Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 53
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staple of the everyday bill of fare. The cowman was usually the
first pioneer in most sections of the country to push on ahead
of the farmer. The pioneer cowman soon learned to eat frijoles.
To the necessary staples of flour, sugar, bacon and coffee he soon
learned to add red beans. To the cowboy they became the "West
Texas strawberries." Whether cooked at the ranch house or in
the cow camp, beans tasted good and the cook usually managed
to serve them twice a day.
It has been said that bacon rinds greased the wagon wheels
of the American poineer on his migrations westward. Bacon
was his principal item of food until fresh meat could be killed.
Beans were added to the food supply when the pioneer reached
the Southwest. Nesters who followed the cattlemen westward
copied after the cow camp cooks and soon were attempting to
raise frijoles for home consumption. Thus the lowly bean became
a part of the food supply of all who came to the Southwest, passed
on from the Indian to the Spanish, and from the Spanish to the
cowman, the sheepman and the farmer.
The cook in a camp on a cattle ranch in Southwest Texas
described his method of cooking beans as follows:
Take the Mexican speckled bean, the pinto, 'a whole
panful of them. Separate them from the big rocks that have
been intentionally left in them to increase their weight on the
market. Wash, then soak overnight. Place them in an old tin
syrup bucket, the tight fitting lid of which has been punctured
with four nail holes to permit the escape of steam. Add a lot of
diced salt pork. Fill the bucket brimful of rain water, and close
the flat lid down tightly. Bury the bucket, lid deep, in the hot
ashes bordering the edge of your cooking fire.....Never add
additional water while cooking, nor salt until thoroughly done,
as any mineral in the water tends to harden the beans. These
beans will be piping hot, delicate, tender morsels, swimming
in their black juice, at any time you might return after the
next six hours; which makes things very convenient for the
cook, who must also go forth with the other punchers.
(Smith, L. Walden, Saddles Up, Naylor Publishing Company,
San Antonio, Texas.)
Not all of the cow camp cooks choose the pinto for cooking,
for some have the idea that the only real frijole is the red bean
and the only bean worth cooking is the red bean. The frijole
has a great amount of nutrition and is convenient for the camp
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/61/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.