A Culinary Connection: 100 Years of Historic Meals,
The George Ranch Historical Park Cookbook
by Nick Castelberg
This book is a Texas history book, a culinary history book, and a cookbook in one. It contains wonderful photographs of historical scenes, as well as meal presentation. By way of simple and hearty recipies, we get a glimpse into the lives of Texas’ early settlers. Recipes reflect the availability of particular foods during each time period. The book is divided into five typical meals:
1830s Jones Stock Farm Meal
1860s Ryon Old Prairie Home Meal
1890s Chuck Wagon Meal
1890s Sharecropper Meal
1930s George Ranch Bachelor House Meal
There is also a section on breads.
I prepared the Rosemary Roasted Chicken. I used chicken breasts, added the juice of one lemon, used herbs from my garden and less salt. It was delicious and healthy. I also prepared the Roasted Root Veggies. This was my first experience cooking with a parsnip and a turnip. It was a tasty, very white mixture, as the color in the dish only came from the orange carrots and black pepper. The Barbeque Sauces are a terrific alternatives to the pour out of the bottle variation.
From a historical perspective, I learned that the chuck wagon was “the heart as well as the hearth of cattle drive campsites” and that the cook acted as the doctor, barber, banker and mediator for the men. This might explain why we are all so enthralled with the Food Network! I also discovered that the green bean is a descendent of a bean from Peru, that brisket can be a cut of meat from many different animals and not just beef, and that rice has been a recognized food source since 3000 B.C. Finally, who knew that the official State Bread of Texas is Pan de Campo or “camp bread,” which is a simple baking powder bread?
The George Ranch is a 23,000-acre working ranch. It prospered as a result of cattle, cotton, and oil. In addition to historic meals, the ranch currently offers living history demonstrations, house museums, and cattle working demonstrations. Moreover, if you don’t feel like cooking, you can call the George Ranch, make a reservation for lunch or dinner, and get a “taste of history” from Nick Castelberg himself!