Thursday, February 24, 2011


Yesterday was our big trip to Ponca City, Oklahoma, for the P-Dub book signing. We are going to share some photos and life experience we gained on our trip.

We loaded up the minivan and headed out, but not without a stop at Sonic to start us off right. No proper road trip begins without Sonic and their little pieces of ice.

Miss Jo

Miss Lou

The Bean was an excellent backseat driver. He slept while at the wheel...rather, slept in his car seat. We were jealous.

Mr. Bean

Here are a few things we learned on this trip:

1. Never allow Lou to navigate. Perhaps you've heard of the Bermuda Triangle where ships are mysteriously lost at sea. There also exists the Oklahoma Triangle residing between Blackwell, Tonkawa and Ponca City. This is where little gold minivans get lost and do a couple u-turns. To look at a map, one would not think this is necessary or possible. But, Lou is good at making easy things difficult, and Jo is very good at taking directions. Twelve miles west, my foot.

2. We are grateful for the hospitality and kindness of the folks at Brace Books. And their smart inclusion of a toy section in their store. Primarily, a Thomas the Train play table. The Bean was entertained for hours. Literally.

3. A word of advice: if you're going to a book signing, call the book store to see if you need to register for tickets ahead of time. Out of 200 people, we were 129 and 130 (not bad at all). While we appreciated the ticket system for crowd control, we were wizened to the idea of calling the store ahead to learn the format of the program. Call us naive. We can take it.

4. Keep a hold of your keys. We don't know how it happened, but they got lost. No one will fess up (Lou). We simply have no idea who misplaced them. *Wink* We moved around the wonderful store quite a bit through the afternoon, and somewhere between Thomas the Train, the coffee bar and chasing The Bean through the maze of book shelves, we temporarily lost them. Thank goodness for a kind Oklahoma stranger who turned the keys in to the front register.

5. Book signings are such a fun way to meet people who enjoy the same kinds of things. We spent time standing in line chatting with people like us who had never really been interested in cooking until reading Ree's book, as well as ladies who have been avid cooks for many years.

6. Ree is just as great as we imagined her to be. She signed books for at least four hours (that we know of), and was incredibly cheerful and welcoming the entire time.

And here follows an account of our Ree Encounter:

Ree: Hi, ladies! Are you friends or sisters?

Chorus of Lou and Jo: Cousins!!! (Giggling followed)

Ree: Where are you from?

Chorus: Wichita! (Giggling followed)

Ree: Do you always answer in unison?

Chorus: Yes!

Ree: Are you robots?

Chorus: Absolutely!

Of course, the last two questions of answering in unison and robots were not asked by Ree. Only in our heads. We tend to over-analyze. She graciously signed our books and allowed us to take a picture with her. She chatted with each person as if she knew them well. What a great experience.

Lastly, if you ever find yourself in Ponca City, we recommend eating at Enrique's Mexican Restaurant located inside the terminal of the Ponca City Regional Airport. Their salsa is Bean-approved. Tasty.

After many chips and chimichangas, we happily waddled our way home. This was a perfect way to end a wonderfully memorable day.

Happily full,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bloomin' Onion...Strings

Saturday night was a dark and blustery night.

Ok. Not really. It actually was quite nice out...we had a tease of spring weather. Mr. Fabuful and Uncle He-Man were smoking a brisket. Uncle He-Man supplied the mulberry wood and the brisket. Mr. Fabuful prepared his special spice rub for said meat. Suffice it to say, it was heavenly.

We wanted to cook up a side to compliment the slab of beef. P-Dub's Onion Strings (p. 92) were the perfect fit.

Please listen up. Are you listening? Rather, reading? Make these. It is imperative. You'll thank us - correction: You'll thank Ree.

The beauty of this recipe is it's amazing flavor, despite having just a few basic ingredients.

Jo started by slicing two onions, which doubles Ree's recipe (we were entertaining a number of friends).

We poured a quart of canola oil in the hot tub (Dutch oven) to pre-heat for our onions. We have discovered the Dutch oven is possibly the most versatile piece of cookware known to man. We love it.

We then dunked the onions into a baking dish of buttermilk. Lou combined the flour, salt, ground black pepper, and, the kicker: cayenne pepper. Ooo-la. We're begging you. Don't leave out the cayenne pepper.

Ree mentions a test to check the heat of the oil in the Dutch oven. Since we did not have a thermometer available we used her flour test. You know the oil is hot enough for frying when you throw a dash of flour onto the oil and hear the oil sizzle. Our oil sizzled. And the peasants rejoiced.

Once the onions had sufficiently soaked in their skin-smoothing buttermilk bath, Lou doused them in the flour mixture then placed them in the hot tub.

Jo manned the hot tub and separated the onions in the oil to prevent them from sticking together. Each onion batch only took about one minute to fry to a golden brown crisp.

These were then placed on a plate covered with a paper towel.

Deep sigh...

We soon discovered why Ree only called for one onion in her Onion Strings recipe. After about one onion was fried, we noticed a funky smell. The oil was dark brown. Due to the intense heat of the Dutch oven and the oil, pieces of the flour mixture had naturally fallen to the bottom and started to burn. Not to fear: Mr. Fabuful helped us to dispose of the hot canola oil. We cleaned the pan and started all over. Disaster averted.

We also decided to prepare a salad to accompany the brisket and onion strings. We needed to throw some healthiness in there somewhere. Our friend, Jenny, prepared the salad. Mr. Fabuful made a fantastic lime-cilantro vinegarette. The tartness and fresh flavors of the dressing and salad were like a little ray of springtime sunshine amidst the harvest of smoked meat and greased vegetables. Believe us: if we Kansans can find a way to make vegetables unhealthy, we will while loving every minute.

