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For a self-professed “chick singer who cooks,” Trisha Yearwood has been more than successful — much more. She’s on her fourth season of hosting Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, and, after two best-selling cookbooks, she’s back in the kitchen working on another. Yet despite her double dose of fame (and high-profile marriage to Garth Brooks), the Georgia native is as grounded as ever, evinced by her answer-any-question demo at this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival. Here, our top takeaways from her event:
1. The slow cooker is her secret weapon. “I’m all about easy. If it’s hard to do, I pretty much won’t do it,” she says. “I grew up making stuff in the Crock-Pot. Things like chili, stews or soups — anything that could cook all day long.” Lately, one of her favorite ways to use it is for turtle candy. “Making dessert in the slow cooker is the coolest thing ever and it’s super, super simple,” she says.
2. She’s a huge Kelly Clarkson fan. It’s all about the big voice for Trisha. Growing up, her music hero was Linda Ronstadt; these days, it’s Clarkson. “Her voice is so powerful, amazing and emotional,” she says. She’s such a fan, in fact, that she worked with Clarkson (and country legend Reba McEntire) on a special Christmas album, which debuted in October.
3. She makes a killer potato salad. Watch out if your path crosses hers at a picnic — she’ll be packing her mother’s tried-and-true potato salad. “It’s really simple and goes with everything,” she says. “And it only has four ingredients, which is my specialty!”
4. She’s not a fan of marrying young. Coming from the South, where “22 is the norm” for marriage, Trisha encourages women today to branch out on their own first. “Don’t be afraid to live your life and figure out who you are first,” she says candidly. “I say that as one of the most happily married people on the planet — but I’m also 49.”
5. She puts music first. Cooking has been her passion these past few years, but music is where her heart is. “If you asked me to pick between cooking and music, I’d definitely pick music. I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do,” she says. “But I’m not giving up one to do the other. I hope I never have to pick.”
6. She loves risotto. It’s not all Southern staples at the Yearwood-Brooks home. A regular weeknight dish is mushroom risotto. “Garth loves it,” she says, adding with a laugh, “We definitely didn’t grow up on that!”
7. She still has cooking fails. While first dating, she attempted to make Garth his favorite dessert: German chocolate cake. Unfortunately, she inverted it too early and it broke into several pieces. He offered to “glue” it back together with the frosting. “That’s when I knew he was a keeper,” she says. “It looked like a volcano cake but it tasted great!”
8. She can drywall with the best of ‘em. An active volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, she and Garth have participated in numerous builds, including a trip to Haiti in 2011. This year, as part of the 2013 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, the pair helped build, renovate and rebuild homes in California, Colorado, New York City and New Jersey.
9. She has a thing for mini-sized objects. It started when she was a kid, with Vienna sausages. In adulthood, her love of all things tiny has transformed into a dishware obsession — in particular, small ramekins.
10. She’s a Virgo through and through. “I am so detail-oriented,” she laughs. “I’m an obsessive planner,” while “Garth is such a dreamer. He’s lucky that it all falls together for him!”