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Rachael Domenica Scuderi-Ray was born in Glens Falls, New York in 1968, and today she’s one of the most famous culinary personalities in America, hosting her own daytime talk show as well as several programs on Food Network. She’s also won three Daytime Emmy Awards, the People’s Choice Award for Favorite TV Chef, and in 2006 was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in America. But while Ray seems to be everywhere you look these days, we bet that there are still a few things you likely don’t know about her.
She’s Published 22 Books
Ray has written 22 cookbooks since 1999, from her first, 30 Minute Meals, to her most recent, 2012’s My Year in Meals.
She was Savagely Attacked in Her 20s
After moving to New York in her early 20s, she lived in Queens and worked at a specialty store on the Upper East Side called Agata & Valentina. According to Allen Salkin’s From Scratch, one night when she was 27 she fended off a mugger with pepper spray, but he returned a couple weeks later, dragged her to a dark corner, and began beating her with a gun. He ran off when a local dog approached, but Ray was so badly shaken that she left New York and didn’t move back for several years.
“30 Minute Meals” Started as a Class
While working at Cowan & Lobel, a gourmet shop in Albany, she noticed that some items weren’t selling. She suggested bringing in chefs to teach a class on how to cook a meal in only, as the store promised, “30 minutes or less” (a spin on Domino’s promise to deliver in 30 minutes or less). When hiring chefs became cost-prohibitive, Ray took over the classes herself.
A Radio Interview Changed Her Life
Ray did a local promotional tour after publishing her first book in 1999, and cooking show coach Lou Ekus (who trained the likes of Bobby Flay and Ming Tsai), just happened to catch an interview she did with a local radio station while driving to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He liked what he heard, so he called Food Network head honcho Bob Tuschmann and arranged a meeting.
She Almost Burned Down Emeril’s Set
She filmed the pilot for 30 Minute Meals on the Emeril Live set, and wasn’t expecting a pan on the stove to be pre-heating. Since it was heating up during her intro, when she added some oil to it, it immediately combusted and flames shot up, almost burning her eyebrows.
She Can’t Make Coffee
“I have no formal anything. I’m completely unqualified for any job I’ve ever had,” Ray told The New York Times, later adding that she can’t make coffee and always burns toast when she tries to make it in the broiler.
She Started Her First Business in High School
Called “Delicious Liaisons,” it was a gift basket service that she ran (and wrote the catalog for) single-handedly.
The Garbage Bowl Wasn’t Her Idea
The “garbage bowl” has become one of Ray’s standby tools, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was her invention. In fact, the first person to use one on television was Cooking Live host Sara Moulton, who passed along the idea to Ray.
Her First Crush was Tom Jones
Ray had a thing for the Welsh singer when she was younger, according to FN Dish. It was apparently a dream come true when she got to meet (and feed) him on The Rachael Ray Show.
She Pretended to Work at a Dry Cleaner on Television
For a 2010 episode of the CBS show I Get That a Lot, Ray posed as an employee at a dry cleaner in order to confuse customers, Candid Camera-style. It doesn’t appear as if she fooled many people.
10 Things You Didn&rsquot Know About S&rsquomores
In celebration of National S&rsquomores day, bite into these fun facts about everyone&rsquos favorite ooey, gooey campfire treat.
The recipe is one we all know: Sandwich a toasted marshmallow and a hefty square of chocolate between two graham crackers. Eat and repeat. Craving one already? While s’mores are fit for any occasion, National S’mores Day—Sunday, August 10—provides the perfect excuse. While celebrating, impress your campfire companions with some little known facts about s’mores.
1. The Merriam-Webster dictionary, which defines s’mores as 𠇊 dessert consisting usually of toasted marshmallow and pieces of chocolate bar sandwiched between two graham crackers,” suggests the first known use of the word was in 1974.
2. It appears the treat was a campfire staple long before the dictionary officially recognized it: The first known s&aposmores recipe was published in the Girl Scouts handbook Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts in 1927. The snack was originally called “some mores.”
3. Campers at Deer Run Camping Resort in Gardners, Pennsylvania recently built what could just be the world’s largest s’more. Weighing in at 267 pounds, the supersized sweet was comprised of 140 pounds of marshmallows, 90 pounds of chocolate, and 90 pounds of graham crackers.
4. According to The S’mores Cookbook, Americans buy 90 million pounds of marshmallows every year. It’s estimated that, during the summer, approximately 50 percent of marshmallows sold are roasted for s’mores.
