hile some people may complain about holiday music being played too early or television stations airing too many cutesy Christmas movies, country music superstar and cookbook author Trisha Yearwood is not one of those people. In fact, after two years of being separated from family, the one thing that has Yearwood more excited than the recent release of her latest cookbook, Trisha's Kitchen: Easy Comfort Food for Friends and Family, is the thought of celebrating the holidays in a momentous way with her family in Nashville.
“Once the vaccines rolled out, I spent most of this year making sure everybody in my family got vaccinated because I do want to spend the holidays together,” Yearwood tells SheKnows. “We weren't together last year and so to be able to be together, that's more important than all the decorations and even the food, which I love all the Christmas and holiday foods, but to actually get to be with family is — well, I just can’t wait.”
Throughout the years, we have witnessed Yearwood transform her career from a Grammy Award-winning country music artist to a New York Times best-selling cookbook author. Pivoting her career to focus more on cooking, Yearwood is now the host of Food Network’s Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, which is in its 17th season, and the author of four cookbooks including her latest, Trisha's Kitchen: Easy Comfort Food for Friends and Family which hit shelves back in September.
Yearwood plans on making up for missed time by celebrating the holidays in a big way this year. “Last year when no one was at my house, I made up for that by ordering a lot of those really big, oversized outdoor ornaments,” she says. “So the good news is I have all of those available to go out this year.”
Speaking to SheKnows ahead of the holidays from the Nashville home she shares with her husband, country legend Garth Brooks, Yearwood shared a few details about the menu she’s planning with her older sister Beth, who recently moved to Nashville to be closer to Yearwood. “My sister and I will be sharing some of the cooking duties this year, so that'll be fun because usually I do everything myself,” she explains. “Beth and I've decided that dressing is not just for Thanksgiving, and I don't know why we only make it once a year because we love it so much.”
Yearwood and Brooks wed back in 2005 at their home in Owassa, Oklahoma, and Yearwood admits that jumping into the role of being a bonus mom took some getting used to. “When you don't have children, you have the luxury of being selfish, because it's just about you. You don't have to think about somebody else first,” she explains. “And as an artist, it's easy to be really egocentric because your job is to be thinking about your career, what you have to do next, how you're going to take yourself to the next level. So to get out of that space and to realize that it doesn't matter what I have going on, it was a real lesson for me.”
Transitioning from single artist to bonus mom had its challenges, but Yearwood and the girls couldn’t be closer these days. “It was a gift that I received from Garth and the girls of having them in a life that I didn't even know I was missing, you know, and I can't imagine my life without them.”
In fact, the holidays are especially sentimental for the Yearwood-Brooks family. “We got married on December 10th. It was a holiday wedding and the girls participated in the ceremony,” she says. Yearwood and Brooks felt it was important to include the girls in the small, private ceremony because the marriage was more about bringing them all together as a family.
They continue to use their wedding as a family bonding experience. Now, almost 16 years after getting married, the family gets together every year on Yearwood and Brooks' anniversary to decorate the Christmas tree.
While eldest daughter Taylor chooses to keep most details of her life private, middle daughter August is the mother of two children, Karalynn and Gwendolyn; and youngest daughter Allie is following in her dad and bonus mom’s footsteps by pursuing a country music career. The 24-year-old Nashville-based singer has been adamant about paying her dues in the industry and not just riding the coattails of her famous family. Her debut album, Stones, released on Black Friday.
This December will mark Trisha and Garth’s 16th anniversary — a number that stands out in the world of celebrity marriages. Despite juggling demanding careers, being parents to three girls, and keeping up with hectic schedules, Yearwood and Brooks have built a long-lasting marriage that has many wondering if there’s a secret to its success. According to Yearwood, it’s not so much a secret as it is a solid foundation and willingness to put in the work. “We aren't like a magical couple. We have our days, right? But we are best friends. I think the groundwork that we laid by being friends for such a long time before we were a couple has been important.”
Being best friends may have gotten the couple off to a good start but it’s the everyday work they put into their marriage that keeps them happily married. To that end, despite their demanding careers, the two have vowed to try to never spend a night apart — and they take that seriously.
“Even before the pandemic, where we have spent every day together, we spent very few nights apart because we just feel like that's important,” she says. “We were both married before, and so we
thought if we're going to be together, let's not get married to
be together and then be apart.”
With wildly successful cookbooks, albums, and a TV show under her belt, what’s next for Yearwood? First, she says, “I'm ready to go on a vacation.” After almost two years at home that’s certainly understandable, but Yearwood also wants to get even more creative in the kitchen. “I'm not a chef, but I've learned so much from the chefs that work on the show and they have made me feel like what I bring to the table is valuable, even though I'm a home cook,” she says. “I think that's been the greatest gift of the show is just to have the confidence to try new things.”
