Pick a peck of peppers?


The weather forecast is not favorable for continued garden production. Frost is on its way, and I’ve noted social media pleas for ideas to preserve the peppers that are still hanging on the vines.

I came across this recipe for a sweet-hot relish and immediately thought of a similar product that we’ve bought at the Omaha Farmers Market — candied jalapeno slices that I chop up and mix into cream cheese and plain Greek yogurt for a tangy dip.

In this method, the jalapenos are pre-chopped, and they’re not quite candied, but there’s enough sugar to provide that satisfying sweet-hot flavor. Hubby Bryan — who loves anything spicy — has been gobbling these up, putting them on just about everything he eats. I’d call that a ringing endorsement for my efforts.

Preparing the peppers is the most labor-intensive part of this recipe. If you like extra heat like HB, leave the ribs and seeds in. Be sure to wear gloves when chopping hot peppers, and don’t touch your eyes.

Hot and Sweet Pepper Relish

20 jalapenos or other small hot peppers

Other assorted peppers as available (I like to use some red, orange or yellow pepper for color interest.)

1 large clove garlic

1 cup white vinegar

½ cup water

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Seed and devein the jalapenos and other peppers; chop into a small dice. Mince or run the garlic through a press and add to the pepper mixture. Spoon the peppers into into a glass jar or jars; do not pack.

In a saucepan, heat the vinegar, water, sugar, celery salt and salt until boiling and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit for two minutes.

Pour liquid into the pepper-filled jars and screw on the lids. Allow to cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator. Wait a few days for the flavors to fully develop before using.



A match made in the garden


In early February, a pesky little varmint supposedly pops his head out of his burrow and determines if we are going to have an early spring or are doomed to six more weeks of winter.

I wish there was a groundhog that would predict six more weeks of summer instead. Or maybe we could make it a more tropical animal — a flamingo, perhaps? — that would make such a prophecy.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not ready for summer to be over. I feel like it barely got started. I still have so much I want to do while it’s sunny and warm outside. I’m not ready for the shortening of the sunlight and the cool evenings.

But I know there is nothing I can do about it, since there’s not a prognosticating flamingo out there, so I’m determined to make the best of what is left. And that includes making use of the garden bounty.

At my house, that means basil. I have a basil plant that has thrived on the combination of ample rainfall and hot, muggy days. Basil loves that kind of weather, so I have lots of green leaves to use up before it gets much cooler. I will freeze some, of course, and perhaps make up some pesto for the freezer.

But the way I like to use basil the best is with tomatoes. Tomato and basil is a match made in the garden.

And one of my favorite such combos is a pasta salad in a light lemon-garlic dressing — no mayonnaise — so it stands up to the heat and sitting out on the table at a potluck or picnic.

I actually make two versions of this salad: One uses a cheese-filled pasta product; the other has the cheese mixed in with the pasta and other ingredients. The filled-pasta version is a little more unique, but the salad is no less tasty made with non-filled pasta. It’s whichever you prefer.

Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad

One package (250 grams) cheese-filled ravioletti or half of a 16-ounce box mini farfalle pasta

1 large tomato, diced

½ cup chopped fresh basil

½ cup finely chopped onion

IMG_3211½ cup Parmesan cheese (if using farfalle)

For dressing:

‘1 clove garlic, finely minced

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 generous tablespoon honey

⅓ cup olive oil

Salt to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool.

Whisk together the minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, honey and olive oil. Add salt to taste, keeping in mind that the Parmesan will add more salty flavor.

Combine the cooked pasta, tomato, basil and onion. Add dressing and stir to combine. Add Parmesan, if using.

This salad will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Add additional olive oil if the pasta soaks up the dressing.



IMG_3170Ugh. It’s August.

Not that I have anything personal against August. I’m glad to have that last month of summer left to savor.

But what happened to the first two? June and July sped by faster than I  can ever remember. And now the days are getting shorter by 2 minutes each day, according to the TV weather forecaster. There are back-to-school supplies front and center in every store I enter. The roar of the motorcycles resounds from Interstate 90 as the bikers go back and forth to the annual motorcycle rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Yes, August is definitely here (sigh), and I’m sure it will go just as fast as its two predecessors. And that gets me a bit depressed.




