Monday, December 12, 2011

The Pioneer Woman Cooks ... discussion highlights

We had a great turnout for the meeting last week, with ten ladies in attendance. The food was abundant and delicious, and we had a hearty discussion.

One thing about the style of the book, which drove most of us nuts, was the inconsistency in the layout of recipes. Reading horizontally one recipe, then vertically the next, made for some confusion (and yeast is a pretty important ingredient to leave out because of misreading, right?) :o) We generally found the recipes to be straight-forward and quite simple, nothing fancy, just good, hearty, down-home fare.

Ree is well known for her blog, The Pioneer Woman, but many of our members had never heard of her or read her blog. After quite some discussion about "the haters" and rumours and accusations of assistants, tutors, maids, and so on, we generally decided that it does not matter if she truly is a one-woman show or not, as having assistants would not take anything away form the neighbour-next-door, down-home friendliness and simplicity of Ree and her blog. The only proviso to this was that it would not be right for her to complain about doing everything herself if in fact she has assistants, as that would be a misrepresentation.

It seemed that so far all the recipes that had been tried by members were all successes, other than an overabundance of icing and such on some recipes, which members reduced as desired. A few times we reminisced about having some of these foods as kids, which reinforced the claim that a lot of these recipes are re-inventions of 70s and 80s diners recipes...but we were all okay with that. It's good old-fashioned comfort food that is good to eat (in moderation).

Everyone seemed to enjoy the layout of the book (other than the above-mentioned inconsistency with horizontal/vertical instructions), and we all enjoyed the photos and written snippets. Especially because each recipe is so long with all the photos, there are not actually too many recipes in the book, so the personal stories and photos help to fill it up a bit.

We felt that Ree has an adventuresome attitude toward food; cooking is not a chore for her, but something she truly enjoys. If she had her druthers, she'd be eating fancy foods every day, but since Ladd and the kids aren't up for that, she is resolved to make the best of her ranch cooking, and truly enjoy it. Ladd, we felt, simply tolerates Ree's quirks because she's so darn cute, and is only interested in the food in a practical way.

Many of us felt that this is the kind of cookbook that you actually don't need to use again; simply because the recipes are simple and straight-forward, and once you make them once, you know what you're doing. Exceptions would include things like the breads (cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, olive bread, etc.), where ingredients and correct measurements are pretty critical. Of course, it would take a while to work through every recipe in the book and try them all once, so it's worth having on your shelf.

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