The Pioneer Woman Cooks

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, makes me feel, well, inadequate.

She feeds a houseful of people 3 meals a day every day, does the mom job for 4 kids, deals with animals and accidents and men, looks gorgeous doing it, and somehow she still finds time to take gorgeous pictures and write funny stories about it all that she posts on her blog pretty much daily. Oh, and she even made time to write a cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, where she did all of the photography of all of the steps for all of her recipes. Just writing that made me tired.

Her cookbook is beautiful on so many levels. Her photos of life on the ranch capture near-perfect moments of the people who live there with her. She’s perfected the art of being able to take pictures of her children without them being staged or even seeming to be aware that she’s there. Her stories are funny and heart-warming, and you come away from the book feeling like you know her family, like you could sit down at a table with them and be perfectly at home.

But this about the food. The first thing I will say is that there is no way possible she could eat the beautiful comfort food in that book on a daily basis and still keep a gorgeous figure. Either that or she has incredible metabolism, and I hate/love her just that much more.

Yes, her book came out a year ago. But she’s got another book, The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels–A Love Story, coming out that isn’t about food, but promises to be just as great. Oh, and if you saw her Thanksgiving Throw-Down with Bobby Flay on Food Network, she kicked butt, and you saw some of her beautiful food. In fact, one the dishes that really put her over the top was her mashed potatoes. Luckily for us all, that’s one of the recipes in her beautiful book.

Mashed potatoes may seem like one of those things to take for granted. I mean, you boil some potatoes, you squish them up, you make them taste good, you put gravy over them, and they’re just fine. But these mashed potatoes… These aren’t just any mashed potatoes.

There’s something to be said for taking an everyday food and elevating it into something special without going to that much more effort. That’s what Ree does with her potatoes. The secret, according to her, is cream cheese and forcing yourself to throw out that pesky guilt. That lack of guilt will make all of the yummy butter and cream an okay thing. That being said, I’m back to the whole there’s no way she can eat like this all the time theory.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with making these for special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, or, oh, Saturday. And this makes a big batch of potatoes, so there’s no shame in having leftovers. Just don’t count on them surviving until morning if you have a sixteen-year-old bottomless pit in your house.

How do I know this? I know this because these mashed potatoes went to Thanksgiving dinner with us. After making them the night before and fighting the temptation to tell everyone that they didn’t work out, or that they fell off the stove and were devoured by cats and/or dogs, or that our house was burglarized (maybe by ninjas) and the mashed potatoes were the only thing they took, Paul and I, after judicious quality testing, actually put them in a pot in the trunk of our car and didn’t just make a run for the border with them. These potatoes really are that good. And those leftovers? They won’t last long at all.


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