Ina Garten is the first person who made me want to learn how to cook. I remember watching an episode of Barefoot Contessa in middle school where she made a goat cheese pizza with arugula. I hated goat cheese (still do), but I wanted to make it so bad. I wanted to live inside her world; if that meant learning to love goat cheese, so be it.
If I lived the Barefoot Contessa life, I could just grab some herbs from my gorgeous garden for a centerpiece. I would have a giant kitchen with plenty of prep space. I could ask my gay friends to pick up artisanal popcorn on their way over for dinner, instead of having them just show up with a bag of ice that’s already frozen into a brick. And, of course, I would have a Jeffrey of my own.
The internet’s love of Ina’s husband, Jeffrey Garten, stems largely from an episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon declares that she wants a love like theirs: spending time apart, but coming together on the weekends. (In real-life and on the show, Jeffrey Garten frequently travels for work.) Whether or not your dream relationship includes extended work trips, there’s plenty more to envy about the Gartens' relationship. If you’re wondering how I know that, it’s not just from drone footage I took illegally of their house in the Hamptons. (Kidding, I promise!) It’s from glimpses of their life from Ina Garten’s newest book, Cooking For Jeffrey. In it, Ina shares some of their favorite recipes, as well as stories from their life together.
For starters, the Gartens met while Ina was still in high school. Jeffrey was smitten after seeing her on campus visiting her older brother. Their early marriage included picturesque European camping trips, where Ina first learned the joy of a simple, well-cooked roasted chicken and gooey cheese. Oh, and it was Jeffrey who encouraged Ina to pursue her love of food. In the foreword, she even says Jeffrey was the first feminist she ever met. Swoon.
Of course, I had to get my hands on her newest cookbook and try it out for myself. The only problem? I don’t have a Jeffrey to cook for. I don’t even have a halfway decent Tinder match who will hold the place of a Jeffrey. I’m about as single as that last donut on the conference room table that everyone is too polite to take.
But I’m a modern woman. So I decided to cook the recipes for Jeffrey for just me. Here's what happened.