5. If you don’t have access to an open fire, there are still plenty of ways to make s’mores. The S’mores Cookbook explains how to cook the tasty treat on the grill, in the broiler, with a kitchen torch, in a microwave, or over a gas stove, candle, or Sterno.
6. Perfect your technique: According to S&aposmores: Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion, marshmallows cook faster on a metal rod or coat hanger than on a wooden one, and coals tend to cook the snack faster and more consistently than flames.
7. The popularity of the original s’more has inspired American food manufacturers to create other chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker treats, including Pop-Tarts, cereal, ice cream, and even Goldfish.
8. Restaurants are also trying to capitalize on the dessert’s popularity with some downright unique iterations, like s’mores French fries, martinis, macarons, and more.
9. Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented the graham cracker in 1829 in Bound Brook, New Jersey. The original graham cracker was a health food recommended as part of a diet intended to help suppress sexual desire, which Graham believed to be unhealthy.
10. According to a release from The Hershey Company, the company produces more than 373 million milk chocolate bars each year, enough to make 746 million s’mores.
10 Things You Didn't Know About EVOO
1. 𠇎xtra virgin” means three things: The oil has been pressed out of fresh olives without heat or chemicals (like fresh-squeezed juice) it’s been judged by a panel of sensory experts to have zero taste or smell defects and lab tests have proven it to have very low acidity.
2.xtra-virgin olive oil is famously full of antioxidants, but according to a study in the Journal of Food Science, they become 40 percent less effective after six months of storage. That doesn’t mean that big jug you bought awhile back is spoiled—just that you may not be not getting the full health benefits from it.
3. Pass that bottle, please! A bunch of studies have found that consuming at least two tablespoons a day of EVOO lowers blood pressure,ਊnd diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids—which olive oil is packed with—help reduce belly fat.
4. You can massage a little onto your hands before cutting beets to prevent them from staining your skin. Rachael does this!
5. Resist the urge to add olive oil to the pot as your pasta is cooking: It doesn’t actually prevent clumping. Boil your noodles in plenty of water and stir throughout the first minute of cooking and you’ll be all set.
6.ꃊlled the 𠇌hanel No. 5 of olive oils,” Lambda Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sourced from some of the oldest olive trees in Greece, is the world’s most expensive. You can get a perfume-sized bottle on Harrods.com for $43, or about $13 an ounce. (Note: We do not recommend dabbing it on your pulse points.)
7. Celebs love EVOO! Emma Stone has talked about moisturizing with it, and Chloë Grace Moretz has used it to wash her face, saying it has made her skin “so much clearer.” If you’re oily or acne-prone, you’ll be happy to know you can buy a cleansing oil or lotion with EVOO in it. That way, the pure stuff can stay in the kitchen in its cruet.
8. Salad dressing made with EVOO may help your body absorb more of the antioxidants in leafy greens and other veggies, according to a Purdue University study.
9. Nearly 70 percent of imported EVOO was found to be rancid, mixed with cheaper oils, or of a lower grade of virgin in a report by UC Davis. To be sure you get the good stuff, look for a seal from the North American Olive Oil Association, the California Olive Oil Council or the Australian Olive Oil Association, as well as a container made from dark glass or tin—the only ones recommended by those groups.
10. Been cooking with fresh rosemary, sage, thyme or oregano, and have some left over? Freeze it in an ice cube tray with EVOO, then pop out a cube and drop it into homemade soup, sauce or mashed potatoes.
11 Things You Didn't Know About Betty Crocker
Betty Crocker is everyone's go-to when it comes to quick and easy baked goods. (Also, you've probably dipped a spoon in those frosting tubs a time or two. OK, all the time . ). But beyond those amazing mixes and frostings, how deep does your Crocker knowledge really go? Here's everything you ever wanted to know about the brand responsible for all the baked goods you've been lying about making from scratch all these years. #NoShame
1. Betty Crocker Isn't A Real Person
This might completely crush your dessert world, but Betty Crocker wasn't actually a person. The name Betty Crocker was a fictitious name created to personalize responses to consumer inquires about baking that were flooding the flour-milling company, The Washburn Crosby Company, back in 1921.
2. . But She Was Named After One
The company based the brand's namesake off a popular first name of the era (what's more approachable than Betty?), and the surname of a retired employee. William Crocker was the former Director of the Washburn Crosby Company, and they thought his name would make for a fine last name (looks like they were right).
