The Pioneer Woman’s Black Heels to Tractor Wheels Book Review and Asian Inspired Flat Iron Steak Recipe

by Alice Currah on April 3, 2011. Updated January 4, 2012

I love watching funny romantic comedies, don’t you? My favorite down time activity is a date night with myself.  I like to grab a pint of Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream, one spoon, a comfy fleece blanket, and a large Diet Coke on ice before plopping down on the couch for the evening to watch a romantic comedy chick flick.   For two hours I get to laugh and scream into my pillow as cheesy love scenes play out right before my eyes.  It’s how I prefer to unwind and enjoy a nice reprieve from my own life.  I only wish I watched movies more often than twice a year which seems to be all I have time for.

I also love reading books. There is something about the feel of the printed word in my hands.  Flipping pages, sometimes highlighting passages I hope recall later, and folding dog ears to bookmark where I finish reading for the night and where I hope to pick up the next day. The anticipation of reading a page here or a chapter there when I find tiny pockets of free time gives me something to look forward to especially if I’m vested in the book I’m reading.

Many years ago my sister introduced me to chick-lit books after the birth of my second daughter, Mimi. She assured me it would make the long stretches of nursing a newborn baby go so much faster. She was so right. Reading the Ashley Tinsdale series by Kristin Billerbeck had me in stitches, laughing out loud, and almost peeing my pants.

After ordering six books in the last six months and having them neatly organized (cough.. thrown on top of one another) on my nightstand, I came to the sad realization I would not be able to enjoy any of these books anytime soon. With my dad’s passing, mom moving in, kids crazy schedules, blogging, and writing for PBS, the concept of “free time” is not something to be had in this season of my life. One of these books I purchased was The Pioneer Woman – Black Heels to Tractor Wheels love story by Ree Drummond.

Seeing her book sitting on my nightstand made a little part of me sad by the fact I couldn’t just open it up and read it. I’m very familiar with Ree and Marlboro Man’s relationship from her Black Heels blog posts series. But like most good stories, I wanted to re-read it from cover to cover. Her story has always resonated with me on so many levels. No.. I didn’t marry a cowboy who lives on a ranch nor did I grow up on a golf course. But I did fall in love with my husband, panicked over trivial things, experienced the most horrid morning sickness, and understand the primal motherly feelings a new mom experiences for the first time after giving birth to their first born child. Experiences many people are familiar with despite different upbringings and social circles.

With no spare time to read, I did the next best thing.  Which for me turned out to be the very best thing. I listened to The Pioneer Woman’s book on audio narrated in her own voice.

Playing the audio version of the book in my car while driving alone, I would sit in my driveway an extra few minutes to listen through the end of a chapter before having to go inside my house. I hated not being able to listen longer but knowing the book was waiting for me the next time I got behind the wheel gave me something to look forward to.

Listening to Ree in her own voice tell her story is like listening to her sit across from you over coffee and tell you every juicy detail of her life and relationship with her husband in the early years of their relationship. I can’t tell you the countless number of times I laughed out loud knowing the funniest parts of the book were fueled by real life moments.  You just can’t make this stuff up!

As many of you know I am a contributor for Ree’s Tasty Kitchen site. So listening to her story through the filter of our friendship and having spent a little time getting to know Marlboro Man made me love her and their story all the more. It’s so easy to look at her life through the lens of her blog and come to the conclusion her life is perfect. After all, she’s a celebrity blogger, New York Times Best-Selling Author, and is married to a very handsome cowboy. She beat Bobby Flay in a Throwdown and will be appearing with Paula Dean in an upcoming episode. But when you read her love story, you realize just how human (brokenness and all) she is.  Listening to her book was a good reminder she too experiences hardships, uncertainty, and indecisiveness like we all do.

As someone who follows her life through The Pioneer Woman blog, to witness Ree and Marlboro Man and the growth of their relationship from their courtship to present day reminds me that love does conquer all.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, get yourself a copy! Her story will have you laughing all the way through it. I highly recommend listening to it on audio. It’s an audio ‘chick flick’ which doesn’t disappoint!

