Cooking in front of the camera

I was telling my neighbor, Margo, how the pressure of cooking next to professional Chef Kathy Casey and on-air personality George Ray of Channel 9 KCTS was more pressure than a false start at a relay race.

Margo said, “You ninny, you should be like the rest of us and hate to cook.”

A parenthetical note here. I do hate some parts of cooking like grease clogged sinks, burnt pots and children who say “yuck”.

Well there’s nothing to do when you discover you are addicted to eating except learn to cook. So, I make no apologies that I was excited to find out that from 200 entries I was one of 16 picked to appear on Channel 9’s “S is for Salad” pledge program cooking show.

The show aired on June 15 (and for you lovers of cooking shows it will appear again on August 17 at 4 p.m.)

I practiced a few times my recipe for “Tomato Soup Salad Dressing”.

OK, I admit it, I practiced that recipe every day for a week.

Nicole Metcalf, co-producer with James Nicoloro, met me at KCTS Broadcasting House on June 15 and escorted me to the “Green Room”. I had to elbow my way in as many winners brought family member.

Everyone was nearly crazy with anticipation. You were immediately overpowered with the sense of excitement that comes from knowing in minutes we victorious contestants had to think, speak, cook, and look cool in front of LIVE TV cameras and all the relatives we had threated if they didn’t watch the show.

Some winners like Carol and Stan Merrill of Woodinville—who would not be seen until the end of the three hour program—helped others get ready. They had entered because they enjoy cooking with each other and friends.
Lynne Conway of Renton wanted to share her Grandmas secret salad: Julia Jenkins came all the way from Victoria B.C. where she has a radio talk show.

Even though I was sitting there minding my own business trying to act as cool as the underside of a pillow, Lorna Davis, KCTS special events coordinator, looked right at me and asked those who were waiting if they would answer the pledge phones.

What the heck—let’s do it. I was already exhausted and since we were unable to have a couple of practice runs cooking, what was a little more pressure!

As fast as I could fill out the pledge card that phone would ring repeatedly. It was a mad rush and an exhilarating experience.

Then it hit me: (after four phone calls) I had 30 minutes to get my salad greens chopped and ready? I had to make a quick exit back to the green room.

It was time.

The Producers of the show came into the Green Room, whipped my ingredients on to a cart and wheeled them down the hall with me following. I felt like a Christian heading towards the coliseum to face the lions.

The efficient crew within seconds had run a microphone cord in and out of my apron. Whisked my blender, bowls and ingredients onto the table and sandwiched me between Kathy and George. I had no idea the cameras were on and rolling until George Ray magnanimously said he had read my column, “Overdone and Undercooked!” My heart went aflutter.

He had a script of three questions to ask me and I had memorized some really intelligent answers to all of them. However, after the first question he ad-libbed and I thought to myself Gaaackk! What followed were a few tense moments when the vinegar poured more on the floor than in the blender but all and all it was a nightmare; scared and nervous but the best time I ever had! After that experience how do you just go back to your life?

The show was a huge hit and the station raised almost $50,000 dollars for public TV. The station is 42 percent funded by subscribers. As we lovers of cooking know that every Sunday KCTS runs it cooking shows, but I bet you didn’t know that Graham Kerr’s Kitchen (formerly The Galloping Gourmet) produces his show locally right here at KCTS.

And “Cucina Amore” with host Nick Stellino spends several months in Seattle to film his program right at KCTS, though he lives in California.

“You saw that,” my neighbor Margo asked as I proudly smiled and nodded my head.

Here, then, is the winning recipe (You can also have the other 199 recipes by contacting KCTS to purchase their ‘S is for Salad” cookbook and also help a good cause.

Notice, now! No one will believe you when you tell them this was made from a can of soup. There are two reasons. For one thing, this tangy thick dressing will put a blush on any salad. For another to be perfectly honest it’s hard to single out any one explanation, but kids will ask for it instead of bottled Ranch salad dressing.

1 can condensed tomato soup
¾ cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 small onion chopped (1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
Combine soup, vinegar, salt, paprika, pepper, sugar, mustard, onion and garlic in container of electric blender, cover whirl until smooth.

Set blender on lowest speed (it is just like making mayonnaise) add oil very slowly.

Whirl a few seconds longer to blend thoroughly. Or you may put all the ingredients in a large bowl. Then beat with rotary blender until blended. Refrigerate

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