3. She Was Created By An Actual Home Economist
Turns out Home Ec. class was serious business back in the day, and Marjorie Husted was so good at the subject, she snagged herself a job as the brains behind Betty Crocker. Along with Bruce Barker, Husted crafted Crocker in her own likeness, making her a treasure trove of kitchen knowledge, and an authority on all things home management.
4. Betty Crocker Kitchens Arose From Public Demand
Catching wind of the new persona, customers took note. After a while, the demand for baking information was so high that The Washburn Crosby Company ended up growing the staff, ultimately developing the Betty Crocker Kitchens. By 1924, Betty Crocker even launched the first daytime cooking show, "Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air."
5. Betty Crocker Was A Seriously Popular Lady
During the 1940s, Betty Crocker was the second best-known woman in America, following First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. NBD, it's casual.
6. The Betty Crocker Cookbook Was Published In 1950
It was a picture cookbook that quickly became a best-seller. It sold for $3.95, and in 1950s terms, that was a pretty good deal. You can find it on Amazon today for about $29.99.
7. Betty's Image Has Changed Multiple Times
American cooking personality Betty Crocker was an invented character played by several different people since 1921. pic.twitter.com/95TeOzJWsY&mdash Moveable Feasts Mcr (@MFeasts) April 9, 2016
Because Betty Crocker isn't a real person, her image has been depicted by artists since the 1920s. Initially, her look blended facial features of the female staff in the Washburn-Crosby home service department, but she's also been updated to resemble Jackie Kennedy, and in 1975, her skin tone was changed to olive to give her a more racially ambiguous look.
8. But she's more than just a pretty face.
According to Adweek, Crocker is among the most famous fictional female characters in history. She held the #1 spot for years until Flo came along and dethroned her. She's still the front-runner in food though, and ranks higher than Mrs. Butterworth, Ms. Brown, and Catalina (of Chicken of the Sea fame).
9. Betty Crocker's First Product Was Not Cake
Nor was it frosting, cookies, or anything baking-related. It was actually packaged soup mix. Go figure.
10. She's Always On
There's a 24/7 "Betty Crocker" on duty at General Mills HQ in Golden Valley, MN . Visit the headquarters and you'll be greeted by a buttoned-up Betty happy to answer any baking questions you may have.
11. Betty Crocker Could Give Us A Run For Our Money
Betty was bundling recipes before recipe bundling was even a thing. The first Betty Crocker cookbook, "101 Delicious Bisquick Creations," was an exhaustive collection of anything and everything you could ever dream of making with Bisquick. Millions of people still use the recipes to this day.
Rachael Ray and her husband love all different kinds of music.
"We are obsessed with our music and we listen to everything," she told USA Today. "We love rap. We love opera. We love classic rock and good pop. And that is what we try to put into the mix and we have done that every year."
Ray and her husband frequently attend the music festival SXSW, and Ray has attended the festival herself for over 20 years.
"I fell in love with this city, because, to me, it was utopian," she explained in a Vice Munchies podcast.
8 Things You Don't Know About Rachael Ray
When she's not being confused with Rachel Roy&mdashand subsequently getting blasted by the Beyhive&mdashFood Network star Rachel Ray is apparently making very detailed lists for her supermarket trips and weekly meals.
In a new post on the app li.st, the celeb chef dished on some little known facts about her, including an insanely chaotic shopping list and how much she loves rescuing pitbulls.
1. Her grocery lists will make you dizzy.
Seriously, this is one for the books. Even Ray herself compared it to the killer's notebook entries in the movie Seven. It's written in all caps, which is already disorienting, but then she adds the amounts at the end of each entry and even squeezes in new items in random empty spots on the page. It's a haphazard mess but as long as it makes sense to whoever is doing the shopping, I guess it works. (But her hand-written recipes aren't much better, tbh.)
2. She can't make coffee to save her life.
In her own words, it either comes out looking like mud or pee. And that's just not the kind of cup anyone wants to start their morning with.
3. She always burns toast.
Ray admits to setting bread on fire when she attempts to toast it. Lol same.
10 New Dinner Recipes from Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals
You’re only a half hour away from a hearty, comforting meal ideal for weeknights and special occasions alike.
