Monday, October 26, 2009

The Pioneer Woman Comes to the Big City (Tulsa!)

Look what landed on my doorstep last week.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Why, hello there.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Eek! *assuming squee pose* Could it be?

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

It is! It's finally here! My very own copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl!

Whew. I'm gonna be sore in the morning after all that exclamating.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

The arrival of this book, penned and expertly illustrated by none other than Ree Drummond, Oklahoma's own Pioneer Woman, heralds and even more exciting happening.

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman herself, the same Pioneer Woman about whom I was just speaking, is coming to the big city. That is, OUR big city.

And, guess when. TOMORROW NIGHT. As in, about 27 hours from right now.

It's okay. You can squee. Squee, and the world squees with you; squee not, and you squee later, all alone in your room, and you look like a real dorkus.

The folks at Tulsa Historical Society and BookSmart Tulsa are in a tizzy preparing for Tuesday night's visit, which promises to be one of the most exciting and sensational and tear-soaked book release parties this town has ever seen. It all gets kicked off at 7pm at THS at 2445 S. Peoria Ave.

Anyone who reads Confessions of a Pioneer Woman – and if you don't, then for heaven's sake, you should – has long been anticipating her forthcoming cookbook, based on the section of her blog, The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

In case you've been a very naughty and misbehaved Web geek and haven't been reading Confessions, allow me give you the rundown: Long ago (i.e., sometime in the nineties), Bartlesville native Ree Drummond, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, fled where she was working in Los Angeles and made a pit stop in Oklahoma while she enrolled in law school up north. She unexpectedly met a fourth-generation cattle rancher, a.k.a. Marlboro Man, a.k.a. member of the prominent Osage County Drummond family that has been ranching in northeastern Oklahoma long and hard enough to be known as one of the wealthiest landowners in the entire country, and the two fall in love. Before Ree knows it, she's married, living on the Drummond ranch and is headed toward motherhood.

And they all lived happily ever after. Okay? Okay.

The first time I visited the cooking section of this hugely popular blog was in 2007, not long after Ree had traded in her blogging training wheels and was headed skyward on the whirlwind incline toward 14 million page views per month, the size of her current readership. I'd logged on at the advice of Have Spork, Will Travel blogger, Amanda, my official recipe-trading buddy and harbinger of all things hip. I resisted at first, but as with all seemingly hairbrained Amanda suggestions, I eventually came around.

The first Pioneer Woman recipe I ever made was Penne a la Betsy. Back then, I had no idea who this Betsy person was, or why someone would name a pasta recipe after her. All I knew was that the dish involved tomato cream sauce – something I'd always wanted to learn to make – and lots and lots of basil. Oh, and shrimp. I love shrimp on a regular day, but when I was perusing this recipe I was about six months pregnant, and shrimp sounded, let's say, positively wed-able.

Penne a la Betsy

Ree wasn't kidding when she wrote that her years spent on a ranch cooking to please the steak-and-potatoes-loving Marlboro Man created recipes that could earn a girl a wedding proposal. My husband and I had just celebrated our three-year anniversary when I made Penne a la Betsy for dinner, and he was about ready to haul me back to Eureka Springs for an impromptu vow renewal ceremony.

That he was ready to haul me anywhere, especially that many miles east, is really saying something. I wasn't one of those cute, spindly little pregnant girls.

Tasha, Pregs

No, sir, no, I was not. While I was pregnant was the first time in my life I kept bacon and red meat in the fridge, and thanks in large part to Ree's fat-is-tasty ethos, I knew how to use it.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

The recipes in the cookbook are divided into five sections – Starters, In the Morning, Dinner (Translation: Lunch, along with instructions for a complete Sunday Dinner), Supper (Translation: Dinner, along with how to put together a Cowgirl Dinner Party) and Sweets. Each recipe is, of course, beautifully photographed in that distinctively Pioneer Woman way – at every step and start and aside and possible hangup and, at last, the end.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Guess what is the first thing everyone says when I talk to them about The Pioneer Woman Cooks? Things like, “I love how she shows each step of the process with a photo!" and "All those photos let me know I'm on the right track.” I second those motions.

Something else I like about Ree's philosophy on food: Her recipes are the most approachable and accessible I've seen anywhere, save this three-page-long pancake cookbook I had when I was three. Want to know how to dice an onion? Through baby steps and scads of photos, Ree can teach you. Always wanted to know how to make delicious pulled pork? With humor and humbleness, Ree can teach you.

I think women my age (a.k.a. Gen Y, a.k.a. Babies Raised on the Food Network) get intimated in the kitchen from time to time. We've been known to run businesses, marathons and busy households, but when it comes to cooking a meal, it's the basics we're lacking.

