Pursuing a second act? Take a cue from Patricia Heaton.

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headshot of Patricia Heaton
Credit: Diana Ragland

Emmy Award-winning actress, comedian, and author Patricia Heaton, best known for her role as Debra Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond," has reinvented herself more than a few times. Her gigs, as she calls them, range from delivering room service to co-starring in one of the most popular sitcoms of its time to hosting “Patricia Heaton Parties” on Food Network. Another defining role for Heaton has been that of mother. Now, with her four sons grown and moved out, Heaton continues to redefine herself. She even writes about the idea in her recent book, Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention.

On this episode of Homemade, Heaton tells host Martie Duncan about raising four sons while working full time, cooking for two, and her plans to lean on family and comfort food during the holidays. Tune in for Heaton’s takes on popovers, paella, Thanksgiving leftovers, and more. Download it for free at Apple PodcastsSpotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts beginning October 7.

About Patricia Heaton

Patricia Heaton moved to New York City after attending The Ohio State University. While auditioning for roles in her 20s, she worked in restaurants and as a room service waitress at Le Parker Meridien hotel. She moved to Los Angeles at 29 with no agent, no manager, and no more than one commercial on her reel. She landed roles on three sitcoms that didn’t take off. Her fourth sitcom, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” did. The two-time Emmy winner went on to star in “The Middle” on ABC and “Patricia Heaton Parties” on Food Network, for which she won her third Emmy in 2016. She is the author of Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention; Motherhood and Hollywood: How To Get a Job Like Mine; and Patricia Heaton's Food for Family and Friends: 100 Favorite Recipes for a Busy, Happy Life.

Episode Transcript

MARTIE Welcome to Homemade. I’m Martie Duncan. Each week on this show we celebrate good food and the interesting people behind all that cooking. My guest today may be actually best known for playing a bad cook on television but actually she’s a very good cook.

MARTIE You may know three-time Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Heaton as long-suffering TV mom Debra Barone on "Everybody Loves Raymond." But, did you know that one of those Emmys is for an outstanding culinary program for her show, Patricia Heaton Parties? You might not have known that about her. And she's got a great cookbook, too. I am so thrilled to welcome to Homemade Patricia Heaton.

PATRICIA Yay! Thanks for having me.

MARTIE Hey, thank you for being here.

PATRICIA Now where are you from. What's your accent?

MARTIE I'm from Alabama.

PATRICIA Are you in Birmingham?

MARTIE I'm in Birmingham.

PATRICIA Well, I know Birmingham because we shot "Mom's Night" Out in Birmingham.

MARTIE That's right!

PATRICIA Yes. And I'll tell you a funny story. I had never been to Birmingham before or Alabama. And being kind of an idiot Los Angeles actress, I was like, "I don't know if I will be able to get avocados in Birmingham. I better bring avocados with me because I'm sure they don't have those in the South."

And I get there and the greatest Whole Foods I've ever seen is in the middle of Birmingham. With a beautiful, like wine bar where you can go and pick out your steaks at the butcher's counter and then bring them over to the wine bar and they'll cook it for you. And then pair a wine. I mean, I was like, I'm such an idiot.

MARTIE Well, you know, that is a funny thing about my home state is that it is shocking to me when I meet people from all over the world, they're like, "Wait, you have a seacoast?" I'm like, "Yes, we have a sea coast." "Wait, you have mountains?" "Yeah, we have mountains."

PATRICIA I don't know, but it was so great. And my first maple-bacon ice cream was in Birmingham.

MARTIE Oh yum. Well, we do have wonderful restaurants here. Amazing. And that's because the godfather of farm-to-table cooking, James Beard award-winner Frank Stitt is here.

PATRICIA OK.

MARTIE And has won for best restaurant in the whole country, which is not easy considering that most of the James Beard voters don't come here.

PATRICIA Right.

MARTIE I mean, they would go to L.A. or San Francisco or New York. I know you're from Ohio, right?

PATRICIA Yes, Cleveland.

MARTIE I have a great Ohio story that I'll share with you. I got invited by Michael Symon and some people at the Fabulous Food Show to come to Cleveland to do that big event. And I did four years in a row at the IX Center?

PATRICIA Yep. Mhm. Yep.

MARTIE And so I had the best time and I've met the most wonderful people from Ohio and you know, Ohio State and Alabama, the University of Alabama are big football rivals, right?

PATRICIA Yep, and By the way, it's The Ohio State. Just so you know. The Ohio State University. It's my alma mater.

MARTIE I knew it was. When I got up on stage the first time, they start screaming out, "Where are you from?" I went, "Alabama." And they're like, "Boooo!"

PATRICIA Boooo!

