Enjoy Food

HerMoney Podcast Episode 228: The Pioneer Woman On Budget-Friendly Comfort Foods And Her Path To Success 

Kathryn Tuggle  |  August 26, 2020

We’re talking delicious recipes, kitchen gadgets, the one food we’d take to a desert island, and how to set a spoon on fire. 

This week on the HerMoney podcast, we’re sitting down with a woman whose positive energy and culinary expertise have been keeping us all going these past few months. 

Ree Drummond, best known as “The Pioneer Woman,” is one of the most loved chefs in America. Her incredible prowess in the kitchen has given her 10 million followers on social media, the top-rated program on the Food Network, several New York Times bestsellers, her blog gets 15 million pageviews every month, and half-a-million people read every issue of The Pioneer Woman magazine.

To hear more from Ree (including more incredible recipes!) check out her newly re-launched site, ThePioneerWoman.com

And if somehow, by some twist of fate, you haven’t seen her yet, now is the time — brand new episodes of her show “Home Sweet Home” just began airing earlier this month on The Food Network, showcasing life on the ranch during the pandemic, new recipes, and easy-to-make meals. 

Ree walks us through how she started The Pioneer Woman, and discusses some of her early struggles adjusting to life on a cattle ranch, including what it was like surviving for four months without running water. We also dive into her cookbooks, and her entrepreneurial efforts, including her housewares line at WalMart, and her restaurant and retailer “The Mercantile” in Pawhuska, OK. 

Ree describes her love for the development and design of patterns and colors for her products. “Purses and shoes don’t make me tick, but I will go broke buying dinnerware patterns,” she says. 

She also tells us how she stays organized when she’s not a naturally organized person. (Hint: She tries to make choices that are going to sustain her from a standpoint of interest and passion.) She also tackles the tough question that women often get about “having it all” or “doing it all.” 

“We can do it all, but we are also a lot of things to a lot of people in our lives, and that doesn’t stop, no matter how many business ventures we have,” she says. On that note, she also talks about her children —- including one of her daughters who just got engaged (congrats!) and her three teenage boys who are all in the house together right now, who are all over 6’4”. “Food that used to last me months, is now just gone overnight,” she says with a laugh. 

Ree dives into what the pandemic cooking experience has been like for her, and tells us some of her favorite go-to comfort food recipes. Simple is key right now, she says, detailing some of her favorite crowd-pleasers, including roasts and slow-cooked big pieces of meat, like pork shoulder, which can then yield tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, soups, and so much more. 

Speaking of soup, she also shares her recipe for an 11-can bean soup that includes canned chickpeas and artichoke hearts, and her favorite mug cake recipe that she taught her kids to make. “I showed them how to make a chocolate mug cake, and it’s basically, you just take a mug, add cocoa, and sugar, a little vegetable oil, a little milk, stir it, and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds, and it comes out the most delicious — it’s like a lava cake,” she explains. 

Ree also dives into money-saving recipes and why she buys in bulk. “If you are a freezer person, I love buying family packs of meat, whether it’s chicken thighs or chicken breasts, and you can also find big family packs of prepared meatballs in discount clubs, in huge bags. Those are wonderful things. Just bring them home, and divvy them up in freezer bags according to the size of your family. That’s one of my best tricks,” she says. 

She also shares what her favorite tools are for the kitchen, including a fish spatula that she uses for almost everything, and a flat whisk. She also says that she can’t have enough wooden spoons and spatulas in the kitchen, along with “a darn sharp knife and a cutting board.” 

Ree answers the age-old “desert island” question, and tells us what food she would eat if she could only have one thing for the rest of her life, and shares the best piece of advice she was given as an aspiring chef. “I learned so much just from observing my mom,” she says. “She never stressed that something wasn’t going to turn out well. The kinds of chefs I’m really drawn to don’t put a lot of pressure on themselves. If you have people over to eat, people are not going to care if you made a mistake. They’re going to remember that you smiled through it and made a joke out of it,” she says. 

Earlier in the pandemic, Ree began filming her life on the farm with her whole family, as part of her show for The Food Network — and her kids helped her with the production, since her crew couldn’t make the journey. She now has 15 episodes that have been made, and 12 more on the way. “I actually caught a spoon on fire, and that was captured,” she says. “It’s been raw, and it was a good time to show that side of me. The truth is, I’m not a polished, perfect cook, and things go wrong all the time.” In Mailbag, Jean and Kathryn tackle questions on saving for retirement in an IRA, and the volatility of the market due to coronavirus, We also help a listener decide which account to pull from when paying for a new roof on her home, and advise a woman who will have a few hundred dollars each month to put towards her retirement, but is unsure where to save it. Lastly, in Thrive, we take on the concept of our biggest money regrets and how to avoid them.

This podcast is proudly supported by Fidelity Investments. You work too hard for what you earn to let it sit on the sidelines. Let Fidelity show you how to demand more from your money. Learn more at Fidelity.com/HerMoney. Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC Member NYSE, SIPC.

Editor’s note: We maintain a strict editorial policy and a judgment-free zone for our community, and we also strive to remain transparent in everything we do. Posts may contain references and links to products from our partners. Learn more about how we make money.

