Paula Deen's Happy Halloween
Bring On the Good Food
Ladies' Home Journal: Growing up, you were always in the kitchen with your grandmother, and your sons were in there with you. Now you've written a cookbook for kids called My First Cookbook. What's your secret for getting kids interested in eating new things?
Paula Deen: If you can get children to participate in the cooking process they'll eat new things. They're so proud of anything they make, they're willing to try it. It kicks their self-esteem up several notches.
LHJ: You've been criticized for the fat content in your food -- and as you know, there's a childhood obesity epidemic in this country. Did you modify your recipes for children to have less fat in them?
Paula Deen: No. Listen, I am your cook, not your doctor. Don't make me responsible. I share recipes with you, but then it's up to you. You know your body, and you know if you're genetically inclined to have diabetes or high cholesterol. My grandmother cooked and ate the kind of food I make every day, and she lived to be 91. Some people are genetically blessed.
LHJ: But you don't recommend eating your food all the time, do you?
Paula Deen: I don't eat my own cooking every day! My lord, I'd be wider than a table if I ate chicken and biscuits and gravy every day.
LHJ: Do you have to watch your cholesterol? Is it high?
Paula Deen: Well, I've had to watch it as I've aged. When it got a little above 200 last year, I started taking medication. It's fine now. But I've got a news blast for every one: You ain't getting out of here alive. Somethin's gonna gitcha. And I think for me -- well, to never eat butter, then have a truck hit me? Do you know how pissed off I'd be?
LHJ: Your cooking has an improvised, freewheeling feel to it.
Paula Deen: For me the hardest thing about my first cookbook was making myself measure. Because my food is better when I don't. When I put everything into a formula, the taste is just a little bit off. You cook so long, you know just how much to shake in, or how big the lumps should be. Our grandmothers would say, "Drop in a lump of lard the size of an egg." That would be the instruction.
LHJ: Is it hard for you to eat in restaurants? I imagine the chef always wants to impress you.
Paula Deen: Oh yeah [nods emphatically]! And here's the thing -- simple food is best. Food that doesn't want to hide behind a lot of spices and crazy flavors. And I don't require foreplay when I go to a restaurant. I don't need all that junk. Just give me my one fork, my one knife, and bring on the good food.