By the time cookbook author Ree Drummond had talked about her life, family, the world of blogging and her cookbook Thursday during a fundraiser luncheon, she was friends with the nearly 400 women who attended the event.
After all, most all the attendees at the luncheon felt like they already knew Ree and her husband, Ladd, because of Ree’s daily blogging.
Sharing everything from humorous family moments, conversations with her husband, photography and recipes, women everywhere read her blog, Pioneer Woman.
Even though she’s been on a book signing tour and appeared on such shows as The View recently, Ree said she prefers being at home on her ranch in Pawhuska, with her husband and their four “punks” as she affectionately calls her children.
“That’s where I need to be, with my family,” she said.
Booking Ree for the Duncan Regional Health Foundation Ladies’ Luncheon was a perfect choice, because the proceeds from the event will benefit the hospital’s Birth Center which needs a new infant warmer. Ree also donated her appearance.
Coming to Duncan was an easy choice for Ree.
“I feel like Duncan is our little city,” she said. The “our” was inclusive of her husband, Ladd, and their children. Ree and Ladd have been dubbed the Pioneer Woman and the Marlboro Man.
Ree said they always stop in Duncan when they head to their small farm in Waurika, though they live in the middle of nowhere in Pawhuska. That’s Osage County, a virtual untouched region of Oklahoma that probably hasn’t changed much in 100 years. They spend their days home schooling their children and dealing with life on a ranch.
She told the crowd that in her life she has never completed a project or seemed to stick with anything — except blogging.
“Blogging somehow awakened a creative side of mine,” she said. From that blog a cookbook was published, The Pioneer Woman Cooks” which features simple recipes and stories.
The Ladies Auxiliary for the hospital gift shop has been selling the books and what was available for the event sold out quickly. Betty Beck said all the profits are being donated back to the Foundation. More books are on order and Beck said the gift shop will continue to sell them as long as people want them.
The Drummonds also brought a few cases and donated those to the cause.
“I’m so happy what the Foundation is doing and in supporting the hospital,” she said, emphasizing how much family means to her.
Ree admitted stage fright, but organizers of the event helped make that transition to stage easy for her. A huge slideshow featuring many of her photographs from life on the ranch played behind her and a basket of questions from the audience kept things lively.
One of the first questions Ree pulled out of the basket was asking if someone could come with her friends to have a 40th birthday bash at the ranch.
“Who is Katie Hunt?” A hand shot up in the back and Ree laughed and told her yes.
Eventually, Ree began sharing stories about her husband, to the delight of everyone there. While Ree was the featured guest, her husband was just as popular with the crowd of women, ranging in all ages from teenagers to senior citizens. And they came from throughout the state — mostly Duncan, but also Marlow, Central High, Velma, Chickasha, Waurika, Norman and Edmond. There was even an attendee from Plano, Texas.
The Pioneer Woman’s popularity was evident in the diversity of the crowd — retirees, students, nurses, doctors, attorneys and of course, stay-at-home moms.
She was able to connect with everyone, even during the one-on-one conversations as she signed books. Ree admitted she’s not an organized person and relies on her husband for much of it.
And in keeping to the tune of Ree’s world, the luncheon featured recipes from her cookbook, which is a New York Times bestseller. It also featured one recipe, apple dumplings, that is on her blog but not in the cookbook. She promises it will be in the next book.
While she shared stories of her life, she talked about when two of her children were babies and they were without water in their home on the ranch.
“I hauled water,” she said. Many women gasped at the thought, but laughed when she said she brought it in with her Suburban.
One of the questions inquired if she would ever do a reality show. She said she loves to watch them because they make her feel like her family is normal, but she would not do one.
“I’d rather share recipes and things that are useful,” she said. She also said that while everyone has been extremely friendly and she’s enjoyed her time at book signings around the country, nothing compares to her home state.
“I feel so at home in Oklahoma. There’s just something about an Oklahoma crowd, I just love you guys,” she said.
— Toni Hopper is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. She can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 132 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.