JW’s Rimrock Cowboy Beans


Let’s be honest, back in the days of the Old West beans on the trail were a staple… but a rather bland staple at that.

In the past I’ve posted a couple different variations of Cowboy beans in this blog but for the most part they were either old hand me down recipes from back East writers or one of Western historic value… both will prevent starvation but you won’t find them on the Food Network Channel. Well, for the sake of being a Heritage recipe I left ‘em alone with no changes from the original and posted them.

That being said, these recipes would take 3rd or 4th place in a contest at my table. I love beans but why on earth are so many recipes missing the mark when it comes to taste? Well, no more!

Frustrated with just too bland or too sugary or just plain fire in your mouth recipes , I took maters into my own hands and came up with what I think is an awesome bean recipe I call Rimrock beans. Why Rimrock you ask? Because I live in Arizona’s High Desert area known as Rimrock and that’s where this recipe was born.

Rimrock is ranch country, where coyotes are more common than F-150 pick up trucks (and believe me, there’s plenty of those). My bean recipe matches the terrain here, a bit spicy but not hot like down in Tucson town, a tad of molasses for sweetness reminds me of our delicious dried up mesquite tree beans. I could go on but you’ll find out for yourself, so lets get to the recipe. I think you’ll really like these beans and it’s all Arizona in taste!


 Brand names are mentioned but not mandatory that you use these brands.

1 – # 10 can of Bush’s pinto beans (111 oz. size can).

2 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes with green chili peppers (Hatch brand).

1 – 6 oz can of green chili peppers.

2 – 15 oz cans of chili beans (Great Value from Wal-Mart works well).

1 – can of stewed tomatoes – Mexican recipe (S&W brand).

2 cups of beef stock.

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt (taste before adding any more than this as some of the above ingredients contain salt).

1/4 cup of molasses.

1/4 cup of packed brown sugar.

Add all ingredients into a pot big enough to hold a couple of gallons.

Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced to desired thickness. This can range from the consistancy of soup to that of a blop on your plate. It’s your choice. JW

Pancakes… Olde vs Modern

Pancakes… 1588 style


 It seems pancakes have had little change until the mid 1800’s. In the mid 1800’s leavening agents first made the scene, thus… the fluffy pancake. But, if you desire to try out the world’s oldest known recipe for pancakes here it is. Culinary historians have converted the amounts into modern day measurements. (Historians converted the Olde English measurements into metrics and I converted metric into our American standards as best as I could)

 Below is the recipe. Notice there is no leavening used but I’m sure the unpasteurized Ale, if left overnight, might cause it to act a bit as a yeast bread. My guess it was used as a bitter agent to offset all the sugar or to curdle the cream. I may be way off base here since no one in 1588 bothered to explain why they used ale. Truthfully, I should have just drank the Ale.


If this recipe is accurate (along with my conversions) then these folks sure loved their sugar!  English recipes sometimes leave the pallet a bit flat but gets even worse when you look at the Olde English breakfast called a flap jack! It’s nothing like our pancake. Take my advice, some recipes are better left to history.


Pancakes 1588 Recipe (Above recipe) converted into modern measurements

Recipe Ingredients.

  • 300ml cream (1 ¼ cups)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 175g plain flour (¾ cup)
  • 60ml ale traditional British ale (2 oz)
  • 100g sugar (7 Tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 25g butter (for frying) (2 Tablespoons)


In a mixing bowl sift in the flour, ground cinnamon and ginger. Make a well in the center and using a spoon mix in the egg yolks. Then switch to a whisk and gradually whisk in the cream, then the sugar, then the ale, making a smooth and silky batter.

Use an 8 inch (or 20cm) non-stick frying pan (or a traditional English griddle) and for each pancake grease it lightly with a little butter – carefully wipe the surface over with a little softened butter dabbed onto a piece of kitchen paper, folded over to thicken it, keeping your fingers from the heat. For the first pancake heat the pan until the butter smokes, then turn the heat down a little.

Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the center of the pan, and quickly tilt the pan to and fro to spread the mixture thinly across the surface evenly. The amount of batter poured in should just coat the surface of the pan, no more.


Now, for a much better tasting pancake try this recipe. I love the hint of vanilla found in this fluffy version.


  If you’re trail cooking you will need an ice chest or cooler to preserve the buttermilk, sour cream etc outdoors. These pancakes end up nice and fluffy with a delicious hint of vanilla

Makes sixteen 4-inch pancakes

The pancakes can be cooked on an electric griddle or frying pan. Set the griddle temperature to 350 degrees and cook as directed. It’s best if you use a lower-protein all-purpose flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury. If you use an all purpose flour with a higher protein content, like King Arthur, you will need to add an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk. The lower the protein or gluten, the more cake like your pancakes will be.


  • 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 Tablespoonbakingpowder * see note below
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda * see note below
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar. or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid. (citric acid is roughly four times as strong, so you have to reduce the amount used by four. If your recipe calls for a teaspoon of cream of tartar, use 1/4 teaspoon citric acid.)


1. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar (or citric acid) and baking soda together in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla, sour cream, eggs, and melted butter. Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Whisk until combined then Allow batter to sit for a few minutes to allow leavening to begin (Bubbles will form).

