Making It My Own


Our Wednesday night turned into an unexpected date when my husband decided he wanted to buy a book on building swingsets. We, with E&E in the back, drove out to a Barnes and Noble with the evening sun wrapping around us. Once there, I tried to controlled my usual drool-reaction to the new-book intoxication and sat with the babies ( climbing and crunching chips) at the in-house Starbucks cafe table and a decaf Americano while Paul strode off to find his book. He had, of course, done online research on the proper book to buy, he had called stores to find which ones had the book in stock, and had reserved a copy. He’s that thorough and efficient. When he came back to show it off he offered to watch the babies in the children’s section while I browsed. Ah, yes, he is remarkable…

I teased him about tempting me but scampered off with delight. In the sale section I gravitated to the cookbooks and spotted the Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook. After scrambling through the first colorful pages I knew I was as hooked as I was with her first cookbook.  She is kitschy and girlishly silly but her food is understandable and her zest for feeding people delicious food is unabashed. Her stream-of-consciousness comments can be annoying but…I brought the book to the kids corner where the babies zoomed around a train set and Paul sat flipping through his book.

Sitting down with my head against his knees I commented to Paul how this food in the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook was so alluring. I explained how much I want to cook those juicy slabs of meat that will cause the men I cook for to come back for more and cook with white flour to make pancakes so flipping fluffy! And white sugars that sweeten baked goods addictively. I would love to go back to the time when I cooked up bags of versatile CAFO chicken breasts with an ignorant abandon.

And for a moment I was frustrated, dreaming of going back to Egypt for its seductive and rich foods.

But, even though I can’t go back to where I started, I can adapt. And Ree Drummond’s infectious enthusiasm and liberal use of fat in her relatable recipes are wonderful inspiration. I can use whole-grain flours and I can use what grass-fed meats we are able to seek out. I can use organic where conventional produce might be used. I have been so blessed with raw milk; I can use good, if not perfect, cheese. The recipes flavor combinations are impeccable and satisfying.

Paul insisted on buying the book for me. He’s also amazing like that, once he sees I’m interested in something he goes headlong into supporting me!

So, dinner tonight was my version of Pioneer Woman’s Beef & Bean Burritos because I happened to set out a bowl of pinto beans to soak for refried beans the night before. Hers may have called for canned conventional refried beans but I was able to guarantee the purity of mine with the organic dried beans, bacon grease from nitrate-free bacon, onions, and garlic. It was so fun and satisfying to change dinner to my personal persuasion! I think Ree might be horrified at just how much I adapted.Properly soaked beans ready to simmer into tenderness.

Mashed into creamy and savory flavor.

I didn’t have the enchilada sauce so I simply tossed the chiles and tomatoes into the blender to create my own simplified version.

Local, grass-fed ground beef.

Organic dried herbs and spices (chili powder, oregano, and cumin) bought inexpensively from bulk jars at our local co-op store.

Extra garlic added, of course!

I just dumped ALL the sauce into the meat.

And lots of sharp cheddar, the Pioneer Woman would applaud me.

The tortillas aren’t whole wheat or soaked but they are organic and the “boys” prefer them white…so…baby steps sometimes. They also don’t have any funky preservatives.


Almost ready!

Since I messed around with the amounts too, I put only what we’d need for dinner into a pan.

Now I have an awesome chili base for another meal.

 Paul approved.

This entry was published on April 5, 2012 at 11:03 pm and is filed under All Season, Main Dishes, The Basics. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Making It My Own

  1. elisabeth on said:

    this is fantastic, anna.
    i adore the writing as much as the recipe/photos. you have such a distinctive, personable voice. when can i see you and share a table with you and kiss your babies endlessly?

  2. i love all of your recipe posts, but this life-tale i love even more. this was pure joy to read. 🙂

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