When my old job was eliminated, one of the things I vowed to do was become more domestic. (It’s back there on that giant to-do list.) In our house, my husband is the cook. Yes, I have two hands and a brain to put together food, but somewhere between gathering the ingredients and removing it from heat, I generally screw something up to make a meal inedible.
Yes, I’ve actually burned water, if you count leaving water to boil on the stove too long so that it all boiled off and then the pot somehow caught fire.
The one exception is baking, where I tend to be a little better with results, but it can still be hit or miss.
Last week, Ree Drummond, better known as The Pioneer Woman, was in town for a book signing for her new book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. A group of us gathered for dinner the night before, where I shared with Ree that I planned to use her cookbook to help me in my goal of learning to cook.
When I told Cordy and Mira who I was going to see at the bookstore the next day, they insisted on coming along. Cordy has recently decided she wants to be “a sewer, a cooker, and a mom” when she grows up, and Mira echoed that she wants to be the same, but also a vet. I had planned to go alone, but since they were so excited I agreed.
Ree planned for that same small group of us to meet in private before the big signing. We got to the bookstore 45 minutes before the signing started, and already there was practically no parking and the store was jammed full of women holding Ree’s book and lining up to meet her. With Cordy in tow, I was very thankful we could meet in private – she can’t handle waiting in lines and crowds make her extremely anxious and flappy.
Of course, when finally given the opportunity to meet Ree and tell her how much they want to be “cookers” when they grow up, my girls clammed up. Well, Cordy was too distracted to say much more than hi, and Mira focused on Ree’s necklace while placing her hand directly on Ree’s boobs. Mira has a bad habit of trying to get someone’s attention by reaching up and putting her hand on someone’s belly, which as she’s grown has now extended her reach to boobs. Insert my horror in any public situation with her here.
Once home, the kids begged to start making food from the book. I put it off until the weekend, and for our first experiment, I picked something to bake: apple dumplings. Baking is my stronger skill, so I wanted to ease into it.
One thing I love about Ree’s book (and her blog) is the number of clear photos she has showing each step of the process. When you’re domestically challenged like me, this is very, very helpful.
The first step was peeling the apples. Um, wait, how do I do that? I grabbed a knife and muddled through it, ending with most of the apple still on the core and no sliced fingers. I’ll call that a success.
But when it came to coring the apples and slicing them into 8 equal slices, I turned to modern convenience:
Rolling the slices into the crescent roll dough wasn’t hard. Mira asked if she could help, picking it up faster than me.
We poured the sauce/syrup/whatever you want to call it mixture over the rolled up apples and then put it in the oven. The result?
I gotta admit, it smelled amazing. And tasted pretty good, too.
OK, so it took the whole family to make apple dumplings (minus Cordy, who decided she really wasn’t that interested in it, but was still willing to taste test), but it was a good first start.
(Full disclosure: this isn’t really a review. I bought the book myself, and while I told Ree I planned to use the book to help me cook, she wasn’t expecting any kind of review. But if you ever meet her in person, you should ask her to show you what she can do with the Juicy Fruit app on her phone.)