MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 2, 2013

Pioneer Woman, friend examples for all

By Melony Carey
Food by the Book

— 2013 is not starting off on the most optimistic of notes, with looming fiscal cliffs and tax hikes. But Oklahomans are a hardy people, having survived both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and those bowl game losses to Miami, LSU and Southern Cal. One shining example of Oklahoma ingenuity and optimism is our own Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, whose sweet Oklahoma drawl continues to enthrall blog readers and viewers of her Food Network program. In fact, a very sweet Santa (aka Dad) left a copy of her book “The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels” in my stocking for Christmas.

Drummond’s literary style is easy-going in that homespun, Oklahoma way. With children’s books, an autobiography, and two cookbooks under her cowgirl belt, Drummond could see her life slated for the big screen, with Reese Witherspoon possibly playing the lead. She is poised to market the Oklahoma way of life and values, as much a love story for many of us as her own personal happily-ever-after with the Marlboro Man.

Another advocate for the savvy pioneer woman way of life is Drummond’s food-blog friend, Georgia Pellegrini. Her book “Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time” has taken back the idea of conscious eating left previously to vegetarians. A former analyst for Lehman Brothers, Pellegrini chucked the stock market for stock pots, studying at the French Culinary Institute. Her method is to cook what you kill or forage for yourself in a simple but elegant manner. You can join Pellegrini next week on a Girl Hunter Weekend Adventure in Adairsville, Ga., or have a Girl Hunter Weekend of your own. We can all simply enjoy the abundant recipes and beautiful photos on her blog, www.georgiapellegrini.com.



Winter calls for heartier breakfasts. Try a couple of recipes from our rootin’ tootin’ down-home beauties that are sure to tickle your innards on a lazy Saturday.



Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Bread Pudding

A perennial favorite and great way to use up those last bits of holiday ham.

8 eggs

3/4 cup half-and-half

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter

3 cups finely diced cooked ham

8 slices Texas toast

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash of cayenne

Toast bread and leave out for a few minutes while preparing other ingredients. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in butter until brown. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with butter, and tear four slices of toast into the bottom of the dish. Add half the ham, onions, red pepper and cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with cheese. Lightly beat the eggs and half-and-half, and stir in salt and pepper to taste, and cayenne. Pour eggs over casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered with foil for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10–15 more minutes until bread is golden brown on top. Adapted from “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier.” Another delicious variant with mushrooms and spinach can be found on Drummond’s website at http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/category/breakfast.

Serve with breakfast potatoes, also on the site.



Georgia

Pellegrini’s Whiskey and Peach Rabbit Stew

Attributed to inspiration from “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier.” Pellegrini says it’s good for breakfast the next day, too.

4 tablespoons olive oil or butter

6 rabbits, quartered

Salt and pepper

1 medium onion, diced

1 1/2 cups whiskey

2 cups barbecue sauce

2 chipotle peppers in Adobo, chopped

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 -6 cups fresh peach slices

2 cups water

1 bunch kale, collards or other leafy green, roughly chopped

2 tablespoon peach preserves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and brown the rabbit quarters for about 4 minutes on each side. Season each side with salt and pepper as you go. You will need to work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, so transfer the meat to a plate once it is well browned and add new meat.

Once all of the rabbit is transferred to a plate, add the diced onion to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until translucent.

Pour in the whiskey and reduce heat by half. Add the barbecue sauce and chipotle pepper and stir.

Add the rabbit quarters to the pot, then the peaches. Cover with foil or a lid and place in the oven for at least 2.5 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. In the last 10 minutes, add the greens and peach preserves and stir.

Serve with mashed potatoes or rice. Source:  http://georgiapellegrini.com/2012/08/25/recipes/whiskey-peach-rabbit-stew/.