BIIIG Changes Are Coming!
After a lot of thought, I have decided to make a substantial change to this website and the project.
For almost a year and after completing over 50 Barefoot Contessa recipes, I’ve hit a wall. I have been an Ina Garten fan since my childhood and I started this project because of my interest in her and her cooking style. However, eventually, I realized something about Ina Garten’s recipes: they are not who I am.
Meaning, they’re a little upscale. Many of the recipes call for expensive, “good” ingredients, she has recipes for a lot of things that I do not eat (pork and lamb, I’m looking at you!), and her taste buds are a little more “refined” than mine. Basically, her cooking and eating style does not match my own.
What Brought This On?
A few weeks ago, when I was creating the last few pages of the BC index, I was looking through the recipes and realized “Not a lot of these appeal to me…I don’t eat like this.” At least, until I got to the dessert chapters! I will always love Ina Garten but trying to make her recipes for the blog started to feel like work. Cooking and making food should be about joy. Not work. Plus, I don’t get much joy out of them. While they are tasty, it just isn’t food for me, at this stage of my life at least.
This is not to say that Ina is going away completely. The recipes that I have made will remain on the blog. However, soon I will be removing the Index pages (they never got a lot of traction anyway). I also plan to cook an Ina recipe every now and then. For example, I do still want to make her Chicken Marbella and some of her soups (especially in the winter!), and, as we all know, her desserts are fabulous.
Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything while working on those 50 recipes! I had some pitfalls along the way (here’s one of them!). But I also learned that “store bought” is fine! It’s okay to have some help from the local grocery store, the frozen food section, or a pre-packaged whatever.
So, Is the Blog Going Away?
Nope, not at all! I realized that I really enjoy blogging and making content. Even if it doesn’t happen as often as I would like. The Ina Garten Project has taught me that. The problem isn’t with blogging. It’s with what I was blogging about. Also, I wanted to blog about something different — something that may not have been done before.
Admittedly, I became discouraged when about five months into the project I came across an article online about a man from NYC who is almost done with his Barefoot Contessa cook-thru journey. He also has the lifestyle that allows him to cook the recipes more often than I can. But still, it made my efforts seem a little silly and worthless. He was clearly getting traction through his social media presence which is great for him. He also had a much better photography game than I do. I keep seeing a pattern with that….
At first I didn’t think reading about him would effect me too much. And at first, I don’t think it did. But soon I kept seeing his posts come up and more stories about him online. That’s when it did start to bother me. You may have noticed that the BC recipes don’t make as many appearances anymore. I started to include the Magnolia Bakery Handbook (learn more here) and I do truly enjoy making and blogging about those recipes more than the Ina ones.
So, What Am I Going to Blog About?
Enter the Pioneer Woman
For many years now, I’ve become really obsessed with the Pioneer Woman (AKA Ree Drummond). I love her cooking show, her cookbooks are just simply gorgeous, and her blog (before it was operated by her magazine’s publisher) was #bloggoals. On top of it all, her food is much more approachable and appeals to a different market (aka me!). I also feel like I have a different connection to the Pioneer Woman than I do to Ina Garten.
Over the last few weeks, my eyes have been drawn to the part of my cookbook shelf where the Pioneer Woman cookbooks live. To date, Ree has published six cookbooks. However, later this year she will publishing her seventh book and I can already tell, I think it will be her best one yet! The announcement on her personal website (click here to read it) includes a number of photos of the recipes from the book. They all look so tasty and, given the book’s title, will be a cinch to make. I can’t wait to try that cake!
My copy is already pre-ordered! While each of Ree’s books typically have about fifty percent more recipes than Ina Garten cookbooks, there are less recipes overall since she hasn’t published as many books — or at least not yet but with her upcoming seventh cookbook, she is now more than halfway there! Including the new cookbook, I think Ree’s total cookbook recipe count will be around 800 (give or take, it’s been a while since I’ve counted them all!)
I’ve always said “Ina’s books are coffee table books with great recipes and great photography, but Ree’s cookbooks tell a story — a story about her life and her family.” And I started to realize that at this point in my life, that’s what I enjoy.
I have been working on my own version of her recipe index, similar to the PDF version of the one Ina Garten has available on her website. I plan to post it to the blog once it’s done and I’ll update it with the recipes from the new book once I have my hands on it.
I even considered starting a completely different blog for this project. I even had a title picked out that I thought was funny: Ryan Cooks the Pioneer Woman. But then I decided that I don’t want to have to rebuild my following and all the work and effort that goes into starting a new website. In the end, I’m going to treat the PW recipes the same as I’ve been treating the Barefoot Contessa and Magnolia Bakery ones. They will just be posted in the sense of “PW #X – Title.
With the decision to switch gears (chefs?), I decided I’m going to be adding some new things to the recipe review posts:
- A rating of the recipe on a scale of 1 to 5
- Pitfalls that occurred while making it
- Things that I would change if I make it again
- I’m going to try (!!) to mention the episode of the cooking show the recipe is featured on. (More on this in a later post)
- More photography (we’ll see how this one goes!)
Think of this change as an expansion to The Kitchen Journal. I hope you’ll stick around for some of these great recipes. The few that I’ve made in the past have not let me down! Also they won’t be counted for this project. Sorry, family, we’re have the eat the delectable Lasagna Roll Ups again!
The Long and the Short of It All
Over the next few weeks, The Kitchen Journal is getting a refresh — Ina Garten is taking a serious back-burner and Ree Drummond is moving in. The Magnolia Bakery Handbook will still be featured and cooked-through. After all, Ree isn’t much of a baker and I love my desserts!
Check back for the first PW post, dropping on September 1!
Wow, this a long post. If you’ve stuck with it till the end, I should make you cookies!