MARTIE And they're like, OK, you have to learn the cheer. So they made me learn — and I felt like such a traitor — but they made me learn the O-H-I-O. So I had to do that, and every time I got up on stage, I had to do that little cheer.

Well, I'm just amazed that you just packed up and came to L.A. with just one little thing on your reel.

PATRICIA Yes. Just a commercial.

MARTIE I know you had done some movies and some TV. And then suddenly, you're on the biggest show on television.

PATRICIA I think it's interesting because God really takes his time with me in my life. Because if I get too much too soon, he knows it will go to my head. So he strings it along. You know, it's very painful sometimes.

But, yeah, I was in New York for nine years, struggling. Couldn't really get anything going. And I moved to L.A. and I was like, 29 and, you know, no car, no agent, no manager, one commercial on a reel. But I was sort of like, I'll give it a shot for two years and then if nothing happens, I'll go back to school and maybe become a teacher or something. I didn't know what I was gonna do. And things just kind of started happening.

The only work I ever got in New York was like work I produced for myself. So I took a play that I had been in, that I had produced, and I produced it in L.A. and I invited casting directors to come see it. And I started getting jobs. Even though I didn't have an agent, I started getting jobs. Little by little, an episode of something here, an episode of something there. And "Raymond" was actually my fourth sitcom. The three others had failed. They were all fun to do, but they didn't last very long. I did one called "Women of the House" with Delta Burke and Terry Garr and Valerie Mahaffey. And it was really fun. It was a spin-off of Designing Women.

MARTIE I love Delta Burke.

PATRICIA I know! Delta's fantastic. And "Raymond" really took like three seasons to sort of start cementing itself in the public eye. You know, I think the first season we were like 74 in the ratings. Number 74. But CBS took a chance with us and shifted us from Friday night to Monday night. And it really took off it, and it helped that we came on right after "Monday Night Football." So I think that really helped.

Who knew? I mean, it's funny because there were always shows around us that were much more famous. So "Friends" and "Seinfeld" were kind of the ones that really got most of the publicity. But "Raymond" really found its place.

And I think it's got such longevity because people who were kids when their parents were watching it are now grown and have families of their own. And so a whole new generation of people are watching the show and really appreciating, and it's timeless because of the family dynamics in it. The in-laws and parents of young kids trying to maintain their marriage with all the stresses that that entails. And doing it with humor. I mean, I think I love doing comedy, especially in these days. You really need to get a laugh and you need to have someone reflect your life back to you in a positive way, which I think "Raymond" does.

MARTIE I think so, too. I think my favorite episode was the one with the cake. You know which one I'm talking about, where the guys eat the cake?

PATRICIA Yeah!

MARTIE And they're not supposed to. And I'm sure it's because that one had something to do with food. But that was my absolute favorite episode because I can remember being a kid and us diving into a cake one time at the house that we weren't supposed to because there was a special something happening that we didn't know about, so it reminded me a little bit of that. Like, "Who? I didn't eat the cake!"

PATRICIA Yeah. You know what was great? We loved episodes where they featured cake because it came from this bakery and it was sort of like a six-layer chocolate chocolate cake and the frosting was so good. I'm a big frosting person. And any time that came on, our prop mistress would order a couple cakes, because, you know, you always have to have doubles of everything on a show.

MARTIE Right.

PATRICIA Of course you do. So you have to have at least three of those double chocolate cakes that we could all eat all week long as we were rehearsing.

MARTIE Well, that brings me to a question. So while you were taping "Raymond" for those nine years and getting nominated for an Emmy every single year and winning a bunch of them, too — you were also building a family.

PATRICIA Yes. The first season, I had a three year old and a one year old.

MARTIE Oh, my gosh.

PATRICIA I know. And actually, that season, the three year old, like idiot first time parents, we had put him in a gymnastics class because we thought you're supposed to sign them up for everything the minute they're born.

MARTIE Right.

PATRICIA He fractured his leg, so...

MARTIE Oh, my.

PATRICIA The first season, I would wheel him in the wheelchair and I'd have my on year old in my baby carrier. And then I got pregnant with the third one that first season.

And then the third season, I got pregnant again with our fourth. So I barely remember half of those episodes. I was so busy. What becoming a mom does is really focus you. And so, I had to just be super focused while I was at work, even though the kids were often with me at work. But just memorizing my lines and really rehearsing intensely because when I got home, I didn't really have time to work on anything because I had to make dinner and all that kind of stuff.

MARTIE Well, that brings me to my next question. How in the world did you do that? And what were some of your specialties? Your go-to things that you would make when you had four kids and trying to do an Emmy-winning TV show?

PATRICIA Well, I think the answer is, what would I pour?

