I love the Food Network. I love food, food, food...but raw vegan food because I know that is what's best for me. But...when I watch Food Network, I'm always thinking, "how can I vegan-ize that?" And since my husband and kids are still cooked vegans, anything that calls for chicken can easily become tofu. (And I was SO happy yesterday when they had an episode of Rescue Chef where Dan helped a sister named Zion in the kitchen. Everything was vegan.)
Today my whole family watched the first episode of Big Daddy's House on Food Network. "Big Daddy" is Aaron McCargo, Jr. who won the fourth season of The Next Food Network Star. We all loved the show. Even my husband, who is not easy to impress, said, "He did a great job!" And my five-year-old, who has been calling himself a "chef" lately, is still talking about the show.
I sent Food Network an email to tell them that we loved the show. It comes on Sundays at 1:30pm EST. Check Aaron out when you can, and show "Big Daddy" some love!
And Paula Deen. I was moved to write about her for one simple reason: JOY. I can't eat a thing that Paula makes, but darn if she is not having a ball in the kitchen. Her enthusiasm and love for food just comes right through the television.
When I meet Paula and tell her that I'm a raw vegan, I can hear the conversation now:
Paula: "So what can you eat, Sugar?"
Me: "Fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, wild edibles, and spices. It's far more palatable than it sounds."
Paula: (Looking at me quizzically): Okay, Sweetie. Let Miss Paula whip you up the best salad yo' honeysuckle-complexioned self has ev-ah had!"
Me: Do your thing, Paula. Need me to help?"
Paula loves her job, clearly. I want to bring that same passion to my raw food videos. I'm not ready yet, but when I start, I want them to be fun. Because food is fun and my love. Even though we are preparing completely different dishes, Aaron and Paula are inspirational to me. And Paula's story is an inspiration because it really is a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" story. I first read about it in Good Housekeeping, while standing in line at the grocery store. I was like, "Wow!" From her bio on Food Network website:
Living with agoraphobia for 20 years, and a crumbling marriage, Paula Deen was left with two growing sons and no source of income. Without a college education, and very little to fall back on, the then 42-year-old housewife reached deep into her Southern roots and drew inspiration from what she knew best – her kitchen stove. Her culinary career began in her own kitchen, June 1989, with The Bag Lady. This home based lunch delivery service started with homemade chicken salad sandwiches and warm, fresh cookies wrapped in saran wrap which her sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen, delivered to local businesses to sell. Within two years, The Bag Lady grew too large for her home, and she opened her first restaurant on Savannah’s Southside called The Lady. In 1996, after five successful years, Deen was ready for another challenge. She re-located downtown and opened The Lady & Sons, which to this day serves thousands of Savannah visitors, including celebrity and political clientele.
And that's just a part of the story. No college education, no job skills, her husband left her with nothing, and she has accomplished all that she has. Paula learned how to cook from her late grandmother and still talks about her now. I think that is so cool.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. My hats off to Aaron and Paula for their success stories. Perhaps I'll meet them one day to say "thank you," and then prepare them a raw food meal that they love!