Cowboy Coffee and Chicken-Fried Steak: Ranch Cooking 101 | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Episode 718
August 3, 2023

Cowboy Coffee and Chicken-Fried Steak: Ranch Cooking 101

Cowboy Coffee and Chicken-Fried Steak: Ranch Cooking 101

Cowboys work hard—which means they need to be fed well. This week, hear how ranch cook Kent Rollins feeds cowboys out of his chuck wagon, serving up his famous coffee, steaks and “burger dogs.” Plus, Tove Danovich introduces us to Mike the Headless Chicken, as well as her brood of mail-order chickens and their complex emotional lives; Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett of “A Way with Words” make lemonade out of lemon idioms; and we prepare a Tomato Salad with Peanuts, Cilantro and Chipotle-Sesame Dressing, just in time for high summer.

Questions in this episode:

"My daughter is trying to bake cinnamon rolls on a remote island in the Pacific. Do you have tips for baking in high moisture and humidity environments with limited access to kitchen supplies?"

"Does cookie dough really need to be refrigerated overnight?"

"I'm bringing a dessert to my son's wedding. Can you recommend a dessert that can last for days, including surviving a 10 hour car ride?"

"What ingredients make good binders and sweeteners when making desserts for people who are both vegan and diabetic?"

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Christopher Kimball: This is Milk Street Radio from PRX. I'm your host Christopher Kimball.

Kent Rollins: Brutal heat, freezing snow, dwindling supplies. Cooking for cowboys is anything but

easy. That's sort of what it takes to be a ranch cook. I mean, you're a doctor, a dentist, psychologist,

and a cook to boot.

CK: Later on in the show cowboy Kent Rollins takes us into the world of Chuck Wagon cooking. But

first, let's check out the chicken coop author, Tove Danovich is here to make a few introductions.

Tove Danovich: We have Loretta who I've had for a very long time, but she continues to be very shy.

Peggy likes to sing, and she liked us this sad jailhouse___. It's just like a beautiful moving.

CK: Chickens. They outnumber humans three to one. But what do we actually know about them? Tove

Danovich joins us now to get inside the mind of our favorite backyard bird. tuber Welcome back to Milk


TD: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

CK: So, what's interesting about chickens, a lot of things that are interesting, but there's a lot of legends

around chickens. You want to tell us about Mike the headless chicken because I think he stands out in

the annals of chicken dumb, right?

TD: Yeah, Mike, the headless chicken, who is you know, a really unfortunate mascot if you want to be

taken seriously by people as a species. He was a chicken in mid-century America who a farmer tried to

slaughter for dinner. And as the theory goes, he got the head off, but somehow kept most of the spinal

column intact, which allowed the chicken to be alive more or less without a head for I believe, 18

months before he finally died. And this farmer toured Mike all around the United States and fed Mike

and watered him by putting food and water in a little dropper that went directly into his esophagus,

which is quite a picture.

CK: And this guy the farmer was making in today's dollars, like over $50,000 a year touring. So, I don't

think it worked out for Mike too well, but it worked out for the farmer. So, let's talk about your journey

and set up this book Under the Henfluence you wanted for a long time to own chickens. You finally got

the opportunity. How did you get started on this love affair?

TD: Yeah, so like a lot of people, I came to chickens because I wanted some eggs in the backyard. And

I knew enough about the poultry industry to know that chickens were not treated super well. So having

chickens in the backyard that could you know, lay eggs, and have hens that had good lives was super

appealing to me. And I was just asking all these questions about chickens and who they were and why

they did the things that they did. And I wasn't really finding a lot of answers out there. So, as you often


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do, and you you are a writer, you write the article that you want to see you or in my case, the book that I

want to see which now is Under the Henfluence.

CK: So, you just pass by this quickly, you ordered chicks through the mail. And actually, I looked it up

with the US Post Office website. It is section 521 of the postal code and it has the rules and regulations

about live animals being shipped by the post office. But it's kind of interesting. So so just tell me a little

bit about the history of that.

TD: I also found it so fascinating. And until I went to get my chicks, I had no idea that anyone was

shipping any kind of animals through the mail at all. So, nature has, you know, developed this really

ingenious system where the chicks very first meal is their egg yolk. And that is enough to keep them fed

for at least about 24 hours or so. So, some people were artificially incubating and hatching chicks and

started trying to ship chicks first very short distances, and then got farther and so you know, shipping

chicks by mail has been going on from the late 1800s.