Thanks to an aforementioned food media empire, we all know how to make Retro Metro Fancy Tuna Casserole (go ahead, click it – I couldn't make that up) and Parmigiano and Herb Chicken Breast Tenders and Paprika Open Face Lasagna. Ha! Kids' stuff, that. But, when it comes to a non-Crock Pot version of the Perfect Pot Roast or Ribeye Steaks or Basic Breakfast Potatoes or Braised Brisket or, heck, even Buttermilk Biscuits (an all-new Pioneer Woman recipe in The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook), we don't know a whisk from a gravy separator.

Ree's new cookbook is a line thrown out to those of us drowning in a sea of lists of complex, hard-to-find ingredients, missing steps, over-simplified instructions and general snooty food jibber-jabber.

Power to the people! Or something.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Thanks to the little recipe collection at The Pioneer Woman Cooks! and, now, in full color and beauty and gloss in my very own kitchen, I know tons more about how to whip up a good, Oklahoma-style meal.

The best news? Thanks to all I've learned by looking over Ree's shoulder for the past two years, my grandmother will now eat dinner at my house. Before she'd politely decline and order in. At least now I can serve her something that won't have her smiling politely when she comes to see us.

Drummond's 256-page, hardcover cookbook includes snippets of her hilariously self-deprecating commentary on ranch life, along with those wonderful recipes I've been going on about.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Starting tomorrow night, it'll sell for $27.50. A.k.a. the price of a modest dinner out, a.k.a. the price of a small tank of gas in Oklahoma last summer, a.k.a. the price of a mega-pack of the good diapers.

Ah, the things I've come to know in the past two years.

Another reason the book release party at Tulsa Historical Society is so special is because we're the first of Ree's 18-stop, 14-state book tour. Not the second stop, not the stop before she heads home to the ranch in Pawhuska – no. We're the very first stop, y'all. Cool, huh?

See you there, ladies and gents. Be like me and get to the party fashionably early. That is, unless you enjoy standing during book readings and missing out on choice giveaways and food samples.


Mandy Gross said...

What time are you going to get there? lol What is fashionably early?

Lori Crockett said...

I am so excited!

Alyssa: said...

I'm so looking forward to this. And as an IRL friend of "the" Betsy, she is as delightful and quirky as Ree. You will love them even more after tomorrow night!

Tasha said...

Mandy, doors open at 6, so if you want a parking space, I'd say be in the area by 5:45. If there's no space even then, I'm going to freak out - if there's room.

Alyssa, I'm jealous, and I'm not afraid to show it.

Lori, ME TOO!

Trisha said...

Can't wait to be there! See you tomorrow:)

@Sherri_T4Tulsa said...

Oh-Man, Oh-Man, I wish I could be there this evening, but can't.

I was on the phone with my Mom in Illinois and she was just going ga ga over this awesome blog from this lady in Oklahoma called The Pioneer Woman and had I heard of her. Well, duuuh! (Sometimes she forgets that I am now a [self-proclaimed] Okie, through and through.)

I'm a-thinkin' that this here cookbook is the perfect thing for my BabyGirl, who did not follow me around in the kitchen before she moved out like I had hoped she would.

Thanks, Tasha, for this most excellent review! I can feel the love!

erasetokill said...

This will be the first time I have ever stood in line to have an author sign their book for me. I promised myself this cookbook as my birthday present to myself, way back in, um, June? when I first heard about it. It's so exciting! I can't wait!

Beach Bum said...

So, quick question! Do you know why the book is only $14 and some change on and it's $27 tonight? Big price difference!

Tasha said...

Hey, Laura (Beach Bum!). I see what you're saying. For anyone following along, Laura found this listing for the cookbook on

My initial thought: might be offering some kind of new-release discount on the book for now. So, if things are as they seem, you could absolutely purchase the book for $14.95.

Or, you could come to the release party tonight, pay $27.50 and take the book home in your pretty little hands this very night, a fresh, still-has-that-Sharpie-smell autograph from the most famous Oklahoma blogger on the inside cover.

My two cents. Either way, I have an e-mail out to the local PR firm handling the release. I'll let you all know what's up as soon as I do.

Tasha said...

Just heard back. The $14.85 (NOT $14.95, as I originally wrote) price is owing to an discount.

Idea: Buy the $27.50 version tonight at the book signing so you can snag an autograph. After, buy the $14.85 version for family and friends for Christmas. Because you know you were going to anyway.

suburban hippie mama said...

You totally sold me. I have never wanted to own a cookbook so bad in my life!

Holly said...

I have been a very naughty blogger, because I had no idea this lady existed. But I'm absolutely captivated by her story, and Lord knows I could use some help in the kitchen. I'm going to go check out her blog right now, and possibly add this book to my Christmas list too!

Tasha said...

Holly and Dana, you still have a chance to snag a signed P-Dub cookbook. Head to Dwelling Spaces, downtown at 119 S. Detroit, this Friday at 3. Because last night's meet-and-greet event was so huge (she spent more than four hours chatting and signing books - UNREAL), she agreed to hang out at DS for a couple more hours to sign more books and meet more readers. Neat, huh?

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