Depression Dish.

Ah, yes. Depression Dish, pictured above. One of the bright spots in the last month of summer, as it features some of the stars of the garden bounty.

Green beans. New potatoes. Onions.

And then you top it all off with a plethora of bacon, and you have a whole lot of yum.

Why is it called Depression Dish? There’s certainly nothing depressing about it. But my guess would be that it was popular during the Depression era, as it used fresh garden goods to stretch a small amount of meat, bacon in this case, into a meal. But that’s only my hypothesis.

In my mom’s “Mixing & Musing Cookbook,” she refers to it as Old-Fashioned Green Beans and Potatoes. But I prefer to call it Not-So-Depressing Green Beans and Potatoes. First, I will give you the skillet made version as it appears in the cookbook. Below you will find some notes as to how I have updated it a bit.

Not-So-Depressing Green Beans and Potatoes

4 strips bacon, diced

4 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and halved

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup diced potatoes

3/4 cup sliced green onions

In a large skillet, cook diced bacon for 5 minutes or so, until almost crisp. Drain off part of the bacon drippings. Stir in green beans, water, salt and pepper. Simmer 2 or 3 minutes. Add potatoes and onions. Simmer about 15 minutes, until potatoes and beans are tender.

My variation: I cook the beans and potatoes (new potatoes, quartered, with skins still on) separately in the microwave until tender. Hubby Bryan cooks the bacon on a foil-lined sheet pan on the grill, reserving some of the bacon fat. Then I stir it all together with thinly sliced spring onions (you can also cook those with the potatoes or beans in the microwave, if you want, or just leave raw).

If you want to make a warm German-potato-salad-type dish, combine the bacon fat with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and a tablespoon of mustard before stirring it into the potato-bean-onion concoction. Otherwise just drizzle a little of the bacon fat over the veggies and season to taste.






Onion candy

IMG_3088This plate of food was supper earlier this week. An Iowa-cut pork chop, fresh green beans, red peppers and onions.

Most people would salivate over that beautifully-cooked chop — and it was delicious, grilled by Hubby Bryan. But for me the stars of the plate were the fresh veggies: the first garden-fresh green beans of the season, and those onions, also from the farmers market.

The onions have gotten to be a regular side dish at our house. They are what some would call spring onions — bigger than a green onion, but not fully formed into a big onion.

Whatever you call them, they are scrumptious. Especially the way we fix them.IMG_3075

They are like candy. Onion candy.

Here’s our method:

Remove most of the green tops and cut the spring onions in half. Place the onions on some aluminum foil — enough to wrap around them. Add a couple of dashes of soy sauce to each one, along with a sprinkling of brown sugar, probably a half teaspoon on each. Then top with a dab of butter. Pull the foil up, but don’t completely seal.

Then grill over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes.

That’s it. Onion candy. Probably some of the most delicious onions you will ever have. Great as a side dish or on top of a burger or hot dog.

I’ve also done this with Vidalia or basic yellow onions: Same method, just score move the outer layer of the onion, then score it into quarters about half way through. A few dashes of soy, a sprinkling of brown sugar, a tablespoon of butter on top. Grill.



Stalking the ‘barb

IMG_3072Tuesday was a banner day for me. The local farmers market opened for the season, so I hustled my way down there to see what could be had.

There were radishes, onions, lots and lots of Asian greens, strawberries, and yes, there was rhubarb.

I had wondered if the rhubarb plants were still producing locally, and there was the answer to that pondering. The rhubarb plant that used to be in our backyard was sacrificed a number of years ago for the sake of a bigger and better garage, so I just don’t have access to what is sometimes referred to as pie plant.

But if you still have rhubarb producing in your own yard, no doubt thanks to the abundance of rain we’ve been having (it can stop now, thank you!), or if a friend or neighbor has shared their ‘barb bounty, I would suggest you put it into what my mom dubbed the “Quintessential Rhubarb Dessert.” In her cookbook, it is titled Rhubarb Torte.