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out oil, leaving thin film of oil on bottom and sides of pan. This insures even cooking. Using ¼ cup measure, portion batter evenly on griddle. Cook until edges are firm. When the first side is golden brown, and bubbles on the surface are beginning to break, (2 to 3 minutes) then using your spatula, flip the pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

If you wish a good recipe for homemade maple tasting syrup (Non high fructose corn syrup) you will find it within this blog under; Homemade syrups and ingredient replacements.

* Test your baking soda and baking powder once a month… here’s how

Baking soda. Place 1/2 tsp of vinegar into 1/2 cup of water and add 1/2 tsp of soda… if good it will bubble violently.

Baking powder. Place 1/2 tsp of baking powder in 1/3 of a cup of HOT water…it should bubble violently.

Using out of date ingredients is the most common reason for recipe failure!

Who put the lentils in my Shepards Pie?


When I think of lentils I can’t help but imagine the Biblical scene where Isaac’s laying on his death bed and Jacob’s about to supplant his brother Esau by fooling Isaac with a bowl of lentils and a sheep’s skin wrapped around his arm to imitate his wild and  hairy brother.

“Oh, man!” Isaac exclaims, “This is the blandest set a beans I ever did eat! Y’all gotta’ be Esau ’cause Jacob’s a fine bred man and no fine bred man would waste his time on these here mushy undersized beans!” Turning to his wife who’s in cahoots with Jacob to steal Esau’s blessing, he ask her, “Is this here boy intent on killin’ me? ‘Cause if he is, he’s doing a quick job of it!… “Oh, I’m a dead man fer sure now!”

OK, I know Isaac didn’t have a Texas cowboy accent but I think they call what I just wrote literary license or something like that… it’s allowable under the right circumstances. Besides, I know Isaac would have fallen in love with Texas.

So you ask,  what has lentils got to do with Shepard’s pie? Plenty if you want a meatless dinner for a change. I’m not going to haggle about the good or bad of beef here, that’s for you to decide upon. I will say that if you ain’t eating real Range of Grass fed beef then all them cancers and other such medical maladies might just be your own fault. ‘Nuff said about that!

Back to the Pie. You can easily replace the lentils here with 1 lb of grass fed chipped or ground beef but for the sake of my daughter in law who fed me this surprisingly good dish, I’ll keep it to her original recipe.

Now, a bit of history (you know I’m a big history buff so bare with me) “Shepard’s pie” began as “Cottage pie” somewhere around 1791 or about the time poor folks here started eating potatoes. The word cottage did not mean a small vacation home along the banks of an upstate New York lake, instead a cottage was a small dwelling, sometimes made of sod, logs or if available, cut lumber. It was a humble abode built mostly by poor folk. Shepard’s Pie was the American version of the French Ratatouille (made famous in the  Disney film of the same name). Most every culture’s favorite recipe comes from poor folks kitchen for survival and not created to impress folks. Basically it was a mish mash of veggies that were available to the poor from their own gardens. Potato’s had been thought to be poisonous a bit before that so they weren’t real common. Maybe the early settlers saw the Irish eating them without dying and that convinced the poor folks in this country that eating a potato may not be so bad after all. I mean the Irish were alive even after getting pie faced on there homemade whiskey so maybe they were onto something. Today we call that moonshine and someday I’ll put my recipe for it on this site since it too is a Heritage Recipe… illegal but a Heritage recipe none the less.

The first time “Shepard’s” pie was found in writing is in 1877. Now folks bicker about the origins but I’m figuring most all cultures have their own version of Shepard’s pie, the same as the French with their Ratatouille. In rural Appalachia where potatoes don’t grow well, bread crumbs were used and Shepard’s Pie was called Cumberland Pie.  So now you know.

The recipe is simple.

1 1/2 pounds of russet (white) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, and 1/2 cup of peas, thawed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned (rinsed) lentils (see Tip)

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce
heat to medium, partially cover and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Add
buttermilk, butter and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until very smooth. Add enough water to get the potatoes similar to frosting, but not soggy. Dry potatoes don’t spread well.

While the potatoes are cooking, position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Coat four 10- to 12-ounce
broiler-safe ramekins (or an 8-inch-square broiler-safe baking dish or glass pie dish) with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a broiler-safe
baking sheet.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until
softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in corn, thyme and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook,
stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat. Stir in broth. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring, for
1 minute. Stir in lentils and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Divide the hot lentil mixture among the prepared ramekins (or spread in the baking dish). Top with the mashed potatoes. (Don’t get upset if they don’t spread easily, just do what you can).
Broil, rotating halfway through, until the potato is lightly browned in spots, 6 to 10 minutes.

In a large frying pan I add the veggies and spices then simmer until soft.

In a large frying pan I add the veggies and spices then simmer until soft.

I have my mashed potatoes all done

I have my mashed potatoes all done

Here I add my cooked Lentil beans to the veggies

Here I add my cooked Lentil beans to the veggies

I simmer these until thickened with the flour

I simmer these until thickened with the flour

When ready, I pour the mixture into a pyrex pie bowl

When ready, I pour the mixture into a pyrex pie bowl

I carefully top the mixture with my very soft mashed potatoes

I carefully top the mixture with my very soft mashed potatoes

Perfectly cooked!

Perfectly cooked!

Earlier in this post I mentioned the Scott/Irish connection to their wonderful distilling of Moonshine. I was about to post my own recipe for “Moonshine” but then wondered if WordPress might delete it since the making of Moonshine is not actually legal. (Distilled spirits). So instead I did a slight alteration and in the end I think it’ll be a lot easier on you if you decide you want to wet your lips on the real McCoy of booze.  With this recipe, you’ll have no need to run out and buy a bunch of sheet copper, tubing and silver solder to make a still with. Today you can find real “Moonshine” in many State liquor stores. So here in this post I am using a store bought jar of Moonshine for the photo…note that I said “Jar” and not the spirits.

