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Martha Stewart on tour

November 10, 2008 |  2:11 pm

Martha Martha Stewart is in town today promoting her latest book, "Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook."  Her 67th (yes, that's not a typo) book is an impressive 500+ pages -- and according to Martha, 4.4 pounds -- of recipes and techniques, with instructions on such culinary basics as how to cut up a chicken, toast spices, steam vegetables and make meringue. 

With beautiful photography (by Marcus Nilsson), handy charts (cuts of meat), lists (varieties of rice) and catalogs (useful kitchen tools), the book is both beautiful and utilitarian.  It's also remarkably unfussy: There are none of Stewart's signature bows and ribbons on this one.

Stewart paused amid her whirlwind schedule (Ryan Seacrest's radio show this morning; Jay Leno tonight) to chat over a cappuccino at the Beverly Hills Hotel, before addressing a packed room gathered for breakfast. (Stewart took pictures of the buffet before taking the podium: "For my blog!" she explained. Glad I wasn't in charge of making the scones for this one.)

Why this kind of book now?

There are so many people who want to cook and don't know how.  There's nothing that compares to [Julia Child's] 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking.' I did that; I cooked everything systematically. I still bake French bread from that recipe.

You've been around for a long time. How have things changed?

There's been an infusion of "quick and easy," of opening cans and boxes, which I do not go for.  There's been an infusion of smiling, happy cooks who have no substance about them.  I just wish they took more care with their books. The recipes are almost undoable, they're so complicated.  The best food is still coming from kitchens that are normal. 

For a glimpse of Martha cooking in a kitchen that is, well, a bit abnormal, she'll be appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" tonight. "We're going to make pasta," said Stewart. "He insists on rolling it out by hand, which you know is going to be a disaster."

"Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook" by Martha Stewart with Sarah Carey. Clarkson Potter. $45.

-- Amy Scattergood

Photo of Martha Stewart by Ditte Isager, courtesy Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.