Spirit of the West

Spirit of the West

Cooking from Ranch House and Range


Spririt of the West: Cooking from Ranch House and Range (Artisan, December 1996, $35.00) by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs is a cookbook to suit appetites as big as the open range. It is a celebration of the food that sustained cowboys and ranch hands, gunfighters and gamblers, muleskinners and cattle barons, outlaws and pioneers. Have a seat at the table and taste the mythic story of the American West.

Eat through the history of the West chapter by chapter. Spirit of the West begins with the food of the vaqueros, the first "cowboys" who came north from Mexico in the sixteenth century. Continue on to the great cattle drives and life under the open sky. Eat like the kings of the great ranches that began and thrived during the days of the open range. Explore the cooking of homesteaders and town-builders and finish the journey with some fabulous, modern-day fare from today's working ranches.

Spirit of the West is home cooking on a grand scale, food that fueled the settling of the American frontier. It's quintessential, pure, honest, cowboy food—Ranch Frijoles, Wild Turkey Stew, Old California Chicken Enchiladas, and Gustavo's Carne Guisada, a simple beef stew. Out on the trail, awaken to Roundup Fried Potatoes and Eggs washed down with some Cowboy Coffee, strong, black and sure to keep everyone sitting up in the saddle. For lunch, try Muleskinner's Chili—it's spicy and speaks with authority—or a steaming plate of Carl Cooper's Oklahoma Cowboy Stew served with Biscuits on a Stick. Visit the King Ranch, 835,000 acres of South Texas, where steaks come with Roasted Pepper and Tomato Relish. Or stop by the Crescent V Ranch for some of Mother Ward's Famous Gumbo. Indulge a sweet tooth with homesteaders' Butterscotch Rolls, Colorado Peach Cobbler, Mrs. Swan's White Cake, or Helen Winger's Devil's Food Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting. The trail ends at today's dude ranches where past and present mingle in imaginative dishes like Skyline Ranch Baby Back Ribs with Chipolte Barbecue Sauce, the Home Ranch's Marinated Grilled Vegetables with Smoky Tomato Vinaigrette, and Teton Ridge's Four-Comers Grilled Chicken.

In addition to the 125 recipes, Spirit of the West includes 35 lavish, full-color photographs by Martin Jacobs; an introduction by Sam'l Arnold, a western food historian and owner of The Fort, a celebrated restaurant outside Denver; chapter introductions by David Dary, author of Cowboy Culture and seven other books about the American West; and a list of mail-order sources for everything from fresh game to dutch ovens and chokecherry jam.

About the Authors: Beverly Cox grew up on a cattle ranch near Cheyenne, Wyoming. She left Wyoming and studied cooking in France with Mapie Toulouse-Lautrec and Gaston LeNotre and also earned a Grande Diplome from the Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is the author of ten cookbooks, including Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking, winner of both the James Beard and International Association of Culinary Professionals awards in 1991. After years of living in Connecticut with her husband, Gordon Black, the couple moved to the Cox family's Eagle Rock Ranch in the Chalk Bluffs region of Northern Colorado in the early 1990s. There, a lifelong interest in cowboy and ranching traditions, combined with the experience of living among men and women who ride a horse as naturally as most people walk and who think nothing of roping and doctoring an ornery 600-pound steer, inspired Cox to write Spirit of the West.

Martin Jacobs is an award-winning photographer and author based in New York City. He has photographed many cookbooks and he collaborates with Beverly Cox regularly on a column about Indian cooking for the Smithsonian's magazine Native Peoples. His love of the American West and of food history inspired this work.

Spirit of the West is a selection of the Literary Guild.

Spririt of the West: Cooking from Ranch House and Range
By Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs
Published by Artisan, November 1996
$35.00/224 pages/125 recipes/35 full-color photographs
ISBN: 1-885183-21-6 Information provided by the publisher.


Spirit of the West


Western Cookbook Round Up

Cookbook Profile Archive

This page modified February 2007