Saturday’s episode – Christmas Cocktail Party, in which Ree throws together recipes off the backs of boxes and cans and ends up with huge platters of the kind of food that most people get at Costco. We start off with Ree introducing the episode and explaining that she and Ladd are having a Christmas party but she took the kids shopping and now she only has three hours to prepare for this huge party. Well, doesn’t that just happen to all of us? No, I didn’t think so. She says she has to work against the clock, one of her recurrent themes. While she’s talking, we see closeups of the platters of hors d’oeuvres in all their greasy glory. When she is saying the word “scrumptious” we see a platter of huge thick slices of gray, almost raw beef. Yuck, that doesn’t look scrumptious at all.
We start with Ree driving up to The Lodge and talking about shopping and the party. How nice of that camera crew to wait around while she took her kids a thousand miles to the mall, or however far it’s supposed to be. They all pile out of the filthy red truck into the ever-present windstorm and stumble into the house. I notice that the front of The Lodge is decorated with a wreath and some white lights. As Ree is talking about the kids getting some boxes of decorations to finish the outside, I notice that behind her, the trees have green leaves on them. No idea when this was filmed but it was obviously not in the winter. We cut to the kids inside, pulling boxes out of an otherwise empty closet. All we can see of the room is the closet and a red poinsettia sitting off to the side. So they have an empty room with a closet that only holds boxes of Christmas decorations? Well, I guess they are just like you and me! Back to Ree in the kitchen. I notice that she’s wearing a green tent-like top with huge yellow roses or some such pattern on it. It is, of course, hideous. The tops just keep getting worse. Ree is making canned milk fudge, the kind that every elementary school kid can make by following the directions on the back of the can. As she’s going on about it being smooth, we get to see a tight closeup of how grainy it is. She pounds some starlight mints in a plastic bag with a rolling pin and yells over the noise that the kids will probably come running to see what’s wrong. No kids come running, so apparently they don’t care. As Ree takes the glass bowl of grainy fudge mixture and pours it into the pan to cool, she manages to drip water off the bowl and into the pan. Isn’t that a big no-no when working with chocolate? Whatever, we cut back to the kids in the Christmas ornament room, where one of the boys hold up an ornament that looks like a tiny LeCreuset dutch oven. Wow, Ree really knows which side her bread is buttered on. She and LeCreuset must have some deal! Back in the kitchen, Ree gives painstakingly detailed directions on how to thread tomatoes and tortellini onto skewers, then we jump back to the kids, who are now outside. Back to Ree, whose hair looks frizzier than I’ve ever noticed before, talking about making dressing with jarred pesto. We see a teaser for a shrimp dish and some other stuff, then we go to commercial.
During the first commercial break, we learn that this show is brought to us by Applebee’s. Because, really, if you are in the market for greasy appetizers and overly sweet desserts, wouldn’t it be easier to just get them at Applebee’s?
We are back to the kids outside, putting garland randomly around some pine trees on the porch. Cut inside to Ree, putting shrimp and pineapple on skewers and calling them “glorious” and “addictive”. She is cutting up pineapple wedges and claiming that she cut up an actual pineapple. Now that, I would like to see. She says she is taking the core off of the wedges, then we get more painstaking instruction on how to put shrimp and pineapple together, wrap that in bacon, then stick it onto skewers. We switch over to fast forward (thank God) as a bunch of skewers appear on baking pans. There is a marinade that is proclaimed “beautiful” and “glorious” , then we see in a flashback that it is teriyaki sauce with some garlic and ginger and other stuff stirred in. Isn’t that the recipe on the teriyaki bottle? She dabs a teeny bit of the marinade onto the skewers, then slams the pans into the oven. We get a timer graphic that shows ten minutes has passed, then more dabbing. The marinade is pronounced “amazing”, “luscious” and “glorious”, then we cut back to the kids, still outside decorating those same small trees. It looks like it’s raining (the poor camera crew isn’t on the porch, so they must be standing in the rain?). One of the kids says something about the dogs, then we cut back to Ree inside, slicing up kielbasa. She says she is a fan of vintage and old-fashioned appetizers (apparently, even better if the recipe for them appears on the back of a box or can) and one of her favorites is cocktail wieners in barbecue sauce. So, instead, she is going to slice up a huge smoked sausage and cook that in barbecue sauce. She puts the sausage into a Caribbean blue LeCreuset Braiser pan (retail price $240) and says for the sauce, you just crack open a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. OK. Then she says she needs to spice it up, so she proceeds to add hot sauce and most of a jar of pickled jalapenos and then she pours in the liquid from the jar and calls it jalapeno juice! I am having a flashback to the glory days of Sandra Lee, the only other TV host I have ever heard mention “jalapeno juice”. In the meantime, FN has put a helpful graphic up at the bottom of the screen, explaining how to keep you sink from overflowing. What? Ree teases the recipes that will follow the commercial break, then we are out.