In fact, the dressing Yearwood and her sister are making this year is a twist on one of their grandma’s classic recipes. “Our grandmother's cornbread dressing has just basic
cornbread in it. But in the new cookbook, there is a skillet, cheesy cornbread that has become our favorite. I know that my grandmother's in heaven listening and we love your cornbread, grandma, but this is just unreal.” Yearwood’s family has had a significant impact on her career as a cookbook author. In fact, her first cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen: Recipes from My Family to Yours: A Cookbook, was written along with Beth and their mother, Gwendolyn, and is filled with recipes from Yearwood’s family.
Along with her sister, Yearwood will be spending the holidays with her husband, Garth Brooks and his three daughters, Allie, 25, August, 27 and Taylor, 29. Rather than calling herself a stepmom to the girls, Yearwood prefers the term “bonus" mom. “When I think stepmom, I think Cinderella, you know, so I always prefer bonus mom,” she says. “Jada Pinkett Smith told me years ago, she's like, ‘you’re a bonus mom, don't call yourself something else.’ So I've taken that and run with it.”
In fact, Yearwood (who was previously married to Christopher Latham from 1987-1991 and Robert Reynolds from 1994-1999) and Brooks, (who was married to Sandy Mahl from 1986-2001) go as far as to turn down jobs to ensure their marriage remains their focus. “That means sometimes you don't get to do things you want to do because I would love to go do this movie or that project, but I'd be gone for two weeks and he can't go so that's just not an option.”
There may be something to that old adage of opposites attract because when it comes to Yearwood and Brooks, they often have differing opinions. “Garth is much more of a thoughtful person than me,” Yearwood admits. “I think he wakes up 24/7 thinking about how he can make my life better, and I think about him maybe 20 hours a day,” Yearwood laughs as she explains. “The rest of the time I'm thinking, how do I make myself better or more grateful for everything he does?”
Perhaps their differences are most apparent in the kitchen. While Yearwood is a total pro when it comes to food, Garth’s cooking skills leave much to be desired. “When we met, Garth kind of famously had a couple of things that he made in the microwave for [his girls] and that was it,” Yearwood reveals. “I'm more adventurous food-wise than him. He can eat the same thing every day and be fine. Some of my southern things like collard greens, he's not going to eat.”
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle.
2. Place the walnuts in an even layer on a small baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until fragrant and toasted, giving them a shake halfway through. Keep a close eye on the walnuts, because they can easily burn. Let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside.
3. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Spray a 9 x 5-inch glass loaf pan with cooking spray.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, sugar,
and apple pie spice.
5. Peel the pears and grate into a rimmed baking sheet or shallow bowl to reserve the juices so you get 1 1/2 cups of pulp and juice. Put the grated pears and their juices to a large bowl. Add the egg, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla and whisk to combine, then add the dry mixture in two parts until fully combined. Fold in the walnuts and cranberries until they are evenly dispersed. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven rack for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the bread has domed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Since there is fresh fruit in the loaf, test it with the toothpick in two or three places. You might put the toothpick into a cranberry and think it’s not baked.
6. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then gently transfer from the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
1 c walnut halves
Nonstick cooking spray
¾ c all-purpose flour
¾ c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
½ t kosher salt
¾ c sugar
¾ t apple pie spice (see Tips)
3 medium Bosc pears
1 large egg
½ c canola oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract
1 c fresh or frozen cranberries (see Tips), thawed, well drained, and patted dry if frozen
Trisha’s Tips: If you don’t have apple pie spice, make your own! For 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, combine ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice, and a dash of ground cloves. If you can’t find fresh or frozen cranberries at your grocery store, substitute ¾ cup dried cranberries. To rehydrate them, cover with water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Drain and add to the recipe.
When bags of fresh cranberries start showing up in the produce department, I start thinking about my favorite fall quick breads. This recipe combines some of the best—cranberries, pears, and walnuts—into a bread that Garth has been quick to finish off (quick bread—get it??). And that touch of apple pie spice in the batter makes my kitchen smell like autumn’s on the way. This is a delicious alternative to banana bread.
Excerpted from TRISHA’S KITCHEN: Easy Comfort Food for Friends and Family © 2021 by Trisha Yearwood with Beth Yearwood Bernard. Photography © 2021 by Ben Fink. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
video By Reshma Gopaldas,
Emily Collins and kenzie mastroe
Photographer: Russ Harrington
Stylist: Claudia Fowler
Hair: Earl Cox
Makeup: Mary Beth Felts
By Kenzie Mastroe
The Grammy-winning country singer-turned
Food Network star talks about her new cookbook, what she’s making this holiday season, and the secret to her
long-lasting marriage with Garth Brooks.