Most of what I cook is inspired by something I have had at a restaurant or someone's home.
I love to recreate dishes I have enjoyed and I search cookbooks and online recipe sources and menus for what I want. Even then I add and subtract ingredients as I see fit because I love herbs, spices and all things garlic-related. If you ask me for a recipe I'll be able to recite the ingredients but never the amounts- that's not how I operate. The exception to this would be baking, obviously, and anything my paternal grandmother made, God rest her soul, especially around this time of year for Thanksgiving. Homemade cornbread stuffing and broccoli cheese casserole are not walks in the proverbial culinary park, and I don't take liberties with her old recipes because they are sacred and already perfect.
In addition to enjoying time in the kitchen, I am also a cookbook junkie. I was at my friend LS and her husband's apartment recently and while she and other friends were whipping up chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for football-watching men-folk, I was pouring through the enviable collection of Williams-Sonoma cookbooks she received as weddings gifts.
I know you're thinking I need help but you've probably never tried truly delicious chilaquiles verdes, have you?
Anyway, in the interest of shelf space and reviewing my options, I also enjoy finding good online sources for recipes. For example, I recently discovered that the magazine Texas Monthly has a great online archive of recipes; many from Texas chefs.
One of my favorite online recipe sources for over a year now has been The Pioneer Woman's blog. KS and I made a variation of her breakfast burritos for a hungry crowd at literally four in the morning after our friend HA's wedding and the party-fatigued people were pleased.
Pioneer Woman has a huge following and just had a cookbook published, which I obviously took care of pre-ordering weeks ago from Amazon and received with glee from the hands of my postman on Saturday morning. Most of the down time I had this weekend was spent sitting on our couch with her cookbook in my lap, reading all of her hilarious commentary about her family and their life on a ranch in rural Oklahoma. I'm still deciding which recipe to try first and hoping that the Grocery Store Fairy will magically stock my kitchen with all necessary ingredients to make PW's great-looking lasagna. I'm getting over my fear of failure with recipes involving yeast and specific measurements, so hopefully I'll get to her cinnamon rolls one day soon as well.
The Pioneer Woman may never know this but she is a bit of a celebrity amongst Dallas girls my age. Something about being unfailingly funny and having a great husband and four kids; finding a sense of humor in everyday situations and loving food.
Yeah, suddenly her appeal makes perfect sense.
She probably also doesn't know that we'll be at her book-signing in Dallas next month, but if she's wondering about the 20-something clan of girls staring at her with star-struck awe and saying "you are my hero!" I can pretty much guarantee that's us.
Anyone hungry yet?
I hope you get a kick out of this book of mine. I hope it makes you smile. I hope the recipes bring you recognition, accolades, and marriage proposals. And I hope it encourages even the most harried urban cook to slow down, relish the joys of family, nature, and great food, and enjoy life.
-Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman Cooks