We come back to Ree cutting up an enormous block of white cheese. Except it is actually Velveeta (which isn’t really cheese) and she’s not allowed to say the name, so she just refers to it as “that kind of cheese that everybody makes queso with”. OK. She says she using the special white version because it’s Christmas, then she puts the Velveeta into an orange LeCreuset Braiser pan and adds two cans of Rotel tomatoes, which she also cannot call by name, then adds some jalapenos and a jar of pimientos. We cut to the porch, where the kids are putting the two dogs into Santa costumes, then back inside to Ree and the queso. Ree goes outside to see the dogs and we are treated to some phony acting by Ree and the kids, the kids leave in the red truck, Ree says she is going to serve whiskey, beer and champagne at her party, and she puts some cranberries into the champagne glasses – so fancy! She changes her top (the second one is kind of brown and tan and swirly and even uglier than the first one), pins her hair up, puts on some cheap-looking dangly earrings and starts setting the food out. She is going to show us how she made tortilla roll-ups. She says she got the recipe from Hyacinth (who got it off the Philadelphia cream cheese package?) then we see them made in a flashback. Ree says it’s very important to have an offset spatula to spread the cream cheese – what? A knife just won’t do? – then she slices the rolls up with that same huge square knife that she uses for everything. She takes the fudge out of the pan and cuts it into teeny squares, teases a beef tenderloin, then we see some scenes from the upcoming party. Some huge man reaches over Ladd’s shoulder to grab a tortellini skewer which he waves in the air over Ladd’s head on the way to his mouth and Ladd just stands there, chewing away, and we are out to commercial.
We are back at The Lodge and it is now nighttime. We see a flashback to how Ree prepared two huge beef tenderloins by rolling them in some pepper, then roasting them on the top rack of the oven, where she cooks pretty much everything. She cuts the nearly raw roasts into huge, thick slices and says people will make sandwiches out of them. How? She puts out a basket of uncut dinner rolls and sets up some ramekins of condiments – mustard, horseradish mayonnaise, “little baby corns”, “little pickles” and black olives straight out of the can. She says she loves the color of black olives (?), then she moves on to her cheese platter, which involves putting cubes of cheese and one teeny bunch of grapes on a three-tiered server, then she starts setting out plates and the food and some silverware in mason jars. As she sets up, people start to arrive. Much squealing, oo-ing and ah-ing, ho-ho-ho-ing, Ree yelling at everybody to take some food. Ladd and the large man from the previous segment are surveying the buffet. The man says he’s dying to take one of the shrimp-on-a-stick and Ladd tells him to “grab one!” As he stuffs it in his mouth, Ladd says “There’s pineapple in there – makes me kind of nervous” and the man looks at him like he’s lost his mind. The only person I see take any of the tenderloin is one man who picks up a chunk of beef and eats it with his fingers. So much for the sandwiches. There is a little more drinking and eating and yelling of Merry Christmas and we are out.