Old West Recipes Archives

Chuckwagon: Cowboy Sourdough Starter

Cowboy Sourdough Starter

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 chuckwagon. Here is one cooks 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.

Cowboy Sourdough starter

Chuckwagon Vocabulary

As with everything the cowboy did, when it came to eating, the cowboy developed his own chuckwagon 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.

chuckwagon vocabulary

Chuckwagon: Baked Indian Pudding

BAKED INDIAN PUDDING

5 cups milk, scalded 4 cupsBaked Indian Pudding
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup dark molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
 4 tbs butter

To scalded milk, add sugar, cornmeal, molasses, spices, salt and butter.  

Cook until thickened.  

Put into greased baking dish.  

Bake at 300 for 3 hours.

Curing Cowboy Bacon

Cowboy BaconFor curing cowboy bacon and one peck salt to five hundred pounds pork.  To five gallons water add:

4 pounds salt.

1 pound sugar.

1 teaspoonful salt petre.

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

Chuckwagon: Cowboy Catsup

Cowboy CatsupTo make Cowboy Catsup take 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 and add to a large pot.

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.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

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