CK: So, what are some of your favorite breeds? And what are some of the most interesting looking


TD: They are just a range of fascinating I think most people when they think of a chicken have that

image of the little red hen or maybe the black and white hen and they have like the classic you know,

kind of fat fluffy chicken body, but not all chickens look like that at all. I have some in my flock who fit in

the palm of my hand. They're only you know, five or six inches tall. One of them she's a Belgian Mille

Fleur D’Uccle bantam is the full property name. But she has these giant foot feathers that kind of look

like snowshoes. She has this cute little beard on her face, and she's tiny. So, some chickens can be

little and other chickens can be, you know, nearly three feet tall if you get into roosters, of the giant

breeds. So, there's really such a range in the world of chickens, which makes it really fun.

CK: What do you do with the eggs from a six-inch-high chicken?

TD: Yeah, we do eat them. They are, you know, maybe a third of the size of a regular egg. But the

yolks are pretty similar in size to larger breed chicken eggs. So, they're really great actually for making

ice cream.

CK: So, here's an uncomfortable question. But it sounds like the chicken industry, you know, they're

killed at 18 months because of the molting. They're killed at six weeks if they're for meat. At what point

does someone stand up and say, look, we're going to raise animals for meat. But we're going to have

some rules around this, you know that, that make it, I don't know what you want to say not not morally

acceptable, but at least more morally acceptable than what we're doing now or are those those

discussions never actually happen?

TD: There are a lot of people trying to have those discussions, certainly. But yeah, when you lay it all

out like that, in a list, things are bad for the chicken. And especially when you look at, you know, these

hens that are the egg layers that are killed at 18 months, you know, maybe 300 million of them or so a


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year. They don't even go into the food supply. Because of those breast heavy broiler chickens that are

killed at six weeks old as you mentioned, they put on so much meat so quickly that the price of meat is

really low. And so, it actually costs more money to slaughter one of these laying hens and turn them

into food than you would get back. So, they're just commonly landfilled or composted. It's just a huge

loss of life from beginning to end. But a lot of these poultry growers, as they're commonly called who do

meat chickens, they farm on contract farming, which is very similar to like old time terrible

sharecropping methods, and they are just treated terribly and go into near bankruptcy all the time. It's

really an industry that is ripe for reform from all angles. But it's it's slow going, because you know, the

poultry industry is a major industry in this country. And there's a lot of agricultural lobbying that stops

anything from happening.

CK: Now you say something, this is really interesting. After hatching chicks raised by hens are kinder to

each other.

TD: Yeah, a lot of people have done, you know, different small behavioral studies on chickens, and

especially ones that are raised in artificial incubators versus with a mother hen. And that is one of the

many changes that take place. They're actually just nicer to each other. You know, hens actually talk to

their chicks while they are still in the eggs. And scientists have discovered that that sound of the mother

hen actually is kickstarting their brain and creating new neural pathways that chickens hatched

artificially don't have. But yeah, it's really kind of incredible when you think about we have all these

chickens, the vast majority are hatched artificially. And what are the chickens losing by that?

CK: One of the great little bits in your book which is about the national which is a chicken show. And

you say a love is the first dog show came 30 years after poultry shows were already established and

were wildly popular events. So, two days 1000s of birds just tell us what the Nationals like.

TD: The Ohio National is the largest poultry show in the United States and it is a joy. If you were ever in

Ohio in late November when it takes place. I definitely recommend giving it a visit. People travel from all

across the country to bring their chickens to this show. And they are judged against the American

standard of perfection as it is called which is like the platonic ideal of what a black copper Marin's

chicken looks like or a salmon faverolle or any of these other many breeds of chickens that are out


CK: So, is this like dog breeds? Like some of them are extraordinarily expensive if they're the lineage

and everything else.

TD: To an extent it doesn't go to the prices that dogs get to or you know, certainly when you're talking

like racehorses, but I think you'll find that a lot of us chicken keepers are just surprised by how attached

they get to these animals and how personable they are and silly. I mean, they come in all these shapes

and sizes and colors. They're really fun to look at. But they're also just ridiculous. I don't know if you

have ever had the pleasure of seeing a chicken run, but I've had chickens five years now and I still

think it's absolutely hilarious. Every time I see it, they have those fluffy pantaloons. And they just



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CK: And they go from side to side. And they look like they’re drunk.

TD: It’s the silliest. Yeah, it's amazing. There is a certain

CK: There is a certain cache. I mean, years and years ago, I lived in the same town as Martha Stewart.

She invited me over and I saw her henhouse. Yes. I mean, perfectly clean, gorgeous chickens,

beautifully colored eggs. I mean, for her. It was practical, I suppose on one level, but they were also

colorful and sort of part of the story, right? I mean, they do add color and charm to your backyard.