Quintessential Rhubarb Torte

First layer:

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

½ cup butter


Second layer:

1 ¼ cups sugar

2 tablespoons flour

⅓ cup milk

2 ¼ cups rhubarb

3 egg yolks


Third layer:

3 egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Combine the first layer ingredients; press into an 8- by 10-inch pan. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes.

Cook the second layer ingredients until thick. Pour over baked crust.

Beat the third layer ingredients until egg whites are stiff. Spread atop cooked rhubarb mixture. Brown in 325 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.




Chicken Little, Chicken BIG

mohawk haan crows close up

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tonight for supper we had steak — cooked on the grill, of course — accompanied by a lovely salad and some grilled onions.

But steak is an anomaly, something we indulge in only every so often.

More often than not, the meals at our house are based on chicken or ground beef as the proteins. So it’s important to have a ready supply of both on hand. And when it comes to chicken, it’s nice to have some precooked bird in the freezer, ready to throw in whatever is on the menu.

For instance, during the winter, Monday is soup night, and I often make up a big pot of Chicken Noodle, Chicken Tortilla or Chicken Pot Pie soup.

When the weather turns warmer, Monday becomes salad night, with a generous helping of chicken breast atop a pile of greens. (I change up the dressing — most often homemade — on a regular basis, so we don’t get tired of this combo.)

Sometimes we rely on precooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, but when chicken breasts go on sale, Hubby Bryan and I will cook up a big batch, either in the oven or on the grill, depending on the weather.

A number of years ago, I clipped a chicken rub recipe from a magazine, and it’s a go-to when cooking up a big batch of chicken for later use. It adds just enough flavor without being overpowering or conflicting with specific ethnic cuisines.

The original recipe says this mixture is enough to coat 16 skinless, boneless chicken breasts — about 5 pounds! We don’t usually go for quite that big a quantity, and frankly we prefer bone-in chicken breasts for both flavor and texture. But no matter how many we cook, this recipe seems to be just the right amount of rub, otherwise the excess can be stored in a covered container (just make sure none of it has been contaminated by raw chicken juices!). And even if you’re not making a BIG batch of chicken for freezing, this rub is a good option.

Chicken Big Spice Rub

¼ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 tablespoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Lightly brush chicken pieces of choice with vegetable oil. Sprinkle liberally with spice rub. Refrigerate chicken for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

Cook on the grill until juices run clear. If using oven, heat to 400 degrees and cook for 18-25 minutes, depending on whether you are using bone-in or boneless chicken and size of the pieces.

Let chicken cool for about 30 minutes. Debone if desired/necessary and portion out into freezer bags; or individually wrap pieces in waxed paper and store in freezer bags.

Cars and coleslaw

IMG_2071Let’s face it, the Memorial Day weekend is not typically known for beautiful weather in our part of the country. In my memories of more than five decades, I recall many more Memorial Days that were rainy and dreary than those that were sunny and hot.

But the weatherman has promised us an exceptional weekend this time around, and I intend to make the most of it.

First stop, of course, will be at the annual Memorial Day Car show at Spomer Classics in Worthington. ‘

If I had to pick out one attraction in Worthington that I think everyone should see, it would definitely be Spomer Classics. Marv Spomer, with help from his wife, Jeanine, has assembled an amazing collection of automotive and local history that is displayed sat the former auto dealership building (Koppy Motors at one time) on the western end of Oxford Street. It is something to behold, even if you are not an automotive aficionado.

Hubby Bryan is a car guy. Me, not so much. But I am enthralled every time I walk in the door of Spomer Classics. There are cars. There are signs, signs and more signs. You have to see it to believe it.

And on the Saturday of Memorial Day, the already impressive display is amplified by the car show on the museum’s grounds. There will be hundreds of cars lined up.

Go check it out from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Spomer Classics, 322 Oxford St. For more information, go to www.spomerclassics.com.

