I have a girl-crush on Ree Drummond. Just a little one. She lives in a big beautiful ranch house containing my dream kitchen and seems to just cook all day. (I know she also homeschools her kids, but I just read her cooking blog, so to me, it seems like she cooks all day. Even if she doesn’t.) She takes the most beautiful pictures of the most heavenly looking food and food preparation. She seems to be making a successful career out of home cooked food and blogging. Every so often, I get just a wee might jealous.
I drool over her blog all. the. time. But I had never actually made anything from it. So, when I had a craving for ketchup but knew we didn’t have a box of mac and cheese at home (yes, I will happily eat mac and cheese out of a box. Remember, not a foodie!), I did a quick search of her blog and found a recipe that seemed to have a bit of a twist and didn’t require a stop at the grocery store. And this mac and cheese came out of the oven looking and smelling absolutely delicious.
It was cheesy, creamy… You can’t go wrong, right? Especially when this is the Pioneer Woman we’re talking about!
Not so much. Yes, it was good. But I can’t say anything beyond that. It was OK. A decent backdrop for my Heinz. As I took the first bite, I realized I had wanted a mac and cheese that didn’t require ketchup, that would blow me away on first bite with cheesy delight. I expected if anyone could deliver, it would definitely be Ree. But it was just… lack luster.
It might be my fault. Maybe I used tablespoons of ground mustard instead of teaspoons? I found it a little grainy almost. And underneath the graininess, a little, well… flavourless.
This brings up an issue with the world of cooking and of blogging about cooking. How are you supposed to know before you begin a recipe that it’s actually going to be something you enjoy? You don’t. Choosing a recipe to create in your own kitchen, whether its from a blog or an in-print cookbook has a lot to do with trust. You need to trust the creator of that recipe and have confidence in the choice of ingredients. This is why I mostly boycott Allrecipes. I don’t trust the contributors to test their recipes over and over again to ensure they have the right combination of flavours. And yet, I tend to trust bloggers like the Pioneer Woman and Deb at Smitten Kitchen and Elissa at 17 and Baking (even though she’s only 18). I think the difference between food bloggers and recipe conglomerates like Allrecipes is in what they share: food bloggers are sharing not just a recipe, but their lives. The trust is built not through amazing food (though it is often amazing) but through the invitation into their lives, their homes, their kitchens.
I still trust Ree Drummond to make delicious food even though this particular recipe was just OK. But I know she’s not perfect. She doesn’t have to be.
(Want to try her mac and cheese and see if you can be successful with it? Check it out — and her beautiful photography and quirky commentary — here. To make it like mine, just add a pound of browned ground beef to the mix before you pop it in the oven. A few veggies probably couldn’t hurt either, if you want it to be a well-rounded dinner.)