Photo: Bill Nyard
Now, she's taking her frontier out of the World Wide Web into a cookbook, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks." She took a moment to talk to Slashfood about her country cooking, during one of the stops on her book tour.
Slashfood: You're known for your down-home, hearty meals. Do you seriously eat that stuff every night?
PW: Well, we don't eat chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy every night. Gravy is probably a once or twice a month thing. Generally speaking, eating on the ranch with the cowboys is more of a refueling thing and they do work hard. They get up at 5 and in the summertime, sweat ... sweat so much.
But I do eat everything in my cookbook. It's just really about portion control. I don't do the Cheesecake Factory's portions of the chicken spaghetti, for instance. The guys work too hard to really be calorie-conscious or fat-conscious so if we really need to trim it down, it's all about portion.
Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Ree Drummond after the jump.
Slashfood: Your husband, the Marlboro Man, is meat-and-potatoes type guy. What do you cook for yourself when the kids and the husband are gone?
PW: It's always pasta without any sort of animal flesh involved. I'll do like a pasta primavera. Pasta is the one thing I cook for myself when they're all gone with tomato cream sauces and mushrooms -- things that they don't consider a complete meal. And in my cookbook, there's a leek and potato pizza that I make for myself that has goat cheese. That's sort of my go-to pizza that the cowboys won't touch with a 10-foot pole because they don't eat goat cheese. It does have bacon though so they should embrace it.
Slashfood: Do you feel like cooking for someone is an important part of falling and staying in love?
PW: I think it's a willful act. People have different expressions of love. Some spouses bring flowers or do more tangibly romantic things but for me, it's really all about my husband and my children feeling that security of smelling the food cooking and knowing that they don't have to worry about that part of things. They don't have to go to town and figure out pizza or what they're going to do. That's sort of how I express my affection. Plus, there's something in it for me -- I can eat so I sort of enjoy it too.
Slashfood: Why do you think people respond to your food and Web site the way they do?
PW: I think about this. It's hard for me to objectively sit back and think why people read my site. I think, first of all, I don't take any stances on my blog. I think people know when they come to my site they're not going to walk away from it agitated or weighed down or politically ticked off. Plus, I poke fun at myself. I hope that means I'm not very intimidating. I don't think people are intimidated by me because I have as many faults and idiosyncrasies as the next person.
For the food -- I think the step-by-step instruction is, from the beginning, what people have kept coming back for. Then with my site and as my cookbook has gotten in the hands of non-blog readers -- which I didn't know would be possible -- people have had success with the recipes and served them to people who have really raved and been excited that they can cook. I'm sure it's a combination of things. Overall, I think the attitude of both the cookbook and the site is very non-intimidating. That's my point: I want people not to stress when they cook, not to feel like they aren't going to measure up to what the trends are or what everybody else is cooking.
Slashfood: You're quite the saavy social networker with your blog and your Twitter account. What inspired you to do all of this?
PW: Really nothing inspired me. It's has all been one accident after another. The blog was a complete accident. It wasn't an accident that I started it but I started it so I could share photos with my mother -- I just did it on a whim.
The Twitter thing actually was an accident. I started tweeting a couple years after I started my site because I saw you could put a little sidebar module on your blog that could be sort of a running update of "working cattle" or whatever I was cooking. And, I didn't realize for like 6 months that there were replies to tweets so that indicates to you just how saavy I am.
I started getting e-mails from people that were like "why don't you reply to my tweets?" and I'd say "what are you talking about?" I thought it was a tool but it turns out to be a whole world in itself as we all know. And to me, it's just fun to live in the country at the time that I'm there. No other time in history would I have a connection to people in New York and California. I'd have a connection to no one really except the five other people in my house and a few cows and dogs.
Slashfood: What is your one piece of advice to give to at-home cooks?
PW: I don't think I can give one. I can give a handful. You've got to have a good knife. You just can not cook, chop, slice, cut the fat off the meat without a great knife.
Clean up as you go along. This is something I've learned the hard way cooking for crowds. It's hard if you're not programmed that way, which I never was, but clean-up as you go along. And do as much ahead of time as you can. Sometimes on Monday, I'll just chop five or six onions and just keep them in the fridge because I have diced onions in almost everything I cook. And if you're grating a half a pound of cheese, just go ahead and grate it all because then you'll have it ready. ... Those are really shortcuts, but the knife is definitely the one thing you've got to have.