The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels
by Ree Drummond

William Morrow, 2011. ISBN 978-0-061-99716-7.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 03/14/2011

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment; Nonfiction: Food/Cooking/Kitchen

Ree Drummond grew up in a small city and knew that city life was the life for her. After a post-college stint in California, she set her sights on Chicago and law school, but she stopped for a visit to family in Oklahoma. With her ticket in her purse and a new apartment rented, she was right on track.

Then derailment! Across a crowded barroom she spotted a tall, lanky, gorgeous fellow who put her in mind of the Marlboro Man—that's how she refers to him throughout the book—and there went Chicago, the apartment, the new life. She fell and fell hard.

She traded city life and the black high heels for Oklahoma ranch life and tractors, cooking, kids, and cattle. She also managed to write a cookbook, the popular The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I have not read it, but I have heard others praise it highly. She began a memoir of her love story, and then, like many memoirist stuck the manuscript in a drawer. After the publication of her cookbook, she began to post stories from the unfinished memoir to its accompanying website.

It was a hit. She posted forty episodes before she decided to finish the book tracing out her romance not just with her future husband but with the ranching life. The book takes us through the first year of marriage. Drummond is a conversational writer; she quickly and engagingly draws her reader in to the picture.

While the tone is informal, she doesn't avoid some hard facts. She had health problems; times were not always good on the ranch, and her parents' marriage was falling apart as she launched her own. She tells the truth as it happened.

The book ends (not surprisingly) with some of her favorite recipes—hearty, not too complicated ranch fare with one vegetarian pasta from the black-heels days. Drummond's chili sounds like my mother's. It made me hungry and a little nostalgic merely reading it. Being Texans we served beans (always pintos) on the side. Drummond stirs them in. The pot roast sounds like Sunday dinner across America.

I enjoyed the book, and I will not be surprised to find a sequel to her story before long. The raw material for it is already on her website.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Ree Drummond grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma near Tulsa. In college she studied journalism. Today, she lives with her husband, Ladd, their four children, assorted dogs and cats and many cattle on a working ranch in Osage County, Oklahoma. She homeschools her children. The author of Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, Drummond has also written Charlie the Ranch Dog for children. It will be published in April, 2011. She maintains an extensive website, which features her blog, more information on her life, family, pets and homeschooling, a recipe exchange, and many, many recipes.

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