A very warm hello and happy New Year to our American friends. This month, "Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag" begins airing at 3pm on the Oprah Winfrey Network and we're excited to be part of the OWN family and to be returning to US televisions. (Our previous show "The Shopping Bags" aired on Fine Living Network.)
We hope you enjoy our unique take on the traditional cooking show. And while it may be hard to believe, we’re actually pretty good cooks! (I didn’t say chefs, I said cooks.) We just happen to show you all of our blunders, mishaps and utter failures as we dish our way from one cookbook to the next. The point of the show is to reveal which cookbooks, ingredients and kitchen gadgets are worth your money and your drawer space.
It all started when…
I have always loved cooking shows. I remember my mother watching Julia Child, who was one of the first and had a personal and endearing style. And I have always found myself weirdly fascinated with Martha Stewart. She is the original domestic goddess and her way of making everything look perfect was mesmerizing. (I think the producers of her shows turned the audio way up; the sounds of her cutting craft paper and stirring soup was so crisp and luscious. Like she was right there in my kitchen).
In those days I was a new bride and perhaps a bit wound up about being the perfect homemaker. I used to obsess over setting the table just so, and ingredients for recipes always had to be exactly right. I would drive all over town to find broccoli rabe or harissa sauce. I did not know the meaning of substitution or improvisation. I would zero in on making a particular recipe, say, something with salmon, in the dead of winter when all the salmon was frozen. Was I really having fun?
But then I got divorced and quickly learned that life, just like dinner, is often far from perfect. Around that time, Kristina and I were knee-deep in testing products and shooting our show, The Shopping Bags. My love of cooking and entertaining was as keen as ever, but I had finally started to relax in the kitchen as I learned to laugh at how life never turns out the way I’d planned, and that maybe the best meals are the ones that come from one’s own creative juices. Don’t have lemons? Use limes.
It’s Our Bag
And that’s really where A & K’s Grocery Bag comes from. We thought there was space in the TV cooking show realm for something a little different. Something that showed home cooks that everything that can go wrong in your kitchen also goes wrong in ours.
There are so many cookbooks selling the idea of perfection. We like the ones that encourage us to think for ourselves when creating meals; books that teach the how and why, and go beyond a list of ingredients.
I have learned two big lessons from the many world-renowned chefs we’ve worked with.
One: use the freshest ingredients possible. Save the salmon dishes for when they’re jumping.
And two: cook with love. I never really understood what that meant until I spent many hours in the kitchen with my best friend laughing and making do with what we had.
Find your love for the journey and it will permeate into the food you cook.
Check out Anna & Kristina’s Grocery Bag‘s show information on OWN.tv. (Use the OWN channel finder to find out where to watch OWN in your area.)
Update September 2011:
To our wonderful USA viewers: OWN USA has decided to remove our show from their schedule. We are looking at other options to bring our series to our very special USA viewers. Please stay tuned for details!
Anna & Kristina