that scary. Let me show you." Okay, maybe she didn't ACTUALLY take me by the hand, but she very figuratively did.
When I realized how much I needed to learn to cook, I turned on the Food Network and got very, very scared. Here were all these people making fancy, fancy stuff with ingredients I'd never heard of. (Lest we forget, I knew not what a green onion was, so things like polenta and risotto were way beyond my reach.) Then I found Rachael Ray. "Hey," I thought, "She reminds me of every best friend I've had since I was about 15. I think I can speak her language." And then she started making burgers. Burgers! I know burgers! I can do burgers! That's when I knew we would be friends for life, if only in a one-sided, through-the-TV sort of way. Like all good friends, we've had our ups and downs, me and Rach. Sometimes I wanted to throw something through the TV and tell her to stop being so persistently HAPPY all the time. Couldn't she see that I was in a mood and she was annoying me? Then I realized, that no, she can't, and her job kind of depends on her being happy, and eventually we'd make up. Sometimes I strayed from her down-to-earth food to covet the more gourmet offerings of the other chefs. But I always came back. She had me at hello.
It was Rachael Ray who taught me about formulas vs. recipes, and even emboldended me to create my own recipes. Before her, I was amazed at the powerful recipe-creating powers of all those cookbook people. Now, while still amazed, I understand that it's actually easier than I imagined. With Rachael's persistent encouragement, and her daily reminders that no one is going to come to my house and inspect my chopping methods, cooking has become less of a mystery and more of a hobby. Someday, I hope I can run into her in the grocery store so I can say, "Look! Look at my cart! I have ingredients in here! Ingredients to make meals because I know how to cook, and you helped!" At which point she will probably be a bit scared and walk away at a quickened pace, and the tables will have turned and I will be the happy one, yelling after her down the aisle, "Wait! I have to tell you about my meatloaf recipe! I made it up! All by myself! Aren't you proud of me? Rachael? Hello?"