I remember like in the morning, I'd get up and I would think, I could really use a beer right now. Because I just knew with the day ahead was gonna look like, right?

And I'd work all day, come home, do their homework, make dinner, whatever. I did have a nanny who was helping too, so of course that really works. But get them into bed, and then I would pour myself a nice big glass of red wine and just sort of kind of try to come down from everything. One night, my third son, Joe, who was just little, called me up to the bedroom after I'd put them all to bed. So I put my glass of wine down and I ran up. I said, "What's going on, Joe?" You know, I leaned into him and he looks at me and he goes, "Mom, you smell like communion."

MARTIE I think that everybody I know has a story where their child busts them on their, um, consumption.

PATRICIA Yeah. I said, "Well, honey, that's just, I'm just down in the kitchen praying for all you boys every night."  

MARTIE I remember a funny quote from your television show on Food Network called "Patricia Heaton Parties,' where you said it's never too early for a rum and cherry coke. And I thought, we're gonna be friends. Me and Patricia Heaton are gonna be friends.

PATRICIA Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but as of July, it's been two years since I've had a drink.

MARTIE OK. Well, that's fine, too. I don't really drink very much, but I just thought it was fun.

PATRICIA Listen, I am a huge bourbon fan. I love Maker's Mark. I love bourbon.

MARTIE Ooh, me too.

PATRICIA And I love vodka. And I just decided that because my boys are in their 20s and none of them are in a serious relationship — so it'll probably be, you know, 10 years if, God willing, I have a grandchild. And that would put me in my 70s. I'm 62.

PATRICIA So my thing was like, I think I just need to really have a super clear head and just start trying to maintain my brain in hopes that I will get some grandchildren. I'm kind of like putting it out there to God. You know, it's like, "Look, look. Look here. Not drinking anymore. C'mon, send babies my way!"

MARTIE Well, I think it sounds like you have got a marvelous whole thing set up here. Did you grow up in a cooking household?

PATRICIA We're the fourth of five. You know, I talk about this in my cookbook, I think. I didn't think my mom was a great cook because, you know, we kind of had the same thing. Like, everything involved ground meat. So it was burger, meat loaf, some kind of like meat sauce for the pasta. We're Catholic. We couldn't have meat on Fridays, so it would be like...

MARTIE Fish sticks.

PATRICIA Mrs. Paul's fish filets. Fish sticks or pizza. I just remember the big excitement was taking that little pack of relish that they would give you with the fish sticks.

MARTIE Mayonnaise.

PATRICIA And you mix it up with some mayonnaise and you have tartar sauce or whatever you have. And so I thought, you know, that's not very exciting.

MARTIE I can only imagine when your boys were little and "Raymond" was new how hard that must’ve been to get in a routine, cook dinner, get 'em to bed. But I think it must have been harder when you had four teenage boys and a husband at your house. How in the world do you cook for five starving guys every single day? What were your best go-to dishes at that time?

PATRICIA Well, pasta and chicken are always good. I like to take chicken breasts and really pound them so that they're thin, which also is sort of like an emotional exercise, too, after you come home from a day of work. You just pound the crap out of those chicken breasts. Lets out of a lot of tension. And I'd just like to bread them and fry them, try not to use too much oil. And you can bake them if you don't want to have that oil, but then mix up a wonderful kind of, like, garlic and tomato and basil topping for them and just serve it with a side of pasta. Everybody loves it. It never fails.

MARTIE Yeah, chicken Milanese or chicken cutlets. They're everybody's favorite. Who doesn't love that?

PATRICIA Right.

MARTIE And they are easy because they cook so fast.

PATRICIA They cook so fast, and you usually have chicken breasts in your fridge, you know, so it's easy to do.

MARTIE Well, when I did the show "Food Network Star," there was a girl on that show named Michele Ragussis who's a great Italian cook, and she showed me how to take and pound out those chicken cutlets and bread them and put them in the freezer so that when you need one you can just whip one out.

And she says while you've got your breading station out go ahead and do like twelve more. And then that way, on a busy weeknight, you can just grab one out and quickly cook it because you can cook 'em from frozen.

PATRICIA That's a great idea! Oh, I wish I'd known that 20 years ago.

MARTIE It sounds like you've still got boys around all the time, so.

PATRICIA Well, we have since the pandemic. We ended up having three back home with us, which was kind of fun for a while. But they got right into that pattern of like, "What are we having for dinner?" I'm like, "Dude, you're 22. That's over."

MARTIE That sounds like a true working mom. Hey.

PATRICIA Yeah.

MARTIE Somebody else help us get something on the table over here. So you're an empty nester now, really.

