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The Chuckwagon

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Chronicle of the Old West presents...

The Chuckwagon

We come across articles from newspapers printed in the 1800's that contain recipes and cooking tips that you might find interesting. Some have become our favorites and others are simply amusing.

The Chuckwagon

1876 COTTAGE CHEESE

Allow milk to form clabber. 
Skim off cream once clabbered. 
Set clabbered milk on very low heat and cut in 1 inch squares. 
Place colander into clabber. 
Dip off whey that rises into the colander. 
When clabber becomes firm, rinse with cold water. 

Squeeze liquid out and press into ball. 
Crumble into bowl. 
Mix curds with thick cream.  

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Mormon Johnnycake

Here is a form of cornbread used not only by the Mormon immigrants,
as the name indicates, but quite often by most of the immigrants traveling west.
Because of the inclusion of buttermilk, a source of fresh milk was a necessity.

2-cups of yellow cornmeal
½-cup of flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients and mix in
2-cups of buttermilk and 2-tablespoons molasses.

Pour into a greased 9” pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. 
To get a lighter johnnycake include two beaten eggs
and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

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Soda Biscuits

Take 1lb flour, and mix it with enough milk to make a stiff dough;
dissolve 1tsp carbonate of soda in a little milk;
add to dough with a teaspoon of salt.

Work it well together and roll out thin;
cut into round biscuits, and bake them in a moderate oven.
The yolk of an egg is sometimes added.

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Vinegar Lemonade

Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a 12 ounce glass of water.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar to taste.

Note: The pioneers used vinegar for numerous reasons.
One reason was to add vitamin C to their diet.

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Fried Apples

Fry 4 slices of bacon in a Dutch oven. Remove bacon.

Peel and slice 6 to 8 Granny Smith apples.

Put apples in Dutch oven with bacon grease,
cover and cook down the apples, but not to mush.

Serve topped with butter or cream and crumbled bacon.

They're great for breakfast or desert!

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Dutch Oven Trout

As soon as possible after catching your trout,
clean them and wipe the inside and outside of the trout
with a cloth wet with vinegar water.

Don't put the trout in the water.
Roll the trout in a mixture of flour,
dry powdered milk,
cornmeal,
salt and pepper.

Heat deep fat in a Dutch oven and fry until crisp and golden brown.

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Stuffing For A Turkey

From an 1888 cookbook

Mix thoroughly a quart of stale bread, very finely grated;
the grated rind of a lemon;
quarter of an ounce of minced parsley and thyme,
one part thyme, two parts parsley;
and pepper and salt to season. 

Add to these one unbeaten egg and half a cup of butter;
mix all well together and moisten with hot water or milk. 

Other herbs than parsley or thyme may be used if preferred, and a little onion, finely minced, added if desired. 

The proportions given here may be increased when more is required.

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Guidelines for Storing Meat

In the 1800’s people in the West didn’t have a refrigerator or freezer to keep their meat fresh, so they used other means.  Below are summer guidelines for storing meat.  Incidentally, we don’t recommend your trying these methods today.  They are not that dependable.

Cover the meat with sour milk or buttermilk and store in a cellar.

In areas where the nights are cool, hang the meat in the open from a tree so any breeze can pass around it.  Make sure the meat is brought inside at dawn.  During the day wrap the meat in a tarp and store in a shady place.  Make sure the blow flies don’t deposit eggs on the meat.

Keep the meat away from rain and damp nights.  Any meat that gets wet must be cooked or jerked immediately.

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Oregon Trail Breakfast
Cornmeal Mush

1 Cup cornmeal
4 Cups boiling water
1 Tablespoon lard
1 Teaspoon salt
Dried currents

Put currents into water and bring to boil.  Sprinkle cornmeal into boiling water stirring constantly, adding lard and salt.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Pour in bowls and top with milk, butter and molasses.

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An Exerpt
From the Diary of a Pioneer Heading West

“Had us a fine trail breakfast this here mornin’…not too fussy neither! 

Fried up some bacon real crispy and served it up with
cold soda biscuits to dip in the grease. 

