I used to write off Ina Garten and her Food Network standby, “The Barefoot Contessa,” as something my mom watched. I was always pissed at her for insisting on tuning into Ina when I wanted to watch MTV or E! Cooking shows were not for me.
But then something changed. I started watching Ina at the nail shop, and then changing the channel to “Barefoot Contessa” whenever I was fortunate enough to have some solo cable time. It was soothing. It was calming. It was glamorous in a Hamptons sort of way. I started crushing on Ina’s lifestyle, on her kitchen, even on her breezy tent-like tops. I was jealous of her #squad, a crew of florists, choreographers and the like. I wanted to throw a dog party like she did. I wanted to be an Ina-style entertainer and whip up delicious meals like it was nothing. I’ve never been into the whole Instagram blogger girl aesthetic, but I am really into Ina’s effortless style.
And Jeffrey. I love Jeffrey. Ina and Jeffrey are my Jay-Z and Beyonce. Ina’s Jay-Z.
“The Barefoot Contessa” has FINALLY made its sacred way to Netflix, so I can laze around in bed and watch Ina as often as I want. Granted, it’s only Season 1 “Back to Basics,” but I’m confident we’ll get more glimpses into Ina’s perfect life from the comfort of our couches soon. So what did I learn about Ina from an entire afternoon or two of watching?
Jeffrey has chicken dinner on Friday. For devoted Ina fans, this is old news, but if you didn’t know, now you’re aware that Ina’s devoted, adorable husband Jeffrey loves her chicken so much that it has become a weekly ritual.
“Glamour” magazine’s legendary “Engagement Chicken” has its roots with Ina. In Episode 1, “Chicken 101,” she reveals that Engagement Chicken is a tweak on Ina’s roast chicken recipe. This episode should be required viewing for all young men who think they’re good cooks because they can bake a boring, dry chicken breast.
Ina doesn’t want your cocktail party to be stressful, so she’s created oh, about six hors d’oeurves for you to make. Ummm, OK Ina. I could not do this, and yet she makes it look so fucking easy!
Ina’s cocktail party math: one meat, one veggie and one seafood treat, with three or four pieces per person. My version of this is summer sausage, some cauliflower and hummus and maybe some Cheetos.
Her bartender friend makes “Ina-tini,” which is made with lime juice, raspberries, simple syrup, triple sec and “really nice orange vodka.” This is something I can make, I know it!
Ina doesn’t really like to cook without a recipe. She prefers to know exactly how much of everything goes into a dish, so her TV recipes all came from her cookbooks.
Registering for a wedding? Ina says you definitely need mixing bowls, Pyrex and good knives.
One of Ina’s favorite kitchen appliances is her food processor. It makes everything so easy!
Never use dry herbs or Ina will hunt you down and kill you.
Ina wants you to be your best. And that means using the best olive oil/mayo/butter/stock you can afford — not the cheapest one you find at Target.
There’s an entire episode about cheese. Obviously this is the best episode. Ina’s grilled cheese features a LOT of parmesan and it looks flawless. Ina says they need to be cut diagonally, MOM.
Ina has chef friends from all over the world. Of course, the most important guest star of season one is GIADA, she of the perky cleavage and pretty, pinky-nude manicure. Ahh, I love a good crossover.
Ina says her life started when she met Jeffrey. AWWWW. She was only 15 when they met.
Ina’s favorite no-fail dinner party meal is lamb, orzo with veggies and some whiskey sours. Simpler is better, she says. People want comfort food.
If you can’t cut a tomato easily, your knives aren’t sharp enough. (My knives are dull as fuck.)
Ina’s favorite thing to make for breakfast? Scrambled eggs. She says be sure to cook them at a very low temp so they’ll be light and fluffy.
Ina says “easy” at east four times per episode, if not more. I would not advise playing an Ina drinking game.
Ina likes to party at home or at friends’ houses. She doesn’t really like to go out and attend glamorous celebrity events, even though she’s now famous enough to get name-dropped on Taylor Swift’s Instagram.
Want to bake Ina’s fave dessert? You gotta start zesting those lemons, because Ina fucking loves lemon bars.
Also, though Instagram didn’t exist when these episodes were taped, it’s important to note that Ina runs her own Instagram. I know this because I obsessively scroll through it when I am having nightmares or feel sad. There are lots of selfies with famous chef friends like Billy Joel’s ex-wife Katie Lee and photos that my mom would take. There’s even a photo with some Sesame Street Muppets, and Ina is totally blurry in it. She doesn’t care, though, because she knows she is flawless.