With such stellar weather in store for the three-day weekend, I expect there will be many outdoor gatherings — whether planned or impromptu. That thought got me looking through my salad recipes, and this one jumped out as a possibility for toting to any cookout that might pop up on our social calendar. I believe it was shared by friends Kevin and Kami Lease, who live in the greater Madison, Wis., area.

Smoky Chipotle Coleslaw

4 cups packed green cabbage, shredded

2 cups red cabbage, shredded

7 green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup cilantro or parsley (or combination of both)

For dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup light sour cream

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon molasses

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1 small chipotle pepper, minced, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from the can (more or less to taste)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix the dressing ingredients.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, green onion and 3/4 cup of the cilantro or parsley.

Pour the dressing over the salad, toss well and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Scatter remaining cilantro or parsley over the top before serving.




The spoils of potluck

IMG_2975.jpgNo, this isn’t the prettiest food picture I’ve ever posted. Far from it. But it’s the best I could do without some major doctoring in the wake of a school potluck.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, so the first-grade paraprofessionals at Prairie Elementary School put together a salad-dessert luncheon for our respective teachers. I had signed up to bring a dessert, and debated over what to tote to school. But eventually, my own love for chocolate won out.

Not too long ago, I combined my longtime favorite cake recipe with a recently discovered frosting recipe. In my opinion, the result was magical — and so easy to make! Since there was still some cake left (the dessert selection was glorious!) after the lunching was done, I moved the pan to the staff lounge. When school was dismissed, I stopped to pick up the “spoils of the potluck” as pictured above, and several people asked for the recipe, so now I am obliging.

The cake is a classic — Crazy Cake, a recipe that I’m sure is in many a church cookbook. I love it because I almost always have all the ingredients I need in my cupboard — it doesn’t even require eggs! — and I don’t have to get out my mixer or dirty a bowl. The ingredients are just dumped into and mixed up in the pan in which it is baked. The resulting cake is always moist, too.

The frosting is also a classic, but something I only recently tried — a ganache. Also incredibly easy.

Crazy Cake with Crazy Good Ganache Frosting

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa

1 (scant) teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 tablespoons vanilla

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 cups cold water

For frosting:

1 cup heavy cream

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a zip-lock plastic bag, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and soda. Shake to combine. Dump the mixture into a 9- by 13-inch pan. (Ingredients can also be dumped right into the pan, but I like the bag method; I sometimes mix the dry ingredients in advance.)

Make 3 indentations in the dry mixture. In the first, place the 2 tablespoons vanilla; in the second, 2/3 cup oil; in the third, 2 tablespoons vinegar. Pour the 2 cups cold water over the top and mix well, using a rubber spatula to get all the dry ingredients out of the bottom and corners. You will see bubbles form as a result of the vinegar and baking soda interaction; this is what makes the cake rise.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Make sure the cake is set in the middle.

Let cake cool.

For the frosting, heat the cream in a microwave safe bowl for about 2 minutes, just until boiling. Pour the chocolate chips into the cream, making sure they are all submerged. Let set for 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and continue to stir vigorously until the melted chips incorporate into the cream and the mixture is smooth. Pour over top of cake.




It’s all relative

On Friday, the life of my cousin, Clay Thompson, was celebrated during a memorial service in Phoenix, Ariz. I wasn’t able to attend, but my sister, Margaret, represented the Rickers’ branch of the family.

Clay was a writer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, most well known in recent years for his “Ask Clay” column in which he fielded questions from the reading public on a wide variety of subject matter. He was known for his dry humor and the slightly sarcastic tone of his column, which always made for an interesting read. 

Clay is my cousin on my mom’s side of the family — the Thompson clan — and since I was the baby of that lineage by quite a span of years, I can’t say we were particularly close. Most recently I had seen Clay at my Aunt Eleanor’s (his mom’s) 90th birthday party — before that it had been a couple of decades. Eleanor has since died, and Uncle Robert well before, but we still had in common those Thompson genes. And I always enjoyed reading 

claycookbook.jpgClay’s writings. When I remembered to go online to the Republic website, I could lose track of time as I chuckled at his responses to reader’s queries. I always admired his succinct editing of his own words. It’s something I strive for but have yet to conquer.