Transcript

Ree Drummond: (00:01)
I showed them how to make a chocolate mud cake. And it’s basically, you just take a mug, add cocoa and sugar, a little vegetable oil, a little milk, stir it and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds. And it comes out the most delicious, it’s like a lava cake.

Jean Chatzky: (00:18)
HerMoney is supported by Fidelity Investments. You work too hard for your money to let it sit on the sidelines. Fidelity can show you how to demand more from your money every day. Visit Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more.

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Jean Chatzky: (00:39)
Hey everybody. It’s Jean Chatzky. Thanks so much for joining us today on HerMoney. We are having a power outage. We are having a power outage in my house at the Jersey shore. That’s where I’ve been spending a lot of my time during quarantine. And although I was really, really excited to talk to this week’s guest Ree Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman”, the technology just wasn’t doing me any favors today. So, our own Kathryn Tuggle stepped in and did this interview. It’s fabulous. Can’t wait for you all to hear it. And we will talk to Kathryn all about it on the other side, give a listen.

Kathryn Tuggle: (01:28)
Hi everyone. I’m Kathryn Tuggle. Thanks so much for joining me today on HerMoney. We usually try to cook up something exciting for you all for every show. But this week, man, oh man. Today, we’re sitting down with a woman whose positive energy and culinary expertise have been keeping me and millions of others going these last few months. We’re all spending more time at home, in our kitchens, and oh, how many times lately have I been standing over the stove, closed my eyes and attempted to channel my inner pioneer woman. That’s right. We have Ree Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman” in the house with us today. And it is such an honor. It is no exaggeration to say that Ree is one of the most loved women in America. Her incredible prowess in the kitchen has given her 10 million followers on social media. The top-rated program on the food network. Several New York times bestsellers. Her blog gets 15 million page views every month and half a million people read every issue of “The Pioneer Woman” magazine. And if somehow, by some twist of fate, you haven’t seen her yet, now’s the time. Brand new episodes of her show home sweet home just began airing earlier this month on The Food Network, showcasing life on the ranch during the pandemic new recipes and easy to make meals. Ree, thank you so much for being here.

Ree Drummond: (02:48)
Oh my gosh. I am so honored to be here. Thank you for that introduction. That was so kind.

Kathryn Tuggle: (02:53)
Oh, of course. Well, you are so deserving of all of it and then some. I think many of our fans, myself included, would probably love nothing better than to be in the kitchen with you, elbow deep in a big bowl of flour and butter and sugar. And I have to ask, is that what you wanted when you started your brand? Are you the kind of chef who you set out to become?

Ree Drummond: (03:17)
Oh, that’s such a good question. And you know, I never set out to be a brand. I have told this story, but this all started with a blog back in 2006 and I started blogging. My fourth baby had just been weaned, which is like a livestock term. But I was in the house by myself and my husband took all four kids to work with him for the day on our ranch. And I just started a blog. I had four young children and I started it just as a way to post photos. Thinking, oh, my mom can read it. Or my friends from other towns. And it didn’t have a food component at all when I started blogging. At the time I started blogging, it was about 10 years into my marriage so I’d lived in the country for 10 years. I guess I’d been storing up a lot of content, but I just started writing. And most of the stories were funny. Some from my past, just stories that you tell at parties through the years. But also just the funny little things that happened during the course of raising my kids in the country. So, that’s how it started. And it wasn’t until about eight months in that I shared my first recipe, not really knowing if anybody would be interested, but I took pictures of the process, posted a little tutorial, How To Cook a Steak. And the people who’d been reading my blogs said, oh, post another one. And that’s exactly how my food blogging started. Again, I’m not a chef. I’m a home cook. I didn’t go to culinary school, but I just kept sharing recipes that I was cooking for my family. And food quickly became an equal emphasis to the ranching content. So, that’s really how it all started. So, it’s been an evolution. And, you know, I joke, I think about the day that I started my blog and the outfit I was wearing. And to think that that was the beginning of a brand. You know, I was wearing yoga pants or sweat pants with holes in them probably, and just, you know, my hair up on top of my head. But that’s part of why I’ve enjoyed the process so much. Because I didn’t really set out with a plan and I’ve been able to watch it evolve.

Kathryn Tuggle: (05:33)
Absolutely. And I think that authenticity is exactly what your fans love about you. Even the name “Pioneer Woman” hearkens back to a simpler time. Was that intentional with the name?

Ree Drummond: (05:45)
Well, the name pioneer woman, I always think, I should have air quotes around it because it really, it was always meant to be sort of a tongue in cheek nickname. I got the nickname first when I told my childhood friends that I was marrying a cattle rancher and moving to the country. They all just fell on the floor laughing because I was not someone that they would have pictured living in the country. So, they started calling me, pioneer woman as sort of a little joke. Like aha, pioneer woman. But then a few years into my marriage, I had two small daughters at the time, my husband and I actually lost all water pressure to our house and had no running water for four months.

Kathryn Tuggle: (06:31)
Oh wow.

Ree Drummond: (06:32)
I think about that now. I don’t know that I could hack it now but for some reason I was able to get through it. I went to his mom’s house to haul water and boiled it on the stove. And so the wife of a neighboring rancher heard about my plight and started calling me pioneer woman. And so, when I started my blog in 2006, it literally was a free online blog platform. And it said, enter your blog name. So, I just thought “Pioneer Woman” or “Confessions of a Pioneer Woman.” And that’s how “Pioneer Woman” started.

