The Pioneer Women – My current inspiration!

Do you ever read a magazine or see something on TV that gets your creative juices going? Over the years I have!

In previous years it’s been Jamie’s 15 minute meals, The Hairy Bikers and of course not forgetting, Ready Steady Cook.

My current favourite has to be The Pioneer Women. I’m totally hooked. I’ve even series linked all her episodes.

So who is The Pioneer Women? Ree Drummond! I love her nick name Ree. Her real name is Ann Marie. My own name is Maria but have always been known as Marie to my family. As a kid my nickname was Me Me. My nieces still call me it. Ree is such a great nickname for Marie!

Ree seems to have an amazing life, living on a ranch in Oklahoma in America. She is married to a real cowboy – Ladd – and has 4 children. How romantic does that sound?

Her cooking is every day cooking from dinners to desserts, to things that keep the kids happy!

She always starts the programme with the phrase ‘welcome to my frontier’.

Ree started off blogging about her time on the ranch back in 2006. Her blogs have even won awards.

In 2011 The Food Network awarded her her own Series called what else – The Pioneer Women!

She prepares every day meals from chicken pie, pork ribs, chicken dinner, pork chops to easy desserts and cakes in her lodge. I think she is now up to series 20!

What I love about her is that she showcases her food in such a way that you can easily transfer that to your own kitchen. She doesn’t use fancy gadgets, just everyday pots and pans like we have.

You have to sometimes translate some of the ingredients as we call some things a different name here in the UK.

I love sitting down in the evening and catching up on an episode. Last night she did a beef stroganoff. I haven’t done one for ages. It’s definitely something I’m planning for next week now.

Now when I say she inspires me, that is exactly what she does. I wouldn’t cook her meals exactly to her recipe as she uses ingredients I wouldn’t, because I’m on Slimming World. Don’t get me wrong, her cooking is amazing and my hubby would eat them just as they are. I just need to shift a few pounds as you know, so a tweak would be needed for me.

She uses cream, butter, oil and salt. All things I wouldn’t use. This is where the inspiration comes in! I look at what she makes and try to work out how I can do it for me on Slimming World. Most things can of course be changed. There are some things she makes though that you definately wouldn’t want to mess with, like her chocolate episode! Marshmallows covered in chocolate and cookie pieces! I think my nieces would have a great time making those.

On the whole though, her recipes easily transfer into syn free versions. This is what I love about cooking. Taking great ideas and making them your own.

I’d love to cook alongside Ree and create great meals together that taste good but work for Slimming World too. Obviously that isn’t her cooking style or requirement. I should image with the work they do on the ranch, they soon burn off any calories.

Ree is such a natural presenter. It’s like a friend showing you how they cooked dinner tonight. She is so easy to watch and I’m also loving following her life on the ranch. Watching her children growing up and going off to college!

If you haven’t seen her programme before, go along to The Food Network and check her out! Maybe she will inspire you to get into the kitchen too!

Did Black Friday put you in the red?

Yesterday was the annual Black Friday, but what is Black Friday?  It comes from America, and is the informal name for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day.  It is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November. 

Black Friday, since 1952, is said to be the beginning of American’s Christmas shopping season.   As has happened over here, they too have experienced horror stories of people fighting each other for those bargains.  People have been known to queue up all night, in the hope to get that great deal.

So is Black Friday really what we all hope it will be?

I have to say, I don’t buy into all the hype!  At lot of stores have great deals all year round now. There probably is the odd deal going, but I honestly don’t believe that we will all go shopping on that one day of the year, and make great savings!

Firstly, how many of you yesterday went shopping just because it was Black Friday?  I would probably say, quite a few.  I work in the centre of Birmingham.  You could really see the increase of people on the streets, as I fought to make my way to the station last night.

Secondly, how many people bought things they didn’t plan to buy?  Again, probably quite a few!  This group of people are the ones who will think they have had a fabulous deal, but in actual fact they haven’t!

The reason I say this, is that they have actually spent money they were not planning on spending, on something they probably didn’t need.  For example, say you are one of those people who has gone shopping just because they think they could get a bargain.  They go into a shop and see this massive sign saying that a TV was £500 yesterday, but today its £300.  You have to buy it.  I mean, that is a bargain and in their head, they are saving £200.  Stop and think about that again!

In actual fact, they have just spent £300 they were not planning to spend, so in fact they haven’t saved money, the exact opposite.

The same goes for smaller items.  Just because something has been reduced, doesn’t make it a bargain.

Next time you go shopping, and you spot those big signs, telling you of a bargain, stop and think.  Ask yourself, do you want it? Do you need it?  If it wasn’t on offer, would you even have looked at it?  If the answer is no, then step away!

Supermarkets have been doing this for many years.  Have you noticed when you walk in the door, there in front of you are ‘todays offers’!   How many times have you bought biscuits because they were on offer, or buy 1 get 1 free?

Would you have bought them if they were not on offer?  If not, you didn’t get a great deal did you?  What has happened, is that you have spent more money than you planned to.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great bargains out there.  If you are genuinely looking to buy something, and it has been discounted, go for it.  I know I did get a bargain myself yesterday.  Not because I was caught in the hype.  It was something I have been wanting to buy for a few weeks.  I had a discount voucher which was running out yesterday, so I just looked on the off chance that it might be reduced.  Bonus it was, so I bought it.

I can honestly say, I did get a bargain, as I would have bought it anyway.

Black Friday now seems to last for a good week, so you have plenty of temptations to test you. How will you do? We all love a bargain, just as long as it really was one!  

Enjoy your shopping but just remember not to get carried away!