After filming more than 200 episodes of Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond's become a regular on camera — but that doesn't mean she feels totally comfortable in front of it. Or that she doesn't cringe a little when she watches herself on-screen.
"I'm my own worst critic," the blogger-turned-Food-Network-star admitted.
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It's taken her some time to get used to the spotlight, so when she was named as the face of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, a competition that can start the clock on the average home cook's 15 minutes of fame, we had to get her advice on baking under pressure — and managing it all. Over barbecue chicken empanadas and coffee, Drummond opened up about fear-quitting, baking a difference, and the "book" of phrases she'll no longer say on TV.
At TheNextTycoon, we talk a lot about fear-quitting — about starting new projects and getting so overwhelmed with a prospect that you come up with a million reasons why you can't do it.
"Yeah, that's a real thing, isn't it?"
Yeah. With all of the projects you've taken on, were there ever any moments when you wanted to be like, "I'm quitting. I can't. I'm not going to do this"?
"All the time, yes. Absolutely, you know, when I first talked to Food Network about doing a TV show, I was a food blogger. I was very much behind the camera. I'm definitely not someone who ever thought about being a TV personality or anything like that, so when we first started discussing the possibility of my having a cooking show, I did balk a little bit. You know, I just didn't really see how, but decided to give it a try when they offered to come out to the ranch. When I realized it wouldn't be me traveling and going to a studio somewhere, I thought, I'm never more comfortable than I am at home in my home kitchen, so I'll give it a try. So, of course, I'd like the first 15 episodes to be stricken from the record."
Why was that?
"Oh, I was so green. If I ever catch one on TV, from time to time, I'm just like, 'wow.' I had no clue. I still feel like some days I'm not sure what I'm doing, but I really didn't know what I was doing then. But that's all part of the process. It's really all about sharing — I found a way to share my life on the ranch. Not just my life, but my kids' and my husband's. I'm glad that's what the show is about; not just me."
Is there anything you learned the hard way?
"Everything. I mean, when you watch TV — I actually watched Food Network back when I was having babies, back in the late '90s. Every now and then, you pick up on a repetitive phrase, and you wonder, 'Why don't they hear themselves saying that?' Now, I have a book of repetitive phrases. I have banned phrases for myself."
Wait — what?! What are some of your banned phrases?
"'My absolute favorite.' Not everything can be my favorite, but for some reason, everything is on my show. When I love something, I just say it's my favorite. 'Absolutely scrumptious' or the word 'just' — 'I'm just gonna,' 'I'm just gonna stir,' 'I'm just gonna add.' I'm my own worst critic."
I feel like I'm a 'so' person. I start every sentence with 'so, now...'
"It's a crutch. It is. When we're terrified, we rely on crutches, but you know, it's all part of the journey of life."
How do you combat nerves?
"Oh, gosh. I'm a pretty outgoing person, but I get stage fright, especially if I have a speaking engagement. I get panicky. This sounds like an Oklahoma thing to say, but I always pray before any sort of speaking engagement, because it sort of removes myself from the equation. I try to take the focus away from me, because if I focus on me, it's all over. I focus on what I hope people will take away, so I focus on the message, and less on me."
If you could enter the Bake-Off, what would you enter?
"Barbecue chicken and pineapple hand pies. They're made with Pillsbury biscuits, and they're rolled out, just like empanada dough. It's chicken breasts, small pieces, with barbecue sauce, fresh pineapple, fresh bell pepper, pepper jack cheese — lots of pepper — and green onions. ... The recipes don't have to be elaborate. Elaborate can sort of work against you. ... It's about creating a simple, doable recipe that has a great story behind it and maybe a little interesting curveball."
Women, we take on all the burdens of everyone, whether it's our kids, our families, our community. We tend to say yes too much.
When it comes to baking, Murphy's Law definitely applies, where what can go wrong will go wrong. What's your biggest baking fail?
"Probably my biggest fail was less of a baking fail and more of a dessert fail. I made green tea ice cream from scratch. ... I didn't know this, but I hadn't shut my freezer all the way. I opened the freezer and not only was everything in the freezer ruined — beef and everything — but I had this sludge to serve my guests. It was good-tasting sludge, but it wasn't that beautiful green ice cream I had imagined.
"But yeah, I burn things. That's probably my biggest fault in the kitchen — I get distracted. I think, 'ah, I don't need to set a timer,' then I start watching Facebook videos on my phone, or watching Real Housewives or something, and then it's all over."
With all of these projects in the works, how do you decide what to take on, without spreading yourself too thin?
"That's such an important question. I don't mean to sound like men aren't busy, but women, we take on all the burdens of everyone, whether it's our kids, our families, our community. We tend to say yes too much. I did learn, a few years ago, the fine art of saying no — graciously — but saying no, because I've been able to look forward several months and picture being in that desperate state where you can't get it all done and you can't be there for the people you love. So I'm pretty good at saying no, and what I say yes to are the things that are authentic to me.
"... I have learned that if I say yes to everything, I will be more of a crazy person than I already am. I've found that the worst thing is to say yes to something that doesn't feel right, because then you're busy and having to balance something you don't really believe in. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. It's okay to say no, and make choices, and preserve your resources, so you have what you need to give to the people you love."
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