Made the morning a little special since it’s been two months today, since we left our home in Wisconsin…a little celebration…
I warmed up a bit of maple syrup to dip the biscuits in also. 

Was good for a smile all ‘round the fire and a good start to the day.”

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Corn Dodgers

2 Cups yellow cornmeal
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Cups milk
1 Teaspoon baking powder

Preheat Dutch oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook cornmeal in a saucepan with butter, salt, sugar and milk until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Add baking powder. Spoon the mix onto the Dutch oven in heaping tablespoon-size balls, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes. They are done when slightly brown around the edges.

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Black Pudding

Here’s an old ranch recipe courtesy of Winkie Crigler, founder and curator of The Little House Museum in Greer, Arizona.

6 Eggs
1 Cup Sweet Milk
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Soda
1 Cup Sugar 
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Molasses

Mix well.  Pour into 1-pound can and steam for 2 to 3 hours by placing in kettle of boiling water.  Keep covered.

This is to be served with a vinegar sauce:
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp  Butter
1 Tbsp Flour
2 Tbsp Vinegar
½ Tsp Nutmeg

            Put in enough boiling water for amount of sauce wanted. 
            Add two slightly beaten eggs and cook stirring constantly to the desired consistency.

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How To Fry Quick Doughnuts

The following recipe for doughnuts came from the March 17, 1885 Daily Missoulian.  Obviously, anyone making these doughnuts will want to find a substitute for fat as a cooking oil.

Put a frying kettle half full of fat over the fire to heat.  Shift together one pound of flour, one teaspoonful each of salt and bicarbonate of soda, and half a saltspoon full of grated nutmeg. 

Beat half a pound of butter to a cream and add them to the flour.  Beat the yokes of two eggs to a cream, add them to the first-named ingredients, beat the whites to a stiff froth and reserve them. 

Mix into the flour and sugar enough sour milk to make a soft dough and then quickly add the whites of the eggs.  Roll out the paste at once, shape and fry.

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Corn Muffins for Breakfast
Farmer’s Almanac 1885

Pour one quart of boiling milk over one pint of fine cornmeal.  While the mixture is still hot, add one tablespoonful of butter and a little salt, stirring the batter thoroughly. 

Let is stand until cool, then add a small cup of wheat flour and two well-beaten eggs. 

When mixed sufficiently, put the batter into well-greased shallow tins (or, better yet, into gem pans) and bake in a brick oven for one-half hour, or until richly browned.  Serve hot.

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Kid Pie

If the kid (goat) is too fat to roast, cut it into pieces and make pies.  Make a sauce of cut up perejil (parsley) and put in the pies with a little sweet oil and place it in the oven. 

A little before you take it out of the oven beat some eggs with vinegar or orange juice and put into the pie through the holes made in the crust for the steam to escape. 

Then return pies to oven for enough time to repeat The Lord's Prayer three times, then take the pies out and put them before the master of the house, cut it and give it to him.           

From a Texas frontier cookbook.

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Potato Pie

Boil one-quarter pound potatoes until soft, then peel them and rub them through a sieve.  Add one quart of milk, three teaspoonfuls of melted butter, four beaten eggs, and sugar and nutmeg to taste.  Bake as you would a custard pie.

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Brown Gravy

The following is a farm recipe for gravy from the late 1880’s.

This gravy may be made in larger quantities, then kept in a stone jar and used as wanted.

Take 2 pounds of beef, and two small slices of lean bacon. Cut the meat into small pieces. Put into a stew-pan a piece of butter the size of an egg, and set over the fire.

Cut two large onions in thin slices. Put them in the butter and fry a light brown, then add the meat. Season with whole peppers.

Salt to taste. Add three cloves, and pour over one cupful of water.

Let it boil fifteen or twenty minutes, stirring it occasionally.

Then add two quarts of water, and simmer very gently for two hours.

Now strain, and when cold, remove all the fat.

To thicken this gravy, put in a stew pan a lump of butter a little larger than an egg, add two teaspoonfuls of flour, and stir until a light brown.

