Thanks to a dear subscription-having friend, I finally got to read the entirety of the recent New Yorker piece on The Pioneer Woman, otherwise known as Ree Drummond, otherwise known as one of my favorite, must-read, daily-check websites.
Like many of her readers, I suspect that Ree and I don’t have much in common: I have half as many kids as she does and far fewer animals living on my much smaller (and very urban) property. My husband is not a cattle rancher, I don’t homeschool, and I suspect we have different beliefs on faith, politics and many other subjects. I am also not a savvy businesswoman, and I don’t make money from blogging, much less the “solid million dollars” quoted in the article.
But we are both mothers, and bloggers, part of the 14% of women online in the US who are bloggers. While I do have access to a far wider variety of spices and ingredients than Drummond can probably find in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, I am very fond of the kind of cooking she does, and I am extremely fond of the photo-heavy way in which she posts her recipes. I love her accessible, funny, quirky way of writing, and her images are a wonderful visual treat. I appreciate that this woman, with a very full and rich life of her own, still felt the need to reach out, to express herself to online readers, to have a corner of her life where her voice was heard, independent of being a well-known figure in her own world. I don’t think she started her blog to get rich, and if you read her early entries or have read her from the early days on, I think you would agree.
So why do I rely so much on my daily serving of the Pioneer Woman? I love her recipes: her French Breakfast Puffs and sherried tomato soup have become traditional parts of our family Christmas brunch, and her crash hot potatoes and twice-baked potatoes are some of my favorite side dishes. I own a copy of her The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl and plan to cook my way through it eventually and will definitely buy her second one, coming out sometime soon, I think. I also use Tasty Kitchen frequently and have gotten some of my favorite reliable recipes from there, like this one for cheddar meatloaves.
I also love the (admittedly packaged version) stories of her life that she shares with her readers, which despite stereotypes, are not always completely sunny. Sure, she posts tons of pictures of her photogenic and adorable family, but she’s talked frankly about her parents’ divorce as well as her developmentally disabled brother and his drinking problem. I don’t own The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels–A Love Story yet, but am planning on it when it comes out in paperback, even though I’ve read all the website posts already, and I will definitely see the movie when it comes out. As a blogger myself, I appreciate that she doesn’t share every single detail of her life, and that she manages to feel like a woman you would know and like without baring her entire soul and while still preserving her husband and children’s privacy as much as she can. It’s a fine and tricky line to walk, and she does it well.
Do I envy her success? Not really. Sure, I would love to have a million dollars (who wouldn’t?), but not if it meant trading my life for hers (though I would certainly love to take a weekend on her ranch once in awhile). I am not a business woman, nor do I aspire to be a professional blogger; my life as a teacher and writer is perfectly suited for me, and I don’t think I would last long on a cattle ranch. What I do envy is her seeming grace, her ability to embrace the chaos, and the way she never appears flustered. Even though I know that is only the surface she presents to the world, it’s a surface I’d like to resemble more closely.
- The Pioneer Woman Cooks (ncbookbunch.wordpress.com)
- The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond (Sara Habein’s review #9) (cannonballread3.wordpress.com)
- Exclusive: Ree Drummond on Her Pioneer Woman Food Network Show (blogher.com)
- Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond (alleganylibrarycollections.wordpress.com)