Martha Stewart Cooking School
Credit: David M. Russell/MSLO
Downton Abbey PS

Somewhere between tweeting, blogging, and bringing her instructional series Martha Bakes and Martha’s Cooking School to PBS (check local listings), Martha Stewart has managed to squeeze in a few more passions. Namely, marathon viewings of Homeland and Ryan Gosling.

But what elevates the domestic goddess’s binge-watching from that of your everyday entertainment junkie is her method: “I have a big TV in my kitchen, so I can do canning or make jam. That takes hours and hours, and I can watch Homeland, all 13 episodes [at once].”

Fellow PBS program Downton Abbey is another addiction. “It’s a soap opera, but there are no grammatical mistakes,” she says. Stewart also cops to carrying a torch for a certain “Hey girl”-ing Canadian: “I was into Ryan Gosling for quite a while.” [Ed. note: Apparently the feeling is mutual.] “I watched every one of his movies,” she confesses before naming The Ides of March as her favorite.

Despite more than two decades of television experience, the multitasking maven prefers to leave the acting to the pros. In fact, she still recalls about an unexpectedly rigorous 1995 cameo on Ellen DeGeneres’s sitcom Ellen. “That took a week to do!” she says. “I had to go to California…, and I had to come every day and learn my script. Oh my gosh, that was really hard!” She laughs, “I didn’t want to stick to the script, but they made me.”

That said, sticking to the script (culinarily speaking) will be the cornerstone of Martha Bakes. “Baking is an exact science,” Stewart says of the sometimes daunting avocation. As such, there won’t be any gimmicks or distractions on Martha Bakes. “This is a real instructional show. I want people to really learn how to cook. There are so many programs that have all the celebrities on them, and you don’t really learn what’s being taught.”

Versatility in the kitchen will also be a focus early on when Stewart cooks up a recipe with personal significance. “[My father] loved a yellow cake,” she says. “His always had orange filling or lemon filling and chocolate frosting. It is a delicious, delicious birthday cake. That same yellow cake is then transformed into an upside-down cake with fruit — stone fruit like nectarines or plums or apricots. Then there is a cupcake recipe using that same yellow cake with some strawberries incorporated into the batter and strawberry butter cream. What we’re trying to do is take one recipe and show how to change it [up].”

Keeping cooking simple, cost-effective, and healthy have long been Stewart’s mantras, and they’ll be a throughline in the second season of Martha’s Cooking School, also premiering today. Viewers will learn how to prepare everything from the perfect roast to homemade pasta, even try their hands at fishmongering. Stewart says at-home cooks might find her Polish pierogies complicated because “it takes a long time to get all the ingredients together, but boy are they good.” Stewart assures, though, “These are not very hard recipes, and I tried to design the show so that, even though [some dishes] could be considered fancy or elaborate, they are not in reality hard to do.”

Next up, the woman behind The Apprentice: Martha Stewart will film Party Masters, a competitive series developed with ABC and American Idol producers FremantleMedia that follows two families as they face off to plan the best party. One recession-friendly twist: the winning family can keep any money they don’t spend from their budget. Martha returning to the reality-TV kitchen to turn up the heat on Padma and Nigella? Now that‘s a good thing.

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