When cold, add it to the strained gravy, and boil up quickly. Serve very hot with the meats.

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Chuckwagon Terms - Part 2

Cowboys are noted for developing their own vocabulary.

Sometimes it was because they couldn’t pronounce the word correctly as used in the language of origin. They were famous for perverting Spanish words.

Cowboys also named items because the item reminded them of something else. However they came about, cowboys had a vocabulary that was colorful and their own.

Below are some words used in reference to chuck, or for the non-cowboy, food, while they were on the trail.

  • Calf Slobbers – Meringue on a pie.
  • Fried Chicken – Bacon rolled in flour and fried.
  • Chuck Wagon Chicken – Fried bacon.
  • Charlie Taylor – A substitute for butter. A combination of molasses and bacon grease.
  • “Man at the Pot!” – Term yelled at a person pouring himself a cup of coffee. A cowboy’s way of saying, “Pour me a cup too.”
  • Spotted Pup – Cooking raisins in rice.
  • Stacked to a fill – Compliment to the chief following a great meal.
  • Dry Camp – A camp that has no water available.
  • Prairie or Mountain Oysters – Calf’s testicles.

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Slapjack

This recipe came from The Old Confederacy Receipt Book of 1863.

Take flour, little sugar and water,
mix with or without a little yeast, the latter better if at hand,
mix into paste and fry the same as fritters in clean fat.

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Buffalo Jerky

Slice buffalo meat along the grain into strips 1/8 inch thick, 1/2 inch wide
and 2 to 3 inches long.

Hang them on a rack in a pan and bake at 200
degrees until dry.

To prepare outside, suspend them over a fire or drape
them on bushes to dry in the sun.

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Coffee Roast

Cowboys loved their coffee.
Here’s a recipe where coffee is actually used in cooking a roast.

Cut slits in a 3 to 5 pound brisket. Insert garlic and onion into the slits.
Pour one cup of vinegar over the meat, and work it into the slits.
Marinate for 24 to 48 hours – refrigerated, of course.

Place in a Dutch oven.
Pour 2 cups of strong coffee and 2 cups water over the meat.
Simmer for 4 to 6 hours.
If necessary, add water during the cooking.

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Chuckwagon Terms

Wreck pan:
The pan in which cowboys placed their dirty dishes following a meal.

Squirrel can:
The large can in which cowboys scraped the food scraps
before placing them in the wreck pan.

Cook’s last job of the evening:
Point the tongue of the chuckwagon toward the north
so the herd could “follow the tongue” the next day.

Gut robber, greasy belly, biscuit shooter:
Cowboys names for both the ranch house and trail drive cook.

Coffee recipe:
A hand full of coffee for every cup of water.

Possum belly:
A rawhide apron attached to the underside of the chuckwagon
in which wood and buffalo chips are stored for the dinner fire.

Why cooks threw dirty dishwater under chuckwagon:
This helped protect the cook’s domain by discouraging cowboys
from taking a nap in the shade under the chuckwagon.

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Boy in Bag

2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts (black walnuts are fine)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup chopped suet
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup chopped dried fruit of any kind.

Chop suet into small pieces no pieces being larger than a bean.
Combine with raisins, nuts, brown sugar, and chopped dried fruit.

Then mix flour, spices, and salt with baking powder.
Add gradually to fruit mixture with milk, beating well.

Put in flour sack or tie in large square of cloth. Put in kettle of boiling water and boil 3 hours, always keeping enough boiling water, and put on cloth to drain.

After about ½ hour, untie cloth and turn pudding onto dish. Let chill.

Slice and serve with hard sauce.
This pudding will keep well and is similar to plum pudding.

This can be made in camp with molasses instead of brown sugar. Or can be made with white sugar instead of either brown sugar or molasses.
This was a great favorite with chuck wagon cooks.

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Tomato Catsup

One gallon skinned tomatoes
three heaping tablespoonfuls of salt
some black pepper
two of allspice
three of ground mustard
half dozen pods of red pepper

Stew all slowly together in a quart of vinegar for three hours.
Strain liquid, and simmer down to half gallon. Bottle hot and cork tight.

