The Great Ranch Cookbook
by Gwen Ashley Walters
Published by Guest Ranch Link
253 pages, 1999
Buy it online
Home on the Ranch
Reviewed by Linda L. Richards
Both the cover and the title of The
Great Ranch Cookbook conjure up cliché images
of the American west. Cliché flavors as well: think
hardtack and bannock; buffalo steaks and overcooked chili.
After all, ranches are traditionally known for many things,
but if one thinks of the food at all it's in terms of
quantity not quality.
One of the great adventures in life is visiting a guest ranch, whether the ranch is close to home or far away. There is just something "American" about saddling up for a day's ride, hiking in majestic mountains, angling grass-lined, crystal clear streams, or just cozying up in front of a roaring fire in the lodge.
In setup, the book resembles a bed and breakfast guide:
each ranch's section is prefaced with the ranch's own logo,
as well as basic information like address, URL, available
seasons, capacity, available accommodations, activities and
rates. If the couple of pages of ranch-related copy feels a
little too much like PR material, this too adds to the
B&B guidebook feel. For example, this from the section
on the Latigo Guest Ranch in Kremmling, Colorado:
Seconds after you enter the Latigo gates you are gazing out at a 200-mile panoramic view of the spectacular Rocky Mountains. You're dazzled that you just moments ago turned off a civilized paved road onto a dusty trail called Red Dirt Road. Climbing up and out of the sagebrush and into alpine evergreens, the path to the Latigo is a mercurial scene, winding its way toward quite possibly the most tranquil environment you've ever experienced.
All of the ranch descriptions have echoes of this one: a
little too adjective-filled to be entirely credible.
(Mercurial?) But when the whole collection of ranches is
viewed -- via the book -- from the comfort of your armchair
the result is enticing. It makes you want to pack! And if
packing isn't an option, the recipes are there so you can at
least taste what you'll be missing. | May 1999
Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine. Her latest novel, Calculated Loss, is set in Vancouver, where Madeline Carter sets out to investigate the suspicious death of a professional chef.