Sometimes, Martha Stewart gets a bad rap. People snidely remark that they aren’t Martha (as if that were a “good thing”), and we all know who they’re talking about.
No one is Martha, and that’s okay.
Or, they will despair they’re unable to make things like those Martha and her band of merry men and women create so they don’t try at all.
Is that any way to be?
Bear and I have been DVR-ing the Martha Stewart Show every morning, and we’re really enjoying watching her as she and her guests make beautiful crafts and foods for Christmas. I must say the new live format isn’t as much fun as the older shows, which were filmed at Turkey Hill Farm, but if you record them, you can zip through the boring parts. The Hallmark channel also broadcasts portions of the old shows.
I miss the inspiration behind Turkey Hill Farm.
No one can be Martha, but that’s not what matters. She’s an iconic figure like Julia Child or Oprah Winfrey. As Non-Gardening, Best Friend Aimee says, “What Oprah did for book clubs and reading, especially women reading, Martha did for homemaking.”
Add to that gardening.
Now, I’m going to make a bold statement . . . however you feel about Martha, if it weren’t for her early shows, there wouldn’t be food or garden blogs. Even the Food Network with all of its celebrity chefs owes her a nod.
She taught many of us how to stage food and plants for photos. She elevated baking, gardening and homekeeping to a high art. Remember when you couldn’t find arbors anywhere? When there was no superfine sugar or silver dragees (unless you lived in NYC)? You know someone is a trendsetter when production and distribution must keep up with them.
It’s a testament to my husband’s forbearance that he drove me all over town so I could make blue and silver cookies one year. Later, I made Tiffany inspired cupcakes. They were my idea, but I believe Martha was the original inspiration, the “artist’s date” if you will.
If it weren’t for Martha, I wouldn’t have baked the best and most beautiful fruitcake I ever laid a lip to. The secret was apricot jam and whole pecans. My father loves fruitcake, and when he bit into my nearly perfect homage that year, it was one of the few times I remember him being happy at Christmas. The same season, Mom and I also tackled stollen. It wasn’t our tradition, but after seeing Martha make it with her mother we wanted to try.
In any endeavor, trying is the important thing.
It says a lot about Martha that when I gave away most of my regular cookbooks, I kept Handmade Christmas: The Best of Martha Stewart Living
and Martha Stewart’s Christmas: Entertaining, Decorating and Giving in the hope that someday I could convert the recipes to gluten and dairy free. (I’m almost there.)
So, Martha, this Advent season, I raise a virtual glass of eggnog to you, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my Oklahoma heart.