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Thanksgiving Pudding

(From an 1880 Cookbook)

Pound 20 crackers fine, add 5 cups milk and let swell.
Beat well 14 eggs
pint sugar
cup molasses
2 small nutmegs
2 TSP ground clove
3 ground cinnamon
2 TSP salt
½ TSP soda.
Add to crackers.
Finally add pint of raisins. Makes two puddings.

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Brown Bread

Into 3 ½ cups of boiling water mix:

1 teaspoon each soda, salt and molasses.

Mix in enough graham flour to make a stiff batter.

When the mixture cools down, stir in one pint of light sponge,
made from a cake of compressed yeast.

Put into buttered bread tins, and set in a warm place until very light.
Then bake in a rather quick oven.

This will make two medium sized loaves.

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Baked Apple Pudding

The recipe below was brought out west in the 1800’s
by the ancestors of Audrey Crandell of Linden, Arizona.

3 Large apples, grated
1 cup sugar
1 cube butter
½ cup nuts
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Beat egg, sugar and butter.

Add apples and mix well.

Add dry ingredients.

Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve with cream or a white sauce.

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Chicken Recipe (or any other game bird!)

This is a very simple recipe for chicken (when they had them)
or any other game bird, used often by the frontier settlers.

Start with 3 to 4 pounds of foul.

¼ tsp sage
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp basil
¼ tsp coriander

Wash the bird or birds, and pat dry.

Sprinkle cavity with mixed seasoning, except basil.

Place in Dutch oven and sprinkle with basil.

Cover and bake for 4 to 6 hours until tender.

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Sourdough Cornbread

Here is a recipe to use some of the sourdough starter we shared with you previously. It comes from the Hashknife Outfit of Winslow, Arizona.

1 cup starter.
Enough cornmeal to make a beatable batter
1 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs beaten
¼ cup warm melted butter, or fat
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon soda

Mix starter, cornmeal, milk, eggs and stir thoroughly in large bowl.

Stir in melted butter, salt and soda.

Pour into a 10 inch greased frying pan or Dutch oven,
and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

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A Cowboy's Eating Vocabulary

As with everything the cowboy did, when it came to eating, the cowboy developed his own vocabulary. Sometimes it was a perversion of a commonly used word. Other times it seemed to have no relationship to anything other than what was in a cowboy’s mind.

Here are a few of the terms cowboys used for various aspects of eating:

Airtights: Canned goods. Usually corn, peaches, tomatoes and milk.

Arbuckle’s axle grease: Arbuckle brand of coffee was the one most used on the range. Axle grease referred to the strength of the coffee.

Cow Grease: Butter.

Hen Fruit: Eggs.

Padding Out His Belly: Someone who eats anything, anytime.

Slow Elk: Someone else’s steer slaughtered for food.

Swamp Seed: Rice. A staple on the trail.

Texas Butter: Gravy made from steak grease and flour. If available, milk was used.

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Vinegar Pie

There were two different kinds of vinegar pie, one without eggs cooked as a cobbler in a Dutch oven, and the one below which is a custard pie.

A most important concern for a cook on the trail was to have items, especially for dessert, that do not require perishable items, and can have substitute ingredients. When the cook wanted to make the pie below, and ran out of sugar, he would substitute molasses, honey or syrup.

½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons flour
3 egg yokes (Save the whites for a meringue.)
1 cup water

Line a pie pan with your favorite pie crust. Bake the crust about half done before placing the mixed ingredients into it.

Bake in a slow oven until the custard is done.

If you would like you can use the egg whites for a meringue, but it is not necessary.

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Calf’s Head Soup

From an 1879 cookbook.

Scald and clean the head, and boil in two gallons water with:

A shank of veal
2 carrots
3 onions
A small piece of bacon
A bunch of sweet herbs

When boiled a half hour, cut meat off head and shank. Let the soup boil half an hour longer, and then strain it.

Put meat back in the soup and season. Thicken with butter and brown flour.