PATRICIA Well, yeah. I mean, I think that's another thing that contributed to my stopping drinking was, "The Middle" had ended, which we had done for nine years. And then my boys were out of the house. And all the things that are defining you, your identity, being a mom and working and whatever, those things are gone and you feel a little bit unmoored.

I felt like I was maybe having Prosecco at lunch and having big Campari and soda at night and then two at night, and so. And I just thought, you know what? I think I'll just feel my feelings. Feel unmoored. And just see what that, you know, what does that feel like? And just do that. It's been really good. You just have to open up and embrace going forward in your life, just like a new adventure and be OK with being a little bit off balance.

MARTIE You know, that brings me to a question about your new book that came out this summer. I am the master of reinvention myself, and that's one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you, because I worked, like, 16 jobs growing up. And then I became a police officer to pay for my college.

PATRICIA Really?!

MARTIE I did.

PATRICIA How long were you a police officer?

MARTIE Only four years. But, you know, I want to talk a little bit about this whole reinvention thing. You reinvented yourself once already by taking what you've learned from being a mom and entertaining at home and turning that into a Food Network show, "Patricia Heaton Parties." I don't know if you know this about me, I'm known as "Martie Knows Parties."

So, we kind of have that common bond of loving to gather people around our kitchen and around our table. I love the fact that you did easy things and gave some great tips and advice on that show about how to entertain. We're coming up to the holidays now. Do you have any tips for our listeners about how to gather in these weird COVID times? I think it's really important we still get together.

PATRICIA Well, I think that's right. And I think we've come through this pandemic understanding even more how important family is. And then how important our friends are. And how precious it is to be able to get together now that we haven't been able to get together for months. so I think the main thing here is, if you can safely get together with your family and friends, don't stress about the food because we now know it's just important to be able to hang out with each other. And food is sort of just the glue that sticks us all together. But really, it's not about food at the end of the day. It's about being together. And I think comfort food is really what's needed right now. Load up the dishes with carbs. And just appreciate and be thankful for — you have your family and you can be around them. Just be close.

MARTIE Now, do you find it challenging to cook for just two, or are y'all doing mostly a lot of takeout these days?

PATRICIA Yeah, well, we do quite a bit of takeout. But, the first evening that our youngest son went off to school, we went to the grocery store and all we came back with was chips, popcorn, hummus, and salsa, and ice cream. Like, it was just snacks.

MARTIE What's wrong with that? That sounds awesome!

PATRICIA And cereal, I was like, "Ugh, I'm gonna eat cereal for dinner." And, you know, with cereal, you can't just eat one bowl because you have to end with the perfect milk to cereal ratio. You can't have too much milk left in the bowl. And you can't have too much cereal.

MARTIE Yes!

PATRICIA So you have to keep pouring both until you get it right.

MARTIE That's right. That is the truth, and I think everybody can relate to that. Yeah. I mean, I might need a few more of these Lucky Charms.

PATRICIA Exactly. So. um, you can't eat as much fun stuff as you get older. And my recommendation to your younger listeners is eat everything you love now because later you're not going to be able to do it. With my book, Your Second Act, I talk about bread, booze, and burrata and how I've sort of had to quit dairy, carbs, and alcohol in order just to try to hold myself together for a few extra years as I go forward.

MARTIE When you're a kid, you can not eat for a day and drop five pounds. Now you can not eat for a year and you'd still probably gain five pounds.

PATRICIA I know! It's unbelievably unfair, but there you go.

MARTIE Do you find, though, cooking for two is a lot harder? I do...

PATRICIA Yeah. I mean, we make the mistake of keeping, filling up our refrigerator because it just looks weird if there's nothing in the refrigerator. For 20-some years it's been packed with stuff. So we have this giant refrigerator. With just the two of us, it's pathetic. It's like back when I was in college or struggling in New York. There's like a little thing of mustard, there's some Parmesan cheese, a thing of like nonfat almond milk. I mean, it's kind of sad looking.

But as I said, like, we do mostly chicken. Now, with pasta, you can find these great pastas that are made of lentil flour. So they don't have as much carb in them, but they still have that nice, chewy pasta texture. So we're doing a lot of that. So, that kind of pasta and chicken. We do a lot of chicken. Chicken and rice. I have a nice rice steamer that makes it that nice sticky Chinese restaurant kind of rice, which I love. So we do a little bit of that. But I like your idea of just like preparing a bunch of those chicken filets and freezing them. That's a great idea.

MARTIE I make a lot of soups starting this time of year and stews and things like that. You can't eat all of that before you get tired of it, so I either give it away to the neighbors or I put it in quart containers and freeze it.

