Boney’s turn to cook supper. A fact that has the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company captain, Garrett Cowlishaw, and the other four trail hands sticking close to camp. All the wagons are set in their curved line, the livestock graze hobbled in the meadow, and the company’s children haul buckets of water up from the creek. Men are greasing wheels and tending hooves while the women see to their families’ needs.
Outside the company’s chuck wagon, supper boils in an iron pot suspended over the campfire. The scraping of the wooden spoon along the sides of a tin bowl says mealtime won’t be long off now.
Granted, Boney’s Salt Pork and Beans are worth waiting for. Savory and rich. But it’s the wiry fellow’s biscuits his buddy’s mouths water for. Steaming. Golden brown and flaky.
Good news! Since Boney and I go way back and I featured him in the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, I was able to talk him into sharing his recipes.
BONEY’S CAMPFIRE BEANS
2 lbs dry red beans (or substitute with your favorite beans)
12 oz salt pork
Two small white onions, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cloves garlic, crushed, or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse ground pepper
In a large pot, place the dried beans and cover with about two inches of water. Bring to a boil for about two minutes, then turn off heat. Let sit overnight. If the beans soaked up all the water, add enough to cover them again.
Remove any skin from the salt pork and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes. You can leave the skins on, but a lot of my men don’t have the chompers to deal with ’em. Place in a pot and cover with water. Boil until foam forms on top. Drain off water and foam.
Cover with fresh water and bring to a simmer. Cook about 20 minutes, until pork is tender, then drain and add to beans.
Place beans, with water, (it will look like a pot of mud) on a stove or nestle it in the coals at the edge of the campfire.
Add all other ingredients. Stir occasionally, gently so as not to break open the beans.
Cook slowly until the beans are soft or you just can’t wait any longer. About 5 hours.
If you want thicker beans, shake up some flour in a little of the bean water and stir it in. You will have to estimate on this, as I don’t know how much water you boiled off.
There should be enough here to feed the whole crew, unless Tiny shows up.
BONEY’S TRAIL BISCUITS
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup soft butter
1 cup buttermilk (or add 2 tablespoons lemon juice to milk to make 1 cup and let sit for about 15 minutes)
3/4 cup (loose) grated/shaved cheese (we used medium cheddar), if desired
2 tablespoons butter for brushing the biscuit tops, if desired
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture looks crumbly. Quickly stir in the buttermilk until mixture is moist. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough. Dough will be moist but not sticky. Roll or pat to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter or follow Boney’s lead and use the top of a tin cup.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. About 10 to 12 minutes into the baking brush biscuit tops with the extra softened butter.
Boney said he would have baked his biscuits in a Dutch oven at the campfire. My hubby used Boney’s recipe and baked them in an oiled (olive oil spray) cast iron skillet, which takes about five minutes more oven time.
If you were on the Oregon Trail and cooking supper over a campfire, what would you fix?