Let boil an hour longer. Just before serving add tablespoon of sugar browned in frying pan and a half pint wine. Good substitute for turtle soup.

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Old-Fashioned Short Cake

From an 1891 recipe book entitled “Palatable Dishes.”

One quart of nice buttermilk,
add to it one teaspoonful of soda,
quarter of a teaspoonful of salt,
one tablespoonful of unmelted lard.

Then stir in enough sifted flour to make as soft a dough as can be handled.

Roll out to about half an inch thick, cut into diamonds and bake quickly.

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Mincemeat

With the holidays just around the corner we wanted to come up with something festive. So, here’s an “old timer’s” recipe for mincemeat.

Boil the neck meat of a cow, deer or elk until tender. Grind the meat.

Cook with a cup of vinegar for about three hours.

Add cooked apples, raisins, some allspice, cinnamon, cloves, molasses and black pepper.

Heat thoroughly all ingredients. If you want a little kick, add some brandy or whiskey.

The ingredients can be stored in a covered bowl in a cool place until you are ready to use them. Just before placing the mincemeat in a pie crust you can add some freshly diced apples.

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Graham Bread

(From an 1891 cookbook)

Sift together one and a half pints of Graham flour, half pint wheat flour, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon sugar and two teaspoons of baking powder.

Stir in one and a quarter pints of milk until it becomes a soft dough.

Pour into a well-greased bread pan and bake in rather hot oven for forty minutes. Cover the pan with brown paper for the first fifteen minutes. Remove and continue baking.

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Corn-bread With Yeast

(From an 1891 cookbook)

Scald one quart of sifted corn meal with boiling water to make a thick batter.

Add two tablespoonfuls of lard, half teaspoonful of salt, one tablespoonful of light brown sugar. Beat well.

When it is lukewarm add one cake of compressed yeast, dissolved in one cupful of lukewarm water. Beat together and set it to rise.

When light, pour in greased tins about half an inch thick. Bake in a moderate oven fifty minutes.

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Pickled Eggs

Because it was difficult to keep eggs fresh without refrigeration, pickled eggs were a delicacy while on the trail. Once a cowboy got into town, he was able to get pickled eggs at his favorite tavern to add a little solid food to offset the beer and whiskey.

1-cup tarragon vinegar
1-cup water
2 Tbs sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp celery seed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
12 shelled hard-boiled eggs

Combine all ingredients in saucepan, except eggs. Simmer 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Cool. Pour over eggs in a crock or jar. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 days before eating.

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Making Tough Beef Tender

1886 Daily Bee, Sacramento, California

Lay meat out smoothly and wipe it dry.

Take a coffee cup full of fine breadcrumbs, a little salt and pepper, a little powdered thyme or other sweet herb, and just enough milk to moisten to a stiff dressing. Mix well and spread over the meat. Roll it up and tie it up with twine.

Brown in salt pork fat, then put in half a pint of water. Cover and cook.

The toughest meat is made tender and nutritious when cooked in this way.

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Frontier Pudding

½ Cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
¼ Cup molasses
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp butter
¼ Tsp cinnamon
¼ Cup chopped apples
1 Egg plus another egg white beaten together
¼ Tsp baking soda
3 Cups milk

Mix all ingredients except milk. Scald half the milk and mix with ingredients.

Cook for 20 minutes in preheated Dutch over at 450 degrees.

Scald remaining milk and stir into other ingredients.

Cook for 3 hours at 300 degrees.
Serve hot or cold with cream.

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Sourdough Biscuits

Sourdough biscuits were a delicacy whether on the trail or at the ranch. Once a cook got a good sourdough starter he cherished it like a baby. On the trail he would store it in a dark, cool place in his chuck wagon. Here is one cook's recipe for a sourdough starter.

2 cups of lukewarm potato water

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

Make potato water by cutting up 2 medium-sized potatoes into cubes, and boil in cups of water until tender.

Remove the potatoes and measure out two cups of the remaining liquid. (The potatoes can be used for the evening meal.)

Mix the potato water, flour and sugar into a smooth paste.

Set the mixture in a warm place until it doubles its original size.