PATRICIA What kind of soups do you like? I like the thicker, more like stew kind of things. I don't like really thin soups. I like lentil soups, stuff with lots of legumes and things in them, that have some body.

MARTIE My number one soup is butternut squash soup because I grow the butternut squash here at my house.

PATRICIA Oh, wow.

MARTIE So that's one of my favorites. Super simple, roast it up, and then puree it with some onions that I sweat down and a little bit of stock or broth or something.

PATRICIA OK.

MARTIE What is one of your favorite soups that you like to make?

PATRICIA I've never really made soup. I like to make beef stew. You know, you put a little wine or beer in it and just get that meat really tender with just nice chunks of potatoes and carrots and peas and onions. And that's my favorite kind of thing. And it's also you can have that sitting on the stove for a day or two. It gets better the next day, you know. Wonderful thing.

MARTIE Yeah, it does get better the next day. I love to do that in my big Dutch oven. And coat the beef, whether I get the butcher to cut it up or I just get some kind of stew meat or whatever. And then coat it with a little bit of flour with some salt, pepper and maybe a little bit of cayenne. I'm from the South, so I use a lot of cayenne. Make a seasoned flour and put everything in a bag and shake it up really good, and then take the meat out and then sear it off, and then start building my flavor that way.

PATRICIA Yeah.

MARTIE I had Anne Burrell on not long ago and we were talking about building that crunchy stuff that gets in the bottom of the pan.

PATRICIA Yes.

MARTIE And how important that was. Once you kind of get to that point, you add your beef broth or beef stock and then start really building those flavors.

PATRICIA The thing I was having fun trying this summer is a paella.

MARTIE Oh, nice.

PATRICIA We had been to Barcelona a couple of years ago with some friends and we went to this incredible hole-in-the-wall paella place. Speaking of, like, those crunchy bits, they do that. They get it so that the rice on the very bottom is crispy and just fantastic and the flavor!

So I ordered a paella cookbook and a huge pan. And it's really, when you get it down, it's not difficult to make. And it's a one stop thing where once it's cooked, you just put that pan down on the table and everybody just starts. You know, and it's got whatever you want to put in it. An original paella really has like rabbit, things like that in it. But I just do it like chicken and shrimp and peas and onions and — you can really kind of fake it a little bit. And it's all in one pan, so you don't have to worry about timing of different dishes. And you just put that in the middle of the table and it's a great communal meal to do, and kind of year round. And you can change the ingredients to make them a little heavier for winter and a little lighter for summer.

MARTIE I love that idea. So can you walk me through how you do it? Do you start with a sofrito?

PATRICIA Yes, exactly. And you cook up whatever — like, the one I just did was really just chicken and shrimp and — I can't remember, did I put some beef in it? But you want to brown all that and set it aside and then you start working on flavoring your rice with your saffron and — oh, and then you've done your onions and garlic if you want a little bit of garlic. Saffron really makes all the difference.

MARTIE It does.

PATRICIA And I was so shocked that I found it in our local grocery store because I thought, where am I going to get — I was kind of doing this last minute — I thought, where am I going to get saffron, and they have like one tiny box left. And then you just, you're cooking and you have your stock and your meats in it. And then at the very end, you pour your rice in at the end and it looks very soupy to start out with. And then it kind of boils down, and you just want to get that timing right.

haven't gotten it so that I can get that crispy rice on the bottom. But I think partially that's because I have this huge paella pan. And you really, if you're gonna do it right, you're going to have it over a big paella ring where the heat's coming up so that it's evenly distributed. And I had it on my stove top with two burners and I had to kind of keep moving it around. So it was a little tricky.

And I think if I really want to get good at it, I'm gonna need to get either that attachment that you can put on your stove that makes the ring bigger. Or just buy a bigger ring to cook it on, which would make it much easier. I think the key is to get that heat evenly through that pan.

MARTIE It's so hard because the paella pans are so big and, you're right, the cook tops don't often have a large enough area. So you get one part really cooked and the other part is not as cooked.

PATRICIA Yes.

MARTIE So you risk burning it just to get it. Yeah. So that that's really tough. You have to kind of move it around. I've actually thrown it in the oven. Like, take all the racks out and just on that bottom rack.

So I start it on my cooktop, and then I put it over fairly high heat in the oven. And that helps because I put it as close as I can to the burner. I noticed that in your book and also when you were doing your Food Network show, "Patricia Heaton Parties," that you did have a lot of British-inspired dishes. Do you have that as a background or that comes from your travels?

PATRICIA My husband's British.

MARTIE Oh, your husband is British! OK. I didn't know that.

PATRICIA Yeah. So that's why popovers are one of my favorite things to make. They call them puddings in England.

MARTIE Yorkshire pudding or...