This recipe is a slightly adapted version from the Black Heels to Tractor Wheels book where she prepares Marlboro Man a flank steak dinner in their dating days. I love the headnote, “Finished product should not look like leather.” – Amen to that, sister!  In this version I decided to use flat iron steak because it’s a little bit more juicier and tender than its flank steak cousin. Enjoy!


Asian Inspired Flat Iron Steak Recipe
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
A delicious Asian-inspired grilled flat iron steak recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.
  • ½ cup Soy Sauce
  • ½ cup Sherry
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons (heaping) Minced Ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons (3-5 cloves) Minced Garlic
  • teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Flat Iron Steaks
  • Garnish: 2 Tablespoons Roasted Sesame Seeds and 2 Green Onions, slivered.
  1. Gather all ingredients together – soy sauce, sherry, honey, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and flat iron steak.
  2. Whisk the ingredients in a bowl. Place the steaks and marinade in a ziplock bag and chill in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours.Grill steaks on high heat for 4 minutes on each side for medium rare steaks. Allow steaks to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds and green onion slivers on top to garnish.
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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Hyperlatte April 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Absolutely beautiful recipe Alice. You never fail to amaze me at your pictures, stories and experiences.


To Kiss the Cook April 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I love the look of that steak almost as much as I love the review. Rather, the fact that I got to hear the review in person last night over a margarita. Or was it a whiskey at the oh so cool gallery party? Even typing that makes my head hurt all over again but cheers to all the friendship lenses the Internet has given us already.


snippets of thyme April 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Your date night with yourself sounds exactly like what I love to do. I have now found blogging but I other passion is downloading movies off of Netflix. My little papillon and I get right in bed with my laptop and watch all kinds of old movies as well as my beloved “Take Home Chef”!

I just made “flap steak” tonight. I’ll post about it next weekend. Looks like you made something quite similar. It was delicious!


Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen April 3, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I loved also loved the book. I can relate to so many things Ree has experienced as a newcomer to ranching. I too married a cowboy and there’s so much to learn. You are so right love does conquer all and none of us are exempt from the crazy and difficult things life hands you. Your steak looks so delicious!


Lori A. April 4, 2011 at 10:52 am

I have this book and it is a great read! I didn’t want it to end. :)


Maris (In Good Taste) April 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Alice as always a great recipe. Your pictures say it all!


Shawn April 5, 2011 at 9:46 am

O-M-Goodness!!! Beautifully prepared, photoed, and written. ‘Can’t wait to try your version of the recipe or read the book!


Adelle @ ready...GO!...get set April 5, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Right there with you on the book – I haven’t so thoroughly enjoyed a love story in a long time! I can imagine the audio book was a real winner.

Thanks for the recipe – I’ve loaned out my copy of the book and I’ve been dying for some of her red meat! Looks yummy!


Forks Knives & Spades April 6, 2011 at 8:42 am

I am going out today and buying this book. I absolutely love The Pioneer Woman and her amusing stories. Can’t wait to read it!

This flat iron steak sounds divine. I sometimes use London Broil cut for a marinate/grill but I think I’ll be trying the flat iron steak and Asian-ish marinade. Sounds delicious, especially to me, a ginger-addict.


Lizy B April 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I have that book waiting on my nightstand too! Pioneer woman has been an insipation in so many ways, not the least of which is starting my own blog.
Can’t wait to try the steak recipe!!!


Cookin' Canuck April 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

What a wonderful post, Alice. Ree’s book is on my list to buy, but now I am considering buying the audio version. She is such a wonderful storyteller and I would love to hear this in her own voice. Beautiful photos in the post!


Jen April 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm

I still need to get a copy of the book when I go back stateside. As for the recipe, I can see the steak will go well on top of salad. Yum!


Theresa April 9, 2011 at 10:21 am

This looks delicious! How many cups of soy sauce and sherry are needed? Thanks!