TD: Yeah, you know, chickens can be quite popular. And Martha Stewart certainly, I think was the very

first hen influencer. But there are a lot more and my chickens also have a very popular Instagram over

the years that I've been taking pictures of them and putting it online. And I believe as of now they have

like 126,000 followers, which is way more than I do on any of my social medias. So people like looking

at chickens.

CK: Tove thank you so much. What a pleasure. Thank you.

TD: It has been excellent to be here.

CK: That was Tove Danovich proud chicken owner and author of Under the Henfluence: inside the

world of backyard chickens and the people who love them. Now it's time to answer a few of your baking

questions with Cheryl Day. Cheryl is the owner of Back in the Day bakery in Savannah, Georgia. She's

also the author of Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking. So, Cheryl, I found that dark pans and

light pans and gold pans make a difference in baking time, but also the gauge of the pans. nonstick

pans versus not nonstick. So, for baking pans, let's say for cakes. Is there something that's most

consistent or does it really does not matter you just adjust the baking time.

Cheryl Day: I mean you can adjust but you don't want some you know cheap pan that's too flimsy that

you can literally bend it about so I do love a heavier cake pan.

CK: And what about the color do you use like that gold. Some of those pants are sort of in between

some of them are dark, some of them are light doesn't matter.

CD: Yeah, for talking bundt pans, I tend to use kind of that darker, not the gold, but they're kind of like a

grayish kind of color. But for the other no it doesn't have to be gold for me.

CK: What about nonstick, some people say use a nonstick pan you don't have to seize in the pan or

put parchment paper down. But I don't think that's really true is it?

CD: It isn't true, especially with you know, talking about like a simple cake like a bundt cake. And those

absolutely do not work just from the nonstick, I still find myself putting butter and flour to make sure that

I'm going to get a good release plus, they'll last a lot longer to if you're not kind of prying your cake out

of a pan. I do love to use parchment, of course, just on regular cake pans. But well, you cannot do that

with a bundt cake obviously.


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CK: Yeah, I was doing a video on making a bundt cake a few months ago and I let it cool and I turned it

over and everything and then I was hitting you know banging it to get it out. And about a third of the

cake stuck to the pan when it came out.

CD: Yeah, that happens. (It was a great video). Well, so what I found the trick to a bundt cake. I set my

timer for like 25 minutes, which it's still hot but when it's cool enough where I can touch it, which you

know, it's pretty hot from my hands. But that's when you want to turn it out. Otherwise forget about it.

It's not going to come out right away. It's just not then you have to pull out like you know the plumbers

torch and all kinds of tricks that you can do. But generally, if it's really warm, that's when it's going to fall

right out of the bundt pan.

CK: I wish I talked to you six months ago. Okay Onto the calls

CD: Well, that’s the thing, when you're baking every day, you do learn hopefully something every day.

CK: Well you wouldn't still be in the business. Okay, let's take a call.

CD: Welcome to Milk Street whose calling?

Caller: Hi Cheryl and Christopher. This is Jean Glover from Savannah, Georgia.

CD: Jean Glover. Hello. I'm excited to hear your question.

Caller: Thank you. As Cheryl well knows I'm a real foodie as are my three kids. We've all known Cheryl

since Back in the Day opened about 20 years ago and they've been cooking with love from her many

books. My youngest daughter is a marine biologist currently working on a remote uninhabited Pacific

island living and working under what one would probably call beach camping conditions. There is a

kitchen tent that has a propane stove and a pop-up oven on top of it with one rack, and it gets very,

very hot. The temperature is typically in the mid 90s and high humidity. She attempted to bake your

cinnamon rolls, Cheryl and actually texted me to ask me about a buttermilk substitute and about the

filling. They have no internet access. So troubleshooting is challenging. But her general question is, you

know if you have any baking tips in such a limited rustic environment, they have pantry items. They

have a small refrigerator and a small freezer.

CD: Chris, have you ever baked camping at all? Is that something that you ever do?

CK: Yeah, I've actually baked in a hurricane on the cape. And I had to bake on a charcoal grill. (Wow).

So have made cobblers have made cakes in it worked out, you know, pretty well. But it wasn't a high

humidity condition with different.


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CD: Jean, I would tell her since she is mixing it by hand, she can really get a sense of how the dough

feels. And she may have to cut back on some of the liquid and add a little bit more flour. Did you have

anything, Chris to add?