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Old West Omelet

Here’s an 1883 receipt for making an omelet:

Break all eggs into one plate. Stir rather than beat them.

For each three eggs add one teaspoon cold water. (Cold water makes the omelet light and moist.)

Salt and pepper, and place finely chopped parsley on the eggs.

Put two ounces of sweet butter in pan. When the butter is very hot, pour in the eggs.

The instant it is cooked on one side, turn it quickly and cook the other side.

Double it over when you serve it, on a very hot plate.

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How To Fry Quick Doughnuts

The following recipe for doughnuts came from the March 17, 1885 Daily Missoulian:

Put a frying kettle half full of fat over the fire to heat.

Shift together one pound of flour, one teaspoonful each of salt and bicarbonate of soda, and half a saltspoon full of grated nutmeg.

Beat half a pound of butter to a cream and add them to the flour.

Beat the yokes of two eggs to a cream, add them to the first-named ingredients, beat the whites to a stiff froth and reserve them.

Mix into the flour and sugar enough sour milk to make a soft dough and then quickly add the whites of the eggs.

Roll out the paste at once, shape and fry.

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Mountain Oysters

Next to donuts, mountain oysters, or less delicately stated, calf testicles, was a cowboy's most favorite food. In 1882, Oliver Nelson, the new cook for the T5 Ranch, was almost hanged because he threw out a half peck of "clippings." He thought the cowboys were playing a joke on him when they left them in his kitchen.

As you castrate the calf, place the freshly severed testicles in a pot of cold salt water.

Remove tough membrane and slice across the grain, into ¼ inch rounds. Rinse each piece several times under running water to remove blood.

Heat oil to 375 degrees. Soak in buttermilk. Stir together flour black pepper and seasoning. Drop individual slices, a few at a time, in flour mixture and quickly coat and remove. Carefully place each piece into oil and fry a few at a time to keep them from clumping together. When the meat floats it is done.

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Old West Cooking Terms

Here are some terms you would run into while traveling Out West in the 1800’s.

Li’l bitty ........................................1/4 tsp
Passle ...........................................1/2 tsp
Pittance ........................................1/3 tsp
Dib ................................................1/3 tsp
Crumble ........................................1/8 tsp
A Wave At It ..............................1/16 tsp

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Fart & Dart Beans

The following is not an actual 1800’s cattle drive recipe.  However, it is in the spirit of the bean dishes the cowboys ate.  Even better yet, it tastes great.

Mix together one 16 ounce can of the following: Pinto beans, pork & beans, red kidney beans, lima beans, white northern beans and butter beans.

1 lb cut up bacon
1 chopped onion
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp prepared mustard
½ cup vinegar
1 cup brown sugar

Fry the bacon until done, but not crisp. Pour beans, bacon, onion and garlic into large pan and mix. Simmer for 15 minutes a combination of the mustard, vinegar and brown sugar.

Pour the liquid over the beans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Mix the beans a couple of times during the cooking process.

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Fried Cakes

Here is a great treat whether you are a cowboy on a cattle drive; a member of a family on your way west; or spending the evening watching TV.

Obviously today you need to substitute an oil that builds less cholesterol than rendered beef fat. Sprinkling the Fried Cakes with sugar can make them a great dessert.

Mix well with fork 1-½ cups of flour and 1 cup water. With plenty of flour on hands and rolling surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch squares. Heat rendered beef fat in skillet, and add dough squares. Brown on both sides. Sprinkle fried cakes with salt. Makes about 20 cakes.

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Chocolate Carmels

Below is a candy recipe from the October 23, 1893 Albuquerque Evening Citizen.

Boil together:
a pound of white sugar
a quarter of a pound of chocolate
four tablespoons of molasses
a cup of sweet milk
a piece of butter as big as a walnut

When it will harden in water, flavor with vanilla and pour on a buttered slab.

When nearly cold, cut in squares.

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Sorghum Cake

This was a dessert made either at the ranch or restaurants in town.  It couldn’t be made on the cattle drive because of the need for butter and eggs, two items that would not remain fresh during a two to three month cattle drive.