Kathryn Tuggle: (07:07)
That is incredible. Well, in addition to being America’s favorite chef, you are also an entrepreneur. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey into starting some of the companies that you’ve started?

Ree Drummond: (07:19)
Well, yes. You know, again, it was quite an evolution, but I started as a blogger. My food content sort of had a unique enough voice that it led to my first cookbook with Harper Collins, William Morrow. And I have a great editor there. I have the same editor that I had with my very first cookbook in 2009.

Kathryn Tuggle: (07:42)
Oh, how nice.

Ree Drummond: (07:43)
So, that was about three years after I started my blog is when my first cookbook came out. The cookbook sort of led to The Food Network show in 2011. And so, it’s very food-centric, my focus. I love to eat first of all. So, I think that’s why I love to cook so much because the end result is I get to eat it. But it eventually also led to my housewares line at Walmart, which I absolutely have loved the whole process of having a housewares line and the development and the design of patterns and colors. My weakness is plates, and switching gadgets and kitchen accessories. Purses and shoes don’t make me tick, but I will go broke buying like dinnerware patterns. So, it was a real kind of natural thing for me to get passionate about. So, my housewares line launched at Walmart in 2015 and I’m still developing different categories there and very involved in the process. And then separate, or not quite separate but a little side note, we live in a very small town called Pawhuska. And so, my husband and I in 2016 opened The .ercantile, which is in an old building that we refurbished and renovated. And it’s a store and restaurant and bakery. So, it’s been quite a journey, labor of love for sure. But, you know, I’ve been busy.

Kathryn Tuggle: (09:18)
It sounds like it.

Ree Drummond: (09:19)
Since I started my blog. But it hasn’t been a whirlwind. You know, when you think I started my blog in 2006, it’s been 15 years almost. So, to me, it’s kind of been like this where it’s just one thing has led to the other. But I’m still really enjoying what I do.

Kathryn Tuggle: (09:40)
That’s amazing. How do you stay organized? How do you stay on top of all these irons in the fire?

Ree Drummond: (09:46)
I am not being self deprecating when I tell you that I am not a naturally organized person at all. Whatever my Myers Briggs type, I can’t remember what it is because that’s how my mind works. What I’ve discovered about myself over time is that if I am passionate about something and interested in something, I’m incredibly productive with that. So, that has sort of been a filter through which I have to put opportunities because I know that my brain really checks out if I’m involved in something that doesn’t make me tick. So, my dad will back this up. I used to start needle point projects when I was younger and I would do like the colorful design. And then I’d get bored with the white background and I’d just put it in the closet cause I couldn’t finish it. But I find that if I make sure to make choices that I know are going to sustain me from a interest in passion standpoint, I’m very organized. Now that said, I have had a handful of situations where I’ve seen the wall that I’m about to hit. And in some cases I did hit the wall where I sort of spun out of balance a little bit with the number of irons I had in the fire. And many, many women understand what I’m saying. We can do it all, but we also are a lot of things to a lot of people in our lives. And that doesn’t stop no matter how many business ventures you have going on. But I’ve learned over time to see the wall sooner before I even get close to hitting it. And I’m pretty good at making adjustments. There’s still times when I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m not going to get through this next 72 hours. It’s impossible. But time keeps ticking and every now and then something falls by the wayside. For instance, I’m finishing a new book that is coming out in November. It’s not a cookbook. It’s a book of essays about country life and raising kids and some of the funny things that happened. But it was supposed to come out October 27th but we had to move the date by three weeks because I couldn’t make it. So, that’s sort of the story of my life. Just making adjustments along the way.

Kathryn Tuggle: (12:13)
Yeah. I mean, you have four kids, right?

Ree Drummond: (12:15)
Yes.

Kathryn Tuggle: (12:17)
To run an empire of your size, plus having a family to take care of, I mean, what do you think when you hear terms like “having it all” and “work-life balance”?

Ree Drummond: (12:28)
Ah work-life. Well, it is a real thing. I mean, for everybody. Everyone I know is busier than they’ve ever been. So, it’s something that all of us have to kind of wrestle with. But fortunately, we live on a cattle ranch, a family ranch. And my kids really grew up working with my husband. He was great about taking them with him when I knew I had a huge stack of things that I had to accomplish on this day or that. So, having a built-in, he was kind of a babysitter slash nanny slash assistant slash helper. And he was always really good about that because he loved being with the kids and taking them to work with them, of course. Now my kids are getting big. My oldest daughter is 23 and just got engaged over the weekend.

Kathryn Tuggle: (13:23)
Oh congrats.

Ree Drummond: (13:24)
Thank you. And my other daughter’s in college. And then I have still have two teenage boys at home. So, I’m kind of relishing the time I have with them and realizing how fast it goes. They tell you that when you have little kids. Everybody’s like don’t waste it and just enjoy it cause it goes by so fast. But you don’t listen. You know? And when my first daughter left for college, I just went into mourning. I couldn’t believe how much it stung and the ache that was there. So, I’m spending time with the boys and enjoying every minute of it.