CK: Well, I haven't baked on a remote island and a 110% humidity. I just think more flour, right? And

you probably may have to bake it longer because of the high moisture content. everything set up. So, I

would just say, you know less liquid more dry ingredients and longer baking time. Those would be the

three things I would say. But I would think like a cinnamon bun, though you know, when you have that

coating on the outside with the sugar? I would think Cheryl you know better than I do. But that kind of a

sugar. situation could be dicey in humidity right.

CD: Yeah. I mean that expectations probably, you know, to be getting something that's fresh baked and

sweet. I hope that her coworkers really appreciate what she's doing. I'm sure they do.

Caller: I think they do. I think they all bring their unique skills and talents to this several months field

camp journeys are on. So, I was also wondering if she has small, empty cans from other provisions,

whether she could bake in those cans, say a fruit cobbler or crisp type of thing that would shorten the

baking time, presumably because it's a smaller vessel. And whether that would help. Does that make

any sense?

CD: I've never done that. Have you Chris?

CK: Well, you can bake brown bread right you know (right you're in Boston) in cans, right? I don't think

it would solve a problem particularly (okay) but you certainly could.

CD: You’d be resourceful, for sure.

CK: There you go.

Caller: Another question that Sarah had, because they're primarily using canned items and some

pantry items too, but nothing fresh per se. They're saving liquid from chickpeas. And if you had any

ideas on savory ideas for baking with aquafaba chickpea liquid.

CK: Yeah. aquafaba can be whipped like egg whites. Really. It can be a substitute for egg whites. You

can actually use it for that. And it does actually work yeah.

CD: I love those questions.

CK: Thank you for calling. And we'd love a picture of this. of someone baking cinnamon rolls in the

middle of nowhere. That would be great.

Caller: When she's finished. I'll be sure to send some Thank you.

CK: Thank you. Thanks for calling.


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CD: Thanks Jean

Caller: I love your show. Thank you Take care. Bye

CD: Bye bye.

CK: You're listening to Milk Street Radio. Cheryl and I are here to answer your cooking and baking

questions. Give us a ring anytime. Our number is 855-426-9843 one more time 855-426-9843 or email

us at questions at Milk Street Welcome to Milk Street who's calling.

Caller: Hi, this is Beth from Wadsworth. Ohio.

CD: Hi, Beth.

CK Hi, how are you?

Caller: Hi, I'm doing good. How are you guys?

CD: Great. Thanks for calling.

CK: By the way. Where's Wadsworth?

CD: Wadsworth is west of Akron and south of Cleveland.

CK: Okay, now we have you located on the map. How can we help you?

Caller: I have two very different cookie recipes. One calls for oleo butter, flour, egg yolks, sour cream

and yeast. And the other one calls for brown and white sugar, shortening, sour milk, soda and flour.

Even though they're both very different. They both say that they should refrigerate the dough overnight.

And it was wondering, does the dough really need to be refrigerated overnight?

CD: Yes

CK: The one with the yeast. Yeah, it's a cold ferment which means it'll slowly do its magic in the fridge.

And that will also develop some flavor and you'll get the right texture. The other one is just baking soda.

You could go ahead but if you chill the dough, obviously it's easy to work with. If you chill the dough

overnight, you're probably end up being chewier. And it'll concentrate flavors because it dehydrates a

bit. But it's easier to work with is the easy answer. And the yeast one probably needs to do that just to

develop the yeast over time. Cheryl?

CD: Well, so yeah, the answer is yes, I guess and no. For the second one, you don't have to, but I do

rest doughs and I'll tell you why. I've gotten into long conversations with other baker friends, one of my

friends is a bakery, Nicole Wrecker in Los Angeles. All she makes is, cookies and pies are mostly that.

And we've had long conversation about what that resting period does with the dough. And basically,


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you're allowing the gluten to relax and the flavors to marry even in a cookie. Something as simple as a

cookie, believe it or not, the flour is going to be fully hydrated. And it's going to change the texture and

you'll get this deep golden-brown color that you just won't get if you bake it the same day because

everything is just it's what we call an aged cookie dough has more complex flavor from resting it


Caller: That's good to know. Thanks, you guys.

CD: You're so welcome. Thank you for calling.

CK: Thank you.

Caller: Yep, love the show. Bye bye.

CK: This is Milk Street Radio. Coming up the secrets of chuckwagon cooking right after the break. This

is Milk Street radio, I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Ken Rollins cooks for cowboys. That means

making coffee in subzero temperatures and grilling meat in the blazing sun. It also means baking bread

at high altitudes, which does have its disadvantages.

Ken Rollins: I can remember making biscuits waiting for them to rise and they never would. And one of

them. 100 said is that flat bread and I said it is today brother.

CK: Ken Rollins joins us now to share what he's learned from 30 years of cooking for cowboys. Ken,

welcome to Milk Street

KR: Hi, Chris, thank you so much for having me on brother. It is my pleasure and my honor.

CK: You know, I rode horses for years and you're making me I, now I'm getting nostalgic for my horse

and saddle and all of those days. So you started out helping your dad with the cows. And then you had

a herd of your own but you also I read. You started your cooking career while guiding and feeding elk

hunters in the wilderness in New Mexico. I just thought that was interesting. So how long were these

hunts? How are you cooking? What was the like?

KR: You know, it was 850,000 acre wilderness, one of the oldest put in by Roosevelt, the Hilo

wilderness. And it ranges in elevation from really about 4500 to around 10-5 10-8. And cooking for

hunters is sort of like cooking for cowboys. You're just packing it in on a mule or a horse. You know we

would go in and first part of September that's when coues deer hunting started and you would have a

few of them and then you get into the really the heart of the season which was elk hunting for two

weeks, and then mule deer after that.

CK: Let's talk about the chuck wagon. My only experience with the chuck wagon probably comes from

the Lonesome Dove series of the 70s like a lot of people and I just thought they had a wagon. But I saw

in some of your videos your Chuck Wagon is a very specific thing. So, could you just describe it for us?

Because I don't think most people are familiar with what a chuck wagon really is.


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KR: Well, it's the first Meals on Wheels out there going really is what it is, and any wagon could

become a chuck wagon. You just take the grain boards out of the back and slip a chuck box in there

that somebody designed, or you built yourself And ours is a 1876 Studebaker. Studebaker was the only

wagon company that successfully transferred over into automobiles and was very prosperous at it for a

long time. But uh, ever wagon I’ve ever owned or around or cooked off of was arranged a little different.

CK: You know, I'm always interested in how movies or TV shows portray cooks on the trail. And I think

the two ends of the spectrum were both in Lonesome Dove, Bolivar, who was the cook at the camp.

And there was that scene where the percolators on the cookstove and grounds are jumping in a coffee

into the, into the skillet with the beans. He didn't really care. And then there was Pocantico, who was

sort of the complete opposite who was just a brilliant cook and can take anything and make it good. Do

you think that that was true that there was just a huge range, just like today, some cooks, just could do

amazing things like you and other cowboys had to sort of make do with whatever they had.

KR: You know, the, the cook was the most important guy that you could really hire on a cattle drive

because if you can keep a crew fed well, they're going to work better. And I've been really fortunate

cowboys, respected me from my time, horseback, but also on the cooking fire.

CK: So, I'd love to walk into a Starbucks with you because I love your description of cowboy coffee.

And I grew up with percolator coffee and boiled coffee, like a lot of people did in the 50s and 60s. And

you make a very strong case that cowboy coffee is, is great because it's not bitter or acidic. So how do

you make it and why is it so mellow?

KR: Well, when you when you make cowboy coffee really the right way and the only way that I've ever

made it, it's got to come to a rolling boil, not a spit and sputter just to simmer. And when you boil coffee,

we try to boil it four to five minutes on a woodstove and it's breaking down the tannin in the bean which

releases the acid and it's gone. And then you have smooth coffee. I've told folks for years and years if if

you have acid indigestion or acid reflux due to coffee, you won’t have it with this. To me it's a very

unique taste that it brings out in the coffee itself. But it is so smooth.

CK: Well, you know, it was sort of funny, I guess because all those years people had boil coffee. And

then everyone decided, well, coffee was terrible coffee, but I got to go back and try that. So, let's talk

about the Dutch ovens. So, the early Dutch ovens, I think tended to have a rim around the top right, so

you can hold coals on the top of it as well as around the bottom.

KR: Yes, you know, Dutch ovens and camp ovens. You know, one as feet one don't. One has a dome

lid, the other one has a ram on the outside edge of the lid which holds the coals on there. You can bake

anything in one of them that you can bake in a conventional oven in the house. You know, you have to

sort of learn how to regulate your temperature. But to be able to cook and bake in cast iron gives food

such a unique flavor.


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CK: What is it like? If it's zero out? Does it make it harder to cook you have ways of cooking when it's

that cold out versus when it's let's say 100 degrees out.

