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Martha Stewart Comes Clean


WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

By Jenny Allen

Good Housekeeping Magazine Logo

The domestic diva opens up about the pain in her past, the love in her life, and how she bounced back big time.

Martha Stewart takes a forkful of lemon pie and savors it. "Isn't this good?" she asks in that trademark low, plummy voice.

We're lunching in her office at the Manhattan TV studio where she's just finished hosting a live broadcast of The Martha Stewart Show, her Emmy award-winning daily program. She sits at one end of the sleek rectangular table that serves as her desk, having closed and set aside the silver laptop — with its Martha-blue mouse — on which she'd been answering some of the 55 e-mails she's already gotten today. (The Martha Stewart no-nonsense approach to e-mail: "If it's important, I answer it. If it's not, I don't.") Still dressed in the beige slacks, crisp white shirt, and thin navy-blue pullover she wore on the show, she looks fresh and rested even though she's been up since dawn and sleeps just a few hours a night. Her only jewelry is a pair of sparkly aquamarine earrings; her nails are kept short, as befits a gardener and cook.

We've dined on perfectly steamed halibut and a salad of mixed greens with hearts of palm, prepared by her TV test-kitchen staff. Stewart made our dessert on the air earlier today with her guest Cheryl Hines, the actress who plays Larry David's wife on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hines is not a cook. ("You know how to use a knife, right?" Stewart cracked after Hines told her she never makes dinner and has never used her food processor.) So Stewart supplied a traditional Shaker pie recipe, throwing in a few details about the dwindling, simplicity-loving Protestant sect whose sense of design she so admires. "I love dessert," she says cheerfully. "I can't be guilty about it because I have to taste everything. I experiment." I ask her if she ever goes on a diet. "Oh, all the time," she says. "Some days I just don't eat." Why? "So I can zip my pants up," she says with a little laugh.

It's a wonderful pie, a pastel-yellow ode to refined sugar with lots of tangy lemon zest in it. I tell Stewart I love that. "It has the real peel," she says with pleasure. As everyone in our solar system knows, these things matter to Stewart — the real peel, not just a squirt from a bottle; the telling touches and careful choices that make a pie or a house or a life that much better. Still, I'm fascinated to see for myself how deeply she cares about the details, to witness what she calls her "enthusiasm for everyday things." It's what gives her the authenticity that her fans love, what more than makes up for a manner that, as has been noted, can be bossy sometimes.

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