Kathryn Tuggle: (14:00)
Oh, that’s wonderful. And I know you have so much going on this summer. You are relaunching “The Pioneer Woman” website. You have a new summer issue coming out of “The Pioneer Woman” magazine and you’re shooting your Food Network show from home. Can you give us some highlights about all that?

Ree Drummond: (14:18)
Yes. So, my blog that I told you about, how this, all this craziness started, “The Pioneer Woman”.com. Actually over time, that is something that started to really suffer. I’ve always done almost all of the content myself on my website. I’ve always done the writing, the photography, and naturally the more I was involved with my product line and the more Food Network shows I was shooting, something had to give. So, that is what I saw was sort of suffering over time. Of the internet changed. Blogs aren’t necessarily as prevalent and relevant now, but I still love my website and hated to see it die on the vine, just from neglect. So, I launched my “Pioneer Woman” magazine in 2017 and it’s really a reflection of what my blog was like once upon a time. Food in one page. And a little feature about makeup on another. And my original blog really was kind of like that, where every day the content was different. So, when I launched the magazine, I was so happy with it. And over the last year or so started talking with Hearst about the possibility of our partnering on thepioneerwoman.com and having them help me execute the kind of content that I like to put on my site. Basically, they are bringing my voice to life. They just have a lot more muscle than I have and a lot more endurance. So it’s been really fun. We just launched the new pioneer woman website in June. And we’re just about less than two months in. And it’s been so much fun. I feel like I have my old friend back.

Kathryn Tuggle: (16:08)
Oh, that’s so nice.

Jean Chatzky: (16:10)
We’ll be right back in a moment. But first let me remind you that HerMoney is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments. It’s no secret that women are on a different financial journey than men. So, it’s important to plan for those differences when thinking about retirement, social security, investing and more. Fidelity can help. They’re taking steps to help women demand more from their money because you’ve worked way too hard to get where you are to keep your money on the sidelines. Get the skills and investment advice you need to put it to work for you. Visit Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more.

Kathryn Tuggle: (16:48)
And we’re back with America’s favorite chef Ree Drummond. You probably know her best as “The Pioneer Woman”. Ree, one of the more interesting things to come out of the pandemic is that we are all cooking more while we’re staying at home. And I know your kids have been home with you. What have you been making during this time? Have you discovered anything new? Any old favorites? Tell us everything.

Ree Drummond: (17:13)
Oh gosh, I know that the cooking, it was something else there for awhile. So, my daughter was working in Dallas. My other daughter was in college when the pandemic hit and everybody came home including my nephew who also lived in Dallas. And so we really had a house full. And fortunately I, living in the country, I tend to have staples on hand anyway. I had a pretty full pantry and freezer. So, that got me through the first couple of weeks. But I found, I have three teenage boys in the house, including our foster son and they’re all over six four.

Kathryn Tuggle: (17:53)
Wow.

Ree Drummond: (17:53)
What used to last me three or four months suddenly, it was just gone one day. But there was sort of some cycles of the pandemic where at first it was sort of like an extended Christmas break where all the kids were home and we were holed up and we were cooking together. And then about a month in, you know I started thinking, I mean, I’m just a short order cook. All I do is cook bacon.

Kathryn Tuggle: (18:24)
Oh my gosh.

Ree Drummond: (18:26)
And then I clean up and I’d smell bacon cooking. And one of the teenage boys would be cooking bacon. And so, the honeymoon phase was over about a month in, with just the number of very large humans in my house. But that’s around the time that Food Network said, do you think you could just film you and the kids cooking? I was set to begin another block of filming in early April with my crew, who is from the UK. So, We knew there was no way they would be able to make it. So, Food Network said, let’s try it. And I actually worked with my production company remotely. They helped me rig up the equipment I needed and the kids and I just cooked. They filmed me. We filmed my mistakes. There were several mistakes. In the second episode of these home shot shows, I actually caught a spoon on fire. And that was captured. So, it’s been pretty fun. It’s been pretty raw and it was a good time to show that side of me. Because the truth is, I’m not a polished perfect cook. Things go wrong all the time. But the spoon catching on fire was just perfectly representative of how things were going for me at that time.

Kathryn Tuggle: (19:51)
That takes talent.

Ree Drummond: (19:51)
I know. I don’t know how I managed to do that. But we filmed 15 home shot shows and we’re just now in the middle of filming 12 more. So, it’s been great because it gave my kids sort of a much needed vocation during that confusing time and a creative outlet. They helped me plan the recipes and the shows. So, I’ve seen this happen a lot during the pandemic, where people figure it out and keep doing what they can to keep the momentum going. And so, I’m so glad that I’ve had this opportunity. It’s given my kids and me a lot of time to spend together that isn’t just playing Texas Hold’em poker and Jenga. We were all about broke from playing poker.

Kathryn Tuggle: (20:47)
That’s amazing. So, what have been your go to comfort food recipes these last few months?

Ree Drummond: (20:54)
So, yeah. This is how my mind works. I digress. I have really long answers and I forget your original question.

Kathryn Tuggle: (20:58)
No. It’s perfect.