KR: I would rather cook Chris any day that's zero than any day that's 100. You know I've I've stood by

fire for over 31 or two years cooking for cowboys. And you know my wagon when you got the tarp that

goes over the wagon is what they call the fly and then I have snapping walls that will close it all in. But if

you're having to cook outside that area always heated the ground with that old propane torch, you

know, to where it wasn't just going to take all the heat out of them coals at one time. It takes a little

more coals to actually cook something when it's that cold. But if cowboys can work in it, you can cook in


CK: So, the staples, beef, obviously dried beans, you didn't have a lot of fresh vegetables or fruits,

obviously. So, what were the half dozen staples, salt pork, bacon, etc.

KR: Yeah, and people a lot of times are confused too you know, thinking they eat a lot of beef. Well if if

one was crippled, or one got hurt or one died on the trail? Sure he was camp meat but that beef was

going to the market. So, most of the time it was off limits. Mostly they started out with with a lot of

coffee, a lot of flour, sugar, salt, some dried fruit if they could find it, but a lot of hard tact, some jerky

meat, molasses and various spices that he might have at the time which be cinnamon, and maybe a

little nutmeg.

CK: So, what happens when you run out of something? What are some last-minute substitutions you've

had to make?

KR: Well, you know when we're on a ranch we’re dependent on the state either from five days or five

and a half weeks, we make a menu and a grocery list at a usually anywhere from two to five days to it

because Mother Nature is in charge of what's going on out there. weather wise you get snowed out

blowed out, washed away. But you you learn to improvise with what you have and what will substitute

for something else. And you know, it's when you run out of eggs, it's really not a good thing. But you

know, mayonnaise will take the place and a lot of recipes for eggs if you're adding them to a cake or

you’re adding them to cornbread or something like that. But also, you know, we use a lot of canned

milk. And if you need to make that into buttermilk, well, you can add lemon juice or you can add

vinegar. There are so many things that you can substitute for something you ain't got. You always

improvised, you always got by. And that's sort of what it takes to be a ranch cook. I mean, you're a

doctor, a dentist, psychologist, and a cook to boat.

CK: So, what makes a good cowboy? Is it just your approach and your philosophy? Is your personality

are their specific skills and what was the difference between someone who's really good at and

someone who isn’t.

KR: There was an old feller I met on a ranch one time, and he was the boss of the outfit and this young

guys telling him about, I can rope this and I can do this and my horse can outrun this and he let him talk

for about 30 minutes. And then he looked at him and he said, son out here. We don't speak words. We

just let our actions show what we can do. You know, from the from the Western pictures of cowboys in


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the movies to really what it is. A lot of that is totally different. Cowboys are the most polite people I've

ever been around in my life. But they're a jack of all trades. I mean, not only is he great horseback, but

this same guy can crawl a windmill tire and fix a windmill or he'll build some fans, or he can work on an

old car or he can work on a pickup because he just has to get by with what he's got.

CK: Well, like old farmers too, right? (Yes). You know, you've you got some baling twine, you've got a

screwdriver, a hammer, and you got to fix the clutch on your 49 farm all and figure out how to do it. So,

let's go back to food. The American burger dog. What is that?

KR: You know, I was at a cookout one time and this guy said all these people here think it's like a

restaurant. Some of them want a hamburger, some of them want a hot dog and always thought about

him. And I'm thinking, why don't you just combine both. And then you ain't near the mix of people can

just come up there and say I want a burger dog. Which is really some 80 20 good, certified Angus beef

rolled out. Then you grill your good hot dog out there. And we typically use Nathan's and slap them in

the middle of that. And you can put cheese in there, jalapenos, whatever you want. Roll it back up with

that hamburger meat sort of like he was making a sushi row cook it up. And to me, it's it's five-star

dining idiots. It is a great meal.

CK: So, what about chicken fried steak now give me the sales pitch for chicken fried steak. Because

I'm from the East, and that's chicken fried steak is not common on menus out here.

KR: Well, really the term started out from the Dust Bowl in the depression, to where when you would

chicken fry a piece of meat, like the batter itself is really what we're talking about to make a piece of

meat appear to be bigger. You could feed more people with it. My dad and him said they had a lot of

deep-fried Jack rabbit like that. It would make the meat go farther. When you think about chicken fried

steak, you double bite or this thing or as we call it double baptize it. You got a big old thick crust on

there on a five-and-a-half-ounce piece of meat. And you cover that up with gravy and got some mashed

potatoes. Well, you don't you know knocked home run right there.

CK: You know, you're the first person who's ever explained that to me clearly now I get it. So, putting

aside the food and the cooking for a moment. There lots of other reasons that you love doing what you

do. So, what are some of those reasons?

