This week we're up to #21, Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, on Gourmet's list of the 50 Women Game Changers in the world of food. Ree Drummond is a phenomenon unto her self. In her own words, she "channels Lucille Ball, Vivien Leigh, and Ethel Merman". One look at her blog tells the story. She's an Oklahoma cattle rancher, mother, home-schooler, photographer, gardener, gourmet cook, blogger, author, television personality...and she does it all well. Oh, and she loves animals, her husband's a hunk, and her kids are really cute. I know, I'm gagging too.
Thanks to Mary from One Perfect Bite for organizing a group of us cooking and blogging our way through this list, one dish at a time. Check back every Friday for another story and recipe from the list, and e-mail Mary if you'd like to join the group.
"I'm the wife of a rugged cowboy. I'm the mother of four spirited children. I have horse poop on my porch. I'm Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman."It's hard to hate Ree, though, because she's so darn down to earth. That may be the secret to her success. Even though she is rich and famous, lives on a sprawling ranch, cooks in a palatial out building dubbed "The Lodge" and seems to turn everything she touches into gold, she manages to keep the humble I'm just like you vibe going. You get the impression that between photo shoots, geography lessons, and branding the heifers, she is doing the dishes and ironing shirts. I don't know where the myth meets reality here, but at least in the early years of her blog that was true.
Nowadays it's more likely a reader will be checking in for a vicarious look at a world that is probably completely foreign to them, but oddly glamorous. Her site is estimated to get many millions of visitors per month, the vast majority of them female. Reportedly she rakes in over a million in annual ad revenue as well. That's no horse poop.
I chose Frito Chili Pie because it epitomizes the kind of cooking that Ree showcases on her blog...down home classic American country cooking. In fact this recipe comes from a section of recipes she calls Marlboro Man Approved, meaning the dishes are hearty enough for her husband, aka Marlboro Man. I also chose it because it gave me the excuse to buy Fritos. I love Fritos.
Ree has presented this recipe with more detailed step by step photos and instructions than I've ever seen, so I won't repeat them here. This is a basic chili, and I stayed true to the recipe except to add a small can of roasted chilies, a bit more chili powder, and some cayenne for a spicy kick. One of The Pioneer Woman's trademarks is that she makes unapologetic use of convenience foods in many of her recipes. Ree serves her chili right in the individual little Frito bags with plastic spoons. I decided to be a city slicker and use bowls.
Frito Chili Pie (from The Pioneer Woman)
- 2 pounds Ground Chuck
- 3 cloves Garlic, Minced (optional)
- 1 can (12 To 14 Ounce) Tomato Sauce
- 1 can (10 Ounce) Ro-tel (diced Tomatoes And Chilies)
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground Oregano
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder (more To Taste)
- 1 can (14-ounce) Kidney Beans, Drained And Rinsed
- 1 can (14-ounce) Pinto Beans, Drained And Rinsed
- 1/4 cup Masa (corn Flour) Or Regular Corn Meal
- 1/2 cup Warm Water
- Individual Bags Of Fritos
- Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Diced Red Onion (Optional)
Brown ground chuck with garlic in a pot over medium-high heat. Add tomato sauce, Rotel, salt, oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add drained and rinsed beans. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Mix masa with water, then add to the chili. Stir to combine and simmer for a final 10 to 15 minutes.
The Pioneer Woman does have her detractors, and I, for one, am a little put off by the chaotic quality of her website. As a visitor you can sometimes feel like you're being swept up in a roller coaster careening toward fame, or at least a reality series. It's a little bit out of control and a little unsettling. Not the vibe I'm generally looking for when I visit a cooking blog. Sometimes it even seems like the humorous, free-wheeling, knee-slapping voice that made Ree famous is getting a bit, dare I say...hackneyed? But whatever you think about her, there's no denying she's a force of nature, and her drive is awe-inspiring. The home schooling alone would do me in.
If you want to know more, the New Yorker recently ran a profile on Ree here. And below you can get a peek at an episode of her new television series on Food Network.
Be sure to check out these other bloggers who are joining me in this exploration of the 50 Women Game Changers in the world of food---
Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Linda A - There and Back Again
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits,
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen