Written by blogger, ranch wife, and mom of four Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman Cooks is full of home-style man-pleasing recipes that Ree actually cooks for her family and the cowboys on the family's working ranch in rural Oklahoma. I had seen - and made - several of her recipes before the cookbook came out, so I knew the recipes would be down-home fare that my own man would love.
Ree delivered . . . and so much more than recipes.
The first few pages give an overview of Ree's family, Marlboro Man and the kids, as well as the details of her favorite kitchen tools and ingredients, butter taking a starring role, of course.
This cookbook is a photo journal of life on a working cattle ranch. Each picture was taken by Ree herself and chronicles their family life, right down to working calves in the mud and riding the range at dawn; their pets, which include basset-hound-who-thinks-he's-a-ranch-dog Charlie and his faithful sidekick Suzie; a wild-mustang beauty contest; and the behind-the-scenes ranch action that most of us never see, like fighting wildfires, feeding cattle in the frozen winter, and the difference between chaps and chinks.
The heart of the book, of course, is the recipes, such as Meatloaf, French Breakfast Puffs, Cinnamon Rolls (my introduction to PW), Onion Strings, Pinto Beans and Cornbread, and Ranch Dressing - all of which I've made and all of which my husband wolfed down with satisfaction. Except the Onion Strings. That was my love (I actually had no idea she still had these recipes on her site till I saw a link to one on another blog; then I checked to see if there were more, and I was amazed she has them there free for the taking, when she has a cookbook that she could sell you). I have a long list of dishes yet to make, like Chicken Fried Steak, Flat Apple Pie, Rosemary Scalloped Potatoes, Comfort Meatballs, and Potato Skins (I'll forgo linking to these; I feel bad doing that when they're in the cookbook!). Each recipe features step-by-step instructions accompanied by pictures narrated in Ree's unmistakable style of a friend come to visit in your kitchen. It's next to impossible to go wrong with Ree's clear instructions and pictures, and nearly impossible not to laugh as you read the stories behind some of the recipes.
There are two things that keep me from wholeheartedly recommending this book. One is that there is one recipe for an alcoholic drink and several mentions of wine in the book. The other is Ree's sometimes earthy humor, glibly referencing body parts and functions and such like. If you take offense to either, you might not want this cookbook. Personally, I think the recipes, the stories, and the pictures far outweigh these two issues, as they're only minor mentions in the book's 240+ pages.