KR: You know, I've been in places that a GPS couldn't find. Met people that should be considered

heroes, if everybody knew him. People that stood tall, his giant oak trees that were stewards of the

land, loved God and country and love the job that they were doing. A cook always made twice the

money that the cowboys did. And I can remember cooking from my first ranch. I was making $35 a day.

And that was really really long days. But it's like an old man told me he said when you stay in here for

weeks you think we won the lottery and he said Ken if we're doing it for the money we never would

have started and really that's true because it's it's an it's a passion that I have in my heart to see The

country. We have the best view at our kitchen window every day.

CK: Ken, it's been a real pleasure having you on the show. I thank you so much for spending some

time with me.


Transcribed by

KR: Oh, it’s my pleasure brother. You stay in the saddle, and I hope it's smooth riding.

CK: That was Kent Rollins. His latest book is Comfort Food the Cowboy Way: Backyard Favorites,

Country Classics and Stories from a Ranch Cook. You can also find him on his YouTube channel,

Cowboy Kent Rollins. Kent Rollins boils his coffee he says that five minutes of hard-boiling breaks

down the tannins. That means you'll never have acid indigestion with his cup of cowboy coffee. Yet a

few months back, I spoke to a coffee expert who told me that you need to use an expensive burr

grinder, the precise number of grams of coffee and a French press method that has to be followed to

the letter. So, my question is, how do we end up with a culture that demands the unyielding pursuit of

perfection? The best cup of coffee, the best glass of wine, the best restaurant, the very best slice of

apple pie. But maybe perfection is God's business, not ours. And a cup of cowboy coffee is indeed a

recipe for the good life. You're listening to Milk Street Radio coming up Grant Barrett and Martha

Barnett from A Way with Words explain what to do when life hands you lemons. That's up after the

break. I'm Christopher Kimball and you're listening to Milk Street Radio right now Cheryl Day and I will

be answering a few more of your baking questions.

CD: Welcome to Milk Street was calling.

Caller: Hi, this is Marilyn Upton from Columbia, Missouri.

CD: Hi, Marilyn, how can we help you?

Caller: Well, my son is getting married at the first of next month to a woman who is of Serbian descent.

And the wedding will be a traditional Serbian Orthodox wedding with a Serbian Orthodox reception,

which means all the guests usually bring a dessert.

CD: Well, first of all, congratulations.

Caller: Thank you very much. And I was recently at a shower and the number of desserts is incredible.

And it's about a 10-hour drive. And I'm trying to figure a dessert that might withstand four days or

actually get better four days after the wedding or something you would recommend preparing ahead of

time that could maybe be finished off because we're renting a house. I just don't know how what

equipment the kitchen might have. So, any suggestions you can give me?

CD: Absolutely. The first thing that comes to mind for me is a hummingbird cake.

Caller: I love them. I didn't even think of that.

CD: Yeah, it's got bananas, which is going to keep it super moist in the pineapple and then it gets

frosted with cream cheese. So, I would bake the cake wrap it, you can freeze the cake. And then when

you're traveling, either keep it out to thaw or just bring it out the day before. And then make the frosting

and advance keep that in the refrigerator because like you said you don't know what you're going to be


Transcribed by

up against. And I think that would be beautiful with edible flowers. Just keep it really simple. Another

one would be a carrot cake that would keep very well also. (Okay) Chris what do you think? Do you

have any ideas?

CK: Any cake like a rum cake that has a syrup, a simple syrup or

CD: Yeah, that's a good idea.

CK: A syrup, those syrup-based cakes do last a long time. Yeah. that also works pretty well.

Caller: Okay, okay I don't know if you've ever seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (Oh, yeah.

Yes) the non-Serbs, bring the Bundt cake and, you know, they're the non-Greeks and the Greek family

puts a plant in the middle of it. They don't know what to do with the hole, right? So, we have to try to

figure that out.

CD: We have to represent this side of his family.

Caller: Exactly, right because there'll be plenty of baklava that the grandmas make. It's actually a lot of

fun but I would like to make the side of the family proud,

CD: Then I would stay away from anything that you know that side of the family specializes in. And I

would bring something that's very American. Definitely something that has some sort of glaze would be

good or syrup.

CK: Yeah. And as Cheryl said, a cake like chiffon cakes have oil on them, (right). The cake she just

mentioned has oil in it. So, any cake that has like half a cup of oil in it is a base, those things tend to

last pretty well, too.

c Okay, what about an olive oil cake I’ve made one of those before

CD: Oh, yeah.

CK: Sure

CD: Absolutely

CK: They’re great. I would just use a very mild olive oil.

Caller: Right, right. Okay.

CD: How many desserts Do you think you'll bring?