PATRICIA There's a famous Lawry's steak restaurant where they're famous for their huge popovers, and there's a great Williams-Sonoma popover pan that you can get that makes two really very visually striking popovers. And they're very versatile so you can make them sweet or savory. You can stick rosemary in there. Or you could do them with honey butter instead or something. You could, you know, you use them for all different kinds of things. And to do a nice Sunday roast with those is just wonderful.

MARTIE Ohhh. I did see a lot of other influences. So I'm assuming a lot of that has to come from your travels, like some of your other dishes.

PATRICIA Yes! You know I lived in New York City for nine years, right out of Ohio State and — The Ohio State, excuse me.

MARTIE The Ohio.

PATRICIA And for a while, I dated a guy who was a restaurant consultant. I mean, that's the dream date.

MARTIE Yeah, always have a different restaurant every night?

PATRICIA Yes. That was his job, to go around and try different places and tell the owner what they needed to do to improve. That was really an eye-opener for me. It was a little overwhelming, actually.

And I remember the first time I had sushi was in New York. I lived above the studio musicians' bar. And all the studio musicians were into sushi at that time. So I couldn't imagine somebody telling me that you eat raw fish. I couldn't imagine. And I was immediately hooked the minute I tried it.

As an actor, I worked in restaurants. I managed restaurants. I was a room service waitress at the Parker Meridien hotel in New York from 6 in the morning till noon. Talk about we've all had these different acts, reinventing ourselves. But in show business, those are just called survival gigs.

MARTIE So I want to roll back to the Yorkshire pudding for just a minute.

PATRICIA Yep.

MARTIE So if you don't have the fancy pan, can you still make them?

PATRICIA Yeah. You just make them in cupcake pans. That's how my mother-in-law did it. And what's kind of great about it, instead of puffing way up, they kind of sink down in the middle. But it's great for gravy. Like, you pour your gravy over it and it holds the gravy. Hers looked very different from mine, tasted exactly the same.

MARTIE I absolutely think they're amazing. I love to do things like skillet pancakes that puff up really big and things like that. But I love the fact that with the Yorkshire puddings or the popovers that they are individual servings. So I saw where you did one with a beautiful sliced roast beef and then a horseradish sauce.

PATRICIA Yes.

MARTIE You did one with your son. So, you've brought your kids into the kitchen to help cook some of these family traditions also.

PATRICIA Yeah. And one summer, you know, we're always trying to look for activities, they actually took a cooking class at Sur la Table. The store had a kitchen in it. And they loved it. And they loved being able to flip a pancake, taking the skillet off the stove and flipping it and doing their eggs. I think it's really good and something I should have done more of is teach kids those kind of kitchen skills for themselves. What I found is some of my boys have really taken to cooking. I think it's probably they're trying to be a little bit of a chick magnet that they can cook, but there's nothing wrong with that.

MARTIE For sure.

PATRICIA And I think especially these days, it's all hands on deck when you start having a family. And it's good for dads to know how to cook. Because I think what happens with us gals is we end up doing everything because we aren't sure our husbands or our partners know how to take care of stuff. And so, if you can teach your boys to cook, their wives will feel a lot more secure, and allow themselves to get a break. I think the reason women don't give ourselves a break is 'cause we're afraid nobody can do it as well as we do.

MARTIE You’re listening to Homemade. We’ll be back in just a minute.

I’m Martie Duncan, and today my guest is Emmy-award winning actress Patricia Heaton.

OK, we've got the holidays coming up. What are some of your favorite family traditions, things that you love to do around the holidays?

PATRICIA Because my husband's British, they have a little thing they have over there called Christmas crackers. They're these little cardboard tubes with little gifts and jokes inside and little paper crowns. And you take one end and the person seated next to you takes the other and you pull it apart and it cracks. That's why they call it a cracker. And your toy flies out and your jokes fly out. And you put your crown on your head and you all sit around with your paper crowns, looking very silly, which is a great way to just relax and have fun.

MARTIE I love it.

PATRICIA And you read your jokes and your brainteaser questions out to each other. So that's one thing that we've been doing for years. And my husband insists on getting them shipped from either Harrods or Fortnum & Mason.

MARTIE Fortnum & Mason, my favorite store ever.

PATRICIA Yes!

MARTIE But I love those traditions, those family traditions, things you do year after year. And I love the fact that you're bringing these cultural things from your husband's background into it also. Now, what would the one dish be that it wouldn't be the holidays at your house without "blank"? What would that be? The one dish that you have to have to make your holiday feel complete?

PATRICIA Well, I think we're fairly traditional in an American sense: the stuffing and the cranberry sauce. I mean, I grew up with that cranberry sauce out of the can that you slice.

