Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Review: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

If you've followed her blog as I have, you'll be pleased to find that author Ree Drummond sticks to her characteristic mix of wry humor and butter by the pound. I'm glad. It's been working for her. In The Pioneer Woman Cooks, her cookbook slash photographic memoir, Ree brings to life the story of her city upbringing with her farm woman reality, currently wrangling four kids and a husband on a working cattle ranch in Oklahoma. Mesmerizing photographs of family members, get-togethers and muddy farm work blend well with humorous anecdotes — and serve to show you why her family is so hungry!

Cute, ranch-laden, photo-intense asides with amusing anecdotes leave you longing for a house on the prairie in a way that 'Little House on the Prairie' episodes never did. Miss Mustang International, my favorite of these sections, showcases the farm's haughtiest mares, snobby and cool as horses can be, deadlocked in imaginary pageantry.

What apparently didn't work was the step-by-step visual instructions Ree compiles for each recipe. Drummond's gorgeous pix can be viewed on her website, and it's this stunning photography that leaves viewers drooling for more. Normally. In this publication, however, her photos fall flat. Whether an error in photo correction or on press, it's a sad reality that the green tint of the tutorial pictures makes the food less than appetizing. (Let's flag this for correction on the second printing, Harper Collins. You're far too professional for this type of error. Unless it's just my copy. Hmm.)

Now I bought the book despite its meat-centered mains partly to support a fellow blogger, but mostly because Drummond's recipes can be counted upon to work. This is turning out to be a rare feat in cookbookery. For obvious reasons, I won't comment on the chicken-fried steak or meatloaf recipes, sticking instead to ones I've already tried.

PW's Creamy Mashed Potatoes: killer Thanksgiving staple.
Maple Pecan Scones: get this, already made them three times.
Cinnamon Rolls: yum.
Migas: delectable, eggy nachos. I know, right?
Egg in the Hole: something I've made before, but the extra butter does make it better. Like two days in row better.

And I've only had the book for two weeks. In short, Drummond's pithy writing style and remarkable large-scale photography make this book almost as much a coffee table item as a kitchen resource. If you like having cookbooks you can rely on with unfussy authors you'd ask over for lunch, pick up The Pioneer Woman Cooks. You won't be disappointed, especially if you like butter as much as I do.

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