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Ree Drummond Talks Decadent Dream Meals, Cooking for Cowboys & 'The Pioneer Woman'

by Maggie Furlong, posted Aug 25th 2011 6:45PM
Ree Drummond, 'The Pioneer Woman'She's the Pioneer Woman with her very own Marlboro Man of a husband, living in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma and cooking up comfort food.

Now Ree Drummond's award-winning blog and best-selling cookbook are getting the TV treatment with 'The Pioneer Woman' (premieres Sat., Aug. 27, 11:30AM ET on Food Network).

If you're not familiar with her work, get ready to get down home. Drummond cooks southern staples, all approved by her hard-working rancher and farmer hubby, and injects some "Cowgirl" staples as well with fresh herbs and veggies from her garden.

I caught up with Drummond to hear all about her new show, having to overcome being camera shy and her dream "last supper," full of some guilty pleasure delights. She also talked about her time on the other end of the food spectrum -- yes, this meat-eating lady could've had a very different show if it weren't for her husband.

I'm a Texas girl and a lifelong vegetarian, now living in L.A., and I know you went to school out here, too. What I didn't know was that you used to be a vegetarian!
[Laughs] I was obviously very firmly rooted in my convictions, too. My husband, when we were dating, made me a steak in sizzling butter and I was no longer a vegetarian. [Laughs] It just happens when you live out there, I don't know.

You're on the other end of the spectrum now. For people who aren't familiar with your cooking style, what do you think this show will offer viewers?
I'm a home cook, and cooking is not just for chefs and people who can whip up gourmet meals. You know, I cook for my four kids and my husband, and I really just kind of want viewers to be inspired. If they're a much better cook than me and don't need help with cooking or recipes, they might be inspired just to start making more hearty meals for their family. And if they aren't necessarily confident with cooking, I want them to be inspired to cook. Cooking isn't rocket science -- well, sometimes it is [laughs] -- but it doesn't have to be, especially when you cook for a family on a daily basis.

The footage looks so gorgeous -- your land, your home, the lodge.
I thought they did a really good job capturing our part of the country, which a lot of people haven't ever seen.

I remember when you did a 'Throwdown' with Bobby Flay, and he was driving and driving and driving like, "Where the hell are we?"
I know! I think he might be from Brooklyn or Queens, and he just could not ... when people visit from cities, particularly New York, it's almost shell shock because they just can't get over the wide open spaces.

You joke about being camera shy, but you seem so at ease.
I'm going on 'Good Morning America' tomorrow morning and I'm already ill over it. [Laughs] I'm already starting to go, "Oh no." I will say that I've done a lot of morning show appearances and, even though I'm nervous, I feel like I kind of have that down. But when they started rolling on the first cooking segment of the cooking show, it dawned on me that I'm talking to a camera. And the set is completely quiet so there's no feedback. I would say things that I thought were kind of funny and no one would laugh. [Laughs] I'd be like, "Wait, is that not funny? Or are they just being quiet because it's on set?" So interacting with a camera was very difficult for me at first, and finally I just had to visualize that I was actually talking to the people who would one day watch the show.

You're an open book on your blog, but is there anything that you're nervous about sharing on camera?
You know, there's nothing 'Jon & Kate Plus 8'-ish on this show. There is some "reality" and there is footage of our family, but it's not the voyeuristic, 'Real Housewives' style ... nothing against 'Real Housewives' though, I'm a fan. To me, it's an extension of my blog shown in a different way. I've only been able to show it through writing and still photography until now.

In the preview episode, you cook chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy, but then you've got your marinated tomato salad on the side, with herbs from your garden. Are you going to try to do some Cowgirl recipes and not just the Marlboro Man-approved dishes?
Yes, that works it's way in to a couple of different episodes. There's one episode that's kind of the men vs. women thing -- my husband and his brother take the kids away for the night to go down to our wheat farm, so I invite my sister-in-law, my sister, my mother and a couple of grandmothers over, and we have a fig and prosciutto pizza with arugula on top. Nothing that the boys would ever touch with a 10-foot pole! And that's what we do -- we really have to cook things that everyone will love, so when they're away, we go crazy with the girl food.

We'll see plenty of your kids and husband, but I think people that have kept up with you are really hoping to one day meet your brother Mike. You tell such sweet stories about him and your relationship ...
Well he's definitely gonna be in episode 1 of Season 2 if there's a Season 2. [Laughs] Because he is onto me -- he's like, "When are you going to have me on the cooking show?" So yeah, he's definitely going to show up.

And will we get to see you making your famous cinnamon rolls? My sister has been dying to get an on-camera demo of how to make them!
You know what? I was set to make them in Season 1, and they sort of talked me out of it because of the time. I agreed to let them talk me out of it if they would agree that I get to do it in the next season. I'm gonna have a whole show about cinnamon rolls, and variations, because it's so easy and they're so good. My dream is to do a cinnamon roll episode ... those are the best cinnamon rolls ever.

You mentioned you love the 'Housewives' -- do you have a favorite?
I love New Jersey, and I love Caroline Manzo. I feel such a warm affection for her -- she's so relatable. I've often thought, "Well, she's the only normal 'Housewife' in existence," so maybe that's why we all say, "I love Caroline Manzo!" [Laughs] She truly seems to be a wonderful lady.

If you could pick anything at all, what would be your last meal?
Mmmmm ... a grilled ribeye steak, creamed spinach, mushrooms cooked in burgundy wine for like 12 hours, crème brulee ... can I keep going? [Laughs] And probably just the most incredible mac 'n' cheese with gruyere, goat cheese and every cheese I love. I'll invite you over!

Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

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