Chatting with the Pioneer Woman

A former city girl, Ree Drummond left her high-heeled boots and sushi dinners behind to marry a cattle rancher, “Marlboro Man.” After having four children, she started to chronicle her adventures in cooking, ranching, homeschooling, photography and home repair on a blog, The Pioneer Woman—and in just three years, Drummond, or “P-Dub” as she is often called, became an Internet phenomenon, à la Dooce’s Heather Armstrong or Greek Tragedy’s Stephanie Klein.

Like many bloggers, Drummond is making the jump from web to print, and her cookbook—appropriately named The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl­came out in October. Full of the homey recipes, beautiful photography and goofy humor found on her site, the book became an instant hit: the week of November 6, the book was #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in the Hardcover Advice category.

I’d heard tales of huge turnouts on Drummond’s book tour, so I eagerly went to Nashville’s signing at Davis-Kidd Booksellers on December 8. I’m not a good judge of crowd size, so I’ll just say that an entire floor of the bookstore was packed (not Mall-of-America-packed, but packed all the same). Before she started signing books, Drummond admitted that she’s nervous speaking in front of crowds, but offered to answer questions. One woman shouted out “Where’s Marlboro Man?”, and after a brief answer (at home, taking a break from travel) Drummond launched into signing books.

Since there wasn’t time at the signing for an interview, BookPage asked Drummond to respond to some questions via e-mail.

BookPage: If I could only make one recipe in The Pioneer Woman Cooks, what should it be, and why?
The Pioneer Woman: This is an impossible question to answer! It depends on what you’re in the mood for. Comfort food? (Mac & Cheese, Chicken Fried Steak, Meatloaf, Comfort Meatballs would suit you just fine!) Elegant food? (Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Burgundy Mushrooms, Creamy Rosemary Potatoes would make you smile.)  Sweets? (The Chocolate Sheet Cake and Peach Crisp will make your eyes roll back in your head.) Sorry—I wasn’t very helpful, was I?

Is there a city-girl cooking trick or two you’ve taken with you into your ranch kitchen?
I’ve always been addicted to cooking with wine. Sometimes the cowboys turn up their noses if I add too much to a pot roast or braising short ribs. But I loved it then, now, and forever. Oh, and I always add more garlic than normal people would—5 cloves instead of 3.

Many of the recipes and stories in The Pioneer Woman Cooks have already appeared on your website. Did writing a book feel different than writing a blog post?
Yes. A book is tangible, can be held in your hand, passed to a friend, carried into your kitchen. I knew I couldn’t possibly write a cookbook without including my longtime favorites like cinnamon rolls, blackberry cobbler, the Marlboro Man Sandwich, and Jalapeno Poppers, so I balanced existing recipes with new ones. It was important to me that the book retain the same feel of the site—sort of a stream-of-consciousness, irreverent, relaxed approach to cooking and life.

Are you able to read all the comments on all of your posts—and if so, how long does it take?
Aside from contest posts (which elicit more comments than a normal post), I do read every single comment left on my site. I can’t imagine not reading them—I learn more (and crack up more) reading the comments folks than anything I could come up with. Very hilarious people read my site. I love them!

How do your kids feel about their mom being a web star?
“Star” isn’t a word that really enters into our consciousness in our life on the ranch. Stars, I imagine, don’t have manure on their porch. And if they do, they probably have someone on staff to shovel it away.

I don’t have a staff like that.

Now I’m really depressed.

Which is sexier: chaps or cowboy hats?
Oh, the former. Most definitely . . . the former. I recommend them for lifeless marriages everywhere!

Tell us in the comments: Who’s your favorite blogger-to-author? Julie Powell immediately comes to mind, but we bet there are others you follow…

8 Responses to Chatting with the Pioneer Woman

  1. Steph says:

    So cool! I have cooked several recipes off of Ree’s site, and all have been a great success. I had considered going out to this, but then assumed that it would be a zoo and instead decided to be lame and stay home… Glad you were able to brave the crowd!

  2. I love the Pioneer Woman! Her cookbook is amazing and it’s crazy to see all that she is able to get done in a day. If you know anyone interested in winning a signed copy of her cookbook check out my site:

  3. Gayle in GA says:

    PW’s recipes are great. I have had good success with every recipe that I’ve tried. Last night I made the Chocolate Peppermint Cookies and they were a big hit at my son’s school today. Santa is bringing me the cookbook for Christmas….can’t wait!

  4. Pam Shirley says:

    I was there that night! L-O-N-G wait in line but totally worth it. She was as nice and as down to earth as you would imaging her to be. You came away feeling as if you had made a new friend! Her sister and her BFF were there too….also very nice. (they signed their pages in my cookbook too!)

  5. Helen says:

    It makes me very happy to know that Ree reads every single comment on her site. That right there is a big reason that we love her. She really does care about each and every person. Totally nonjudgemental, accepting, fun, a little crazy—who wouldn’t want to have a best friend like that?!?!

  6. Monie says:

    Ree Drummond is lovely, generous, and genuine. She really has changed me. She has changed my life. She has and continues to inspire me to be my best self.

  7. Faith says:

    My friends & I drove 4 hours to Dallas, waited 6 hours for Ree’s autograph & pictures, then drove 4 hours home. The few seconds we got with her were worth every second of our long trip! Ree stayed until the early morning hours signing every cookbook in sight. She’s incredible! AND – she’s madly in love with Marlboro Man and isn’t ashamed to admit it. That’s cool! (and, yes, definitely chaps!)

  8. Judith Rainer says:

    We drove from Wichita to Kansas City and attended a book signing at an auditorium. There were several hundred people in attendance. We were excited to see PW and had the added bonus of seeing Marlboro Man and their two sons. We spent about 4 hours there and it was such a fun atmosphere with everyone seated next to you sharing how long they had been reading her blog. It was like a celebrity event with anticipation of their arrival. They are a charming, comfortable family and we were so thrilled that Marlboro Man was there signing books as were the sons. She makes me smile everyday when I read her blog and the book is a delightful read.

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