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The Pioneer Woman Review: “Edna Mae’s Birthday”

This week on The Pioneer Woman, we get the pleasure of attending the birthday dinner for Ladd’s grandma, Edna Mae.

She’s turning 89 and is quite possibly the cutest little lady ever. She has a beautiful head of white hair and an elegant air about her. While Edna Mae’s not a fan of big parties, Ree plans on making some of her favorite foods and delivering it to her as a surprise.

In addition to all the food, the Drummond kids are whipping up some handmade birthday cards. In my experience, handmade cards for your grandma are always a huge hit.

Rae photo

Ree Starts by making a Roast Chicken. It’s funny to see her whipping up a chicken recipe because usually there’s some sort of beef dish happening on the ranch. She rinses off her chicken and then gets to work on the ‘bowl of wonder.’ Or at least that’s what I’m calling it.

She adds one stick of softened butter, lemon zest, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper and mixes it all up to make a delicious herby, lemony compound butter. The butter gets smeared all over the outside of the chicken. My mouth is watering. This is going to be one crispy, juicy chicken.

Ree then halves up some lemons and places them into the cavity of the chicken along with a few more rosemary sprigs. She pops it into the oven to roast away. Nothing about this recipe is all that revolutionary, but it is a good, solid roasted chicken recipe that could be whipped up any night of the week. It also leaves lots of room for playing with flavors; perhaps different herbs and citrus.

We are then taken to Edna Mae’s house to visit with her and to get a peek into her family’s ranching history. We see photo albums filled with generations of photos. Edna Mae’s father looking handsome and noble in a beautiful sepia toned photograph.

Edna Mae as a young, strong ranching woman along with dozens of adorable and mischievous looking children living the good ranch life. The story that these photos tell really shows how strong and solid the Drummond family’s roots are. According to Edna Mae, ranching is in the blood. This glimpse into her ranching history may be my favorite part of the entire episode.

The Drummond kids are working hard on their handmade cards for Edna Mae and with the amount of feathers involved, I would definitely be interested in receiving one of these as well. It must be a mom thing, but I’m a sucker for anything my kids or nieces and nephews make. It’s very sweet to hear the kids talk about how much they love Edna Mae and how important she is to their family. She is, afterall, the matriarch for 4 generations of Drummond ranchers.

That’s quite an accomplishment. The boy’s cards are full of treasures from the ranch: feathers, sticks, and other nature finds. They are heart meltingly adorable.

Ree continues the birthday meal with cauliflower Soup. Edna Mae loves soup and this seems like a nice, hearty soup recipe to go along with the roast chicken. Ree is using a flat-out stunning light blue Le Creuset soup pot, and will be surprising Edna Mae by giving her the pot as a birthday gift. Best. Birthday. Gift. Ever. Why is it that I’m speechless at the sight of attractive cookware? It’s a problem.

Back to the soup. Ree starts the soup with onions and butter (yes!) and then adds some carrot and celery to the pot. She chops up an entire head of cauliflower (it is cauliflower soup, after all). She tosses the cauliflower in and coats it up in butter. After a bit of cooking time, she adds a bit of chopped parsley and two quarts of chicken broth. To thicken up the soup she makes a white sauce in a separate little sauce pan. I wouldn’t have expected anything less than a decadent soup from Ree. The white sauce, made from butter, flour and whole milk, gets added back into the cauliflower pot. Then, to push this soup completely over the top, she adds some half and half. A sprinkling of salt and pepper finishes off this lovely, creamy Cauliflower Soup.

As a little accompaniment to the soup, Ree fills a cast iron skillet with a sleeve of saltines and pops them into the oven to get them roasty and toasty. I bet you could even season them up a bit for an even further twist on the basic saltine cracker. The possibilities are endless.

For a sweet finish to Edna Mae’s birthday meal, Ree is making a Blueberry Italian Creme Cake. She starts by whipping up 5 egg whites and then swaps out for a clean bowl. I totally wish I had two bowls for my mixer. For recipes like this, it would would definitely come in handy. In the clean bowl, she whips up butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Then comes the coconut. I’m not familiar with Italian Creme cakes, but apparently, coconut is essential. Who knew?

She whisks together some dry ingredients in a separate bowl and measures out some buttermilk. With the mixer on, she alternates adding a bit of dry ingredients and buttermilk until all the ingredients are combined. She then folds in the whipped egg whites and divides the batter between two greased up round cake pans.

After the cake layers are baked, the fun begins. Ree slices the layers in half using a huge, sharp serrated knife. The icing is made from cream cheese, butter, vanilla and a ton of powdered sugar. Chopped pecans and coconut are added to give the icing a nice texture and nutty flavor. To assemble the cake, Ree alternates layers of cake, icing, fresh blueberries and chopped pecans. This repeats 4 times until the cake is fully assembled. It is a stunner of a cake, but I just hope that it travels well in the car. It looks a bit tippy.

Ree and the kids pack up all the food and head to Edna Mae’s. She is thrilled with the food, cake (it made the drive in one piece, thank goodness) and as I suspected, the cards were the highlight of her birthday surprise. Although, I think the cake was a close second.

The recipes in this episode all look very easy and simple, not to mention delicious. The cake, while slightly more complex, didn’t involve fussy decorating, so for me, that is always a plus. I don’t have a great relationship with my piping bag. It’s an ongoing battle.

NOTE: Bookmark Food Fanatic for plenty more Pioneer Woman recipes and Food Network recipes!