2 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar 
2 eggs
1 cup sorghum molasses
½ cup water
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour

Start by mixing the butter and sugar.  Then add the eggs. 

In a separate bowl mix the molasses, water and baking soda.  Mix all the ingredients together. 

Bake about 45 minutes at a 350-degree temperature.

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Red Bean Pie

Beans were a staple of the cowboy's food, particularly when he was on the trail.  Beans could be easily stored and they were inexpensive.  And although it probably wasn't known, they're also nutritious.

Here is yet another way the cook could feed cowboys beans.

1-cup cooked and mashed pinto beans.
1-cup sugar.
3-beaten egg yokes.
1-teaspoon vanilla.
1-teaspoon nutmeg.

Place combined ingredients in an uncooked piecrust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Make a meringue with the leftover egg whites.  Spread over baked pie and return to oven to brown.

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Lazy Cobbler

This updated version of an old cowboy dessert, sometimes called dump, will serve 12 hungry cowboys.

Cook in a 12’ Dutch oven.  Use 2 cans slices peaches or pineapple with syrup, 1 package of white or yellow cake mix, 1/3 stick butter and some ground cinnamon.  Place fruit into oven.  Spread cake mix evenly over fruit.  Sprinkle cinnamon and thin slices of butter on top. .  Put lid on top of oven

Place 15 hot charcoal briquettes on the bottom and 10 on the top.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until you can stick a toothpick into the cake without having batter on it when you pull the toothpick out.

If you would like to mix the peaches into the cake, do so when the cobbler is about half done, and continue baking until done.

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Cornfield Peas

Take freshly picked peas in your left hand and gouge them out with your right thumb until it gets sore, and then reverse hands. 

Throw the shelled peas mercilessly into hot water and boil them until they ‘cave in.’  Then fry them about ten minutes in plenty of good fat meat gravy. 

When you see that the union is complete, put them in a dish and eat them all.

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Hominy

Jane Winterston ran a sporting house and restaurant in early Abilene, Kansas.  One of the favorite dishes was hominy.  It was a favorite of Will Bill Hickok.

“Melt a generous amount of butter in a frying pan.  Add a cup of hominy and mix until covered with butter.  Chop up pimentos as finely as possible.  Add to hominy and salt and pepper to taste.”

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Trail Measurements

Glob....................1 tsp.
Bit....................3/4 tsp.
Bitty....................1/2 tsp.
LI’L Bitty....................1/4 tsp.
Lump....................1 tbsp.
Good Lump....................2 tsp.
Heap....................Rounded Cupful.
Whole Heap....................2 Rounded Cupfuls.
Bunch....................6 Items

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Chicken Broth

Cut cleaned chicken into small pieces, break all bones, and place it in a pot with one-quart water and two teaspoons of salt.  Cover and let simmer for 3 1/2 hours, or until the meat drops from the bones.

If necessary, add a little hot water while it is cooking.  When done, there should be a pint of broth.  Strain into a bowl and when cold remove all grease that is on the top.

When ready to serve, heat again.

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Crackling Cornbread

For six servings sift 1 1/2 cups cornmeal, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon soda, and 1 teaspoon salt.  To this add 2 cups buttermilk, 1 egg, and 1 cup finely chopped cracklings.  (Cracklings are the skin of the hog, which has been rendered of all fat until the pieces are very crisp and almost dry.)

Blend the above ingredients well.  Pour the batter into a hot, well-greased baking pan, and bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes.

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Curing Bacon

One-peck salt to five hundred pounds pork.  To five gallons water:

4 pounds salt

1 pound sugar

1 pint molasses

1 teaspoonful saltpeter

Mix, and after sprinkling the fleshy side of the ham with the salt, pack in a tight barrel.  Hams first, then shoulders, middlings.  Pour over the brine; leave the meat in brine from four to seven weeks.

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Noodles

Shift 2 cups flour onto a pastry board.  In well in center of the flour, break one egg and add 2 tablespoons warm water and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Work mixture together, adding water to make a very stiff dough.

