I'm the quintessential ranch girl. I grew up in a very remote rural area, where my family raises Black Angus cattle, quarter horses, and paint horses. Getting a big job done on the ranch requires the help of neighbors and friends, and when a ranch is known to put on a good dinner for the crew, help for the ranch job is much easier to come by. I'm married with one son, and my husband works as a ranch foreman for Simplot in addition to helping out on the home ranch. We raise, train, and sell horses (www.pruntyhorses.com), and run a hunting guide service, for which my husband guides. I coordinate the hunts and do all the cooking.
My favorite things to cook
RED MEAT! Nothing is quite as delicious to me as a good tri-tip, marinated in red wine, garlic, and rosemary, and then cooked to a nice rare or medium rare on the grill outside.
My favorite family cooking traditions
The main tradition is taking pride in putting on a 'good feed' for the ranch branding crews. When we brand ('we' meaning my immediate family or numerous cousins, who have their own ranches with cattle to brand and crews to feed), it is a huge, festive potluck. Whoever is the host usually provides the meat, and everyone who comes brings side-dishes, salads, and desserts.
One thing that is a special tradition for branding and holiday dinners is a good batch of sweetbreads, parboiled and then breaded and fried. (Sweetbreads are throat glands from a beef....they're easier to eat if you don't think about what they are.) And of course we do have rocky mountain oysters after a branding! Not my favorite.
My cooking triumphs
I love to cook good food for good people. One of the greatest compliments I received was after our 2008 elk hunting season. For a week, I cooked for two clients that were very experienced hunters and had hunted with numerous outfitters. They told me that my cooking was the best they had ever had, anywhere.
My cooking tragedies
Nothing too dramatic here, but rather kind of funny...the first time my in-laws-to-be visited the ranch, I grilled steaks. While turning one of the steaks, it slipped off my fork and hit the sidewalk. I always adhere to the 'five second rule,' but my future father-in-law saw it happen. To this day he still teases me about it.