Look! At Me! I'm Sandra Lee!: An Ode to Semi-Homemade Cooking

"My Buddha, she's faux."

"France is the city of lights."

"Set your food processor to pulse and walk away."

Outtakes from Hey Paula? Nope. Corky dialogue from Life Goes On? Oooh, so close. The drunken ramblings of woman who inexplicably has a cooking show based around half-assing everything but the table decorations? Ah, that's the one.

There are few things that I enjoy more than trainwreck television and every day one Sandra Lee and her "cooking" program Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee does everything within its shaking hands--Is, it cocktail time? Cocktail time is the best time of the day! Mama needs her liquor--to fulfill my expectations.

The premise of the show is based on Sandra Lee's equation of 70 percent store bought ready-made such as Pillsbury whack-a-dough, sodium-infused seasoning packets, pumpkin pie spice, the dehydrated soul of Julia Child. Then there is 30 percent fresh ingredients like, um, apples and vodka and tarragon and more vodka and occasionally ground turkey. But mainly vodka.

I vaguely recall my very first episode of Sandra Lee. She was making an Asian-inspired meal that somehow included tortillas. But given some of the over-the-top offensive abuse of food she has done in the intervening years, tortillas is Asian cooking isn't that bad. Hell, she once made "breakfast crepes" but used tortillas as the crepes. Any drunk person that has ended up at a gas station at 3 in the morning knows that that is a breakfast burrito. But that's our Sandy, so many cultures to offend, so little time. Indian, Greek, Southern, Martian, all sorts of cultures have been misappropriated for the sake of Sandra and her blessed cooking show for people who like to have things catered anyway.

There are so many classic episodes of Semi-Homemade Cooking so I'm going to try to limit my number to a few of my all-time favorites:

Coming in at number 4:
2-26 "Halloween"--Sandra Lee makes a big unholy deal about making a layered dip so it can make a nice display. She then promptly places the dip inside of a bucket, therefore canceling out her reasoning for said layered dip because God knows it's not for the taste.

According to an interview on WGN, Sandra thinks of presentation first, then smell and then taste. Even going by Sandra's skewed way of thinking, she sucks.

This episode also includes a truly bizarre moment where her now ex-husband, lovingly referred to as "The Wallet" on Televisionwithoutpity, "calls" her wanting to know where his trail mix was. No, I'm not making this up. Seriously. I'm not. Fine, don't believe me.

Moving on to number 3:
6-5 "Anniversary Lounge"--Sandy prepares an anniversary dinner for her friend Colleen, pronounced "Clean" apparently by Sandra's mumbled way of speaking, and her husband Bill. Sandra, in a wonderful moment bitter divorcee bitchiness, says to the camera, "Now normally I'd make something fancy, like a fancy cake, but this is for Colleen and she loves cookies and this is all about her, that stupid white trash bitch with her fidelity and husband and not dying alone." Okay. Admittedly the last part was added by me. But you watch the episode and you'll totally see that subtext trying to break through the Botox mask Sandra Lee calls a face.

Number 2:
4-12 "Picnic"--A clearly hoarse sounding Sandra Lee greets us in a park to make a romantic dinner, allegedly. If you watch no other part of the episode, fast forward to the last minute where Sandra Lee has apparently had her Semi-Homemade Sherpas drag out the Ethan Allen showroom in the middle of the park. And hangs a chandelier for a tree. Let me repeat that, kids. She hangs a chandelier she had laying around in her garage in a tree in park. And then advises us to tear pages out of books and burn them. For decoration. How Fahrenheit 451 of you Sandra.

And the number one episode of Sandra Lee you must watch:
Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Holiday Special!: An hour of Sandra Lee and family making painfully awkward conversation, Sandra implying Collen is an alcoholic, meringues being made to look like "baby dreidels," roast dinner with no side dishes, white chocolate galore, heavy cream and half-and-half coming from the same carton, "integrity of the hole," and of course several beverages being made which no child at the festivities can actually drink.

But in all seriousness, I don't know what I'll do when Sandra Lee eventually is gone from Food Network. I hate Rachael Ray and her banshee laugh and horrendous orange cabinets. Paula Deen gives me diabetes just from watching her. I can't get past how that Healthy Appetite woman looks like Elyse from Top Model. Sandra Lee is just such perfect, 23 minutes of insanity that not even Robin Miller and her Skeletor frame can quite compete with it.

So, in the words of dear Sandra Lee, remember to always keep it smart, keep it simple, and always keep it Semi-Ho.

But you do that anyway don't you?

P.S. a snippet so you'll believe me, from her Sunset Clambake episode:

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