Under Angel Wings


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Three years ago our daughter, Olivia, found a very entertaining blog online about a young wife and mother who lives on a cattle ranch out in the middle of nowhere in this great big country of ours.

According to the back flap on her new cookbook just out, Ree began blogging in 2006 and built www.ThePioneerWoman.com into an award- winning website. She has won several national 2009 weblog awards: weblog of the year, best-designed weblog, and best photography of a weblog.

Ree shares recipes, with her signature photographs accompanying the directions, showcases her ranch photography, and writes hilarious chapters about how she met her "Marlboro Man," hubby Ladd. The name she has given this story, sure to become a future book, is "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels." It really is an amazing story...you've got to go on her site and read it!

Actually, after Liv got hooked on Pioneer Woman, she got my husband, David, hooked on it, and finally I gave up and succumbed to the fun.

What makes Ree's blog irresistable is the recipes, the photographs, the funny daily postings with Ree's gentle, self-deprecating humor, the colorful design of the site, the contests when she has 20,000 plus entrants in a day, the great prizes she gives away, the home schooling stories about her four children, and the adoring fans who check in daily and leave thousands of messages themselves. She has built up thousands and thousands of readers in her fan base.

Whew!! How she does it all, I can't imagine, no one can, but she has regular followers from all around the world, and now she has come out with a big-time selling cookbook!! Actually The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl debuted in the #1 spot for nonfiction hard back.

By now you are probably wondering what the tie in is for me. Yes, there is a personal story here which has now become part of our family lore...

In December of 2007 I was reading Pioneer Woman one day and she mentioned that she was "going to do pies on the blog for Christmas."

My first thought was, "Oh my gosh, I hope she has a really good pie crust recipe or they won't turn out very well no matter what she does." (Have you ever eaten what could have been a really good piece of pie, except that the crust just wasn't very good?)

I don't know about you, but I'm getting to the age that something has to be really good, like a really good cookie, or a really good piece of pie, before I'll eat it.

I mean, who needs the calories of all the bad or mediocre stuff?

Anyway, I had a brilliant thought: "Why not send in my pie crust recipe to Ree? Whatever happens, happens." So I e-mailed it to her, and waited to see what happened.

By this time my family and I had traveled to Maui for Christmas. I was going on the Pioneer Woman site on the laptop each day to see what kind of pies she was going to showcase...then lo and behold, on her December 22, 2007 posting, there it was!!! Perfect Pie Crust, with the story about me sending it in, the photos and the recipe. I think I let out a shout that must have been heard all around the Pacific Ocean at the very least.

Please note: I did not make up the recipe, but I recognized it as being a great one about 35 years ago and adopted it as my own. I have seen it written up in the newspaper since as one of the premiere recipes used by some of the best chefs, so it truly is worth trying! A lot of people commented on Ree's site that it is the same recipe that their grandmother used, so it has been around for decades...the vinegar and egg combination may seem odd, but they produce an extremely flaky crust, especially after freezing, which allows you to make up your crusts ahead of time, which is what caught Ree's attention.

My family and friends had always loved my pie crust, but what a funny thing to become known for! Over the days and months ahead all manner of people from all over the planet were writing in their opinion of my recipe, most very positive thank goodness. I still remember the man from some foreign country (France?) who left a message whining because how could he possibly make my pie crust when they don't have Crisco in his country and he doesn't even know what it is?!?

Well, my family celebrated our 'sort of' new-found fame,' and from time to time I would check in to see what kind of comments readers were continuing to leave about my pie crust on Ree's site.  Then one day last winter, about a year ago, I received an out-of-the-blue email from Ree stating that she was writing a cookbook, the New York editors were making her turn it in that day, she was really in a hurry, and would I please give her permission to use my pie crust recipe? I said, "Yes, of course," and then she asked what name would I like on the page? I quickly decided Sylvia Lamon of Jenkins Farms, and that is how it turned out.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks was released in the fall, and I made up my Christmas list of close family and friends and ordered the books. What fun it was to receive them, sign and wrap them and give them as gifts! It really is a great cookbook- wonderful recipes and photography, and lots of family photos and information about living on their cattle ranch in Pawhuska, Oklahoma of all places. My nephew Jim's fiance, April, has already made a number of the recipes and loves them!!

As a Christmas surprise for mom, my daughter sent a copy back to Ree and had her personally sign it for me and then presented it to me on Christmas morning. It will be a treasured keepsake! Ree wrote, "To dear, wonderful Sylvia: Enjoy and thank you for sharing the Perfect Pie Crust with me! Heart, Ree/PW" (Pioneer Woman).

Go on Ree's website and see what it's all about. Chances are you will love it!! Then buy the cookbook, and I guarantee at the very least that your pies will be fabulous. Here is a video of Ree ~


Diane by the sea said...

well, this may have happened a while ago I see but I had to try your recipe. I too, just like Ree, have used this recipe but with mixed results each time. What I did differently was how I mixed in the water, vinegar, salt and I did NOT ever freeze it. I just winged it and sometimes it was flaky and sometimes not. So as soon as I read your way of doing it on Ree's site, I made some exactly like she said. Well, guess what? Ah shucks you already know don't you? Yes, success! Thank you! Hugs from Canada.

Sylvia said...

Congratulations!! Ree sometimes uses half butter (she's the queen of butter) and half Crisco now. I haven't tried it yet, as I don't want to disappoint my family in case something goes wrong, but you might want want to try it! One of these days I'm going to try it myself...Go
d Bless!!

Karen said...

Just wondering how long and at what temp I should bake this b itself if I want to use it for a cold pie? Thanks!

Sylvia said...

Hi Karen~ I would google your question and look through the answers. I have not cooked just a pie crust in the pan for a long time! Make sure you check to see what to do to the crust to keep it from slipping down the edges while it bakes. I remember that being a bit tricky. Enjoy your pie, and God bless you!!

Jennifer Cox said...

Hi Sylvia!! Late congrats on your Pie crust recipe being published in The Pioneer Womans cookbook!! I just have one question about it. The one on her website calls for 1 1/2 cups shortening, but the one in her holiday cookbook calls for only 3/4 cup shortening and 3/4 cup butter... Which one do i use?

Sylvia said...

HI Jennifer! Ree started out using my recipe with all Crisco which she loves. Then at a later time she started substituting butter for half of the Crisco. She must feel it is even better. I have not personally tried the half butter recipe yet as I'm afraid my family might be disappointed because it would be "different." One of these days I'm going to make a pie for just my hubby and I using the half butter recipe, and then I'll let you all know what I think!