For good luck and good measure, I had Paula Deen sign my grilling tongs!

For good luck and good measure, I had Paula Deen sign my grilling tongs!

Everyone knows I am a Southern girl at heart, so of course I love me some Paula Deen. Growing up, I remember my Grandmother in Mississippi making fried Okra in an iron skillet with her famous drop biscuits. “Low fat” was not something that had ever entered my Grandmother’s vocabulary. Paula’s recipes remind me of the buffet I would see on my mother’s side family reunions with a smorgasbord of casseroles laden with cheese and butter and desserts fit for a king. As such, I have grown up with an insatiable sweet tooth, namely for homemade humming bird cake, coconut cake, chess pies and sweet potato casseroles that are more like dessert than a side dish.

Fortunately, I also grew up in the “low-fat” era with a mom who was always on a diet so I became conscious of how bad this stuff could be for you and that it is good for eating that way SOMETIME but not all of the time. Consequently, GrillGrrrl is a result of trying to add flavor to meat and vegetables without a lot of fat and extra calories!

I recently saw Paula do a cooking demonstration down here in Fort Lauderdale. I have seen her before and she is the ultimate performer- she is like a comedian with some grits thrown in for good measure.

Paula's hubby Michael cooks and performs with her when he's not working as a Harbor Pilot in Savannah.

Paula's hubby Michael cooks and performs with her when he's not working as a Harbor Pilot in Savannah.

The reason Paula is my personal hero is because she is the epitome of the American Success Story. She was not an overnight success and food network star. She became the Paula Deen we know of today as a result of a lot of hard work and determination. Many people don’t know this, but she didn’t leave the house for years as a result of being depressed and having agoraphobia that was triggerd by the death of her beloved granparents (key cooking inspiration). She did not have things easy raising her kids with her first husband who was not exactly a great provider.

Paula drug herself out of her agoraphobia with a lot of hard work and determination. She started “the bag lady” with only $200 in her bank account. She started making sandwiches out of her kitchen and selling them to offices at lunch. Jamie and Bobbie Deen were her employees selling sandwiches for her everyday.

Much hard work and large quantities of fried chicken, grits and butter cakes later, Paula Deen is the super star we know of today. She’s the infamous “Lady” of the Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, plus a food network show, cookware, and a myriad of cookbooks.

The point of this blog post is to remind myself and you, my dear readers, that anything is possible with lots of determination and hard work!  There are times when I ask myself, is this worth it, when I get up at 2am to do a tv spot at 5:30am and wonder if anyone in their right mind would even be up at that hour, and then I tell myself- you can’t make things happen by staying in bed and hitting the snooze button!

So ladies and gentlemen, when you see Paula on tv the next time or see her many cookbooks in the store, remind yourself- it didn’t happen overnight. There is a saying that I will end this with that sums up my sentiments “it seems the harder I work, the luckier I get”. Isn’t that the truth!

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