Crazy Szechuan Beef and Messy Corn with Shishito
&ldquoFrom summer through fall, make this with corn on the cob but in the winter, substitute 4 cups of frozen fire-roasted corn kernels,&rdquo Rachael says. &ldquoSimple white rice is great with both dishes.&rdquo
Easiest Fish Tacos, Red Rice and Black Beans
Rachael builds her tacos on toasted corn tortillas with hot sauce-spiked crema, bright pico de gallo and crunchy cabbage slaw. If you can't find crema, you can use sour cream for the same tangy effect.
BGT: Bacon, Guacamole and Tomato with Chips and Chorizo Jalapeno Poppers
If you&rsquove never added bacon to your guacamole, you seriously need to try it! It&rsquos the ideal salty, crispy complement to the cool, creamy avocado mixture.
PepperNOni Pizza and Antipast-NO Meat Salad
To save time in the kitchen, devote your efforts to what matters most. Take advantage of store-bought pizza dough, but make a classic tomato sauce from scratch. Rachael's version brings together Italian tomatoes, garlic and a bit of honey for balance. (But if you&rsquore feeling adventurous, you can DIY the dough too!)
"Big Night" Appetite
Believe it or not, you do have time to make a hearty Italian meat sauce on a busy weeknight! Once the ingredients are in the pan, Rachael&rsquos beef-sausage sauce, laced with fragrant fresh rosemary and plenty of garlic, simmers for only 15 minutes.
Steak Out, Italian Style
The juicy beef may be the main dish, but Rachael&rsquos waffle fries are pure decadence on a plate. She crisps them up in the oven and then blankets them with the creamiest gorgonzola cheese sauce ever, along with chopped bacon and fresh chives.
Fishwiches and Yogurt Tartar Sauce
When shopping for the fish for this recipe, look out for either lemon sole or tilapia. Rachael says that both will work well here. For the best flavor and texture, she opts for a mix of butter and oil when pan-frying the fillets.
Chicken Yakitori and Rice
It&rsquos all about the sauce here. With deeply savory dark soy sauce, spicy ginger and a mixture of brown sugar and garlic, it&rsquos at once salty, sweet and a tad spicy &mdash everything you crave and more.
French Dip Cheeseburgers on Brioche Rolls with Crispy, Buttery Crushed Potatoes
Inspired by traditional French dip sandwiches, Rachael&rsquos cheesy, onion-topped burgers are served with a side of warm beef broth for easy dipping.
Dijon-Tarragon Chicken, Mashed Potatoes with Brie or Camembert and Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Leeks
See the gorgeous golden-brown color and the crispy crust Rachael has achieved on the chicken breasts? That&rsquos thanks to a hot-hot cast-iron skillet. She uses the pan to not only sear the chicken but also to build the creamy, mustardy sauce, finished with tarragon just before serving.
The not-so-real reality shows
Watching chefs compete on competition shows can be downright nerve wracking. The surprise ingredients, the drama, the mishaps. But is that really how it goes down? Perhaps unsurprisingly, these shows blur the lines when it comes to certain aspects of reality.
Iron Chefs are actually selected in advance, and two of the three chefs lurking in the dark are stand-ins. And the secret ingredient? Competitors are given three possibilities ahead of time, which allows the show to stock their pantries accordingly.
As for all that cattiness between contestants? One Redditor who says they filmed an episode of a pastry competition show says it's all in the editing. "All the talking about other people is bull****. They sit you down to interview you and don't let you go until they get something they can edit to sound badly."
Another Redditor, who says they worked as an intern on a Food Network reality show, says you can also blame editing for the seemingly rushed finish. "Editing is what's mostly responsible for making everything look 'down-to-the-wire.' You can always have the countdown put over footage of a contestant making the final touches, even if those final touches were done 5 minutes before time was up."
And the inexplicable mishaps? A culinary assistant on Cupcake Wars claims that those "were all the producers faults." If the oven wasn't hot enough, it was actually due to a camera man purposely turning it down. How's that for reality?
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin became enraged with the bubbly TV personality back in 2008 after she appeared in a Dunkin' Donuts ad. In the ad, Ray promoted Dunkin' Donuts while wearing a black and white scarf, inciting Malkin's outrage. According to Malkin, the scarf Ray was wearing resembled an Arab kaffiyeh, a garment which has supposedly "come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad." It's the kind of protest that you wouldn't think would gain much traction, but it did — and quickly.
