Photo: Amy Sussman / Getty Images
Paula Deen took some time out from her Thanksgiving prep at home in Savannah to chat with Slashfood about her memories around the holidays, the Rose Bowl and what she's excited about for 2011.
With the holidays approaching, how do you stay sane?
PD: I don't know [laughs]. I really don't know. I think it probably has a lot to do with my team members. I don't micromanage them. They do their job and I don't have to give it a second thought, unless something goes amuck, which is very seldom. But I almost fainted last week...when I was on the plane with them, and I said, "When is Thanksgiving?" and they said, "A week from tomorrow, dear." And I said, "What? How can that be?" So I almost fainted.
In Paula Deen World, the holidays must be a demanding time, more than any of us can imagine.
PD: It really is. I'm usually working up to December 17 or 18. But I called a family meeting the other day. We're doing Christmas a little different this year. My family and I are so blessed; we have everything we need, so I told my family, that instead of giving gifts to each other, we're going to go out and pick six families in our community that are having a rough year. And we're going to deliver Christmas to them on Christmas Eve and forgo gifts to each other. So that's going to take a lot of pressure off. I'd rather give to those that are really in need. The only presents that I need from my children is their presence. That's it.
As a little girl, what were your favorite holiday traditions?
PD: Oh my gosh, my daddy would never allow me or my brother to be taken away from home at Christmas time. He said kids are supposed to be at home for Christmas. His parents -- my grandmother and granddaddy -- lived in Florida their whole lives, but I never knew what they did at Christmas. I don't even know if they had a tree. And my grandmother and granddaddy Paul wound up in Florida and I don't know what they did either. Because Christmas time was family time at home and I thank my daddy so much for that.
I recently read about your Rose Bowl events coming up.
PD: Get out, honey! I'm the Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade.
How did this come about?
PD: Hell, I don't know. I thought it was a mistake when I first heard something about it. I thought they were telling me I was like one of a hundred being considered so I really didn't think anything about it. I was on the road, traveling, and we came home and I walked in my front door and there on my foyer table was a huge bouquet of white roses. And I said, "What is this? It's not my birthday." I ran over and opened the card and it said, "Thank you for accepting the role as Grand Marshal for the Rose Parade." I almost fainted. It's true, it's true, it's true.
Maybe they want you to cook for them.
PD: This year's theme is about family. So what a compliment. They thought of me when they thought of family.
You've recently been working with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. What's new with them?
PD: I'll tell you something that I'm so stinkin' excited over. Philadelphia Cream Cheese is coming out with a brand new product in January. And you will not believe what it is. Pourable cream cheese.
PD: Thicker. But it's pourable. And I tasted it. It's insanely delicious. It's the easiest use of this product.
I've been seeing a lot more recipes that call for cream cheese.
PD: Years ago, I started adding cream cheese to my lasagna. And it takes it from good to fabuloso.
Do you have any new cookbooks coming out?
PD: I do; I think it's going to be out this time next year. It's going to be the biggie of biggies. It's going to be called Paula Deen's Bible of Southern Cooking. And I'm really excited. It's going to be the biggest one yet as far as recipes and how-to's.