Excerpt: 'Made From Scratch'

During this time Project Angel Food, an organization that helps feed people who are homebound with severe illnesses, approached me. They were trying to put together a special children's initiative to provide meal service for local underprivileged kids. Their timing was perfect because I was looking for a charity to donate a lot of the proceeds to from the sale of Semi-Homemade Desserts. Since it was created in honor of Grandma, it was only fitting that the money generated from the success of my book go toward community services and helping children.

I had found a publisher for Semi-Homemade Cooking and was doing TV appearances when I received a call from the Food Network about having my own show. At first I was hesitant, but then they said I could develop any type of show I desired as long it was based around food, and I realized it was a dream come true. Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee launched in October 2003 as one of the highest-rated new shows in Food Network history.

When I first started doing the show it took all day to get a single episode shot. Today, four years later, I can complete nearly three shows in a day. I taught myself to talk to the camera as if I were speaking to Kimmy or my best friend Colleen. It's more intimate and conversational, and allows me to just be myself. I knew I had so many things I could share, tricks I had learned and tips that could cut any task in half. Although much of my knowledge had been born of a horrible childhood situation, I found a way to use those skills to make life easier and fulfilling for my viewers, who are the real stars, the real heroes of the show.

The only way to move forward is to live an authentic life and be true to who you really are. I was dealt a hand that might have had a very different outcome if I ever allowed myself to feel like a victim. Resilience is key. Learning to stand strong in the face of challenge and adversity is my secret to survival. Picking up and moving forward is the only thing we can do. And making your life matter is the most important thing.

Excerpted with permission from Meredith Books. Copyright 2007.

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