So when I learned of his death, I read the beautiful tributes written by some of his Republic colleagues, then I went to my cookbook shelf and pulled out the “Enormously Big Official Valley 101 Cookbook”  (it’s really not that big). Clay published this cookbook in 2009, interspersing excerpts of his columns (many food-related, of course) with recipes submitted by his readers along with a few family offerings. He sent me a copy after I gave permission for him to include a couple of DotMom’s “Mixing & Musing” recipes in it. He even autographed it: “Beth: I hope you think your mother would have enjoyed this. Fondly, Clay.”

She would have, Clay. She always took great pride in your writings. One of her friends who moved to Arizona often sent her clippings.

I chuckled my way through the pages, as he tackled such topics as “How hot does it actually have to be to cook an egg on the sidewalk?” “Does leaving a watermelon at room temperature allow it to ripen better?” and “Is it possible to make cheese from human breast milk?”

Then came the family section of recipes.

There are recipes from Clay’s ex-wife, Anne, Aunt Eleanor and DotMom, of course.

And last but not least, Aunt Laura. A shared memory.

Our Aunt Laura — actually Great Aunt Laura, as she was Uncle Robert’s and DotMom’s aunt, married to their mom’s brother, Uncle Willy. Clay describes Uncle Willy as looking sort of like Elmer Fudd — another chuckle, as I’d never considered the likeness, but it’s true. My one and only Willy memory is of him drinking Alka Seltzer during some sort of gathering at their house. Evidently I had never spied the fizzy stuff before that moment. It made an impression.

But I have more vivid memories of Aunt Laura, who outlived Willy by many years. Laura had perfectly coiffed red hair (a rinse, of course), was always dressed to receive company, and her house was also glamorous and spotless. She would ooh and aah over us when we came to visit, and she almost always served Prune Cake.

Yes, Prune Cake. A coffeecake. Clay included the recipe in his cookbook, although he recommends using apples in place of the prunes.

Aunt Laura was notorious for her prune cake. I’m sure it was delicious. I never tried it because I wasn’t about to ingest prunes. Prunes are off-putting to adolescents (and still now to this adult). But now that I know I can make it with apples, I may have to try her specialty, in memory of Cousin Clay.

Aunt Laura’s Prune Cake

(That Doesn’t Really Include Prunes)

2 packages dry yeast

½ cup lukewarm water

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

½ cup butter

1 cup milk, scalded

4 to 5 cups flour

2 eggs, beaten


2 small cans evaporated milk

¾ cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 prunes cut up (or apple slices)

5 maraschino cherries, cut up


2 tablespoons butter

1½ cups powdered sugar


Soften yeast in ½ cup lukewarm water. Add sugar, salt and butter to scalded milk. Stir until blended. Cool mixture to lukewarm. Add yeast and 1½ cups flour. Stir in beaten eggs and combine very well. Use an electric mixer to this point.

Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Let rest 10 minutes. Knead on a floured board until smooth and shiny. Place in greased bowl. Cover with damp towel and let rise in warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.

While dough rests, make filling: Cook evaporated milk, sugar and flour until sugar is well dissolved. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Set aside while you roll out the dough.

Divide dough into four pieces. Roll each piece out to fit an 8- or 9-inch pie or cake pan. Shape dough into greased pan. Let rise until double in bulk. Punch down deep all around the edges and over the center so filling has a place to go. Place 5 cut-up prunes and 5 cut-up maraschino cherries on the dough. Cover with the filling. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. When cool, spread or drizzle with frosting made of butter, powdered sugar and enough milk to make it spreadable. These freeze very well.


Ree & Me — Part 2: The Lodge

FullSizeRender (53)

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.

FullSizeRender (52)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 

FullSizeRender (60)

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.

FullSizeRender (59)

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.

FullSizeRender (56)

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!

FullSizeRender (58)

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.

FullSizeRender (55)

Ree’s collection of cast-iron pans is stored in the kitchen island where many of the scenes from the TV show are filmed.