When Ree Drummond started her personal blog, The Pioneer Woman, in 2006, it began as a way to keep friends and family updated on her day-to-day life living on a ranch with her husband and four kids. Over a decade later, the Pioneer Woman brand has slowly expanded to include everything from cookbooks, children's books, a popular TV show, store, and, most recently, a magazine.
We caught up with Drummond at the launch of her magazine (called, of course, The Pioneer Woman) to find out more about life on the ranch, living without takeout, and what recipe she still hasn't mastered, even after 12 years of full-time cooking.
Life Without Takeout
When Drummond married her cattle rancher husband, she had to adapt to rural life – and that meant saying goodbye to takeout. In the early days, she might try to get a pizza from the closest town (population 3,584), but, after the forty minute ride back to the ranch, it would be cold. And while she has since mastered cooking meals for her large family, she still misses the luxury of ordering in.
"If I lived in New York, it would be dangerous," she laughs, "I can't imagine the damage I would do." She takes advantage of the culinary offerings of cities like NYC when she travels, but she says if she could have one kind of restaurant magically in her own home, it would be Thai.
"Thai duck curry would be my dream, nothing anyone in my family would possibly eat. It wouldn't do anyone any good but me."
The One That Got Away
While Drummond has now mastered many of the dishes that she misses from her days of living within a quick drive to restaurants or food delivery (including duck curry), there is one recipe that still eludes her: bread.
"I have failed bread for 48 years," she says. While she has had success making sandwich loaf or a baguette, she's never been able to duplicate it. She does have plenty of luck with homemade cinnamon rolls, but something about "real, delicious, artisan bread" has remained impossible for her to duplicate.
Home On The Ranch
While Drummond has become a huge force in the food world (her cookbooks trend to reliably land on best-seller lists), she has remained at home in Oklahoma. In an industry where many movers and shakers live on the coasts, and especially in NYC and L.A., she acknowledges that her location has a huge impact on the food she cooks and writes about.
"When I started blogging about food, I couldn't depart from what I learned from my family very much." The food she makes is food she is actually needs to feed her family. And while she has gotten her family used to trying new cuisines or ingredients, she says she hasn't permanently converted them from loving meat and potatoes.
While her younger daughter, Paige, is, according to Drummond, surpassing her in adventuresome eating, for some of the other kids, trying new foods means slipping new cheese into a quesadilla. Her youngest, Todd, she says would live off Cap'n Crunch if she let him. "But I'm never going to give up," she says of her quest to expand their palates.
Following Her Passion
Since her blog took off, Drummond has also gotten used to periodically leaving the ranch to promote her book across the country. This time, she brought her husband and three of her four kids with her, though she says that normally they are the things she misses most about being away from home. In second place are her family's many dogs (also beloved staples of her show and blog).
Though she also says that, wherever she is, she tries to stay present and not worry about what she's missing, whether that's on a whirlwind press trip to NYC or keeping busy back in Oklahoma. That same ability to live in the present has guided the growth of the Pioneer Woman brand over the past decade as well. When she looks at where blogging has gotten her, she admits she wonders "What in the world? Where did this come from?" When she tries to imagine what she would be doing if Pioneer Woman had just remained a small personal project, she admits there's no telling.
"I have never fancied myself any kind of entrepreneur... but what I have is a voice, and I have a lot of passion about the things I was writing about on my blog," she says.
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