Home, home on the range
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day”
I’ve read a lot lately about cowboys from my book “The Texas Cowboy Cookbook, a History in Recipes and Photos” by Robb Walsh. I’m learning that the cowboy did more than tote a gun, drink in saloons with swinging doors and play poker. Their story is not only about life on the range, but also traveling distances to protect a herd of cattle through Indian territory and scout for new territory. Yet, some of the more ugly truths are more difficult to romanticize like stealing cattle from Mexicans and killing Indians. Of course, the mythical cowboy still exists in our imagination- the kind we like to see and read about: John Wayne, Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack, who made the cowboy look cool with all sorts of exaggerated notions of western living. The author of my book writes: “Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack made a lot of money by going east and blurring the line between fiction and history…Dressed in fanciful costumes, they told stories, threw lariats, and rescued damsels by killing dozens and dozens of “savages” onstage” pointing out that these little hokey scenes had a “grisly basis in reality.” Buffalo Bill was a real Indian Fighter and Texas Jack a real cattle driver, spy and scout. But back on the range, real cowboys had to eat.
Since February is Texas month and I’m writing about Texas cooking, I definitely must write about and take my hat off to the Texas cowboy. Yawwwhooo!!! Blazing the trails, you are just as likely to see Spanish Vaqueros, Black cowboys- free and former slaves-just as much as you are likely to see a John Wayne type cowboy -cattle raising out in the plains and hills of Tejas. One thing’s for sure, you gotta feed these good ol’ boys something to eat, so why not cook up a pot of beans, picadillo and sourdough biscuits cause that’s what you just might find on a chuck wagon. Chuck Wagon cooking is in a class all by itself. But out on the range and on cattle drives many of these cowboys would have to settle for what groceries were available. Chiles and spices were some of the more popular items found in the wagon. Think Chile con carne. So this week in my home on the range, I am rustling up some grub for my guys and damsels out of my cowboy Texas cookbook. Check it out:
- Ribeye, Fresh Field Peas, Broccoli
- Beans with Picadillo tostadas
- Calabacitas con carne
- Stewed Baby Okra, Creole Rice, Bulls Eye Bar b Que Tenderloin
- Smoked Fired Beef Ribs with Black Coffee Molasses BBQ sauce
“Ants in the butter, flies in the meat, if you bastards are hungry, get up here and eat”-Cowboy Chow Call
See you later and next time more wagon stories about the Urban Cowboy and Women Cowgirls.