Cookbook co-authors Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs returned to us in 1996 with a beautiful new cookbook titled SPIRIT OF THE WEST/COOKING FROM THE RANCH HOUSE AND RANGE.
SPIRIT OF THE WEST is a spectacular companion volume to SPIRIT OF THE HARVEST published by the co-authors in 1991.
SPIRIT OF THE WEST was aptly dedicated by Beverly (a fourth generation Wyoming native) to her grandmother, Mary Ketcham Cox, who was born on a ranch near the outskirts of Cheyenne in 1881, when Wyoming was still a territory. Grandma, says Beverly, was a frontier woman who rode horses, presided over tea parties and shot rattlesnakes with equal aplomb. (Grandma sounds like the kind of woman I would have loved to have known).
You will surely recognize the name of the cookbook author who penned the introduction to SPIRIT OF THE WEST, – Sam Arnold, author of FRYING PANS WEST which was also a television series, and EATING UP THE SANTE FE TRAIL. The latter, illustrated by his wife, Carrie, was published in 1990 by the University Press of Colorado. (Mr. Arnold also wrote the foreword for WAGON WHEEL KITCHENS by Jacqueline Williams and published by the University Press of Kansas (one of the books in my collection about pioneer women).
“Ranch life thrives!” Sam exclaims as he tells the story of participating in a cattle drive—a new experience for him for although he has lived half a century in the west, Arnold was born and raised in Denver and has written much about the settling of the west and the foods people ate, but states quite frankly that contemporary cowboy life hasn’t touched his.
Stories in the press about the demise of ranchers and cowboys are inaccurate, Sam claims. Times may change but ranching is still going strong! Cattle and buffalo ranches abound in the West (I believe this is true, just as I am convinced there is a phenomenal increased interest in ranching, judging by the number of recent cookbook publications devoted to this one topic!)
Sam Arnold explains that this is why Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs’ book is such a treasure. Beverly has put together stories and recipes from the West’s great family ranches, including her own.
“She takes us on a tour,” Sam writes, “beginning with the vaquero traditions of Mexican ranchers, and follows the history of western cattle ranching from before the Civil War to today. She writes about tough times and periods of near starvation. But ranch cooking isn’t all just basic beans, bacon and corn pones. Today, ranches serve a wide variety of meats of different kinds and cuts, plus fruits and vegetables, fresh and dried…the recipes are here.”
Ms. Cox traveled deep into Mexico’s northern mountains, miles from main roads, to learn authentic recipes of present-day Mexican vaqueros.
“Don’t be surprised,” Sam tells us, “to find a lot of canned goods in these recipes. This tradition goes way back in time to the beginnings of the 19th century, when canned products first became available. Canned tomatoes were the cowman’s thirst quencher.”
Look for recipes such as El Pato Mexican Rice, Posole (pork and hominy soup), Old California Chicken Enchiladas (on my list of recipes to make), Rancho Enchilada Sauce, Santa Cruz Turkey, Salsa Mexicana, Leola’s Pecan Cookies (another one on my list to make), and Roasted Pepper and Tomato Relish. I know a lot of you aren’t into canning although I am – and there is a recipe for Linda Vernon’s Pickled Beets that I can’t wait to try…but first I need a gallon of beets. I don’t think my garden is going to produce that much this year but it’s something to keep in mind for NEXT year.
Along with the recipes, SPIRIT OF THE WEST includes thumbnail biographies of many ranchers.
Ms. Cox is the prolific author of thirteen cookbooks, including CLASSIC ITALIAN COKING, 365 GREAT 20 MINUTE RECIPES (published in 1995) BEST OF ICE CREAM, COOKING TECHNIQUES, MINCEUR ITALIENNE, and, of course, the spectacular 1991 cookbook SPIRIT OF THE HARVEST which she co-authored with Jacobs. (Some of Ms. Cox’s early cookbooks are classified “hard to find” by the internet people but you and I know of so many sources for pre-owned cookbooks.)
Ms. Cox is a fourth generation Wyoming rancher who grew up on a cattle ranch near Cheyenne. Her interest in the region’s traditional foods and history began in her childhood. Beverly studied cooking, however, in France where she earned a Grand Diploma from the Cordon Bleu in Paris (which explains the Italian influence cookbooks). After years of living in Connecticut, in 1991 Beverly and her husband, Gordon Black moved to her family’s Eagle Rock Ranch located in the Chalk Bluffs region of Northern Colorado.
Martin Jacobs is an award-winning photographer who specializes in food photography and has photographed many cookbooks. (I can attest to the food photos in SPIRIT OF THE WEST all being mouth-watering).
SPIRIT OF THE WEST was published in 1996 by Artisan and is available on Amazon.com new for $15 and pre-owned from 51 cents. Barnes & Noble has the book starting at 51 cents (pre-owned) and Alibris.com has copies starting at 99c for pre-owned.
THE BEST OF ICE CREAM is available on Amazon.com starting at one cent for pre owned copies and $1.29 for a new one. Alibris has this cookbook for 99c pre owned or $1.29 new.
EATING CUBAN by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs was published in 2006 and a pre owned copy is around $15.00.
SPIRIT OF THE EARTH BY Cox and Jacobs is available on Amazon.com starting at $3.60.
GREAT 20 MINUTE MEALS can be found starting at one cent for pre owned or $4.75 for a new copy.
(I should mention, the only two cookbooks of Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs that I have at this time is SPIRIT OF THE HARVEST and SPIRIT OF THE WEST. If I am able to obtain SPIRIT OF THE EARTH or EATING CUBAN, I think they would be books I would enjoy reviewing on my blog –
Happy cooking & Happy cookbook collecting!