Thanks to Vera for her very astute recap of Saturday’s Pioneer Woman 16 Minute Scrumptious Meals episode or as HarperCollins would say, a preview of Drummond’s upcoming 2015 crookbook. Pity poor Missy who stood in as this week’s patsy.
Saturday, Ree showed us several recipes that she deems “lifesavers” because they are ready in 16 minutes. No explanation of why 16 minutes or how they would actually save anybody’s life. We start with Ree in The Lodge wearing a very bright blue and purple blouse. She says that everybody else is working – her family and her husband’s brother’s family – so she and her sister-in-law Missy are going to have a relaxed lunch together. I am sure all the others, who are supposedly outdoors doing hard ranch work, are so happy that these two ladies of leisure are able to kick back and enjoy a relaxed lunch.
She starts off by putting two huge chicken breasts in an iron skillet and sprinkling taco seasoning on them. She brags about getting them into the pan without touching them and says something about how wonderful taco seasoning is, since you don’t have to mess with a lot of other flavorings. Personally, I think taco seasoning tastes like salt (since that’s the main ingredient) and I don’t even use it to make tacos, but obviously, I am not Ree. She moves on to talk about the wonders of bottled salad dressing and how you can add other things to jarred ranch dressing to make it into whatever kind of dressing you like. Have her producers been watching old episodes of Semi-Homemade Cooking? Because taco seasoning and doctoring up packaged foods were two of Sandra Lee’s favorite tricks. We jump to a flashback of the salad dressing doctoring. Ree adds blue cheese, herbs, sun dried tomatoes and salsa to four different dishes of ranch dressing, which makes them look just as bad as you think they would. Sorry, but I hate ranch dressing and adding blue cheese to it doesn’t make it blue cheese dressing. Adding other ingredients to turn it green or pink is just gross. We cut to Missy driving a huge white SUV towards Ree’s house. Jump back to Ree with some raw ears of corn that she’s going to grill for the salad. But first, she wants to add some flavor, so she rolls them around in the greasy pan where she cooked the chicken. What? Did she ever say what the chicken was cooked in? I actually rewound and checked – she just dropped the two chicken breasts into an inch of grease in the skillet. A quick side trip to FN’s website confirms that it was a quarter cup of vegetable oil and two tablespoons of butter, to cook two boneless skinless chicken breasts. Wow, that’s a lot of oil to brown some chicken. And now she’s rolling the corn on the cob around in it? Yuck! The corn is moved from the frying pan to a grill pan and we speed up to a montage of her quickly prepping the other salad ingredients (thank God, since she has no discernible knife skills and her stabbing at ingredients with that Japanese knife is painful to watch). She takes the corn off the grill pan and crows about the grill marks on it, although she is holding it up to the camera and it has no grill marks that I can see. There is some blather about her and Missy and how much they love “girl talk” (why do I think she really means gossip?), more salad prep, then Missy arrives. She comes into the kitchen and makes a comment about the salad being healthy and Ree laughs and dumps a bunch of broken tortilla chips on top of it. That will teach you, Missy! They haul the salad outside into the perpetual windstorm and sit at that same picnic table on the porch. A long shot of Ree and Missy shows that they are roughly the same size and both wearing billowy tops that are now flowing in the wind and, yeah, I doubt either one of them has ever done a hard day’s work in her life. Missy is telling some inane story about the first time she met Ree and she ordered a restaurant meal of a chicken omelet that tasted like fish – yeah, I didn’t get it either, but they both laughed like it was the funniest thing, ever, and we are out to the first commercial.
We are back to Ree, in the pantry showcasing all her jarred sauces and dried pasta. Now, she is wearing a different pink flowy top. She enters the kitchen and talks about how she has to make a quick lunch so she can run out and pick up her boys. Yeah, because that camera crew just happened to show up and film this quick segment and they are going to stand around and wait while you go off to do errands. OK, then. She says she going to make a pasta dish that’s meat-free and the whacky carnival music kicks in. She’s going to cook onions and garlic in olive oil and butter. She throws the onion into the pan; literally, it bounces. She’s talking about her website and the most popular recipes, which are the quick meals, and she starts again about “lifesavers”. She’s really appealing to her audience’s sense of desperation, although I don’t know how telling people to cook pasta and jarred sauce is some magical solution. Don’t most people already know this? She dumps a jar of roasted red peppers into the frying pan and they are popping like crazy. The heat is too high, Ree! She finally notices and turns the flame down a bit but, geez, doesn’t she know you don’t have to cook everything on high? She moves the now-fried peppers and onions into a blender, claps the top on and hits the puree button. No warning about the pressure build up from the heat, no loosening of the small cap in the blender lid, no towel on top. I am waiting for the blender to explode, but no such luck. She yells over the noise of the blender about the color of the sauce. Yes, it’s pink, OK, Ree, calm down. She pours the sauce out of the blender and back into the skillet, which is still screaming hot, so it is popping like crazy. She dumps chicken stock, heavy cream, chopped herbs and parmesan cheese into the pan – what, no green can parm? – then drags the insert out of the pasta pan across the counter, slopping water all the way. She serves up a plate of pasta and takes it outside to the table in the wind tunnel. I have to pause the recording and gag, because one of her dogs is SITTING ON TOP OF THE TABLE! Gross! It’s a basset hound – do you know how bad they smell?! And she sits the plate down right in front of the dog and eats and talks to the dog up close. Oh, thank God they cut to commercial, so I can pull myself together.
Back to The Lodge, Ree is in a black shirtain, frying hamburger in a pan. She says she’s making French bread pizzas for the family and she using mini-baguettes but they are really deli rolls. Well, which is it? Apparently I have not fully recovered from the dog-on-the-table thing because I can’t really follow what she’s doing. They keep cutting back and forth from her putting various and sundry things onto the rolls and Ladd and two kids driving in from someplace and the other two kids playing in the yard. She puts sliced mozzarella on most of the rolls – apparently the cheese selection at her local store has improved significantly? – and ham and pineapple on some and marinara and ground beef for a taco pizza? That one will get chopped lettuce on top, then she puts jarred pesto on one and she’s going to make a chopped Greek salad to put on another. The chopping and the pizza making and the cutting back and forth to Ladd and the kids are all done at such a frenetic pace, I can’t keep up. She loads all the bread with stuff on top onto a pan and bangs it into the oven. Yes, she literally bangs it and, yes, it’s on the top rack in the oven. Some things never change. Out to commercial.
Back to Ladd and two kids still riding in a truck, talking about how they haven’t eaten all day. Well, where were they? Why didn’t they eat while they were out? What??? Cut to the other kids tossing a football in the yard. Each pair is a boy and a girl but they all look alike to me and I really don’t care enough to figure out who is who. Back in the kitchen, Ree makes the chopped salad and the family arrives via the back door. They all line up around the kitchen island and grab the limp, droopy pizzas made on soft deli rolls (there’s a reason you are supposed to use French bread, Ree!) and they stand in the kitchen and eat. The End.
There is no explanation given at all as to why 16 minutes. Does she have a book in the works and this is an early PR effort for that? In what way does a salad, a bowl of pasta or a droopy pizza constitute a meal? Is that really all they eat when they are supposedly starving from not eating all day? Why all the costume changes? She used to wear the same thing through the whole show. Are they piecing together out-takes to make extra episodes? And where did all these new episodes come from? Wasn’t she supposed to go into reruns a while ago? Inquiring minds want to know, Ree!