Chilly, winter nights, a blanket of stars and a crackling campfire conjure up stories of the American West and its quintessential icon — the cowboy — better for me than almost any setting I know. Throw in some great camp cooking over an open flame and it’s possible to almost smell the smoke from the fire as it tinges the night air with a distinctive smell of mesquite or coals. Ah, nothing quite like it.
Growing up in the wide, open spaces of West Texas, I’ve stood around my share of campfires with bubbling pots of venison chili or homemade peach cobbler, but I’ve never been the pot stirrer, always just the pot partaker, so I thought it was interesting to learn that there is an organization devoted to the art of black pot, or Dutch oven, cooking.
The Lone Star Dutch Oven Society (LSDOS) has chapters throughout Texas who work to preserve the historical aspects of black pot cooking, a way of preparing food that dates back several hundred years. LSDOS members provide classes for greenhorns like me who want to learn how to cook in a Dutch oven. Members also participate in historical re-enactment events, recreational expositions and education activities in their communities.
To whet your appetite for cooking the black pot way, the LSDOS offers many recipes on its website at www.lsdos.com. Here’s a tasty sample:
Spicy Black-eyed Pea Soup
Mary & Gale Merriwether
SALTGRASS CHAPTER of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society
12 inch well-seasoned Dutch Oven Serves 6 to 8
4 cups Black-eyed peas (dried)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons bacon drippings
2 can of Ro-Tel tomatoes (10 oz.)
2 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large onion, chopped
- Rinse and cook black-eyed peas according to package directions. When tender, drain off most of the water and retain in case you need more liquid for soup broth.
- Sauté onion in bacon drippings until soft. Mash the peas with potato masher and add to onions in the pan.
- Add the tomatoes, beef broth and cheese. Simmer until the cheese has melted. Salted and pepper to taste.
- If needed, add retained water from cooking black-eyed peas to make soup the desired consistency.
- Serve hot and garnish with tortilla chips.
Note: You may substitute 2 small, peeled fresh tomatoes and a minced jalapeno pepper (seeds, stems and ribs removed) for the Ro-Tel tomatoes, if desired.
Until next time, here are a few photos of West Texas which were taken by my husband on a recent day trip around Ft. Stockton. These photos really speak to my heart as a writer and I hope you enjoy them, too.
**Giveaway Alert: Pamela will give away one free, autographed, paperback version of her novel A RIDE HOME. One reader’s name will be drawn at random. You can connect with her at www.pamelarobertshowell.com or on her Facebook fan page Pamela Roberts Howell.
Pamela Howell is an author, teacher, and freelance journalist. She has won numerous state, national and international awards for her writing as well as her marketing leadership skills. A native Texan, she lives in San Antonio with her husband of 26 years where she enjoys writing Christian fiction, scrapbooking, reading and crafting.
Her novel, A RIDE HOME, is set in West Texas and tells the story of college student Kayla Hartley who accepts a ride from a stranger, a handsome cowboy named Mark Lawson, who charms his way into her heart. But, is it the best decision? It’s 800 miles across an unforgiving, barren landscape from San Angelo, Texas, to her hometown in Arizona, and as night falls and the road becomes more desolate, Kayla begins to wonder if she’s made a mistake, a terrible one that might cost her dearly.
A RIDE HOME Book Trailer —
This is Pamela’s first blog on Petticoats & Pistols. We’re happy you joined us, Pamela!