Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

I don't know how she does it. Ree Drummond writes more blog posts in a day than I do in a month. She home schools her 4 children. Helps her husband, Marlboro Man, on their ranch. She has a cooking show premiering on Food Network on August 27th. She is an avid photographer, sharing Photoshop tips and hosting photo contests. And, oh yes, she's written a cookbook.

Part memoir, part photo album, and all heart, The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, is entertaining from cover to cover. It is remarkable to see how this woman, once a strict vegetarian and city girl, has embraced meaty menus and country living. That's what falling in love will do to a person! (Yes, she does reveal her love story in the book and in serial form on her blog.)

If you are a beginner in the kitchen, no worries. Ree takes you through each recipe, step by step. She is a natural teacher and she uses her photography skills to show you the way. As an example, there are 10 photographs accompanying her recipe for meatloaf. Ten! That's like having her stand right next to you, coaching you through the process.

If you love comfort food, she's got you covered. There's the aforementioned meat loaf, plus buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken, skillet cornbread, Edna Mae's sour cream pancakes, chicken fried steak, flat apple pie, mac 'n' cheese, chicken pot pie - are you hungry yet?

But even if you have little interest in cooking or baking, the book is worth reading for its depiction of life on a working cattle ranch. Ree married into a ranching family; their business was started by Marlboro Man's great-grandfather. Throughout her book, there are photo essays that include: shipping cattle in the mud, the difference between chaps and chinks, a "miss mustang" beauty pageant, real cowboys working calves, and photos of her family at work and at play. The Pioneer Woman Cooks is much more than a cookbook, it is a portrait of her family's life, a way of life few of us ever see.

Like I said, I have no idea where she finds the time to do all she does. But I sure am glad that Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, so generously shares her life with us.