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I Think I’m Turning Paula Deen, I Think I’m Turning Paula Deen, I Really Think So.

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As regular readers will recall, I have more than once cast my rapier-sharp mind in the direction of Paula Deen, and, on at least one occasion, used it to poke at home shopping networks. If one tends to be fairly arch in general, it is so easy to make fun of Paula, HSN and QVC that it should almost require some sort of intellectual handicap, like maybe you can only mock them if you have a to file the taxes tomorrow and your six-year-old son has just received a new drum set.

One night a few weeks back, I was in my customary pre-bed couch snooze position as we flicked through channels trying to find something to fill the time until Rob could take the dogs out and we could actually go to bed. (I do realize that I could have been improving myself by reading Proust in the original French, but I had finished that the night before). Suddenly Paula Deen filled the screen, all white fluffy hair and diphthongs, selling cast iron cookware on QVC. She was hawking her hammered cast iron ensemble, and I was transfixed. The square pans, one with ridges and an iron-like press, one plain and flat, were replicas of a pan in Paula’s own collection, handed down through her family. The handles were hammered, and beautiful.  She claimed (although I quickly and cynically dismissed her) that the pans were “pre-seasoned,” and that food wouldn’t stick.

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I watched Paula, and watched the pans, and thought about my current method of making panini or Cuban sandwiches, which involved trying to cram three square items into a round cast iron skillet and smushing them with a plate topped by a heavy ironstone jug. I thought about how much I love my trusty, round Lodge cast-iron spider  and about how much easier it would be to fit bacon, or French toast slices, or four grilled cheese sandwiches on a square surface. Rob noticed that I was standing (well, lying) at attention, and asked whether I liked the pans. I allowed as how I did, the tragic three-tone “Sold Out” music was played, and Paula was replaced by some guy selling a jerky maker. I went back to The Edge of Sleep.

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About a week later, Rob anxiously told me that he really, really wanted to tell me what he had gotten me for my birthday. He’s done this before; we have a fundamental disagreement about the value of a surprise vs. the concern that one has bought the wrong gift, and will be thanked with “yes, yes” on the recipient’s lips, and “no, no” in their eyes. He “confessed” that he had ordered the Paula Pans before they sold out, and I was delighted. I had come home from Florida with a strange and wonderful cookbook called “Delightfully Southern Recipes,” and was obsessed with grits, fried catfish, and ambrosia salad. (Although I drew the line at ersatz chicken curry served over mashed potatoes). The signs were all there, and had there been a public service announcement warning against the “Five Signs of Becoming Paula Deen,” I would no doubt have woken up and smelled the shrimp boil. (That’s pronounced “ball,” y’all).

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The pans came in a box weighing approximately as much as as William Howard Taft and his bathtub,and the pans were lovely. Sam started making panini the second he got home from school (actually just smushed, grilled cheese), and I christened the other pan making bacon that very night. The claims of pre-seasoning were pretty darned accurate, and although storing these monsters (or just moving them around the kitchen) is a bitch, they are wonderful things. Alton might say that they are uni-taskers, and I have to admit that I do not absolutely require two square, cast-iron skillets, but I am certainly making great use of them. There are complaints on the QVC site about the fact that the sandwich press thingie is only big enough to press one sandwich at a time; I consider this to be a complete non-issue. The press is easily alternated between or among sandwiches, and a pan-sized press would have added so much weight that my oven would fall through the floor.

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So in some ways, this is a happy story. As a fundraiser for my doctor, I could easily fry a pound of bacon, cook chops in the grease, and make gravy for the accompanying biscuits in one pan. I could not have done that before. On the dark side, my hair is getting white at the temples, I have made grits three times in a week, watched “Steel Magnolias,” and actually said “y’all” out loud. Maybe I owe Paula an apology; her empire brings joy to thousands of women, and the product I received is damned good. Still and all, I think I’d rather see, than be her.paula-iii

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About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

12 responses »

  1. you make me smile Ann. 🙂 Really. What a wonderful post. I can’t ever picture you saying y’all, at all. Sounds like the pans made up for the cookbook. Now the fact that I am about to go whip up an entirely vegetarian healthy dish sounds somewhat, boring. Even though it is a delightful, flavorful meal, but the biscuits, bacon and panini sound GOOD.

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  2. Do remember, tho, that Paula is the woman who put her bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich between two donuts!

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  3. This is the absolute funniest post ever! “oven fall through the floor” guffaw. Thanks for the laugh today Ann. Good going, Rob!!!! I want a Cuban sandwich, now–expertly pressed, please.

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  4. I have actually been told I remind people of Paula Deen. Every time I hear that I die a little inside….

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  5. Paula thanks you although I don’t think she’s what The Vapors had in mind.

    Glad you liked the pans, I have a set myself which I use for quick weight training when I am not fully engulfed in the joy that is cooking new bacon wrapped treats.

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  6. Ann,

    After playing the antagonist here for some time you are overdue for a smidge of sincerity from me. The Blog is feeling great.

    Taking subject material like her, making a unprejudiced observation, and being able to empathize with us predictable southerners is large. ” I could easily fry a pound of bacon, cook chops in the grease, and make gravy for the accompanying biscuits in one pan.” You have captured the spirit, the essence of it. You are entitled to proudly say “Y’ all”.

    There is a Paula D in every third house down the street here…… So far there has only been one Annie G. Don’t change a thing.

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  7. (I do realize that I could have been improving myself by reading Proust in the original French, but I had finished that the night before). That is impressively improved. Bien Fait!

    I want those Paula Deen’s ….

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  8. my computer monitor is now covered in green tea. I need to not scream out loud while reading your posts.

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  9. Michelle, I’m always glad to make you smile. The pans more than made up for the cookbook, and now that I Have your recipe, I know that you were making something pretty good yourself.

    Mary, I am trying to block that. It’s the kind of thing that keeps therapists in business.

    Eric, you are most welcome. Come to Forest Street (which is kind of like “The Dark Side”) and I’ll make you a Cuban.

    Trisha, it could be much worse – she’s successful and I think she’s probably actually a great person. I’m just more of an Anthony Bourdain kind of person.

    Phil, I hope you aren’t thinking I’m a Paula-bashing idiot (ducks). You are a good sport with a good sense of humor, in any event.

    Robert, blushing. Thanks.

    Eric, you are one of the few people I know who actually could read Proust in French. Merci.

    Mary, it could have been worse; you could have been drinking pomegranate juice. 🙂

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  10. Ann, We really do need to get together and cook sometime soon! I went to Savannah last year and came back with Nathalie Dupree’s Shrimp and Grits Cookbook. I have yet to make anything out of it! On top of that, my cousin sent me a bag of real stone ground grits from Charleston and it is unopened! Blaine is allergic to shrimp…but I am thinking that you, Julie, Karen and I…and any other liberal chicks any of us might know, might need to plan a little pot luck!

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  11. Not at all Ann. I enjoy reading others experiences with Paula’s products and recipes.

    Lord knows that if you can’t laugh you need to take a step back reduce your opinion of yourself by half and try again (which is an example of recursion that warms my programmers heart.).

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  12. Amy, you’ve been holding out!! Yes, we need to have a Liberal Chicks Southern Potluck. I feel a post coming on….:)

    Phil, whew! The fact that the Paula Deen organization hired someone like you tells me a lot (of good things) about it’s philosophy and attitude. Thanks for the kind clarification.

    Reply

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