Anyway, to make one of the best flavored moonshines all you need is some fresh or frozen berries… plus a hunk of burnt oak wood.  Add a hand full of the berries into your “Jar” of moonshine. You may need to empty out some of the spirits in the jar so it don’t overflow before you add the berries. (That means drink some of it!) I use a mixture of Black, Blue and Raspberries in equal amounts. The burnt piece of wood is important in removing a lot of the bite in the original moonshine. It acts as a wooden cask does. It absorbs the bite and mellows the shine with the carbon from the burnt wood. It only take a hunk the size of a 9 Volt battery. Find a nice dried oak twig, cut it into a 2″ long piece and burn 1/2 half of it pretty well. DON’T put the hot ember in your shine, this may cause it to blow up! Instead, drown the hunk in tap water then when you’re sure it has no burning ember to it, place it in your jar of shine. 2-3 weeks later, Strain the shine through a coffee filter and you will have the best berry flavored moonshine you ever tasted! And a lot of the bite will be gone too. Before replacing the cap, reinsert the burnt oak wood piece. This will continue the “aging” process of the shine. Real shine is drank straight from the still after adding a bit of water to it. This is a bit more refined than straight Moonshine and if you’re a woman (not being sexist here, just fact) you’ll appreciate the mellow berry taste. Men on the other hand won’t admit to that and decry the fouling of real undiluted shine. We all know men will pretend to enjoy anything that makes them look manlier than they really are so bare with them ladies. JW


Oh the humanity!

I was recently given an early Christmas gift from a friend.

As you know from reading this blog that I hold cast iron cookware way above any other type made. It is the most versatile of all cookware. No other type of cookware is generally passed down from generation to generation as cast iron cookware is. OK, in France, copperware is regarded as the chefs choice but let’s be honest here, has anything in France ever been worth passing down from generation to generation?

Let’s take a quick peek at famous French products before going back to today’s post. There is of course;

CARS: Citroen, Peugeot and Renault. Whew! Real collector items here. Don’t pass any of ’em down to me!

 AVIATION: Eurocopter. Sure we see tons of ‘em flying around here…Not!

WRITING: Bic pens. OK, if I want a cheap disposable pen I’ll buy a Bic.

PEST CONTROL: W. A. Flick. Is this where they got the term, Flick of a Bic?

COMPUTER HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE: Ingenico. I didn’t see any at Best Buy recently.

WATER: Evian, Perrier. (only because you can’t safely drink French tap water)

True, there are numerous clothing designers and toiletries made in France but I’ve yet to see good old  rugged Carhartts or Old Spice being worn by Parisians.  I think it’s too manly for Frenchmen, it gives them hives on their sensitive skin.

So, lets agree we could survive without French copper cookware too.

Now, back to today’s post…

While I tried my best on the outside to appear pleased, inside I was horrified! To me I was holding a Stradivarius violin that had been turned into an ash tray. Let me explain. Look at the Photo below.

What a quaint photo of an old time kitchen…permanently decoupaged onto the bottom!  It would have been OK with me if the photo of the old kitchen  had been decoupaged on an old place mat or even a Museum’s Claude Monet painting but on a GRISWOLD cast iron skillet? No way Jose’ !

Just look at what they ruined. A real Griswold from the early 1900’s is a rare collectors item. Definitely worth passing down. A close up of the pan shows their trademark grinding skills. It was this incredible surface grinding that eventually led to today’s non stick cookware.

After World War ll, aluminum was plentiful. It seemed everything was being made out of it. Pots and pans did not escape this transition. Cast iron cookware was out of vogue. Too heavy, black instead of shiny silver and it heated and cooled quickly.  (Aluminum is now being investigated for the increase in Alzheimer’s disease but that’s another story.)

So what could be better than an aluminum skillet coated in Teflon? Why not just cook in toxic waste?

Poor old cast iron. All it’s wondrous properties were nearly forgotten until it was discovered that Teflon coated (PTFE) cookware releases toxic fumes at as little as 395 degrees and has been proven to kill household pet birds. At 500 degrees, humans become ill. Now you know why the art of cooking at high temperatures has nearly disappeared too. When I lived in the Florida Keys, my favorite restaurant (besides my own) had an outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen was used to cook up many Caribbean recipes under extreme temperatures, including Blackened Fish!

 Now pay attention here  because you’re about to get an outdoor cooking lesson.

You have to get your cast iron skillet red hot! Really, really hot! Then toss in a hunk of butter. Instantly, an immense amount smoke starts to billow up. That’s when you drop in a thick hunk of Mahi mahi (Dolphin to us Floridians) on top of the smoking butter. Count to 18. At 18 flip the fish over on the other side and count to 18 again. It’s now 100% DONE! Get it out of the frying pan and onto a plate. That is real heritage cooked Blackened fish! You can add ‘blackened seasoning’ if you wish but you won’t be needing it. Just a light sprinkle of ground Cheyenne, habanero or if you’re really nuts, a Caribbean ghost pepper will add the extra heat you like.

