Starting Fresh in 2010

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Starting Fresh in 2010

By Paula Deen

The aftermath of the holiday season has me worn out. Mind you, I happily threw parties and hosted dinners, but a couple of weeks ago I started getting a little slack about the cleanup; I cut a few corners. You see, when you gotta stash some laundry before the guests arrive, the pantry works in a pinch. Or how about all those leftover Christmas receipts sitting on your countertops just in case cousin Betty’s slippers come up defective? Shove ‘em in a drawer. I just know y’all have one special catchall “drawer of doom” filled with all the things you think you’ll need one day (you won’t). It’s the drawer you hope your guests never open, fearing it might eat them alive.

So with the new year comes my annual resolution to clean up my act, or rather, my drawers, cupboards, closets and pantry—all the places I tend to overlook since they’ve got doors to hide the mess. But when cans of chicken broth start falling from the shelves and I can’t find that tiny doggone box of cornbread mix, it’s time to do something about it. Problem is, I don’t much feel like it. Like I said, I’m tired.

Pregnant women and newlyweds nest. Sixty-some year old grandmommas are too tuckered out from years of cleaning and preening to bother. We have our ways, and they’re pretty much cemented in. That said, I know from experience that a little extra effort now will bring some much needed peace down the road.

Just think what life would be like knowing exactly where to find a pen when you need it, or the matching lids for your pans or your grandbaby (he was just here a second ago…). It’s not so much about cleaning as it is about prioritizing and organizing—keeping the things you use most close at hand, while stowing those special occasion items in a place where you won’t forget all about ‘em. I mean, let’s face it: the less time spent running around like a chicken with its head cut off means a cleaner and quieter home.

But where to begin?  Because I spend so much time in my pantry, I think I’ll start there. And I’m not afraid to ask for help, especially from my creative design director, Brandon Branch, and food editor, Libbie Summers. They’re always coming up with new ways to organize—things I’d never think of, like:

*Dividing up your pantry into sections and organizing each section. In mine, we did six sections. Baking (this includes anything I use for baking like flour and sugar, as well as boxed baking mixes), canned goods, oils and vinegars (this section also includes all my condiments), pastas, cereals and snacks.

*Label! Libbie is a crazy labeler! If I don’t watch her, she will put a label on Lady Bird! I have to admit, it really does help a lot. Now everyone who comes into my pantry knows where things should go and knows where to find what they are looking for. Buy yourself a New Year’s present of a labeler.

*Using Baskets! Using baskets in pantries that have deep shelves (like mine) are a great frustration reliever. By using a basket, I can just pull out the basket and see everything on the shelf. We did this with all of my pastas and it works great. I also used this method with my “snack shelf”. Now all my sinful foods are just a basket pull away!

*Add a magnetic strip or cork board to the inside of your pantry doors! The magnetic strips are great for spice tins, but around my house, we use the cork board to pin up a calendar that will help us keep track of Sam, Otis and Bodeen’s medications.

*Hooks! Hooks inside your pantry doors are a great place to hang tea towels, pot holders or bags of onions.

*Grouping collections. By organizing and grouping my collections of old wooden bowls, vintage pyrex and milk glass in such a way, Brandon created a beautiful work of useable art. I love to use all of my dishes I have been collecting over the years, and when they are organized in such a beautiful way, it inspires me to have a party or make a recipe I know will look beautiful in them. Like, my Brown Sugar Chewies that I always love to cut into squares and serve in an old milk glass square vase. Or my Italian Chicken and Vegetable Soup, a simple and hearty soup I like to make for Michael and I on a cold Savannah day and looks perfect served in one of the wooden bowls from my collection.

You see, sometimes it takes a fresh eye to point out that even Paula Deen does not need a boatload of chicken broth, but the extra cans would do plenty of good being donated to the food bank. Or that storing my favorite coffee mug on the top shelf may not be the most convenient, given that I’m no beanpole.

So this week my staff and I have gathered up some fresh and doable ideas to help you check off that first item on the list of resolutions and get you organized for 2010—one pantry drawer of doom at a time.

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

Hi Paula.  I love old dishes too and I have several pieces of old milk glass, one is a compote that was my mamma’s.  I’ll never forget a few Christmas ago I was reading your holiday magazine; the Company’s Coming story featured you hosting brunch for Bobby, Jamie and Brooke.  Your dishes with the wreath in the center are just like mine! They are Adam Antique “Steubenville.” I was thrilled to see them on your table. I hope one day to travel to Savannah and see the town.  Of course, I will try to get in to eat at The Lady & Sons.

By Mary Anne on June 19, 2010

I like everything about you,your recipes,your show,your personality,your writings. You inspire me so many times when i am blue or depressed. Lots of people think my sister looks like you.keep up the good work.

By diane taylor on June 18, 2010

HI PAULA. I JUST LOVE ALL YOUR COOKING IDEAS AND ALL OF YOUR SHOWES.I MYSELF LOVE TO COOK.I HAVE SOME RECAPES THAT I WOULD LOVE TO SAIR IN A GOOD COOK BOOK. HOW DO YOU GET STARTED ON MAKING A GOOD COOK BOOK.I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW.THANK YOU FOR JUST BEING YOU PAULA AND YOUR COOKING FAMILY BEING SO THEM SELFES AS WELL.HAVE A BLESSED DAY TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AS WELL.DANA (RED)THATS ME HA HA.

