Living in the Middle of Nowhere and Embracing My Inner Pioneer Woman

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I’ve lived in 5 different cities so far in my life: Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Houston, Monticello (Arkansas), and most recently, the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in South Texas.  The RGV  is a huge metropolitan complex of cities and suburbs stretching 80 miles from La Joya to Brownsville.  Needless to say there were never-ending options for eating out and we enjoyed them weekly!

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Baked venison, black bean and green chile tacos.

Now we’ve moved to what I consider the middle of nowhere (although I know it could be a LOT more remote).  Our nearest “big city” (read: has a Walmart) is Williston, ND which is about an hour+ drive through oil field traffic.  In our little town we have a gas station with an expanded food section (canned goods, snacks, etc) but our real grocery store is 23 miles away.  Also, we lost our second income when we moved.  So we HAVE to cook a lot!

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Baked Monte Cristo sandwiches using puffed pastry.

Therefore I am embracing my inner Pioneer Woman.  No, I’m not churning my own butter or anything.   I am inspired daily by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.  If you’ve never heard of The Pioneer Woman, its worth your time to explore her website and cooking blog, and watch her tv show on The Food Network.  She’s an excellent writer, photographer and chef.  She cooks for her family of 6 (and them some!) so her meals are easy, big, and kid-friendly.   I love Ree’s blog because she photographs EVERY step of the process, including dicing the onions which I didn’t know how to do before!  Her foods are simple and easy to customize.  My palette is NOT sophisticated.  I don’t like strange ingredients or rich desserts.  I love to watch Top Chef but the fancy food they cook usually wouldn’t interest me in person.

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Fresh duck breast ready to go into my mom’s gumbo!

Even though I grew up in a city, eating out was a special treat.  My mom and dad cooked regularly.  But I didn’t learn to cook.  My mom wanted me to always focus on school and developing interests and passions and the domestic stuff wasn’t really a concern.  So as I grew older  and became more independent, I relied on frozen and fast food more and more.  I learned to cook a few things when living with my best friend in college (who is a natural in the kitchen).  But I didn’t really begin to embrace cooking until I got married.

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Grilled venison backstrap, roasted squash, zuchini and sweet potatoes, and conrbread from scratch. A family effort!

Drew taught me a lot about cooking the basics like chicken and ground meat.  We are lucky to have our own supply of meat from the game we kill.  This mostly includes waterfowl and deer.

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Drew grinding deer into ground meat to be used for just about anything!

Other things I’ve learned to cook are from the internet- mostly blog recipes found on Pinterest.    I have enjoyed cooking more at our home here in Montana.  We have a nice big, open kitchen.  I like making breakfast and dessert the most!

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Homemade “poptarts” (although Drew said they were more like Toaster Strudel, yah).

You can follow along with the recipes I have tried and would like to try on 3 of my Pinterest boards: Food for Life, Sweets and Treats, and Primal and Paleo.

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