Mchael April 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Looks wonderful… what cut of beef do you recommend for the steaks?


alice April 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Hi Mchael:
I love many cuts of beef. I’m usually motivated by what’s on sale at the store. Rib-eye is always tender but a little expensive. Top sirloin is an excellent choice with a fair price point. I often buy London Broil because it’s always inexpensive and if prepared correctly, very juicy but doesn’t soak up marinade very well. So I usually do a salt and pepper rub for that cut, cutting it very thinly. I love flank steak and flat iron steak. Very similar in look, but slightly different in texture. Flank is a bit more chewy but absorbs a good marinade very well. Hope this helps!


Vending Services April 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm

MMM looks so yum! i have a piece of steak waiting in my fridge ready to be the third wheel on my date with myself! thanks so much for all your recipes Alice!



Danica April 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm

You know it’s so funny because as I clicked to open your post, I was thinking, I WISH I still had time to read :) I LOVE that you got the audio book ~ I used to do that for my long commutes and just might have to do that again!

Beautiful pics and presentation on the steak recipe! I NEED to try it…in my spare time of course ;)



Jeanne April 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

Made this tonight and loved it. Thanks!


Jeanne April 23, 2011 at 10:35 am

I also added a little bit of sriracha and it was the perfect amount of spice.


Alice April 23, 2011 at 11:05 am

So glad you liked it.


Theresa May 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm

This is so good, I’m making it again for the second time in three weeks. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!


carol December 19, 2011 at 11:31 am

will be trying this tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Ashley January 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I want to make this but I’m a little befuddled as to what to serve with it.. i have a very close minded eater (a grown man, non the less) to keep in mind so nothing to out there. I thought broccoli would be a yummy veg, but I’m at loss for a starch.


alice January 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Hi Ashley, why not serve it with rice?


Anastasia January 10, 2012 at 5:19 am

This looks delicious!


Kat January 22, 2012 at 7:42 am

Do you use 2 Tbls of ginger or 4?


Hilary January 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

So so excited for this recipe!!! I found you on Pnterest. I can’t wait to read Ree’s book. Going to download it tonight.

Quick question— I’ve never cooked with sherry. Is there a substitute? Or does it amp the flavor so much it can’t be missed? :)


alice February 2, 2012 at 3:02 am

Hi Hilary,
You can substitute sherry with white wine. If you do not want to add any alcohol, feel free to omit it. I think the sherry elevates the flavor slightly but many similar Asian recipes do not call for any alcohol.


Valentina February 23, 2012 at 3:39 am

This looks absolutely amazing — that marinade — oh my! Love date night with myself, too — blanket, ice-cream and for me, really bad (in a good way) reality TV. ;-)


Zoe March 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hmm didnt say how many teaspoons of red pepper flakes…im assuming 2?


Dennis Dennehy March 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

I can’t wait to add this to my menu plan. Looks fantastic and I love using flank steak.


amy johnson March 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Hey, I am making this in a couple days and not seeing how much red pepper flakes to add? Thanks


Whitney April 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Do you think it’s safe to marinate overnight or will the flavor b too overwhelming?


Alison S. April 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Had this for dinner tonight and it was awesome! Even my picky 6 year old asked for seconds. Adding it to the rotation!


Cortney January 3, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Hmm… I’d say Japanese. “Asian” isn’t really a good categorization being that Asia is a continent and the different countries make SUCH different types of food.


Heather January 30, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I made this tonight and it was delicious! My hubby and daughter both loved it. I just bought your cookbook and I’m so excited to try more of your recipes.


la fata della zucca February 2, 2013 at 5:31 am

Looks delicious! I’ll try this! :-)


Christina February 9, 2013 at 11:44 am

Is there anything I can substitute the sherry with? I don’t really use alcohol. Should I just eliminate it completely without substituting it with anything? Thanks for your help!


Cassie May 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm

This was so good! My mistake was that I did not make enough! I can’t wait to make this again on father’s day to surprise my father-in-law.


Karin Green November 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Can I use this marinade with chicken instead of steak with the same results? We don’t eat much red meat in our house.


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