The preservation of western cultural and the American Cowboy. Sharing the history of the early trail drives, the Chuck Wagon and those who pioneered untamed land. The content is for educational and entertainment purposes. Cowboys and Chuck Wagon Cooking reviews cooking techniques, products and western gear which today is part of western life style. We hope you will enjoy your visit and look forward to comments, recipes and shared heritage. Thank you for your visit. Hope you follow us along the trail of news, stories and the Cowboy way.
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

CHEYENNE to DOWNINGTOWN

Randy Brown is the Chapter Director for IDOS (International Dutch Oven Society) group in Northern Pennsylvania.  Cooking on cast iron is a passion which there is very little that Randy has not cooked up in his Dutch Ovens.  Often cooking for many events, from Dutch Oven Gatherings (DOG),  performing demonstrations or assisting with many local benefits, Randy goes beyond just cooking with his array of cast iron skillets and dutch ovens. He also works from his late 1800's NEWTON Chuckwagon. 

Randy recalls, his passion grew from his grandfather who taught him how to cook from the Dutch Ovens just as pioneers did over a century ago as they moved westward, settling new untouched lands.  He grew up on a small family ranch in Merced, California.  There in the small farm and ranching community known as McSwain of the San Juaquin Valley, Randy lived a cowboys life. Each day filled performing those many chores that come with any operating ranch.  He could take in pheasant hunting walking out the backdoor of their home before heading off too school, although the community today has since grown to high priced residential real estate which encroached that once undeveloped acreage.  

Country life was very much part of his life until 1971 when Randy was 21 years old.  Like many American boys of that time, Randy's lotto number for enlistment into the armed forces found him drafted to the US Army.  The Vietnam war was in it's peak, though Randy survived the war and continued to make the Army a career serving in a total of twenty one years.  Assigned various duties stations through the years, he was assigned to the 16th MP Brigade (Airborne), XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, NC posted at Fort Belvoir, Virgina as a Warrant Officer when he retired. Randy recalls that his duty assignments where truly the worst assignments and the best as he would never trade his memorable experiences gained through the Army.  Upon retiring, Randy landed a job with corporate America and was asked to take over the operation of a training center in Pennsylvania. Since then, Randy currently works for the Dept of Veterans Affairs now living in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.   

As his interest returned to cooking with cast iron dutch ovens, just as he once did with his grandfather, Randy became very involved with the International Dutch Oven Society.  Although, he long for more than just outdoor cooking. He missed the cowboy life he once grew up with in that California San Juaquin Valley. 

Over time, he began corresponding with Kathy Christensen of Midwest Buggy in Lockney, Texas.  She happen to be competing in a chuckwagon cook-off in Cheyenne during the Frontier Days when Randy had asked through emails if he could come and hang out with her wagon crew. Before the weekend was over, Randy knew he wanted to add a chuckwagon to his dutch oven cooking, just as the cowboys once did during the cattle drives moving herds up the trails to northern markets.   Kathy sold Randy her wagon which she had restored and they came upon agreeable terms.  Although Randy was not able to take the wagon until he could return with a means to haul the wagon back to Downingtown.  "She was very gracious and agreed, even though she didn't really know me," states Randy.  Kathy left the chuckwagon with some friends to store until Randy's return.  He finally was able to take time off from work returning to Wyoming to retrieve his new treasure which had been sitting for so many months. "It must have been a relief to her friends, holding the wagon for me," recalls Randy.  

Today, Randy enjoys performing his Dutch Oven cooking demo's from his Newton Chuckwagon. "It sure does get attention when I show up at various events" he replied. Part of the joy is not just the cooking that comes with having a chuck wagon, but sharing the tales and many stories which Randy helps keep the history and folklore of  trail drive era very much alive.  Although, the downside is there is not anyone else with a wagon in the area operating in the northeast.  Randy hopes to get in contact with others who share his passion. 

He also plans to outfit his wagon with period correct saddles an a compete team harness set for competition cook-offs. He also has been asked by the Amish in his community if he's ready for a team of horses to pull the wagon.  "They were quite serious," remarked Randy.  This additional gear would make his wagon competition ready as he hopes to find the items at the annual Antique and Classic Carriage Auction later this year. However his wagon is fully outfitted for any catering and demonstrations. 

Randy came across an old style flapjack type recipe called "Splatterdab."  The concoction of ingredients called for flour, water, sourdough starter and some sugar if it was on hand. The recipe used during the trail drives was perhaps given the name spatterdab by the early cooks who worked from those chuckwagons that (Splatter a dab) on the griddle then likely referring to the finish course as splatterdabs.  While performing one of his many cooking demonstration, Randy decided to use the recipe.  As he explain the tale an origin of the recipe, a member in attendance pin the nickname on him so Randy ran with it becoming Splatterdab. 

Hoping to retire from his second career in the next two years, Randy would be allowed more time to travel with his wagon.   In the meant time, his goal  is to learn as much as he can about the trail drives, the chuckwagon and cowboy ways.  His desire is to past on the legacies and history of the chuckwagon and rtail drives in an accurate historical manner.   Since taking the chuckwagon from Cheyenne, Wyoming back Downingtown, he also hopes to link up with other chuckwagon enthusiast.  He may just be the only chuckwagon in Pennsylvania.  "I'm not opposed to washing pots if I can learn something from it," explains Randy as he would love assisting any other owners with a competition or chuckwagon gathering as he looks forward the benefit of learning. 

The American Chuck Wagon Association helps assist host with chuckwagon cooking competition throughout the United States.  Their membership extends across the nation, including three other countries which you do not have to own a chuck wagon to be a member.  While the non profit organization goal is to help preserve the heritage of the chuck wagon, proceeds assist student scholarships.

You can visit Randy's web page Valley Forge Black Pots where he provides information about dutch oven cooking, food safety, tips and tricks along with his chuckwagon corner. 

Randy Brown known as Splatterdab cooking with his Dutch Ovens
Newton Chuck Wagon
SPLATTERDAB CHUCK WAGON
Cheyenne to Downingtown

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