If you cooked this fish indoors on a Teflon non stick pan, you very well could have been rushed to the hospital. Non stick cookware is so common today that it’s the main reason most recipes produced by corporation kitchens recommend ‘medium low to medium high pan temperature that never goes beyond 440 degrees. (PTFE as stated earlier, non stick cookware can kill birds at 395 degrees because they release toxic fumes beginning at that temp ). If you have the ability to cook outdoors, try cooking some recipes that require extreme heat to cook by in your cast iron skillet. You’d be surprised just what a difference it makes.

While Griswold cast iron cookware is again being manufactured today, they do not hold a candle to the old ones of yesteryear. I will hang this pan up somewhere so my friend will see it on visiting. To me though, it’s kind of like stuffing your pet after it gives up the ghost and putting it in its bed. Creepy!

Now please excuse me, I need to begin my grieving process. I’ll start by lighting a candle in memory of all the wonderful meals this innocent pan provided to an individual who cruelly turned it into a proverbial ashtray.



Heritage no knead Dutch oven bread

Dutch oven no knead bread is a true heritage bread.

It’s been a bit since I’ve wrote about cast iron cookware, so I thought I’d continue my past post by talking about it now.

One of the best things about Heritage trail cooking is the ability to make incredibly good tasting food from scratch. It’s really a thrill to have someone comment on how surprised they are. Most folks assume outdoor cooking cannot compete with the precision of indoor cooking. For instance, take this no knead bread recipe. Most folks would assume there’d be burnt crust or soggy insides. Well, maybe the first couple times it might look pretty unusual but the taste would still come through the ugly end of it. This recipe lets you practice indoors under a controlled situation. Practice makes perfect.

My desire in teaching you all this trail cooking and such is to get you to be able to survive in case a gas or electric stove is not available. I’m not a doomsday person so much as a believer that if I was ever put in a situation (unlike those folks in NJ for instance, I’d still be puttin’ out some mighty fine dinners on what I could scrape together).

I believe every cook should have the skills to survive in any situation. My great grandfather and grandfather were honest to gosh mountain men. They trapped for the Canadian  Hudson Bay fur company in Montana and Idaho. Those skills did not die with them, they passed down a lot of their ‘living off the land’ knowledge to their kids and us grand kids. learning to survive off the land does not start with hunting or trapping. It starts with learning what to cook and how to cook it.

So, try out this recipe and when you get it down, do it for your friends, they’ll wonder what else you’re hiding from them!

The time required for the recipe is about 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising.


• 3 – 3 1/2 cups of any sort of flour plus a bit more for dusting. Start with 3, add more if needed
• 1¼ teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 envelope (¼ ounce) of yeast
• 1½ cups very warm water (not hot but around 120-125 degrees)


  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. If mixing by hand, use a large bowl and a strong wooden spoon to mix the dry ingredients.
    2. Turn mixer to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute or by hand until well blended.
    3. Gradually add very warm water ( 120º F works well)  and continue to mix.
    4. Stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.
    5. Continue to mix well until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
    6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
    7. Let dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature. the dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
    8. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.
    9. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
    10. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.
    11. Generously coat a smooth cotton towel or bakers cloth with flour.
    12. Put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour.
    13. Cover with another similar cotton towel and let the dough rise for about 2 hours until doubled.
    14. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 500° F. (see note below for outdoor campfire cooking)
    15. Place your 6 – to 8quart  cast iron Dutch oven with its lid on into the oven.
    16. When dough is ready, carefully remove your hot Dutch oven from the oven using a pair of good oven mitts. Place lid temporarily on a trivet or the stove top.
    17. Remove your mitts and slide your hand under the towel and turn dough over into your Dutch oven, seam side up. Now put your mitts back on!
    18. Cover with lid and bake 35 minutes.
    19. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven by turning it upside down on your towel or let it cool on a rack with one of the cotton towels covering it for at least 1 hour before slicing. (The towel will slow the escaping moister, leaving your bread soft and chewy.)

Chalk another one up on your trail cooking skills!

Note for outdoor cooking. Preheat your cast iron Dutch oven on the campfire by placing the oven over a large bed of hot coals. Place a heaping amount of coals in the lids top.

You can use charcoal briquettes too. See the chart below.

When hot, remove your Dutch oven from the deep bed of hot coals using the handle and your mitts or use your lifter. Use your lid lifter to remove the lid.

Wear mitts when doing this!

Make sure you place the lid on a clean surface, (but not a picnic table or anything else that can be damaged by heat!  A log works well for this).

Place your dough in the Dutch oven as listed above. Before placing your Dutch oven over the coals, rake them a bit smoother than pre heating. Bake as above. Check after 25 minutes.

Fool proof great tasting potato salad

While not a ‘true’ heritage recipe because I switched the mayonnaise with Miracle Whip, I don’t think my grandma would complain.

A few summers back I packed up the car to attend a family reunion on my in-laws side of the family. Being late September, the 18 hour leisurely drive up to Cincinnati Ohio was beautiful. From a marina on the Ohio River near downtown, we all boarded my brother in-laws 80 foot Pluckebaum house boat and motored westward down the river out of Ohio. The reunion was actually being held in Indiana on the Ohio River shoreline near the quaint town of Rising Sun. Across the river is gorgeous Kentucky farmland. What a setting for a 100+ person cookout. The beer flowed as freely as the conversation and snacks ranging from deer jerky to homemade chocolates were plentiful. We had arrived at the property around two in the afternoon and the cookout was set for six that evening.