MARTIE I love it. I gotta tell you, I love it.

PATRICIA I just feel like my boys — I've always made my own cranberry sauce because I just thought they're going to make fun of me for this cranberry stuff in a can. You know, we're in L.A. It's very, like, everything has to be organic. You're not going to do the cranberry stuff out of a can. But I feel like I should have really made that a tradition in our family just to bring my Ohio roots into the equation!

MARTIE It's not too late. You can do it now. I do both. Because there was just something so satisfying about taking that can — that would always be my job in the kitchen with my mom — and cutting the bottom and the top off of the can and then holding and shaking it until the plop.

PATRICIA Yeah, but it makes it kind of like sucking noise as it comes out. You know, it's like...

MARTIE There's something so satisfying about that. I love making the cranberry sauce from scratch, like you. I read your recipe where you do the cranberries, a little bit of water, some sugar, orange.

PATRICIA It's so interesting because cranberry sauce is the easiest thing to make, and it's so much more satisfying, I think, when you can make it fresh like that. I mean, there is something about the canned stuff, as we said. But I love having big bowls of it because I eat it with all the leftovers. And we're just a big relish family. My husband really loves chutney because he's British. So we always have to have a lot of jars of chutney with us. And relish is kind of like, I don't know what the origins are, but to me it's sort of that American version of chutney.

MARTIE It is. And you can keep it for a while, even in the fridge. I saw where you do a cornbread muffin. And I think this is a perfect dish for the day after Thanksgiving or the day after Christmas. The cornbread muffin where you put the cranberry relish and then you stuff it with ham.

PATRICIA Yes. Or turkey. To do that with leftovers.

MARTIE It's called Cranberry Cornbread Bites, and for anybody who wants to try it, you can find the recipe at People.com, and it’s a great idea for the day after a holiday, you can serve it up with a big pot of soup or chili or leftovers or something.

All right, Patricia, before we go, I do want to talk about your book. Not your cookbook, which is great for right now as we head into the holiday season. But I want to talk to you about your latest book called Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention because lord knows, I have reinvented myself so many times.

MARTIE I had a company that went under. And when it went under, part of what remained from that was content. I was a content creator. And I ran into some people from Microsoft through a friend. And they're like, "Since you make all this great content, why don't you become a content creator for us and do something around food?" And I'm like, "Oh? OK!"

PATRICIA You're like, "Is that a job?"

MARTIE Yeah. "Is that a real job? I can do that?"

PATRICIA Your story is exactly the kind of story that's in my book Your Second Act, and many people went through what you went through. You lost your company. People have had financial upheavals. They've had physical upheavals. They've had family upheavals. And they've been forced to think differently, think outside of the box, reinvent themselves. And it's not always, you know, a straight path. Sometimes it's a bit circuitous and you've got to figure it out and you maybe have to double back for a second and go in a different direction. But the stories in the book embody an American spirit of not just, "Gonna get this done, we're gonna figure it out, we're gonna solve this problem." But also people coming alongside each other and helping each other and supporting each other.

So, I love your story. And that's exactly what this book is for. So there are people, Larry and Sarah Bruce, who — he went from working for a shady accountant who lost all his money to making to-go salads and now they have a farm-to-table restaurant and bed and breakfast in the wilderness of Texas. But it's a huge, wonderful success for them.

We have another food person, Dave Dahl, the maker of Dave's Killer Bread, which you find in every grocery store. You know, he was a drug addict and in prison, and he learned computer programing in prison. And then he came out and went to work for his family's bakery and created this bread. And it's just everywhere you go.

MARTIE It's everywhere. I love those stories, and it's really remarkable about how many of those do revolve around food.

PATRICIA Mhmm. Food. I also found that family is a big thing. My friend Dani Modesett, her mother had Alzheimers. She couldn't get her mother to come out of her shell and smile. And Dani herself's a comedian and a writer, and she created a group called Laughter on Call, where comedians come and visit Alzheimer's patients. And they have this ability to really bring that personality that sort of receded in a person and bring it forward again.

Yudi Bennett was a TV producer when her son was diagnosed with autism. She created a studio to teach people on the spectrum how to do video animation. They have the school and then the studio where they actually have contracts with HBO and Marvel and different places. And now people on the spectrum are actually having careers and becoming independent.

MARTIE I love this.

PATRICIA Yeah, I think right now there's a lot of people who have lost their jobs and those jobs aren't going to come back because of this pandemic. So there's that group of people who could really find inspiration in this book.