Ree Drummond: (21:01)
Well, simple is really key right now. And when I first started cooking during the pandemic, I was making roasts and just slow-cooked big pieces of meat that I could turn into sandwiches. And I would make pork shoulder and make tacos and quesadillas. And so, I love just putting a big piece of meat, whether it’s a chuck roast or a pork shoulder into a Dutch oven, adding a bunch of seasoning and just putting it in the oven and letting it go for three or four hours until it just falls apart. I made a big sandwich during quarantine that I’m putting in my new book, even though my new book isn’t a cookbook. It’s so good. I had to put it in there. But I made it a million times and got to a point where I could not make it anymore. I said, I don’t know. I can’t. I don’t have it in me to make this one more time. But the kids loved it. Things like soups. I was not afraid to break out the convenience ingredients. I have no shame in that regard. I am a from scratch cook, but I do not mind if I have just made a chocolate mug cake, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. I don’t want to whip fresh cream and add it. And if I’m out of ice cream, I will use Cool Whip if I have some in my freezer. And I’m not ashamed to do that. But mug cakes were a really big thing and I showed how to make a few on my show. But the number of people that were in our house, I wasn’t into making just chocolate cakes all the time. So, if someone had chocolate craving, I showed them how to make a chocolate mug cake. And it’s basically, you just take a mug, add cocoa and sugar, a little vegetable oil, a little milk, stir it and put it in the microwave for 90 seconds. And it comes out the most delicious. It’s like a lava cake basically. And you can cook it a little bit less than the time, and it’s a little softer. But I taught the kids a skill, you know, that they are going to carry throughout their lives. The same thing with omelets. I taught them how to make mug omelets, where you just spray a mug or rub a little butter around in mug. Crack three eggs, whisk it together and add little chunks of ham and cheese and peppers. Microwave it for 90 seconds. So, the mue recipes were Epic in our house for a while there.

Kathryn Tuggle: (23:37)
That sounds amazing. I really should have had lunch before we talked. I’m starting to realize. On this podcast, we always talk about and personal finance in some way. Can you give us a couple of your favorite budget-friendly recipes? Particularly recipes for which people might already have the basic ingredients on hand in their pantry?

Ree Drummond: (23:56)
Well, I do love pantry recipes. And in fact, I made, I think I called it an 11 can soup. Canned ingredients are kind of maligned sometimes. But if you have things like canned beans and canned chickpeas, stewed tomatoes, those are very legitimate, canned ingredients. And if you rinse the beans and add, tomatoes, broth, three different kinds of canned beans. You can add a can of artichoke hearts. I had a jar of roasted red peppers and added those. And then honestly, season it with a little salt and pepper and simmer it for an hour. And those are sometimes the best soups. They’re meatless, but you can add a splash of cream if you have it to make it a little bit richer. Or you can start by browning ground beef and then adding everything in. Those are usually called like seven canned soup. But I made one that was actually 11 canned soup. And it was truly one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. And I was like, I don’t know why I do what I do. If I can just crack open all these cans and make a delicious soup that was gone by the end of the evening. I mean, the kids devoured it. Everyone loved it. I think that’s been something about the pandemic too, where we’ve all kind of given ourselves permission, not to be high achievers when it comes to using all sophisticated ingredients. And sometimes you just need to make an 11 can soup and play poker afterwards. And it’s the perfect evening.

Kathryn Tuggle: (25:44)
It sounds amazing.

Ree Drummond: (25:45)
Another budget-friendly tip I have, if you are a freezer person is, I love buying family packs of meat. Whether it’s chicken thighs, chicken breasts. You can also find big family packs of prepared meatballs. You know, in discount clubs, they sell meatballs in huge bags. But those are very wonderful things because you bring them home, kind of divvy them up according to the size of your family in freezer containers or freezer bags, and then I freeze what I’m not going to use that night. And that’s one of my best tricks. Cause I think if you buy two packs of steaks or chicken breasts 50 times a year, it’s going to kind of add up

Kathryn Tuggle: (26:30)
Yeah. A hundred percent. I’m a Costco girl all the way. So, buying in bulk is the way to go for sure. Going back to talking about getting fancy in the kitchen, not just with food, but with gadgets, what are some of your favorite tools to use in the kitchen that we might not all have on hand?

Ree Drummond: (26:48)
Oh gosh. Well, my favorite spatula is technically a fish spatula. But I call it my all purpose spatula because it has this super sharp blade. It has a diagonal offset angle to it and it’s slotted. So, you can use it as a spatula for eggs or pancakes, but you can also scrape the bottom of the skillet to kind of loosen the bits if you’re making a pan sauce. You can deep fry with it. It’s sort of like a slotted spatula. So, the original fish spatula is probably one of my favorite kitchen tools. I love a flat whisk. It’s not a balloon whisk. It’s a whisk that actually whisks but if you press it on the bottom of a pan, it flattens. So, again, you can whisk and if you’re making sort of a pan sauce after browning some pork chops or chicken, it just scrapes up all the good stuff on the bottom of the pan. I can’t have enough wooden spoons and spatulas. If I had eight drawers of them in my kitchen, I would be a happy person.

Kathryn Tuggle: (27:58)
Well, they’re so pretty.

Ree Drummond: (28:00)
Yeah, they are. And they take on memories of meals, literally, you know. And then just a fantastic knife. I take for granted how much I appreciate just having a darn sharp knife and a cutting board. It makes things go by so much faster.

