MOVE OVER, JULIA
2 June 2005
"Y'all take this big block of cream cheese and put it in a bowl, and then you add softened butter to it and moosh it all up."
Paula Deen speaks my language.
When we first got Cable-TV, I was very disappointed to discover that our ComCast did not carry The Food Channel. I had learned to enjoy some of the programs on The Food Channel when I stayed in Houston for a month and watched TV with my friend Bill all day.
I got to know Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay and Sara Moulton and Rachel Ray, and all the Food Network superstars, even including Julia, since she was still alive then.
It was frustrating that we couldn't get The Food Channel here at the house because I'd go to the store just a few blocks from home and there, over the meat counter would be a TV playing The Food Channel to give us ideas of what to buy to take home for dinner, so apparently some TVs could get the Food Channel, but not us.
That all changed several months ago, when ComCast expanded (read: became more expensive). But now we could get The Food Channel and, since I'm a TV junkie, when I couldn't find anything else on that appealed to me, there was always the choice of Animal Planet or The Food Channel.
All it took was Jeff Corwin waxing eloquent about some snake, or some special on creepy crawlies, or pretty much anything with Steve Irwin, and I was tuned in to The Food Channel.
That's how I came to discover Paula Deen.
Paula Deen is to down home cookin' what Julia Child was to French cuisine. She cooks with carefree abandon, things don't always work--she may end up with food all over her hands, and she never met a calorie that she didn't like and has the zaftig body to prove it.
All her recipes generally start with "take some butter..." and she is continually talking about things are "so gooooooood," in her thick Georgia drawl, as she tries to talk around the bite of food she has just put in her mouth.
The first of her programs that I ever watched was on cooking burgers. Four different kinds. The first was the cheese/butter stuffed burgers to which she added what she called "a little bit of mayonnaise," but which in actuality was more may than I would take -- and that's saying something -- along with lettuce and tomato and onion. When all assembled, the burgers were so high that one wondered if she could wrap her mouth ar ound them.
I was reminded of the scene in A Star Is Born when Norman Maine tries to make a sandwich for Esther, but it's so high she can't quite get it in her mouth, so he tells her he'll measure her mouth next time.
Paula, however, has no such problem. She opens wide, smushes the burger and takes a big bite. Then, with juice dripping down her fingers and mouth too full to really talk, she lets out an orgasmic moan and tells us that she'll be back after she breaks for commercial.
After commercial, she confesses that she doesn't know how she's going to be able to eat the other burgers, since she had more of the cheeseburger than she expected, but it was just so goooooood that she couldn't help herself. This is a woman who loves her own cooking!
Next she made sloppy Joes, recreating a taste of her childhood, and while the meat was browning, she also put together some tuna burgers, which mixed albacore tuna with onion, celery, pimento, seasoning and eggs. She said that it was best to brown these and then finish cooking them in the oven. She let them brown while she went back to the sloppy Joes, which were in danger of sticking to the pan.
She stirred that up and then back to the tuna, saying it was time to turn the burgers, which fell apart in her hand while she was trying to turn them. But she managed to keep them together to finish the turning, poured olive oil over the top of them, and then went back to the sloppy joes.
Eventually both sets of burgers got cooked (I was amused to note that the sloppy joes went on good ol' white balloon bread -- nothing nutritious about these babies!) and it was time to turn her attention to the pièce de résistance, burgers stuffed with pecans (and butter, of course). I missed a lot of the pecan burger instructions, but all I remember was that she took these humongous burgers, filled them with pecans, and then wrapped them in bacon.
This is my kinda woman.
The Paula Deen Show was followed by a program called "Everyday Italian," with a woman who was pencil thin, who cooked with lots of healthy looking things, who didn't spill anything, and who told me how good the things would taste rather than diving right in there and making me drool because I wasn't sharing it with her.
I'll take Paula any day.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
New photo from Peggy--isn't it gorgeous?