Then there's that other group of people who maybe their job is still there and maybe they've been working remotely, but this five or six months we've been going through has made them think twice about what's important in their life. And they've decided, maybe I don't want to be doing this anymore. Maybe I need to find something new that's more fulfilling. I think this book is also good for them to figure out what are your gifts and what would you like to leave with the world? What kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?

MARTIE The thing I heard you say that really resonated with me is that you said, "At 60, I still have dreams to fulfill. They hold a place in my heart. I want to see that through.”

PATRICIA Yes.

MARTIE I think that's so important for people to know. It's never too late to go for your dreams.

PATRICIA It's not. I think that there's been, out in our media for so many years, this idea of retiring and you're gonna drive around in your golf cart and play solitaire or bridge with your friends. That's all fine, you know, if that's what you want to do. But we're not condemned to that. So it's about what you want to do. It's about your inner spirit.

I was able to fulfill so much of my acting desires even while I was having children, but now we've had these scripts we've been developing for many years. And we've finally, with the kids gone and not working right now, we've been able to start doing that producing. And I think in the book I talk about how I'm sitting in this hotel room in Oklahoma City, trying to find this location for our movie. And part of me is going, "Why am I doing this? I could be back in L.A. sitting by my pool, and I'm in this hotel and we're driving around in rural areas looking for a farmhouse that doesn't seem to exist."

But on the other hand, it keeps you alive. It keeps you vibrant. You have those great experiences of meeting people. Unfortunately, while we were doing this movie, it had to be shut down because of the pandemic. So we have five days left to shoot, which we're still waiting to go back and shoot. I hope the cast doesn't age too much by the time we get back.

MARTIE Yeah. Continuity, continuity, continuity. That's one thing I've learned from television. Patricia, I just want to say thank you. You're a great inspiration to me personally. I know you are to a lot of our listeners. We are so happy to have you on Homemade.

PATRICIA Thank you!

MARTIE I love the fact that you're still cooking, even as an empty nester. I love the fact that you're still trying to be inventive and find new things, with paella being one of your new things that you've worked on. And I love the fact that you're trying to inspire the rest of us to, hey, whatever you want to do, it's still there for you to do it, no matter what age you are, no whatever.

PATRICIA Martie, it was so great to talk to you and I sure hope we get to meet in person one of these days. That would be fun. And we gotta do the Cleveland Food Festival.

MARTIE OK. If you Fabulous Food Show people are listening to this, Michael Symon, if you're listening to this, Patricia Heaton and I are ready to roll. Let's bring it back for 2021. Fabulous Food Show, IX Center, Cleveland, Ohio.

PATRICIA Let's do it!

MARTIE C'mon people.

PATRICIA Go Buckeyes.

MARTIE Roll Tide.

PATRICIA Martie, O. H.

MARTIE I. O.

PATRICIA There you go.

MARTIE I got it. I still got it.

PATRICIA You still got it.

MARTIE Once again, I just want to say thank you to our guest, Patricia Heaton, for being so generous and so giving and teaching us a lot that we are absolutely going to cling to. Patricia, thank you for being with us today.

PATRICIA Thanks, Martie.

MARTIE Bye bye.

PATRICIA Bye!

MARTIE Patricia Heaton is a three-time Emmy Award winning actress best known as the long-suffering Debra Barone on "Everybody Loves Raymond." But one of those Emmy’s was for outstanding culinary program for her show, "Patricia Heaton Parties." She's written several books, including a great cookbook and her latest, Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention. You can follow her on Instagram at @PatriciaHeaton.

We have got a fantastic show coming up for you next week. I am so excited talk to comedian and TV star Jo Koy.

JO KOY I ate stingray.

MARTIE Does it like a gelatinous texture to it?

JO No. It literally has a crab meat texture.

MARTIE Oh, wow.

JO And it's phenomenal. Flaky and stringy and a little dense texture to it, like crabmeat. You know how crab is very clumpy unless you peel it apart? Whereas this is already pulled apart. It's like you scoop it and it's ready to go. The most amazing thing I've ever had was that stingray in Singapore. I thought it was illegal. I'm like, are we gonna go to jail for this?

MARTIE Jo is the number one ambassador of Filipino food, and he's going to tell us how to make some of that country’s most popular dishes, including his adobo chicken wings, which will be great for football weekends. Subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss it, and please leave us a review so we know how we’re doing.

Don’t forget, you can find thousands of recipes, meal ideas, and cooking how-tos from the world’s largest community of cooks at Allrecipes.com. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This podcast was recorded in Birmingham, edited in Atlanta, and can be found wherever you get your podcasts.

Homemade is produced by AllRecipes with Executive Editor Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team Rachael King, Eliza Lambert, Tanya Ott, and Maya Kroth.

Thanks for listening! I’m Martie Duncan,  and this is Homemade.