The drive from Bartlesville, OK, to Pawhuska, OK, surprised us. Hubby Bryan and I had expected to see the flat plains that we associate with cattle country. But instead we drove through rolling hills covered with trees. It was a lovely short drive, followed by the aforementioned lovely breakfast (Ree & Me, Part 1) at the Drummond family’s Mercantile enterprise in downtown Pawhuska.
But the reason we chose to visit Pawhuska on that particular weekend was the chance to tour the Drummond Lodge, located on their vast cattle operation, where the “Pioneer Woman” show on the Food Network is filmed.
So with our “ticket” in hand, we left Pawhuska and traversed farther west, this time through the plains we had expected to see. Four miles out of town, we were told we’d be on Drummond land, and six miles out we came to the sign that proclaimed Drummond Ranch over the long driveway. But per directions, we continued for a few more miles, finally turning onto an unpaved road. We would take the gravel for another 5+ miles, turn again and then another short distance to the Lodge. It was almost 20 miles from Pawhuska.
“That is a lot of horses out in the middle of nowhere,” I thought as we went down the gravel road.
Deep in thought and watching those horses, I missed it when we passed a pickup truck going the other way, until Bryan exclaimed, “I think those were the daughters!” I didn’t get a look, so I’m not sure, but he is positive we crossed paths with Paige and Alex, Ree and Ladd Drummond’s
Ree’s unique mixer was the first thing I spied as we entered the Lodge’s kitchen
daughters. It was Easter weekend, so it was a possibility they were all gathered for the holiday.
Again, our timing for arriving at the Lodge was perfect. There was a small crowd, but we easily found a parking place and were able to move about the building without too many people in our way. By the time we left, however, it was getting a bit crowded.
We entered right into the beautifully equipped kitchen that is featured on “Pioneer Woman.” The first thing that caught my eye was her mixer — the bright blue Kitchenaid embellished with flowers that I have coveted since I first saw it. I had to immediately go over and give it a caress.
I stand in the kitchen where the “Pioneer Woman” is most often filmed.
A tour guide — a young man who told us he was a college student studying to be an air traffic controller at the community college in Tulsa — was on hand to answer questions, but otherwise visitors were given free run of the Lodge. I was especially impressed by the ample pantry located around the corner from the kitchen, and the five well-appointed guest rooms, each with its own bathroom. Besides being a set for the TV show, the Lodge is used as a guest facility for the ranch. It was renovated in 2008.
Most impressive was the view. The Lodge is located on the side of a hill, affording a sweeping view of the 100,000-acre Drummond property. It’s exactly what you’d envision of Oklahoma cattle country. Another abode is located just below, but from above you could literally see for miles. Recent wildfires had taken a toll, the guide said, which explained the expanses of singed earth.
The addition includes a room devoted to storage of props for the TV show.
Past the bedrooms at the far end of the Lodge, there is an addition to facilitate the TV production, with a large commercial kitchen and storage areas for all the props used for the show. We ended our tour on the outside deck, drinking in the view of land, horses and cattle.
It’s obvious that the Drummonds have done well for themselves in all their endeavors, and it was fun to see the scope of the operation, both for the “Pioneer Woman” and as cattle producers.
During our earlier visit to the Mercantile, I had resisted buying a T-shirt, as I already have an ample stack of such apparel. But as we passed back through Pawhuska, I implored Bryan to stop again (I did need to use the bathroom, after all!) and I ran inside and picked out a pretty green one to commemorate our visit.
I had no expectations of running into Ree during our short visit to her home territory, but still, deep down I harbored a small bit of hope that she’d pop up at some unexpected moment . But of course that didn’t happen. There was no commiseration over our mutual disdain for bananas, no exchange of recipes, no photo opportunity, no chance to become fast friends. But I do feel like a bit of a “Pioneer Woman” insider after seeing where it all takes place.
If any other “Pioneer Woman” fans are contemplating a visit to Pawhuska, I highly recommend going at a time when the Lodge is open for tours. (You can find those dates on the Pioneer Woman website: https://www.themercantile.com/pages/lodge-tours.) It certainly made our trip worthwhile and more fun than just going to the “Merc” — although the breakfast alone was worth the trip!
A large pantry is adjacent to the kitchen area of the Lodge.
I promised to share my favorite “Pioneer Woman” recipe, and there are several that I could certainly include here. But the one I have probably made most is her Jalapeno Cheese Bread. I believe she served it as an accompaniment to soup in a “Pioneer Woman” episode. I usually make it as an appetizer, cutting the bread up into small slices. I have also just served the spread as a dip, cutting back on the butter and using more mayonnaise.
Jalapeno Cheese Bread
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup jarred jalapenos, finely chopped
6 ounces white Cheddar, grated
6 ounces pepper Jack cheese, grated
One 6-ounce jar green olives, drained and finely chopped
One 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
2 green onions, sliced
1 loaf crusty French bread, sliced lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the butter, mayonnaise, jalapenos, Cheddar, pepper Jack, olives, green chiles and green onions in a mixing bowl. Stir together until thoroughly combined.
Spread the mixture onto the French bread and put the bread on a baking sheet. Bake until the cheese is melted and browning, 20 to 25 minutes.
Ree’s collection of cast-iron pans is stored in the kitchen island where many of the scenes from the TV show are filmed.