Sunday, January 4, 2015

Old West Chuckwagon

For those of you who don't know, I do a bit of civil war reenacting and living history events when time allows. One of the most time consuming aspects of those events is the cooking. It isn't as simple as popping something into the stove or microwave. Cooking in the old west was a real chore.  

Our living history kitchens are a lot different than what we're used to now and I've learned a lot about cooking since joining my historical group. I can whip you up a meal cooked over an open fire that will taste as good, if not better, than anything made inside a modern kitchen. Home made biscuits and hot fudge chocolate cake cooked in a dutch oven in a fire pit is to die for. Once those coals are hot, that dutch oven will cook better than a stove.

Of course, we have the convenience of stopping by the grocery store and collecting our ingredients and hauling everything to where we need it with little problem. That wasn't the case years ago. Imagine the foodstuff needed to feed a small army of men on a cattle drive. How did they haul it all and cook for so many?

History books say the invention of the Chuckwagon is credited to Charles Goodnight, back in 1866. He was a Texas rancher who converted an old wagon to suit the needs of their traveling kitchen. He added a "chuck box" to the back of the wagon with shelves and storage compartments. A hinged lid that folded down made a working surface for food prep. Water barrels were attached to the side and canvas clothes underneath carried firewood. A wagon box held their cooking pots and utensils.

Of course, I doubt those old cowboys were making chocolate cake out on the range. The typical Chuckwagon fare would consist of beans, salted meats, biscuits and coffee. Foods easily preservable and easily bought when passing through small towns.

My current work in progress, book 7 in my Willow Creek Series, will feature a cattle drive and the use of a Chuckwagon will play a good part in the book. Thankfully my knowledge of cooking over an open fire will help writing those particular scenes.

To get caught up on the series, read the first four books in The Avery's of Willow Creek Boxset. This four book set is a USA TODAY best seller and will introduce you to the four Avery brother's, the backbone of my small community of Willow Creek.


The Averys of Willow Creek by Lily Graison 

Travel back to the 1800′s and tangle with ornery town marshals, Indians and schoolmarms who are anything but docile. Willow Creek may be a sleepy little frontier town but the characters who live there are as untamed as the land itself!

Book 1: The Lawman
Book 2: The Outlaw
Book 3: The Gambler
Book 4: The Rancher


About Lily Graison

USA TODAY  bestselling author Lily Graison writes historical western romances and dabbles in contemporary and paranormal romance. First published in 2005, Lily has written over a dozen romance novels that range from sweet to spicy.

She lives in Hickory, North Carolina with her husband, three high-strung Yorkies and more cats than she can count and is mother of two and grandmother of three. On occasion, she can be found at her sewing machine creating 1800’s period clothing or participating in civil war reenactments and area living history events. When not portraying a southern belle, you can find her at a nearby store feeding her obsession for all things resembling office supplies.

To see the dresses Lily has created, visit her Pinterest page.

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1 comment:

  1. Lily--I knew that Charles Goodnight was credited with the invention of the chuck wagon.
    This post is very good, Lily, and since most of us seem scattered and off cue right now, I do hope you will post this same thing maybe a few months from now. It's too good to waste, so I ask you to overlook everyone that's trying to get back into the groove, and use it again maybe in April...or so? Thanks for the great research, and we do need interesting information such as this. Good job. Thanks!


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