On Martha.

10 Feb

As I walked past my mailbox one day this week, I saw the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living was waiting for me. And I was excited. Because I really like Martha. There. I said it.

(That’s Martha from her modeling days. Isn’t she fashionable?)

When I got the new issue, I started thinking about how long I’ve been reading Martha’s magazines and crusing her websites for ideas.

I’ve long been a subscriber to Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, a tiny little book that taught me how to cook when I didn’t yet know Mark Bittman. More recently, I started to subscribe to Martha Stewart Living and Whole Living. I have two of Martha’s iPad apps: the Cookies app (thanks dad!) and the Whole Living Smoothies app. I want her Cocktails app, too. I made a wreath from her special Holiday 2011 handbook, and I’ve been excited to read her 2012 handbook on organizing. I did a very memorable seven-day detox partially based on one I found in Whole Living.

This post, though, really isn’t about Martha as a person, or about her huge company, or about whether you like her or not. And for the record, it’s not a sponsored post, though the friendly PR girls at the magazine did send me the photos I requested.

It’s about Martha as a measuring stick.My mom subscribed me to Everyday Food, (wayyy back in 2007, I think) and I’d go through each magazine, marking recipes that I wanted to try with yellow post-its. I tried many of them, and some, like this one, made it into my personal arsenal of “never fail” recipes that I now make from memory.

I remember when I used to look at the pages of Martha Stewart Living, it was beyond anything I thought I could ever do. I wouldn’t be cooking dinner for lots of people. I wouldn’t be growing a garden. I had no talent when it came to making wreaths or arranging flowers. The only thing I really knew how to cook was spaghetti.

And now, six years later, here am I writing a food blog, working as a food reporter and restaurant critic, cooking at home, playing host to parties and pot lucks, gardening in my backyard. Doing basically everything I once thought I’d never, ever do (even though I always wished I could.)

I still get Everyday Food in the mail and I still flip through it. But I’m much more interested now in the beautiful recipes in Martha Stewart Living — the ones that were once unattainable. I think it would be so fun to have a beer tasting complete with snacks like smoky parsnip crisps and bacon blue-cheese sandwiches and roasted buffalo shrimp. I’m sure my friends wouldn’t protest. (And I share the shrimp recipe below.)

Martha gives me ideas. And though I may not become an expert at organizing or cleaning or baking, I’ll keep learning and trying new things — that’s what it’s all about, right?

Roasted Buffalo Shrimp
Active/Total Time 15 min.
Makes about 40. Serves 8.
This novel twist on Buffalo wings is a terrific way to kick off a casual party. Serve the shrimp and dip with cucumber spears, celery stalks, and wedges of crunchy fennel.

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (2 tablespoons) plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
¾ teaspoon celery seeds
2½ teaspoons sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste Coarse salt
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup pale-green celery leaves, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Place 2 rimmed baking sheets in oven to heat. Stir together lemon zest, garlic, celery seeds, paprika, cayenne, 2 teaspoons salt, the honey, and oil in a large bowl. Add shrimp, and toss to coat well.
2. Place shrimp in a single layer on hot pans. Roast, without flipping, until browned on bottoms and opaque throughout, about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the dip: Stir together lemon juice, sour cream, celery leaves, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Vintage photo via Styleite.com. Beer tasting photo by Johnny Miller. Copyright 2012. Originally published in the March 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living. Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.


8 Responses to “On Martha.”

  1. Sara DeMars Cerasoli February 10, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Great article… Why to represent the Martha Lover in All of us (at least that is what I believe)
    I once had the opportunity to work with her. Not a big deal.. small deal …only lasted moments and she did not like my creation:) but I still enjoy that I had that moment.
    As my creative mind grows I love so much more that her “recipes” I share with Martha, her desperate love for the art of Decopauge. You must guard your belongings around my home.. I just might decopauge them.. or spray paint them:)

    • sarahbakerhansen February 10, 2012 at 11:05 am #

      In high school I was obsessed with decoupaging picture frames. It was probably something I saw in one of my mom’s Martha magazines!

  2. jess@birdhouse February 10, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I love what Martha represents. I appreciate the notion that cooking, decorating, entertaining, gardening, etc. are topics that are treated with respect and not as an afterthought like so many people think of them. She is a genius when it comes to cultivating the “lifestyle” brand and I really look up to her and her company.

    Good post.

    • sarahbakerhansen February 10, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      Thanks, Jess. I agree with you completely. I also love how all the cooking and crafting Martha does is just so beautiful to look at. Makes it exciting to try.

  3. Nick Woolfolk February 19, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    Thanks-a-mundo for the post. Will read on…

  4. Joy Windle February 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    I’m planning to do the beer tasting with this menu as a base. But, horrors, I lost the recipe cards. Can you help with the other three?

    • sarahbakerhansen February 27, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      I should be able to help. Email me at sarah.bakerhansen (at) owh.com and I can either fax or mail them to you. Thanks for reading!

  5. Joy Windle February 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Thanks, Sara! I went to the store and took pix of the cards.

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