Everyone had been asked to bring a covered dish. Now, I know of few dishes that will survive a 4 hour boat ride on top of an 18 hour road trip so using our trail cooking / boat skills, we made up our dish on the houseboat.

Now the houseboat has a full sized kitchen in it. I have a hard time calling the kitchen a ‘galley’ as most boats have because a floating house does not in anyway shape or form, resemble a boat. The vessel is not only eighty feet long but eighteen feet wide! That’s longer and much wider than most house trailers. Having stopped at a Kroger’s in Cincinnati, I picked up all the necessary items for the covered dish.

Earlier, I mentioned my boating skills. When I had a restaurant in the Florida Keys, I lived there on my boat. I set up the galley so that even when rough weather was up, I could still cook with ease. Cooking in the houseboat was so calm it was like cooking in my house!

Pulling out a large stainless steel stock pot I began boiling my water. Figuring ten pounds* of Red Potatoes should do about right, I whipped out my Kitchen Aide potato peeler and went to work. *(The recipe below is much smaller but will still feed from 6-8 people.)

After I completed my recipe, I kept the finished product right in the stock pot. To chill it down, I slid the pot inside a beverage refrigerator after removing all its shelves.

By six o’clock, my covered dish was perfectly chilled and waiting to be devoured.


1)      Wash your potatoes and place them in a pot of cold water. Cover the potatoes with at least 1 inch of water. Do not peel at this time. (peeling the potatoes prior to boiling will over saturate them with water and make them too soft.)

2)      Place 4 eggs in a pot of cold water and while uncovered, bring them to a boil.  As soon as the water begins to boil, remove the pot from the burner, cover and let stand for 17 minutes. Then pour out water and replace with ice cold water. Let stand for 1 hour. These will now peel quite easily.

3)      When potatoes are thoroughly boiled, test by piercing them. They should offer little resistance to your fork or bamboo stick.

4)      Place pot of potatoes under faucet and run cold water for 1 minute, leave it partially filled then pour in ice and set aside for 1 hour. After 1 hour your eggs and potatoes should be well chilled.

5)      When potatoes and eggs are well chilled, peel them. Normally just rubbing the skins will remove the potato skins.

6)      Slice 2 eggs into ¼ inch thick slices. Set aside as they are used later on top of the potato salad

7)      Chop into medium pieces the last two eggs and place them into a large bowl.

8)      Add these ingredients into the bowl then mix it all together;

-2 tablespoons of dill pickle juice

-1/4 cup of chopped up red onion

-one fresh celery stalk chopped into 1/8 inch thick pieces (1 tsp of celery salt may be used)

-1 tsp of paprika

-1 tsp of mustard

-1 cup of Miracle Whip

9)      Mix all ingredients together then add your potatoes and re mix it until the potatoes are well coated.

10)   Transfer the coated potatoes into a smaller bowl that you will use to serve the potato salad from

11)   Place egg slices on top covering the salad

12)   Sprinkle paprika lightly over the entire top

13)   Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until served


Wash 6-8 Red Potatoes but don’t peel until cooked and chilled.

Place 4 eggs in a pan and bring to a boil uncovered. Once it reaches boiling, remove from burner, cover and let stand for 17 minutes.

Bring spuds to a boil. until done.

To rest doneness. Pierce spud with fork or bamboo stick. I slide mine in on an angle until it reaches past the center. There should be only minor resistance felt.

When eggs have sat for 17 minutes, place pan in sink and fill with cold water. Pour ice in pan top thoroughly chill eggs. When cold, they will easily peel.

Cool spuds down the same way you cooled the eggs

let eggs and spuds cool for an hour then drain and peel both.

Slice spuds to desired size. Mine are bigger than most folks like… I like the taste of potatoes!

Slice all your eggs about 1/4 inch in thickness

Chop two eggs into smaller pieces to mix in with the spuds but leave two in slices for the topping.

In a bowl, add your ingredients including the chopped up eggs but don’t include the potatoes yet.

Mix all ingredients into the eggs and celery.

Add your spuds into the egg mix and fold them into the mix until well coated.

Decorate the top with the reserved egg slices and sprinkle with a fine layer of paprika.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat!

Oatmeal cookies from the early 1900’s

In a past blog I mentioned my cousin who still lives on one of the family homesteads in Idaho. Being the family’s unofficial family historian, she is by default the recipient of many of the family keepsakes. Old photo’s, letters and passed down recipes make up just part of this treasure. She was the one who provided, among others I will someday post, the recipe I posted on my grandmothers homemade bread.

Knowing my love of cooking and wishing to help me in my sharing of heritage recipes, she took the time to email me each recipe she thought I would like. One of them was my Grandmothers recipe for oatmeal cookies. It was given to her by her counterpart, my Ohio Grandmother, on my Moms side of the family during a visit to Idaho in 1947.

On the reverse side of the recipe written in her hand was this notation concerning the origin of the recipe. It read;

“When lois and Vern came back to Jerome after they were married, Helen and Jack came back with them to visit us. Helen made these cookies for us during their stay and they were very good tasting. Seeing how much we all enjoyed eating them, she left me this recipe. She told me it is from a cook book that came with a gas oven she had purchase when her home was built. I do not put the table sugar or broken chocolate pieces in because Hamblin thinks the cookies are too sweet and he does not want the children to come down with worms”

(Lois and Vern are my Parents, Jerome was the farm in Idaho I was raised on, Helen and Jack are my Moms parents and Hamblin was my father’s father.)