By DANA SAGER on March 06, 2010

hey Paula,  loved your reorganzing kitchen ideas.  I am getting new cabinets and can’t wait to get started re-arranging things.  Love your show, I got you right up there with “my” Atlanta Braves - got a whole room full of Braves Stuff, need to start putting your picture there!!

By Jackie Butler on February 01, 2010

Paula, loved your reorganzing ideas.

By Jackie Butler on February 01, 2010

Hi Paula!! I just love your show! I am going to get your knife Block Set.  They look wonderful!! Thank You so Much!!

By Susie Grumbine on February 01, 2010

Great ideas.  I’m already pretty organized but this gave me even more ideas to make life a bit simpler for this grandma.  Thanks & Happy New year to you and your lovely family

By Margaret Wisler on January 31, 2010

I HAVE YOUR NEW COOK WARE, MY HUSBAND GOT IT FOR ME FOR OUR ANNIVERSARY. BUT I HAD ALREADY 2 OF THE FRY PANS, FOR SOME REASON THEY ARE TURNING A DIFFERENT COLOR (RED) I THOUGHT THAT WAS REALLY PRETTY. BUT NOW IT IS REALLY UGLY!!!! PLEASE HELP, THEY ARE GREAT PANS EXCEPT FOR THAT.

By PAT FOWLER on January 30, 2010

dear paula deen i truly think that yr an awosme person and u always make me smile everyday i enjoy watching yr show u always make joy to people and i love cooking just like u and when i grow up i would love to be a cook and make different things thank u for all that u do for so many people in our world:) u inspire me in so many ways and u always give me great ideas to cook for my family youre sucha wounderful kind person i just wanted to share with u that i made a goel in my life and theyt are first was meeting extreme makeover home edtion and my 2nd was meeting the best cook ever paula deen smile youre the best cook ever i hope one day i get a chance to meet u in person so i can tell all the great things i love to do in my life lol smile have a wounderful day

By brittney cox on January 30, 2010

What an inspiration you have been for me.  You make every woman see that anything is possible if you want it badly enough and are willing to work for it.  Thanks for your positive influence on all women young and older.  Keep up the great work.  God Bless.

Jenny Copenhaver

By Jenny Copenhaver on January 29, 2010

Love the idea of baskets, will work great for our snacks. I love your milk glass collection, I still have my first piece, it was a wedding gift, 32 years ago.

By Leisa Ann Keegan on January 29, 2010

Paula, that was on my agenda to do my
pantry! I was still trying to figure out how
to sectionize it. That’s what I need, the
baskets! Ty, Ty, Ty!! I just love your show,
and all the great recipes! Will you be
doing something special for Valentines
day?? I can’t wait!!

By Linda D on January 27, 2010

Thanks for the great tips Paula. You are truly a joy to watch on tv. I live in a small apartment and have a hallway closet, so I call that my pantry, it has built in shelves but is so not organized, so I will take your idea and invest in some baskets and use my labeler. God Bless and continue to make us all laugh, and keep the great recipes coming. XOXO

By Crissy on January 26, 2010

Hey paula i thought i heard you were building a bigger house?  are you did you youre current house is so beautiful.  any way i hope you all had a great holiday and a great new year to come

scot

By Scot Antrim on January 26, 2010

Paula, I loved your milk glass, I have several pieces also. I too have been trying to get organized for the past few weeks, it is slow going, since I am collector, trying to sort out what to sell, and what I want to keep. If I had a wish, I would love to come and cook with you one day, I am also just a southern, country cook.
Keep up the good work, love watching your show.
Carolyn

By Carolyn Rampey on January 26, 2010

My mother-in-law was and my sister-in-law is the best homekeepers I know their homes were and are always clean and it dawned on me why .... if you don’t use it store it away somewhere or get rid of it! My Mother on the other hand kept a clean home but also never threw anything away!She hardly had room to move around but she could always find things! I am also on this mission to rid my home of things that are totally useless (This may include a few relatives!!) I want to be neat and organized for once in my life as I too am almost 60 years old. Just can’t keep up with it!!!

By TERESA on January 26, 2010

Ate at your restaurant Saturday in Savannah, delicious Talapia sandwich!  Great coffee! 

The “stainless steel” measuring spoons someone was looking for in the comments are sold in Paula’s shoppe.  They are beautiful but actually pewter and about $190.00.  They are worth every penny. I am planning on saving up for them.

Organizing makes you feel at peace with your world, great info Paula!

By sbrock719 on January 26, 2010

PAULA, THANKS FOR THE INSPIRATION I NEED TO CLEAN OUT MY PANTRY/LAUNDRY ROOM. MINE GOT OVERRUN WITH CHRISTMAS STUFF AND PICTURES. LOVE YA KEEP UP THE GREAT IDEAS. LOVE YOUR LINE OF KITCHEN STUFF AT WALMART. I USE THE WOODEN LADLE SPOON ON A DAILY BASIS.

By BECKY LAYFIELD on January 26, 2010

I don’t know how you knew I needed this to get off my butt and reorganize for the new year

By linda seglem on January 26, 2010

I just love you and your show.I love your ideas they are the greatest.Keep up the good work and there is never to much butter in anything..lol.


Thank you for your ideas,Mia

By Mia Higdon on January 26, 2010

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