The company issued a statement that said Ray was simply wearing a scarf and that no overt political message was intended, but the damage was already done. Malkin's allegations that Ray and the donut company were promoting terrorism caused Dunkin' Donuts to pull the ad. Within a short time after publishing her article, Rachael Ray went from a fun foodie to a possible terrorist in the mind of many.
10 Things You Didn&rsquot Know About Mezcal
Mezcal, Mexico’s wonderfully smoky contribution to the drinking world, works as a great base for cocktails or simply as a straight sipper. It also has a rich history. Here, Kendra Kuppin and mixologist Michael Zurkin from New York’s Spice & Spoon cooking school bring you 11 things you probably didn’t know about the complex spirit.
1. The word “mezcal” comes from the Aztec word mexcalli, which combines metl (meaning maguey, aka agave) and ixcalli (meaning cooked). The literal translation of mezcal is 𠇌ooked agave.”
2. Mezcal is not a type of tequila—tequila is actually a type of mezcal. Mezcal refers to any alcohol made from agave, whereas tequila is made from a single type of agave—Weber’s blue agave, also known as agave tequilana.
3. Though mezcal can be made from any type of agave, the most popular type used is called Espadín. If you know your stuff, you’ll know that mezcal made from a different type of agave—Tobala agave—is very highly regarded. This type of agave grows wild in canyons at extremely high altitudes and under the shade of oak trees. Furthermore, you can only extract about 1/8 the amount of liquid from the heart of the Tobala agave compared to Espadín, making it rarer and more expensive.
4. Until the 1990s, mezcal had a bad reputation as nothing but poor-quality tequila. The bad perception came from a lack of regulation about what could properly be called mezcal, and as a result there were a lot of cheap knockoffs.
5. Much like true Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France, true mezcal must come from one of eight states in Mexico, the largest of which is Oaxaca.
6. Mezcal gets its smoky taste and smell from the way agave breaks down before fermentation. The agave is placed in a pit dug into the ground and filled with hot coals, where it sits for two to three days, acquiring its signature smoky essence.
7. Contrary to popular belief, the worm in mezcal isn&apost a worm at all, it&aposs actually a larva. There are two types of larvae that are often added to mezcal: white-and-gold or red. The white-and-gold larvae live in the agave root, and the red larvae reside in the long leaves of the plant. Despite the worms’ prevalence among mezcal brands, the larvae are not necessary. And no, it won&apost make you hallucinate.
8. Worms aren’t the only creatures used in mezcal production. Pechuga mezcal is made by distilling the liquor along with a raw chicken or turkey breast. Sure, it sounds bizarre, but it adds a rich, meaty complexity to the drink that is actually quite tasty.
9. According to legend, mezcal was created when a lightening bolt struck an agave plant, cooking and opening it, then releasing the liquid inside. That is why people often refer to it as the 𠇎lixir of the gods.”
10. Every year, Oaxaca sponsors an International Mezcal Festival. The festival starts July 18, and for under $5 you can drink to your heart’s desire as you explore a maze of traditional mezcal vendors.
Spice & Spoon offers in-home cooking and mixology classes, as well as classes hosted by chefs in their homes.
Everything You Need to Know About the New Nutrition Labels
The new labels began appearing on some products last summer. Look out for them!
Serving Sizes Get Real
Raise your hand if you’ve ever polished off a 16-ounce bottle of pop before noticing it was actually two servings, according to the label. Now the serving size for many items, including that soda, will be much more in line with what people actually eat. (Not because the FDA wants you to eat more—they’re simply trying to reflect reality.) Look for changes on, among others, cereal, bagels and (sob) ice cream.
Calorie Counts are Bigger and Bolder
The first thing most people check is about to get easier to find. This number is really important in balancing your diet, so it’s getting top billing.
Added Sugars Make Their Debut
Not all sugars are created equal. Some products have naturally occurring sugar (like lactose in yogurt), worthwhile for the food’s benefits. Others have it dumped in during processing (corn syrup, cane sugar, etc.). Now you can especially look out for bucket loads of the added stuff.
Take It or Leave It, Vitamins A and C
Most Americans get enough of these two, so companies don’t have to list them anymore. (Though they still can if they want to.) However, most people need more vitamin D (for healthy bones) and potassium (for regulating blood pressure), so they’ll be mandatory on the new label.
Source: Kris Sollid, Rd and Senior Director of Nutrition Communications For The International Food Information Council