Though it was published in 1985 – and so has been around for a while – TRAIL BOSS’S COWBOY COOKBOOK new to me, the kind of book to catch my attention as I began to delve into books about cowboys and Indians, pioneers and homesteaders…and more importantly, from our point of view, what they cooked and ate.
TRAIL BOSS’S COWBOY COOKBOOK was compiled and published to benefit SRM, the Society for Range Management. Aha, you say, some of us city slickers don’t know what this means—and so, I’ll explain.
We find this in the introduction to the cookbook: “The Society for Range Management (SRM) is the broadest, most knowledgeable organization concerned with rangeland and its renewable resource products and values. The membership interests encompass ranching, wildlife biology, hydrology, range conservation, soil conservation, students, teachers, and private industry.
The Society was found4ed in 1948 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to a more comprehensive understanding of rangeland, its ecosystems and their use…”
As of 1985, the Society consisted of over 5,000 members and is international in scope, representing 50 states and 48 countries. The objectives of SRM members includes the proper care of the basic rangeland resources of soil, plants and water, and of creating a public interest in the economic and social benefits to be obtained from the range environment.
You may be saying to yourself – I live in the city – why should the conservation of rangelands concern me?
Well, for one thing rangelands are the primary source of our meat supply. Nearly all calves and older animals are born and raised on rangelands. The most efficient and economical way to harvest the renewable vegetation of rangelands is through the grazing animal; and this in turn provides economical, high quality meat for your table.
“Were it not got domestic livestock”, explains the Trail Boss, “millions of acres of land might not be useful for producing any kind of food. Rangelands also provide a home for the sheep and goats that supply meat, wool, and mohair. Livestock hides used for shoes, boots, clothing and other goods are another important indirect product of rangelands…”
“Rangelands,” states the Trail Boss, “provide the vital food cover and water for many kinds of wildlife. Big and small game and numerous birds depend on range during a part, if not all, the year.
Rangelands are one of our greatest sources of water. They provide vast underground storage reservoirs for water used for domestic purposes, industry, and agriculture. Natural runoff from rangelands contributes water to streams, rivers and lakes…”
And finally, explains the Trail Boss, “Rangelands provide many forms of year-round recreation. Whether your interests are hunting, fishing, rock collecting, hiking, horseback riding, painting or photography. The rangelands have something to offer..”
And here are a few statistics to consider:
Rangelands provide approximately 75% of the worldwide forage needs for livestock, food and cover for wildlife, water for many uses, and open space for beauty, recreation, environmental balance and diversity.
So, even though you and I may be city slickers, the rangelands and their conservation are just as important to us as they are to our country cousins.
TRAIL BOSS’S COWBOY COOKBOOK contains 458 recipes from 24 states and 8 countries, which include Australia and even Africa. There are recipes for foods in 31 categories, including hors d’oeuvres, sauces and condiments, casseroles, Mexican dishes, breads, cakes, and pies—and of course, meat and poultry. The cookbook contains recipes for traditional dishes prepared for cowboys working on the range, and some of the recipes have been handed down in range families for generations.
Here you will find authentic recipes for Son of a Gun Sew, and its more outlandish cousin, Son of a Bitch Stew, a big bunch of recipes for barbeque—anyway you like it! There is even a recipe for making a pit barbecue for 500 to600 people! (Starts out with 400 lbs of roasts, rolled chuck or rump). There are a variety of recipes for one of my family favorites, Cowboy Beans, and a host of many others, such as Slumgullion*, Spotted dog (no, it doesn’t contain any real dog), and Prairie Fire (made with pinto beans)—that sounds delicious—and another called Storm At Sea..recipes I don’t think you are likely to find elsewhere—although I have written on Sandychatter in 2009 about *slumgullion stew! There are also a goodly number of pioneer recipes as well.
There is a separate section just for chili (kind of reminds me of my family cookbook, where we all have our favorite recipe for making chili). Choose from Green Chili, Texas Red Chili, Synar Chili, Male Chauvinist Chili, Pole Line Chili, Pork and Red Chili, and Texas-Style Chili.
Look also for Mock Lemon sauce (made with vinegar!), Pioneer Potato Candy, and Western Pralines, Highpockets Vinegar Cobbler and the old fashioned pioneer recipe for Vinegar Pie.
The book itself has a beautiful cover, from a painting by George Kovach, a Texas artist, titled “COWBOYS TO DINNER” which he painted especially for the Trail Boss’s Cookbook. This cookbook is spiral bound and what I call “an easy read”—lots and lots of interesting tidbits about western life, from chuck wagon chow to lessons on roping calves.
TRAIL BOSS’S COWBOY COOKBOOK is available on Amazon.com for $12.37 new or starting at 2 cents for pre-owned. Alibris.com has copies starting at 99c.
Happy Cooking & happier cookbook collecting!