Western writers turn out some honest-to-goodness pot boilers

In case you’ve misplaced your grandmother’s recipe for possum and potatoes, the “Western Writers of America Cookbook” has got you covered.  Texas historian, T. Lindsey Baker and his wife Julie, offer their authentic dish of “Possum and Taters” with complete instructions on dressing the possum.

If you’re not keen on doing in a young possum in the dead of winter, however, there are more than 150 trail-tested dishes from bunkhouse breakfasts to sundown desserts. They all have a frontier history but will still manage to make the transition to your 21st century tastebuds.  

The collection is a collaborative effort by some of the country’s best known Western authors and historians, all members of Western Writers of America, an organization of published professionals in a number of Western fields.

Award-winning Western novelist, Linda Jacobs’ recipe for Coq au Vin probably never turned up on the chuck wagon.  Jacobs confesses she borrowed some of the basics from her Virginia roots but her version is more Paris, Texas, than Paris, France.  The addition of North American staples like bell peppers and wild rice make all the difference.  Oh, and then there’s the thing about adding more wine.  

Hitched horsehair artist Shoni Maulding’s meatless chili is also accompanied by a confession, of sorts, that she was once a short-term vegetarian.  Maulding still keeps her veggie chili recipe on file, however, to cook up when “city folks come to visit.”  Shoni and her husband, Ron, a  bow maker and silversmith, have authored more than a dozen “how-to” books on the unique art of hitching.

Journalist turned novelist Anne Hillerman’s carrot cake is a preservation recipe, saved from her newspaper days as a food columnist.   She thoughtfully resurrected this classic dessert from the kitchen of a gone-but-not-forgotten Mexican restaurant Hillerman loved.  The daughter of the late novelist, Tony Hillerman, Anne is now an award-winning author in her own right.  She first landed on the New York Times Best Seller list in 2014 with “Spider Woman’s Daughter.” 

But wait, you can sip Western mystery writer, Susan Union’s “Rattlesnake Cider” while you pick up some pithy tips on becoming a successful author  like Arizona history writer, Brad Smith’s favorite on writer’s block; “sit down, shut up and write!”

In addition, it’s a chance to eat well and do good.  Proceeds from the WWA cookbook go to the organization’s “Homestead Foundation.”   The foundation funds educational symposiums, awards for Western writers and supports a variety of  literacy programs.  Perhaps most important, it encourages Americans to understand and preserve the nation’s unique Western heritage.

For more about Susan Union’s “Randi Sterling” mysteries go to publisherswriters.org/susan-union and you can learn about Shoni Maulding’s unique art at hitchedhorsehair.com.

“Western Writers of America Cookbook” is available from a number of on-line booksellers, all priced at under $20.

© Text Only – 2019 – Headin’ West LLC  – All photos – public domain or fair use.