I figure this recipe is probably from the turn of the century since my Ohio Grandparents house was built in 1917. It makes sense that the house would have been outfitted with a new gas stove as gas for lighting and cooking was available to them back then and the brand of stove was popular.

I have no idea how much ‘table sugar’ or ‘broken chocolate pieces’ she left out but I think I would agree with my grandfather Hamblin that these cookies are sweet enough without the added sugar. If you differ, add a ¼ cup and see what they taste like. I do add ¾ cup of Ghirardelli dark chocolate morsels though. I suggest you adjust it from there and the worms be damned!

I was really surprised to see that no butter was used in her recipe. Instead it calls for oil (remember, the recipe originated in Cleveland Ohio). During WWl, butter and cream became scarce and expensive in the cities and this was probably reflected in the baking recipes of the day. Milk was still available.    Conversely, in the rural countryside, many people still owned a dairy cow and made their own butter, cream and milk and were not as affected as their city living counterparts. I suspect the oil used in the recipe was the popular cotton seed or recently invented corn oil. All this may explain the absence of butter in the recipe since the cookbook was included with the purchase of a Cleveland Ohio stove manufacturer’s product. (American Stove Company, now called Magic Chef).

Ingredients #1; (mix these together well using a mixer)

1 cup of packed brown sugar (to make your own brown sugar, read my earlier post on pancake syrup)

1/4 Cup of granulated cane Sugar to taste  (optional) I would suggest starting with 1/4  of a cup and go from there.

2 large fresh eggs

1/2  cup of milk

3/4  cup of oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Ingredients #2; (combine these in a bowl then add them to the other ingredients then mix well)

3 cups of flour

2  teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2  teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

2 1/2 cups of rolled oats (oatmeal)

3/4 cup of chocolate morsels


In your mixing bowl combine brown sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Use beaters to mix well. (I use an electric stand mixer) Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir into the batter. Stir in the oats. (Add chocolate morsels and table sugar if desired at this point.)

Let stand for 10 minutes. Drop a heaped tablespoon of cookie mix onto greased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove immediately to cool. 

Makes about 3 dozen.

It started out as 3 dozen but by the time I took this photo (20 minutes later) I was left with only about half of them!

A heritage idea that is making a big comeback… Homemade almond milk!

In my last trip to the Library in Fort Pierce (No, Google doesn’t know everything!), I ran across a story of a family that settled the area I live in. The story begins well before and continues sometime after the Civil War.Inside the book was not only a history of what settlers went through but contained such things as how to make a mosquito broom out of palm fronds, recipes and other little known tidbits.

I like scouring through old stories because they are a goldmine of Heritage Recipe information. I was fascinated reading how after the railroad arrived, ice blocks became available and how such a simple thing we take for granted today, revolutionized their lives down here (what would they have done if they had air conditioning?) . Before the coming of ice, the heat and humidity down here in Florida would render most fresh food to a state of spoilage overnight. That definitely included fresh milk!

Cattle here were called ‘Cracker Cows’ and they are the oldest of all breeds here in the United States. That and the wild boar were the meat staples for the time. The Spanish brought the cattle here in the 1500’s. Here, as they were in Spain, the breed was a gentle and social breed having a desire to stay close to humans. The only problem was, the cattle loved the taste of our Saw Palmetto and Sago Palm brush.  In order to round up the cattle, this meant rooting the cattle out from this near impenetrable vegetation. Because the cattle were so gentle, the Spanish found that by cracking their whips over the tops of the brush, the cattle would think they were being attacked and head out into the open to defend themselves. Never was the actual cow whipped. While the cattle loved eating this growth, it was also home to panthers, wild boars and bears. The cattle knew better than to try and defend itself against a predator within the confines of the brush, so out into the open they’d come.

After the Spanish left Florida due to British insistence, they left behind vast herds of Cracker Cattle. Our early settlers here soon discovered these cattle freely roaming around and found by using their whips they could control the cattle as the Spanish did . These cowboys were America’s first true cattle cowboys and acquired the name “Cracker Cowboys” from the sound of their whips. Their specially bred and trained horses became known as “Cracker Horses” and are still being bred today.

But this is not a story of Cracker Cattle but one of milk… or actually, the lack of it.

Before ice, cow and goat milk had to be drank or used in baking while it was still fresh. There was no saving it for another day. Spoiled milk not only tasted bad but was a perfect medium for bacterial and germ growth. Milk was needed in emergencies for babies and in everyday baking. So what was a mother to do?

The answer was growing in right front of their noses. Nuts…or rather, nut milk!

The South is famous for its nut trees but long before Christ was walking about, the Mideastern countries were making milk from almonds. Later, returning soldiers from the Crusades brought the concept of nut milk back to England and France with them. From there all of Europe and eventually the United States were turning almonds into a delicious drink that would still be drinkable a day later.

In my library trip, I discovered many folks down here had substituted nut milk for that of cows milk. In fact, two early Cracker recipes I ran across actually listed nut milk in their ingredients. Early Crackers lived a very frugal and sparse lifestyle. If you Google them they are a fascinating people.  Contrary to the popular belief of some writers, the Cracker is still alive and well. They still ride Cracker horses, raise Cracker cattle and have a language that is able to travel long distances through the high brush. It consist of whistles and hoots that few outsiders know about. I personally know this to be true because I lived along side of them as friends and neighbors when I lived in the Everglades just south of Lake Okeechobee.

