Even if you haven't seen her actual show on the Food Network, chances are, you've encountered Ree Drummond somewhere. She got her start with her blog documenting her home-cooking adventures out on her family's ranch, and the popularity of her blog led to her Food Network deal. Then, she began writing cookbooks, putting her name on cookware and kitchen accessories and more. Now, The Pioneer Woman is a full on lifestyle brand — in fact, we wouldn't be surprised if she took after Rachael Ray and ended up with her own television show at some point. Right now, her hands are probably pretty full with her kids, but perhaps once they've all flown the nest she'll add another major project to her plate. Goodness knows the ones she's tackled so far have all been wildly successful!
One of the big appeals about her show is that her food isn't too fussy, and it doesn't seem unattainable for the average home cook. It's good, simple food that she can serve up to her hubby after a long day out on the ranch. She's not lunching in the Hamptons with her ritzy friends, or whipping up complex masterpieces. It's good old fashioned food — and the audience seems to love it.
However, have you ever wondered exactly who Ree Drummond was before she became The Pioneer Woman? Well, we've got a bit of insight for you — she's definitely got an interesting story.
Here are 20 things you may not have known about Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.
20 Her First Food Network Appearance Was A Throwdown Against Bobby Flay
Did you know that Ree Drummond once appeared on the Food Network, far before she ever got her gig as the Pioneer Woman? Way back in 2010, she showed off her culinary skills by going head to head with chef Bobby Flay for an episode of Throwdown! Not only did she hold her own against the Food Network staple during the Thanksgiving-themed episode — she actually won! Obviously not every winner of Throwdown! gets their own television show, but we imagine it probably didn't hurt to see her on-screen presence and ability to command an audience. I mean, the woman has some major skills!
19 Her High Energy Personality Is Probably Because She Loves Coffee
Ree is always full of energy and a positive attitude, and a lot of that comes down to one vice — coffee. Apparently, coffee is her absolute favourite, from the actual brewed treat itself to any kind of dessert that incorporates the flavour. When asked about whether she's team coffee or team tea, her response to Food Network was "COFFEE, in caps." That's a fan! Given her love for java, we're surprised she hasn't decided to open up a cafe yet — although perhaps she's waiting to slowly expand the storefront business parts of her empire. You definitely don't want to tackle too much, too quickly.
18 She Recently Got Into The Hotel Business
Okay, this one is more a venture between her and her husband, but still — it's pretty neat. Apparently, she and her hubby decided that her shop, The Pioneer Woman Mercantile, wasn't enough to keep them busy. They decided to add to their Oklahoma empire by buying a hotel in downtown Pawuska, Oklahoma, which they're renovating. It's not a massive hotel — around eight suites in a historic building — but that's still quite the addition to their already booming business! At least you know the food would be delicious if she decides to incorporate a restaurant or room service menu — or even just some amazing breakfast every morning.
17 Her Go-To Weekend Meal Is Roasted Chicken Legs
On her show, Drummond frequently cooks up multi-course meals or lavish spreads for parties she's hosting. We have to admit, though, we're curious about the types of meals she cooks on a busy weeknight when she just needs to feed her family quickly before they rush off to another activity. Luckily, she spilled her secrets with Food Network, confessing that her go-to meal for a busy weeknight is roasted chicken legs, paired with whatever seasonal veggies she has on hand. Many people go straight for the white meat when cooking chicken, but the legs can be much more flavourful — we totally approve of Ree's weeknight go-t0.
16 She Loves To Watch Movies While She Cooks
Whether she's recipe testing or even just making meals for her family, Ree spends a lot of time in the kitchen — so how does she keep herself entertained? While many people love to listen to music while they're cooking, or even put on a great podcast, Ree loves to cue up some good old fashioned movies to keep her company while she's stirring away at a pot of something bubbling on the stove top. And, no, she's not just watching Westerns — she lists The Godfather and Napoleon Dynamite as two of her favourite movies. Talk about some majorly eclectic taste!
