Rachael Ray Fears Cake and Lobster

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Rachael Ray writes all her recipes out in longhand because she took drivers' ed and not typing, she revealed to Julie Powell, Nora Ephron, and Kim Severson at a Friday evening TimesTalk. "I was lousy at drivers' ed," Ray told the predominantly middle-aged, female audience at the TimesCenter. "I didn't get my license until I was 25."

Ephron wondered what happened to home economics. "When I was growing up, all schools had home ec.," she recalled. "Seriously, when did everyone decide? Was it the only thing feminism really did?" Severson agreed: "Partially that, and partially standardized testing."

Ray is on her own political mission this week: She's lobbying Congress to expand the Child Nutrition Act, a law first passed in 1966 that provides for low-cost school lunches for students in high-poverty areas. Ray wants Congress to commit to another $1 billion in funding over the next five years. "This is like Rachael Ray for Congress right here," Severson said. See below for the best of the audience Q&A.;

What keeps you in New York? I just got back from Portland, Oregon, and it had a great food scene. Would you ever trade New York for Portland?
Ray: New York is really unique. It’s so close to so many different things — Vermont, upstate New York. I live near Union Square ...
Ephron: I would move down there before I would move to Portland.

Are there any foods that you can’t handle preparing?
Ephron, Ray, and Severson: Cake!
Ray: I'm a little Annie Hall: I won't kill the lobster.

If you could only keep one cookbook, what would it be?
Ray: I couldn’t do that. I’d rather be shot.
Ephron: I still use the original Craig Claiborne New York Times cookbook.
Severson: The Joy of Cooking, and Jacques Pepin and Julia Child’s cookbook.