So why am I putting a recipe for nut (Almond) milk in my Heritage and trail cooking blog? Because it more than many other recipes is a true Heritage recipe! I later learned that many of our early American settlers and pioneers made their own nut milk. With the advent of refrigeration and pasteurized milk, nut milks lost favor for that of convenience.

An added bonus is after making your milk, you are left with what is called Almond Meal. Almond Meal is Gluten free and will take the place of whole wheat flour in most any baking recipe. I’ll add a photo of it below at the end of this post.

I’m giving you a recipe that makes  over (3) three quarts. This amount last me about a week. I will also give the recipe for 1 quart below the 3 quart one.

Note; You must soak the almonds overnight in water to soften and hydrate (swell) them .

Fill to 1 inch over almonds. Change the water a couple of times. Drain completely before putting almonds into blender.

Ingredients; (for making 3 quarts)

2 cups of raw and shelled almonds (they will swell to over 3 cups after soaking)

3 cups of water for each cup soaked and swelled  almonds (makes 9 cups of milk)

2 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon of light corn syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla

½ teaspoon of salt

Ingredients for 1 quart;

1 cup of raw shelled almonds (they will swell to almost 1 1/2 cups after soaking)

3 cups of water

½ Tablespoon of honey

1/2 Tablespoon of light corn syrup

1/4 to ½ teaspoon of vanilla

 ¼ teaspoon of salt


You will also need.

1 measuring cup

A cheesecloth or large dish towel

A colander

A large 4 quart pot

A spatula

A clean milk jug or 1 gallon pitcher with a lid

A funnel


I purchase a 3 pound bag from a big box store here for under $9. I get about 3 gallons to a 3 pound bag. That brings the cost down to less than a dollar a quart.

There is not a lot of ingredients needed


Note, your almonds have swelled after soaking. For the single cup, use the entire amount, for the 3 quart amount, divide your almonds into three separate amounts.

Set up your Pot, colander and filter cloth as in the picture below.

In a blender, pour in the desired amount of soaked almonds and fill with 3 cups of water then blend on high for 2 ½ minutes.

Pour blended nuts into filter cloth. (your colander will tend to have its center holes get plugged up by the almond meal filled cloth. Place a spoon between the cloth and the colander bottom to allow drainage. )

When fairly drained, pull up the sides of the cloth without spilling any meal into the colander and twist until a ball filled with almond meal is formed. Squeeze the ball tightly until no more milk seeps from it. Save the almond meal!

Repeat this process until all almonds have been blended and turned into milk.

Remove cloth and colander.

Stir the Honey, Corn Syrup, Vanilla and salt into the pot of milk

 I pasteurize my almond milk, it’s easy and makes for a safe bacteria and germ free drink.

(Heat milk over low heat.  145 degrees for 30 minutes. Stirring often. Do not boil or heat above 145 degrees)

To pasteurize; 145 degrees for 30 minutes

Pour hot contents into a BPA free pitcher or jug and refrigerate immediately. When chilled its as good as any that’s store bought !

Remember, this is a natural product with no added  artificial homogenizing agents in it, so over time some settling will occur. Before using, stir or shake container lightly to remix its contents evenly.

Sometimes after pasteurizing almond milk, you will find it has become thick (thicker than whole milk) in its consistency. To thin it down without losing any flavor, simply add cold clean water to it in small amounts until you find your desired taste and consistency.  By pasteurizing your milk, its taste also becomes more creamy than water like. Remember, do NOT  exceed 145 degrees as it will definitely thicken! Many online recipes skip the process of pasteurization so it’s up to you whether or not to pasteurize.  I pasteurize all of mine because I live in South Florida where there is a multitude of air born bacteria, yeast and fungi due to the high heat and humidity. Try it both ways and see which suits your taste best:)

Don’t throw it away! The left over Almond meal is a great Gluten free substitute for whole wheat flour!!! I freeze mine in marked 3 cup bags.

My Grandmother’s recipe for whole wheat bread

With it’s end slice removed, the texture of this homemade bread can easily be seen. It is absolutely delicious!

In an earlier post I had given the recipe for “The perfect loaf of homemade bread”.

In that recipe I used a combination of whole wheat and high gluten bread flour to imitate the rougher grainy flour of yesteryear.

My cousin in Idaho (after seeing my bread post ) wrote me to say that she had Grandma Edwards recipe and still often bakes it. She too had to adjust the flour mixture to imitate the rougher grainy flour that my Grandmother’s grain mill had produced. Sadly, she said the mills disc had worn out and would not grind any finer than a cracked wheat. By trial and error she finally accomplished what she had set out to do… reproduce as closely as possible the flour my Grandmother ground by a hand mill using wheat grain.

When I looked over the recipe, I realized how similar but how different t was from the one I had posted. I decided to bake up a couple of loaves to see what the difference really was. Was I surprised!

My cousin’s recipe was truly an exact reproduction of what old fashioned bread should be. Soft, yet with a true home ground whole wheat texture. It was so full of flavor I knew I had to post it. In the picture you will see the texture this recipe has produced. It is not flaky or crumbly. While soft, it still retains a firm body found in artisan breads. I know I will continue to be making many loaves from this recipe. Here is the recipe my cousin sent me.

2 ½ cups of whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups of bread flour

3 Tablespoons of sugar. Divide by setting aside 1 tablespoon of sugar to rise yeast

1 ½ teaspoon of salt

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

1 Tablespoon of dark Karo syrup

2 teaspoons of yeast

1 egg yolk

8 ounces of whole milk heated till very warm (If using skim or low fat milk, add two tablespoons of powdered milk.)