15 Ree Isn't Her Real Name
The name Ree suits Drummond to a tee, and it's not a crazy enough name that you'd assume it was fake — but it turns out, her actual name isn't Ree Drummond. According to her birth certificate, her first name is Ann Marie, and she simply goes by the nickname Ree. We have to admit, as far as nicknames go, it's pretty cute — and there's certainly something catchier about Ree Drummond than Ann Marie Drummond. Between that, and billing herself as the Pioneer Woman from the very beginning, one thing is for sure — the woman definitely knows her branding! We have to give her props for that.
14 Before Meeting Her Husband, She Was A Total City Girl
Given how comfortable and at home Ree always seems out on the ranch, you'd assume she was a country girl, born and raised. Sure, she may not have grown up on a working ranch, but surely she grew up somewhere rural, right? Well, not exactly. It turns out, before she fell for her husband, she lived in big cities — and we're talking about Chicago and Los Angeles, not just big city Oklahoma. However, her family is originally from Oklahoma, and she met her hubby when she was having a drink in an Oklahoma bar before heading off to Chicago. Talk about a crazy love story!
13 She's Passionate About Homeschooling
Food and cooking aren't the only things that Ree is passionate about — she's also a huge advocate for home schooling and the benefits it can have on children. In fact, her website actually has a section that shares tools and resources for parents looking to homeschool their children — it's not all just recipes! She's apparently homeschooled all four of her children at some point, and while things may be a little bit different now that she's got a busy empire to run, it's still a huge part of who she is and what she believes in. Those kids probably have the best school lunches ever!
12 She Absolutely Hates Bananas
Ree has made a lot of recipes over the years, but there's one thing you won't see her eating — even if she uses the ingredient in a recipe. Bananas. Apparently, Ree can't stand "anything remotely related to bananas. Banana splits, banana cream pie, banana bread... I want nothing to do with them." Crazy! Hey, we all have our preferences. She must have to enlist her family to taste test any of the banana-centric recipes she makes to ensure they're up to her standard — she has a pretty popular banana bread recipe that we're surprised she hasn't sampled for quality control. Although, if she can't stand bananas, she probably wouldn't be the best judge!
11 She Used To Be A Ballerina
Drummond is just full of surprises! While she probably never envisioned she'd end up falling for a rancher and living out on a ranch, did you know that Drummond once thought she might grow up to become a ballerina? She seriously studied ballet from the time she was four years old until she was a teenager, and considered it a major part of her adolescence. She certainly carries herself with a degree of grace — now we know why! She left her ballet days behind her, but who knows — perhaps she enjoys the odd dance class in Oklahoma to take her back to her roots.
10 She Was A Vegetarian Once — But Not For Long
Ree is often cooking for her kids or her hungry rancher hubby, and so she serves up plenty of protein-packed meaty meals — and seems to heartily enjoy that kind of food herself. We can't imagine her going plant-based, but actually, there was a time in college where she gave vegetarianism a try. Hey, she was in California, she was young, she was experimenting! She didn't end up sticking with it for long, and we have to admit, we're kind of grateful for that — so many of her best recipes are meat-based, it would be tough to get only veggie options from her kitchen!
9 In Addition To The Pioneer Woman, She Has Another Website
Though The Pioneer Woman is her most successful project, it's actually not even the only website that Ree Drummond has. Once she figured out the formula to success for a food-based website with her original blog, she decided to expand her empire by launching TastyKitchen.com, which was designed for her readers to share their own recipes. So, they could make the recipes she shared on The Pioneer Woman, than share all the things they themselves crafted while having fun in the kitchen. Seems like a pretty smart idea on her part! Obviously those recipes aren't as tried and true as her own, but it's still a great resource for her readers.
