Get Like: Ina Garten
I DON'T LIKE THE PERSON THAT I BECOME WHEN I WATCh BAREFOOT CONTESSA.
i am overcome with self-doubt, wondering if i too will ever look at anything other than my own reflection in the way that ina garten gazes at her beloved jeffrey or a quart of heavy cream.
The woman has life figured out.
She is a best-selling author, master scarf-draper, and Emmy award-winning hostess. Her velvet serenity equivocal to a freshly baked Apple Cake Tatin seduces sous chefs like Elmo and Taylor Swift into her kitchen on the reg.
Determined to become the neighbor of Tina Fey's dreams, I took a stroll through Ina's particularly detoured path to success for someone whose notoriety is a title of royal shoelessness.
INA DROPPED OUT OF SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY where she studied first fashion, then economics to marry Jeffrey Garten, whom she met at age fifteen while visiting her brother at Dartmouth.
While Jeffrey went to Vietnam to serve in the war, Ina passed the time ~waiting for bae~ by hosting dinner parties for friends and acquiring her pilot's license.
Take a moment to consider our latent potential had social media never been created.
The couple took a lover's journey to France upon his return where Ina became obsessed with French cuisine and gourmet ingredients.
She decided to take the cliché challenge of cooking through Julia Child's Mastering The Art Of French Cooking once back in the United States while the couple settled in to positions at the White House. Ina's menial clerical duties included writing nuclear energy budgets for the Ford and Carter administrations.
Despite an impressive title, Ina was unhappy. Work at the White House was stressful and only mildly fulfilling.
"I KEPT THINKING TO MYSELF: 'THERE HAS TO BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS!'"
It was in her ritual of entertaining that she found enough catharsis to keep from mental breakdowns resultant of a grueling nine-to-five, however, fate would finally strike in the form of a real estate ad for a specialty food store up for sale in the Hamptons.
After a spirited road trip and the blessing of her husband, she chucked the deuces up to Uncle Sam and bought Barefoot Contessa.
She expanded the gourmet food business over two decades before venturing into publishing cookbooks bound with recipes attributed to the brand's success.
Her books unexpectedly leapt to the top of best-seller charts, earning respect from the likes of culinary experts with pantries stocked with James Beard Awards.
Ina is now the inspiration to amateur home chefs and has recently entered the flogosphere via a Facebook fan page and Pinterest account.
So how does one 'GET' like Ina Garten?
DO we replace our entire wardrobe cotton blouses?
Do we light a candle to summon the saints of mascarpone cheese?
Before opening a line of credit at Ann Taylor Loft, consider these tips that I collected while trekking Ina Garten's footpath.
ESSENTIALS FOR A FIRST LIVING SPACE
Congrats! You just signed the lease on your first Brooklyn Apartment. Now all you need is everything that goes inside of it.
With barely enough money to finance anything that isn't a biological need, Ina suggests to stick with the basics.
Inexpensive fabric at a craft store can be used as a tablecloth. That way, when you stain it spitting out wine during the finale of Bachelor Pad, you can replace it for cheap while changing up the aesthetic of your room.
Mismatched glasses from Goodwill or The Salvation Army make for adorable entertaining pieces that cost next to nothing while supporting charitable causes.
Splurging on a Matisse might not be in your price range, but a bouquet of fresh flowers or a bowl of produce totally is. Fresh vegetables naturally invite colors of the season into a room and are the perfect excuse to whip up a healthy home-cooked meal.
Ms. Garten suggests starting your first kitchen with these cookware basics: A few sharp knives, a saucepan, "lots of baking sheets", and white bakeware. Although risky for a culinary novice, white will match any soap box you ever inhabit.
The Barefoot Contessa is all about using quality ingredients, but never discounts the versatility of pantry staples. Things like frozen peas, puff pastry, and Libby's canned pumpkin can be transformed into dishes that seem gourmet, but aren't.
ENTERTAINING OUTSIDE OF THE (WINE) BOX
PRE-GAME (KIND OF.)
Ina insists on opening your wine and tasting it (taste; not chug) the day before your event to make sure that it's okay to drink.
This will also give your vino time to breathe, enhancing its flavor to optimal grapey goodness.
KEEP IT SIMPLE TO AVOID CHAOS AND/OR CHINESE TAKE-OUT
Prepare a foolproof menu with a main dish that's within your arsenal of experience. This is preferably something that can be prepared in advance and finish cooking while guests arrive. A cheese lasagna qualifies as a no-brainer that can be assembled in advance.
HACK THE DESSERT COURSE
Purchase a pre-made pound cake, prepare a batch of whipped cream the day prior, and serve with slices of fresh fruit or berries.
Have your cake and eat it too because, you my friend, are now an evil entertaining genius.
NOURISH YOUR JEFFREY'S
Ina's husband Jeffery has been her number one fan long before Food Network fame, supporting her career moves every step of the way.
Now, it's nearly impossible to catch an episode of the Barefoot Contessa wherein Ina doesn't offer to make a steamy cup of hot chocolate for her Knight in Shining Sweater Vests.
Whether it's through food or a phone call take the time to feed the souls of the 'Jeffrey's' in your life instead of just stalking their Facebook feed.
ALL WHO WANDER ARE NOT LOST
Hands up if you are under the age of thirty, living the dream on a yacht with your face on the side!
...That's the sound of silence because we all still kind of suck!
Garten's success only arrived late in life after learning to put faith in her instincts and make adjustments accordingly. Don't be ashamed of surrendering to the status quo if it's crushing your soul and following your heart while young and unrestricted.
Imagine if Sad-Nuclear-Policy-Analyst Ina never bought Barefoot Contessa. Her culinary talents would have wasted away in the White House cabinet rather than filling our cabinets with treats.
Ready to Get Like Ina?
Let's start by getting wasted.
Click here to get my recipe for fall-off-the-bone White Wine Wasted Spare Ribs that I adapted from two of Ina's 'foolproof' recipes.