Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

On Camp Cookery
by [?]

One morning I awoke a little before the others, and lay on my back staring up through the trees. It was not my day to cook. We were camped at the time only about sixty-five hundred feet high, and the weather was warm. Every sort of green thing grew very lush all about us, but our own little space was held dry and clear for us by the needles of two enormous red cedars some four feet in diameter. A variety of thoughts sifted through my mind as it followed lazily the shimmering filaments of loose spider-web streaming through space. The last thought stuck. It was that that day was a holiday. Therefore I unlimbered my six-shooter, and turned her loose, each shot being accompanied by a meritorious yell.

The outfit boiled out of its blankets. I explained the situation, and after they had had some breakfast they agreed with me that a celebration was in order. Unanimously we decided to make it gastronomic.

“We will ride till we get to good feed,” we concluded, “and then we’ll cook all the afternoon. And nobody must eat anything until the whole business is prepared and served.”

It was agreed. We rode until we were very hungry, which was eleven o’clock. Then we rode some more. By and by we came to a log cabin in a wide fair lawn below a high mountain with a ducal coronet on its top, and around that cabin was a fence, and inside the fence a man chopping wood. Him we hailed. He came to the fence and grinned at us from the elevation of high-heeled boots. By this token we knew him for a cow-puncher.

“How are you?” said we.

“Howdy, boys,” he roared. Roared is the accurate expression. He was not a large man, and his hair was sandy, and his eye mild blue. But undoubtedly his kinsmen were dumb and he had as birthright the voice for the entire family. It had been subsequently developed in the shouting after the wild cattle of the hills. Now his ordinary conversational tone was that of the announcer at a circus. But his heart was good.

“Can we camp here?” we inquired.

“Sure thing,” he bellowed. “Turn your horses into the meadow. Camp right here.”

But with the vision of a rounded wooded knoll a few hundred yards distant we said we’d just get out of his way a little. We crossed a creek, mounted an easy slope to the top of the knoll, and were delighted to observe just below its summit the peculiar fresh green hump which indicates a spring. The Tenderfoot, however, knew nothing of springs, for shortly he trudged a weary way back to the creek, and so returned bearing kettles of water. This performance hugely astonished the cowboy, who subsequently wanted to know if a “critter had died in the spring.”

Wes departed to borrow a big Dutch oven of the man and to invite him to come across when we raised the long yell. Then we began operations.

Now camp cooks are of two sorts. Anybody can with a little practice fry bacon, steak, or flapjacks, and boil coffee. The reduction of the raw material to its most obvious cooked result is within the reach of all but the most hopeless tenderfoot who never knows the salt-sack from the sugar-sack. But your true artist at the business is he who can from six ingredients, by permutation, combination, and the genius that is in him turn out a full score of dishes. For simple example: GIVEN, rice, oatmeal, and raisins. Your expert accomplishes the following:

ITEM–Boiled rice.

ITEM–Boiled oatmeal.

ITEM–Rice boiled until soft, then stiffened by the addition of quarter as much oatmeal.