Circle F Dude Ranch Camp has had a tradition of a Dutch oven and cast-iron cooking that reaches back to the establishment of the camp. In the summer of 2022 as part of the summer camp’s 70th-anniversary celebration, a whole new program based on a Dutch oven and cast-iron cooking will be introduced. The chuckwagon cooking program promises to be more than just a cooking class, but a full western experience.
The unique form of western chuck wagon cooking was born from the long cattle drives of the west in the late 1800s. There is a whole tradition and culture that formed around meals and the trail camp’s chuckwagon. Cookie or the cook was the master of the chuckwagon and “Chuck” or food. Cowboys quickly learned not to mess with Cookie. Campers this summer will get to immerse themselves in the chuckwagon cooking experience as they become Cookie’s assistants at the Circle F Trail Kitchen.
Cowboys around the chuckwagon understood some basic rules. A key one was respect for each other and making sure that everyone had a chance to eat. Cowboys might have been rough and tumble but they also made sure to take care of each other. The chuckwagon cooking program is more than just a cooking class it’s a program about cowboy manners and respect. “Hey no scuffling by the wagon you all know it will get dust in the food,” reminds Cookie.
At the root of the entire program is a hands-on approach to cooking over an open flame with cast iron skillets, Dutch ovens, and rotisseries. The foundation of this cooking reaches all the way back to the days where households cooked around a hearth. Cookie’s assistants will quickly be put to work preparing a trail meal for the folks working the horses that day. Cookie’s assistants will learn to chop vegetables, prepare sourdough starters & biscuits, grill meats, make stews, prepare chilis, and a host of other essential wagon cooking skills. Tasting creations is a key step to making sure everything is just right, so there will be plenty of food to try while at the Trail Kitchen.
Campers that complete the full chuckwagon cooking course will get their own copy of Cookie’s Circle F Cookbook and the title of trail cook. If they are lucky Cookie might even give them their very own trail cook nickname. Don’t forget to register before October 22, 2021, for the best rates of the camp season.