Kathryn Tuggle: (28:21)
Yes. Love my sharp knives. Absolutely. So, have you ever been asked the desert Island question before. You’re stranded and you can only have one food for the rest of your life? What is it?

Ree Drummond: (28:32)
I’ve been asked with makeup and it’s mascara for sure. So, in case you were curious about my makeup answer. Red heads always say mascara, cause we’ve got to have it to live. Food, you know, this is more medicinal, but coffee. I would suffer the most without it. But in terms of food, oh, I would say cheese.

Kathryn Tuggle: (28:58)
A particular type of cheese?

Ree Drummond: (29:00)
Just all of it. All of it. I love fancy cheese. I love blocks of Monterey Jack from the discount club. I love feta cheese. I love cheese. So, I could subsist on cheese for a disturbingly long period of time,

Kathryn Tuggle: (29:21)
A woman after my own heart. So, lastly, we know many of our listeners at home are using some of their quarantine hours to learn to cook dishes that they can be proud of, that they might not have tried before. And maybe roll these dishes out at a dinner party whenever we’re all able to celebrate together again. What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you as an aspiring chef?

Ree Drummond: (29:49)
Oh gosh. So much. I think I learned so much just observing my mom. She was a very good home cook. So, I observed her ease in the kitchen. She never stressed that something wasn’t going to turn out well. So, I think that’s probably really the kind of cooks and chefs I’m really drawn to don’t put a lot of pressure on themselves. And that’s the best piece of advice I would give anybody who wants to have people over. If you have people to your house to eat, they are not going to care if you make a mistake. They aren’t going to judge you. They’re going to remember the fun. And they’re going to remember that you smiled through it, made a joke out of it. But, another good piece of advice from a practical standpoint is just to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. If you’re going to try to whip out a great dinner for guests that are coming over, don’t start an hour before they get there. The day before dice the onions and measure out the broth and have the meat out of the package and padded dry. Have the seasonings out. It just makes it go by so much more quickly. And you can spend more time putting on makeup and mascara.

Kathryn Tuggle: (31:04)
Can’t forget the mascara. Ree, how can people subscribe, find you, watch you?

Ree Drummond: (31:10)
Well, thank you. Well, I’m on Food Network Saturday mornings at 10:00am Eastern. My website is thepioneerwoman.com. Lots of recipes, amazing food content on there, especially with the upcoming holidays. And my magazine, “The Pioneer Woman”. And those are good places to find me. My book is called “Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere.” And it’ll be out November 17th. I’m finishing it tonight in fact,

Kathryn Tuggle: (31:41)
Oh my gosh. You’re going to have to do a little celebrating.

Ree Drummond: (31:45)
Yes.

Kathryn Tuggle: (31:46)
That’s amazing. Well, thank you so much for joining us. This has been amazing. We really appreciate it.

Ree Drummond: (31:51)
Thank you, Kathryn. And say hi to Jean.

Kathryn Tuggle: (31:53)
I will definitely. And we’ll be right back with Jean and your mailbag.

Jean Chatzky: (31:55)
Fun turn of phrase there, Kathryn Tuggle. What a great job. That was a fabulous interview. Thank you so much for stepping in on the fly to do that.

Kathryn Tuggle: (32:14)
Oh, it was my pleasure. It was a dream come true to get to talk to her. And she has such a busy schedule. I was like, let’s do it. So, thanks Jean.

Jean Chatzky: (32:22)
Oh, of course. I have to say, I really, really wanted to ask her about her veggie chili because I have some recipes from each of the famous chefs that I make all the time. But from her, this vegetarian chili is the one that I come back to again and again because I think there’s so many veggie chilis that are just bad. And in hers, zucchini is the revelation. Zucchini is the thing. Like I never know what to do with zucchini, but zucchini brings this veggie chili to life. It’s just fabulous.

Kathryn Tuggle: (32:58)
That’s so interesting. I would not have thought of zucchini to put in a veggie chili.

Jean Chatzky: (33:02)
Me neither.

Kathryn Tuggle: (33:04)
I recently used black eyed peas in veggie chili. And I thought that really kicked it up a notch. But of course I’m from Alabama so we have black eyed peas and everything.

Jean Chatzky: (33:13)
And I wouldn’t know what to do with the black eyed pea. I’ve got to say. You’ll have to teach me. What was your favorite part of that interview?

Kathryn Tuggle: (33:21)
I think thinking about her at home with her family, cooking during this time, muddling through the quarantine just like millions of other families, trying to figure out what to put on the table to feed growing boys and keep everybody entertained. And in so many ways, the pandemic has just been this great equalizer. We have all been sitting around the kitchen table with our family cooking what we felt like cooking on a given day, and trying to have some different conversations other than the conversations we’ve been having for the past few months. So, it was just nice to think about her like that.

Jean Chatzky: (33:59)
Absolutely. Did I tell you my secret for getting through cooking in COVID?

Kathryn Tuggle: (34:04)
No.

Jean Chatzky: (34:05)
I don’t decide what’s for dinner. Elliot decides what’s for dinner. I’m happy to cook anything quite frankly. Just the act of having to decide what to make is exhausting. So, it works out. He’s happy to eat whatever I cook. I’m happy to cook whatever he wants basically. And we’ve sort of come to this agreement. And my mother, I actually told her that she should start doing the same thing. Because Bob, my stepdad, doesn’t cook at all. And she’s happy again to pretty much make everything. And it just takes a huge amount of weight off my shoulders not to have to decide.