In your electric mixer’s bowl with dough hook, combine and mix together on low, both flours, salt, 2 Tablespoons of sugar  and (powdered milk if using it).

In a smaller bowl combine 8 oz of very warm milk, Karo syrup, melted butter, egg yolk, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Mix well with a fork and let stand until bubbles begin to form showing that the yeast is activated.

In your dry ingredient mixing bowl, create a low spot in the center and begin to add the wet ingredients while the mixer is on low speed. Continue adding wet mixture until dough begins to form into a soft spongy ball. After mixing for a few minutes, dough should not stick to your fingers when touched but should feel damp. Knead dough for 10 minutes using the electric mixer. After well kneaded, the ball of dough should feel very spongy. Remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand 10 to 15 times forming it into a ball. Place dough ball into a large greased bowl to rise. When dough is doubled in size, remove and press down lightly to deflate the dough ball. Shape into a loaf and place it into a greased bread pan, let rise until ½ inch higher than lip of pan.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees now.

When dough is risen to the desired height, poke holes along the top of the center at 2” intervals no deeper than 1/4″ with a tooth pick to let gas build up escape while rising in the oven. Brush the top of the loaf of bread with milk and place onto middle oven rack in the center. Set a timer for 35 minutes.

Remove when done ( it should sound hollow when thumped) and brush the top with a coat of water this time. Let cool under a kitchen towel.

Home made chocolate syrup!!!


Today was my day to wander away from my weight loss diet consisting of veggies, chicken and fish and instead spurge!  🙂

First, I made up a fine breakfast of french toast using my home made bread. I slathered it in blue berry syrup I made from last years berry crop and a side helping of home made corn beef hash. Oh, I indulged in an excellent cup of Cuban coffee too!

Lunch was a love affair of mayo and thin sliced tomatoes between two slices of bread washed down with a glass of cold milk.

Dinner was the coup de gras! ( Why we use a french phrase meaning ‘blow of mercy’ or a ‘blow intended to end the suffering of a wounded creature’ to describe something great I’ll never know, but I digress. )

Earlier in the day I stopped at a meat market out in the Florida Prairie area. They have the worlds best grass fed beef! I ordered three pounds of meat labeled, “Philly cheese meat”.  While I’m not sure what part of the cow it comes from, I didn’t see any butt holes or eyeballs in it either.

I’d never purchased it before but I had a hankerin’ to try something new. It turned out I shoulda’ bought ten pounds not three! It had such incredible taste, no gristle, no large fat globs, just juicy, tender slices sauteed in real butter with onion and bell peppers.   Man, it was to die for! (OK, no puns about my food an’ dying or I’ll give you cause to eat your next meal through a straw!)

Now inside my freezer just waiting for this special day is a half gallon of natural vanilla bean, Blue Bunny ice cream! Another coup de gras!

I made up a nice bowl, (Large, since it would be another month before I saw any ice cream again) and went into the fridge for some chocolate syrup that’s been hanging around there since my sons Birthday party. I normally don’t use store bought anything that contains high fructose corn syrup. It shoots my blood sugar all to heck for days. Well, I looked at my bowl just settin’ there wantin’ to be gobbled up and the container of chocolate syrup with it’s yellow lid. I couldn’t do it!

I ran to my pantry, gathered up some ingredients, threw a sauce pan on the stove and made Gods gift to fine ice cream! Now it takes only about fifteen minutes to make it and an hour to cool down so it ain’t too bad holdin’ off a bit before diving into my dessert.

Now, you can make it my way or my Mama’s heritage recipe way. Mom made it without instant coffee. I add a half a teaspoon of instant coffee to give the ever so slightest coffee taste to it. I also differ from my Moms recipe in that I use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa rather than the regular cocoa. Any cocoa will do. I just like the deeper taste of dark cocoa. I swear, once you make your own (it’s way too simple not to) you’ll toss out that ‘ol can of high fructose with the yellow lid. Try it, I ain’t lyin’ to ya’!!!

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

makes 2 1/2 cups

3/4 cup hot water

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar*

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use dark for a richer taste)

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso coffee or just instant coffee (Coffee is optional but recommended, for richer taste I use espresso)

Pinch of kosher salt

1 Tablespoon light corn syrup**

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugars to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk in the cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt, and corn syrup, whisking until all of the solids have dissolved.  Allow the mixture to simmer until it has slightly reduced and thickened whisking it frequently( 5-10 minutes.) The longer you cook it the thicker it becomes. At 10 minutes mine becomes like a hot chocolate fudge sundae syrup, at five minutes  more like a pourable chocolate syrup.

Remove from the heat and only then stir in the vanilla.

Let it cool down enough to put it into a jar with a lid. Refrigerate. If it becomes too thick in the fridge, just microwave it for a short time.


** Recipe for home made light corn syrup (simple syrup) but free of  High Fructose Corn Syrup.


2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pinch salt


Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to liquify sugar.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 3 minutes. This will get any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan.

Uncover and simmer, stirring often, until it reaches the soft ball stage (230 degrees).

Cool and store in a glass  container at room temperature.

Makes about 2 cups.


Recipe for brown sugar;

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon of unsulphered molasses.

Blend together in a small bowl with a fork.

Store in a container with a tight lid.