The aftermath.

The final result of our dinner.

Our next post will be showing how to make the teaser item on the right side of the above photo. It's called Chocolate Sheet Cake. Can't wait to share it with you!

Happily full,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Diagnosis: Tizzified

Tizzy: a state of nervous excitement or agitation.

We're low-drama gals. It takes a lot to get us hyped up.

Usually, we save our tizzies for situations such as tornado warnings, weddings and mean people.  But we are officially tizzified.  In six short days we will be traveling to Ponca City for Mrs. Drummond's book signing of her new book, "The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels". Excited would be a bit of an understatement. Jo says, "Eee-hee-hee!" Lou is giggling with delight.

We have definitely enjoyed her recipes and appreciate the light she shines on the rural lifestyle. We're happily anticipating meeting Mrs. Drummond. Reading her blog and books is like talking to the girl next door. We'll keep you posted on our Ponca City jaunt.

We Heart Cookies (and Engineers)

For Valentine's Day we decided to take a short detour from our P-Dub cookbook marathon in order to make cookies for our guys. Ree had posted a fun recipe, Chocolate Valentine Cookies, which we just had to try.

This was especially exciting because Jo got to pull her KitchenAid mixer out of storage for the event.

We happily welcomed a new member to the family. That thing is a beast. Thank goodness for Uncle He-Man and his burly forearms.

Yes, thank goodness.

Once we figured out how to work the contraption, we mixed together butter and packed brown sugar. Whee! Who knew kitchen appliances could be so much fun.

We combined flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt, cocoa and cinnamon. The dry ingredients were whisked together.

To the brown sugar mixture, we added one egg and vanilla extract. More mixer time.

After this was combined, we poured in the flour mixture in three stages, allowing the dry ingredients to be incorporated properly.

We were not the only ones fascinated with the mixer. The Bean was captivated by his 'new toy'.

Next, we transferred the dough into a plastic bag to be chilled. Ree advises chilling the dough in the refrigerator for two hours. We, on the other hand, are impatient. Into the freezer went the dough for 30 minutes. It's like the tortoise and the hare. Ree wins.

Once chilled, we used a nifty trick to spread the dough evenly that Lou learned from Uncle He-Man's mother. Instead of flouring the counter top, we laid out plastic wrap and placed the dough on top. We covered the dough with another layer of plastic wrap. Lou rolled out the dough. The trick worked like a charm. Nothing adhered to the counter top this time...

Time for the heart-shaped cookie cutter.

We were able to cut two dozen cookies. These baked in the 350-degree oven for 12 minutes.

Once they were done, they were laid out on a cooling rack. The aromas of cocoa and cinnamon were divine.

The texture of these cookies sits on the fence somewhere between a crunchy cookie and a soft cookie. Perfect if you have trouble being decisive, like us. Some of our cookies went toward a special message for Uncle He-Man and Mr. Fabuful. The rest went in our bellies. Not right away. First we slathered them with peanut butter. Raise your hand if you heart peanut butter. Ree suggests Nutella spread as a great cookie topper. Yum.

Now for the messy part. We centered each stencil on a cookie. Then we covered any exposed part of the cookie. Lou held the stencil down while Jo sifted powdered sugar.

As we've mentioned before, Uncle He-Man and Mr. Fabuful were college roommates at Kansas State University, plowing through mechanical engineering majors together. Thus, our heart-felt message to our men:

Wildcat approved.

Kansas boys are the best!

Happily Full,

Thursday, February 10, 2011


For Super Bowl Sunday, Lou's baby sister came down to watch the game. And by baby sister we mean a lovely, red-headed 25-year-old lady married to a super swell guy. Sis has some food allergies so we wanted to avoid things with wheat and eggies. We landed on PW's Potato Skins (p. 22). 

We started with eight, large russet potatoes. Lou brushed canola oil on the spuds.

These were placed on a large baking sheet and baked at 400 degrees for one hour.

This gave us time to cheer on fellow Kansas State alum Jordy Nelson, now a star player with the Green Bay Packers. Woot for Jordy! 

Next we sliced the (very hot) potatoes in half, removing the flesh. Canola oil was brushed on the inside of the potatoes. These were placed back in the oven for seven minutes per side.

Believe it or not, that's Jo's head and Lou's hands. We've got talent and the same skin tone, apparently. Have we mentioned Kansas has not been super sunny this winter? Case in point.

In the meantime, we fried the bacon. 'Ummy! That's 'yummy' in The Bean's vernacular.

We diced green onions and prepared shredded cheese.

We learned well from our mommas that sharing is nice. We couldn't help but share with The Bean as he was cute and constantly asking for more cheese.

Once the 'taters were done, we topped them first with cheese, then bacon. We returned them to the oven to allow the cheese to melt.

Once that was finally done (Oh! The agony!), a spoonful of sour cream, and its spoon, somehow ended up on the floor. Our live vacuum sweeper helped us out. She forgot the tiny little crumbs surrounding her, though. Maybe Jo should vacuum with her electric vacuum sweeper.

 A dollop of sour cream was added, along with a sprinkle of green onions. And what you got there, folks, is perfect Super Bowl food.

Uncle He-Man and Mr. Fabuful grilled up some awesome burgers (out in the snow, mind you). Sis contributed with her gluten-and-egg free Chocolate Cupcakes ('ello, Cupcakes!). They truly were wonderful. Who knew taking eggs and flour out of a recipe (and adding obscene amounts of Crisco) could result in such a moist, perfectly cake-y cupcake. See here for your viewing pleasure.

A lovely, manly evening of football, starchy goodness, beef and Crisco was had by all.

Happily Full,