8 She Studied Journalism And Gerontology
Drummond didn't grow up knowing she would become a chef one day — in fact, culinary school didn't even enter her mind as a possibility. When she decided to attend college after graduating high school, she packed her bags and headed to the University of Southern California without much of a plan. At first, she thought journalism would be her passion — however, partway through her degree, she switched her focus to gerontology. We're not sure exactly how she's applying her college skills to her life today, but hey — every experience adds a little something to your life, and she probably got a lot out of her college experience.
7 She's Passionate About Photography
It kind of goes hand in hand with having a food blog that's known for capturing detailed photographs of recipes at every stage, but did you know that Drummond is super passionate about photography? In addition to all the recipes she shares on her site, she also has a section where she has tutorials and tips for photographers who are just starting out — and even asks her fans to share their photos with her. We love that she doesn't limit her passion only to cooking — she has many interests, and loves to incorporate all of them into her site whenever possible.
6 She Keeps Her Pantry Super Organized
Given how much time she spends cooking, it makes sense that Drummond would want to make sure all her ingredients are easily found and easily accessible. So, even though she has a busy life and a lot to look after on a daily basis, she always makes sure that her pantry is organized. Plus, between her show filming and taking pictures for her website, she has to make sure that the pantry is always camera-ready. It's far easier to just keep it tidy and organized at all times than to worry about having to clean it up every time a camera needs to get in there.
5 She Always Has Very, Very Hot Chilli Peppers In Her Fridge
You may not assume it based on the US staples she so often cooks in her kitchen, but one of the go-to items in Ree's fridge is super, super hot chilli peppers. Apparently, she loves adding a little kick to her dishes, and though you can certainly add spices like cayenne and chilli pepper, nothing quite compares to the actual thing. While she likely doesn't make dishes super spicy when she's cooking for her children, if it's something just for her and her hubby, she's probably cranking the spice level up quite a bit. Hey, who doesn't like a little heat in their food?
4 She Sleeps Too Soundly To Bother With Midnight Snacking
Many Food Network fans likely remember the classic scene that would come after just about every episode of one of Nigella Lawson's shows where she'd raid the fridge for a bit of a midnight snack. However, you won't see that kind of scene on Ree's show — apparently, she sleeps far too soundly to be bothered with any kind of midnight snacking. Though she may not be as involved with the day to day operations of the ranch as her hubby is, she still seems to rise with him every day, even if that means a 4 am wake up call — so, at the end of a busy day, she's probably ready to fall asleep the minute her head hits the pillow!
3 She's Team Chocolate All The Way
If Ree could choose any flavour in the world, we know she'd go for coffee — however, if she had to choose simply between chocolate or vanilla, the television star is apparently team chocolate. Vanilla is a nice flavour, but it lacks the flavour punch and decadence that great chocolate has — plus, espresso and coffee beautifully complement and bring out the flavours of chocolate, so she could likely sneak some of her favourite flavour in there for good measure. From ice cream to cakes to cookies, Ree is all about chocolate, and we can't blame her — after all, who doesn't love chocolate?
2 She Calls Her Husband 'Marlboro Man'
Ree's hubby Ladd Drummond may not appear on every episode of The Pioneer Woman, but he does show up quite often. After all, the show is all about giving a glimpse into Ree's life, and that includes the running of the ranch. However, did you know that she has an adorable nickname for her hubby — "Marlboro Man." As she wrote in her book about their first meeting, "he was tall, strong and mysterious, sipping bottled beer and wearing jeans and cowboy boots." We love that the nickname she came up with all those years ago has stuck — talk about a cute couple!
1 She Once Wrote A Children's Book
Ree has countless cookbooks under her belt at this point, but that's not the only time she's put pen to paper. She's also entered the world of children's books, penning a few volumes about her family's basset hound, Charlie. Unfortunately, Charlie passed away in 2017 after having quite a few books written about him, but at least the family had a chance to capture his spirit and personality in the books. Given her sunny disposition and cheery attitude, we're not surprised that Ree would choose to try her hand at children's books — we're just curious to see what she's got up her sleeve next!