“Howdy, and if I could follow that with a handshake, I would.” This personable welcome to “A Taste of Cowboy: Ranch Recipes and Tales from the Trail” is followed by light-hearted and entertaining information about chuck wagon cooking, the people author Kent Rollins has known and the food he has cooked. He introduces the reader to the chuck wagon, the “first meals on wheels,” with some history and a brief lesson in cowboy lingo.
The presentation of his actual “kitchen” begins with an introduction to Bertha. She is a long time companion that weighs 385 lbs. and travels with him to his cooking jobs. She is pretty popular when the weather cools. She’s his camp stove that he had made to his specifications early in his cooking career. On the practical side are tips about caring for the cast iron and enamel cookware, including the coffee pot he uses daily.
One quality I always like in any book is humor. One story about a cowboy includes a joke I have heard many times. He fit the joke into a story that at first I thought “he surely won’t tell that joke here” and then when he did, I laughed out loud. Any good comedian has to have a sense of timing when telling a joke. Kent’s sense of timing comes through clearly on paper.
Anyone who cooks will know that part of that job involves planning. Kent has included stories and helpful tips about meal planning both on the trail and at home.
Recipes are a big part of this book of course. Each recipe has cooking tips or a humorous mini “story” that is entertaining and educational. But my favorite stories are the ones sprinkled though out, stories about the people and animals in Kent’s life and some he has met along the way. He has kind words for each person and critter that expresses his sincere caring for each human and animal alike. The friendly, relaxed way Kent Rollins has of expressing himself in writing makes it seem that he is in the room talking to you personally.
If you are looking for a book to entertain you for a day or afternoon, this is a book worth investigating. It is a light, fun look at a life style that is familiar to many around this area. It is light and fun but you can tell Kent has a deep respect for cowboys and the job they do. Plus you will surely find a delicious recipe you want to try.
Connie Chambers is a Library Associate at Sterling Public Library.