Divide into two equal parts and roll as thin as possible.  Cut into ribbons.  After 30 minutes of standing, place ribbons in salty boiling water.  Boil until just tender.  Drain and toss with melted butter and breadcrumbs.  Serve hot.

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Ash Cake

This is a pioneer bread using corn meal, salt and either cold or warm water to create a batter.

Pour the batter on a hot hearth or if outside on a hot rock. Spread ashes on the top.

When the bread is brown, brush off the ashes. Some ashes will penetrate the batter, but early settlers thought it only served to enhance the flavor!

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Lacy-Edged Corn Pancakes

Into 1 cup white cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, mix an egg and 1 1/4 cup buttermilk.

Place tablespoon of bacon fat or lard in hot skillet.  Let the shortening smoke a little before placing into it a tablespoon of batter, dropped at a distance of six inches.  Dropping batter at a distance into hot shortening is essential.

Serve with syrup made by bringing to boil over a low heat 1 cup dark-brown sugar, 1/4 cup water and tablespoon butter bacon fat.

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Molasses Stack Cake

Blend ½ cup buttermilk, ½ cup shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup molasses, ½ teaspoon soda and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon. 

Then add 2 cups flour.  Roll the dough thin and cut into circles the size of a small cake.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet until slightly brown.

Place sweet and seasoned apple sauce between layers.  Dribble a little molasses over the top and place a dollop of whipped cream over it.

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Tapioca Jelly

One cupful of tapioca.  Pour over it three cupfuls of cold water and let it stand three hours, then put it in a saucepan set within another pan of boiling water. 

If the tapioca has soaked up the water, add a little lukewarm water to it, then boil, stirring frequently when it begins to clear. If too thick, add a little boiling water, about a tablespoonful. 

When quite clear, add white sugar to taste, the juice of one lemon and very little of the grated rind. 

Pour into a mould wet with cold water.  Serve when cold with sugar and cream.

(This is a recipe from Palatable Dishes, a book published in 1891.  The book is a practical guide to good living.)

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Kiss Pudding

One quart of milk, four tablespoons of 1883 Texas Cookbookcornstarch, mixed with a little cold milk, and five eggs.

Beat the yolks of the eggs with one cup of sugar and the corn starch. Put in the milk and let it boil until it thickens, stirring all the time.

Beat the whites: add a cup of sugar, flavor and spread over the pudding. Brown in the oven.

(From an 1883 Texas Cookbook)

 

 

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Ash Cake

Baked Apple Pudding

Black Pudding

Boy in a Bag

Brown Bread

Brown Gravy

Buffalo Jerky

Calf's Head Soup

Chicken (or any other game bird!)

Chicken Broth

Chocolate Carmels

Chuckwagon Terms

Chuckwagon Terms 2

Coffee Roast

Corn Dodgers

Cornfield Peas

Corn-bread With Yeast

Cornmeal Mush

Corn Muffins for Breakfast

Cottage Cheese

Cowboy's Eating Vocabulary

Crackling Cornbread

Curing Bacon

Dutch Oven Trout

Exerpt from the diary of a pioneer headed west

Fart & Dart Beans

Fried Apples

Fried Cakes

Frontier Pudding

Graham Bread

Hominy

How To Fry Quick Doughnuts

Kid Pie

Kiss Pudding

Lacy-Edged Corn Pancakes

Lazy Cobbler

Making Tough Beef Tender

Mincemeat

Molasses Stack Cake

Mormon Johnnycake

Mountain Oysters

Noodles

Old-Fashioned Short Cake

Old West Cooking Terms

Old West Omelet

Oregon Trail Breakfast
(Cormeal Mush)

Pickled Eggs

Potato Pie

Quick Doughnuts

Red Bean Pie

Slapjack

Soda Biscuits

Sorghum Cake

Sourdough Biscuits

Sourdough Cornbread

Storing Meat

Stuffing for a Turkey

Tapioca Jelly

Thanksgiving Pudding

Tomato Catsup

Trail Measurements

Vinegar Lemonade

Vinegar Pie



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