Kathryn Tuggle: (34:47)
That’s such a great plan. I think I should start doing that too.

Jean Chatzky: (34:50)
Absolutely.

Kathryn Tuggle: (34:51)
Yeah.

Jean Chatzky: (34:51)
And he cleans up. So, there we go.

Kathryn Tuggle: (34:53)
Oh, that’s even better.

Jean Chatzky: (34:56)
All right. Let’s take some questions.

Kathryn Tuggle: (34:58)
Our first question comes to us from an anonymous listener. She writes, hi Jean. I really enjoy listening to your HerMoney podcast. I’m intrigued by the various topics that you cover, your guests, and the letters that you receive from your listeners. I’m 55 years old and after being downsized from my previous employer of 10 years, I thankfully started a new job in June of last year. I rolled over my $225,000 401k into a LifePath Fund IRA making quarterly deposits of $250. I have a $27,000 rollover pension in a money market account, making monthly deposits of $50. I also contribute 12.5% of my salary to my company 401k and will be eligible for a 5% match in June. I set up yearly increases of 1%. Last week, I opened a Roth IRA, contributing 0.8% of my salary also with 1% yearly increases. I also have $12,650 in a high-interest savings account that I make automatic deposits of a hundred dollars twice a month, and a regular savings account with about $1,080 and I make automatic deposits there of $75 twice a month. With the volatility of the market due to Coronavirus, should I continue with my contributions or take my money out of the market and put it into a high-interest savings account? Should I stop saving in the low-interest savings account? I’m currently renting my apartment at $2,000 a month and want to buy a co-op or condo in the next year or so, but am I too old for a mortgage? My credit score is 823 and I’ve earned this score by progressively paying down my debt by using the severance money I received from a previous employer. I currently owe approximately $6,500 in credit card debt and my goal is to pay that off in the 12 month time frame or sooner. Lastly, I’m single, a late bloomer with big dreams, and in addition to saving for retirement and buying a co-op or condo, I want to travel at least once a year. These goals seem gigantic since I don’t have anyone to share the financial load with. Have I missed my opportunity? Can I have it all?

Jean Chatzky: (37:00)
Oh my gosh. You can absolutely have it all. I think you can have it all and more. I am just stunned by the amount of money that you’re saving. You didn’t tell us what you’re earning, but the percentages are really, really high. A couple of thoughts and then one overarching recommendation. Get rid of that credit card debt. I don’t know what you’re paying on it, but even if you have to dial back on your contributions into savings a little bit, just kick that in the bucket or even think about pulling some money out of savings to pay that off. And then just increasing the amount that you put into savings in the future. The question that you asked about the regular savings account versus the high-interest savings account has to do with the access that you have to the money in the high-interest savings account. So, these are your emergency funds. And we want you to have a little bit more in cash savings eventually. But we also want you to have access to that money in a true emergency. High-interest rate savings accounts, and the interest rates are not so high these days, but high-interest rate savings accounts are fantastic, except if you need the money sometimes overnight, because some of these accounts don’t come with ATM cards. With some of them, and I have high-interest rate savings accounts like this, if you need the cash, you’ve got to transfer the money back to your brick and mortar bank in order to actually get it out of there quickly. That can take a couple of days, so having some in that regular savings account might be worthwhile if you don’t have easy, quick access to that high-interest rate savings account. The other thing you can do is talk to your local bank about whether they offer a high-interest rate product and what sort of minimums you need in order to qualify for it, and that can help you close the gap on that. One more thing before I give you the overarching recommendation, interest rates are super low. It is exactly the right time for you to look at buying something. With your credit score, you should have no problem whatsoever qualifying for a mortgage. I would just make sure that, if possible, you take out a 15-year mortgage, so that you’re out of it very shortly after you enter retirement. And then the overarching recommendation has to do with pulling all of this information, plus your goal of traveling fantastically at least once a year, and making them happen. And that’s, you need a financial advisor because you need a step-by-step plan. You need a plan that looks at all of these factors. That ties them together and that sets you on a path so that you understand what you have to do in order to check off all of the boxes. But I can see from what you’re saying to me that the money is there, the drive is there, the goals are there, you know what you want. So, you’ve got it all. You just need somebody to pull it together for you

Kathryn Tuggle: (40:21)
Love that recommendation. Yeah. A financial planner can help her look at all of these accounts and make sure they’re in the right places and get her on a timeline to retirement.

Jean Chatzky: (40:30)
Absolutely.

Kathryn Tuggle: (40:31)
Our next question is from Elise in Portland, Oregon. She writes, I love your podcast. Thanks for the focus on money and women. I’m a 65 year old widow and I need a new roof on my house which will be about $16,000. I’m unsure which account would be best to withdraw from without high tax implications. Can you advise? Here’s a look at where all my money is currently. I have monthly pension and social security income of $2,890 a month and rental income of $850 a month. Expenses I have total about $3,200 a month. I have my own traditional IRA at $288,000, as well as an inherited IRA of $76,897, which I have to take RMDs of about $2,500 a year, and an individual brokerage account of $20,500. I also have an emergency fund of about $13,000 in a high-yield go account. So how should I pay for the roof over my head? Thanks so much.

Jean Chatzky: (41:30)
Good question. And such a good question this year because thanks to Coronavirus, or no thanks to Coronavirus, you actually don’t have to take RMDs, which stand for required minimum distributions, from your accounts this year. I am curious how the money in your traditional IRA and your inherited IRA are invested and how those investments have actually done during these times. What I don’t want to see is you selling investments at a loss to pay for this, when you don’t really have to do that, because you have the money in this individual brokerage account that you’ve already paid taxes on. I think my inclination would be that you should either pay for it just out of this brokerage account, or you should look at the possibility of whether you can get a low interest rate home equity loan or home equity line of credit, and pay it off over time, with the combination of the money that you have left over after your pension, social security and rental income, because it does look like you are pulling in each month about $500 more than you’re actually using. And so, if you got a loan, you could just pay for it over time with that $500 in excess. If you can’t, and you may not be able to because lending requirements during COVID have gotten tougher, especially in the home equity loan market. Wells Fargo is not making home equity loans right now. Chase is not doing the same. And people are asking for more paperwork, higher credit scores, those sorts of things. I wouldn’t sweat this. Whatever funds you use to pay for this, whether you use the money in the individual brokerage account, or whether you use a combination of that money plus money that you decide that you are going to pull out in the form of required minimum distributions, just put it back in. I mean, you can’t put the money back in the IRAs at this point, but you absolutely can just replenish that brokerage account with the money that you’re not using from your monthly income. And good luck.

Kathryn Tuggle: (44:16)
Yeah, good luck. Absolutely. Our last question comes to us from Lisa. She writes, hi Jean. Thank you so much for your podcast. I look forward to each new episode. You’ve helped me continue to be a woman with money while navigating a divorce, a job change, and a new home. I’m thankfully about to have some additional room in my budget due to savings from a home refinance and paying off my car loan. I’d like to take this money, which will be about $520 a month and add to my retirement. However, I’m unsure if I should put it in my Roth IRA, my 403b or some combination. I’m an educator, so I’m automatically contributing to a pension plan at 7.5%. I contribute to the match in an employee-sponsored 403b plan at 2.5%. And I have my Roth IRA outside of work, and I’ve been able to contribute a hundred dollars a month there. I currently make $72,000 a year and I have a very comfortable emergency fund. Thank you so much for all the work and advocacy you put out into the world.

Jean Chatzky: (45:15)
Well, you’ve got a lot in terms of pretax savings when we look at the 403b and the pension plan that you contribute to automatically. So, I just beef up the contributions to the Roth. I think that gives you some nice tax diversification and you should be able to put almost all of it into the Roth and then just have a little bit leftover once you hit the annual limit on contributions, which are right now, $6,000 a year, plus an extra thousand dollars if you’re over the age of 50. And I would also just think, because you are contributing a lot to retirement, I’d also think about whether you have other goals. Are you trying to pay off that home loan during a certain period of time before you get to retirement, for example? Or do you have goals as far as travel are concerned? And if you do, it’s okay to use some of that money to support those goals as well. But I wish you all sorts of success as a woman with money in your new life. And thanks so much for listening to us. And thank you, Kathryn.

Kathryn Tuggle: (46:29)
Thank you so much Jean for the great advice as always.

Jean Chatzky: (46:32)
Thanks. In today’s thrive, let’s talk a little bit about money regrets. According to a recent bank rate survey, more than half of respondents said they regret not saving enough for an emergency. Others pointed to having too much debt, lacking income stability, and living beyond their means. Look, mistakes can happen to the best of us. But how you learn from them is what ultimately matters. And that’s true during the COVID pandemic and during normal times. We have a complete list of the biggest money regrets and how to navigate them at hermoney.com. But here are just a couple of our favorites. First, panic. During tough times, it’s especially important not to panic. Take the great recession of 2008. Many investors cashed out of the stock market then and stashed their money in the bank. The ones who stayed course recouped their losses and then some. But those who liquidated everything and put it all into cash, they missed out on the longest bull market in history. To prevent yourself from taking on more risk than you can handle, experts point to crafting a financial plan that takes into account your risk tolerance and long-term goals. If you have a plan in place, you won’t react to short-term movements in the stock market. Second, not saving enough for retirement. Millions of people have little saved for retirement. And that’s only been made worse during a pandemic that has cost millions of people their jobs. The regret is particularly pronounced among older Americans who are facing retirement in the next decade or so. According to bank rate, of people above the age of 55, not saving enough for retirement was the biggest regret. While you can’t make up for your past savings digressions, you can try to increase the amount that goes toward retirement now. For those 50 or older, there are catch-up contributions, which enable you to make contributions to your 401k or IRA above the standard limit. For those with several years left in the workforce, increasing the amount that goes toward retirement in every paycheck can have a big impact on your overall retirement savings. Thank you so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thanks to Ree Drummond, “The Pioneer Woman,” for her wit, her wisdom, and comfort during these times. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen and try some more of her recipes out for myself. If you like what you hear, I hope you’ll subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review. We love hearing what you think. We also want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through Megaphone. Thanks so much for joining us and we’ll talk soon.


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