Caller: I'll just bring one because there's a 300 people invited to the wedding and there will probably be

150 cakes.


Transcribed by

CD: Oh, my goodness

Caller: on the dessert table.

CD: Well, yours has to stand out then.

Caller: Exactly. I think the edible flowers is an awesome idea. So that would be really a lot of fun.

CD: Oh, yeah. So fun.

Caller: Okay, terrific. Terrific. Well, thank you so much. Thank you, bye, bye.

CK: Thank you. This is Milk Street Radio. If you're looking for a bit of inspiration, just give us a ring 855-

426-9843. That's 855 426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street Welcome to Milk

Street who's calling?

Caller: Hi, Chris. It's Gail in Eugene, Oregon.

CD: Hi, Gail.

CK How can we help you?

Caller: Well, I'd like to make some marzipan-colored fruit for some friends who are both vegan and

diabetic. (Oh, boy) I'm at sea about what to use as a binder. And what to use as a sweetener.

CK: Well, it's the old aquafaba you know, routine. It's the liquid in the canned chickpeas.

CD: I've used it one time for a vegan dinner, and it works well

CK: It actually does actually whip up pretty well. I think maybe two tablespoons for each egg white,

something like that. But yeah, it actually does work.

Caller: So that's the liquid in a can of chickpeas. Yeah. Is that right?

CK: Yeah, exactly that's it. And then as far as the sugar goes, you don't want a liquid sweetener, you

know, you'd want something a powdered substitute of some kind,

Caller: Such as maybe, oh, monk fruit. It comes in both a syrup and a dry. And I wonder should I put it

in the liquid and then beat the liquid or add it dry?

CD: You're going to want to use it dry.


Transcribed by

CK: You definitely want to use the dry. The question, of course, is how much to use, but I guess the

box might give you some indication of that.

Caller: Sure. Well, Chris, when you next try this recipe, please put it on your Milk Street program. It's a

wonderful program. Thank you so much.

CK: Yeah. Thanks for calling.

CD: Thanks for calling

Caller: Thanks, Cheryl. Thanks, Chris. Bye. Bye.


CK: I'm Christopher Kimball and you're listening to Milk Street Radio. Now let's head into the kitchen

with Lynn Clark to talk about this week's recipe. Tomato salad with peanuts, cilantro and chipotle

sesame dressing. Lynn, how are you?

Lynn Clark: I'm doing well. Chris, how are you?

CK: Well, I'm sad. (I’m sorry) day after day, week after week, year after year, we're confronted with

tasteless tomatoes. So, we're going to do a tomato salad. But you're going to figure out please, how to

imbue the tomato with flavor.

LC: Well, I will do my best and we have kind of two approaches. Here. We're using some really unique

and intense flavors. And we're also going to use a little common technique that's used with tomatoes to

really enhance and concentrate their flavor. So, this is a tomato salad with peanuts, cilantro, and

Chipotle sesame dressing. It takes its flavor cues from a Mexican salsa Maca. So, we just take some

peanuts, fry them in oil, some sesame seeds, and then into the sesame seeds. We mix some chipotle

chilies in adobo, some vinegar, some salt and pepper. There's a lot of flavor packed in here. And then

we're also going to use a common trick to really concentrate the actual tomato flavor.

CK: This would not be salty, would it?

LC: It would. See I knew you would know you take your tomatoes and if you're using bigger tomatoes,

you'll cut them into wedges smaller tomatoes in half. You just want to expose the flash. Toss that with

some kosher salt and let it sit and that'll draw out some of the moisture in the tomato and really

concentrate Is the sweetness of the tomato and also adds some salt. So, we toss the tomatoes after

they've sat for a while, with that chili mixture we made, chop up those peanuts, along with any fresh

herb you've got around. You can use cilantro basil, parsley in here, and then finish it off if you feel like it

with a little bit of flaky salt, maybe some cotija cheese, and you've got these really sweet tomatoes

balanced with the saltiness of the nuts. And these smoky, spicy Chipotle flavors. It's a really unique but

also really flavorful tomato salad. Something a little different than your typical Caprese or Panzanella.


Transcribed by

CK: So, Lynn, you solve the problem with tomatoes with peanuts, cilantro jubilees as a bee dressing,

so even if you have a bad supermarket tomato, you will still have a good salad. Thank you, Lynn.

LC: You're welcome. You can get the recipe for tomato salad with peanuts, cilantro and Chipotle

sesame dressing at Milk Street

CK: Now it's time for some freezer door cocktails from our editorial director, JM Hirsch.

J M Hirsch: So I want to talk to you about my current summer obsession, freezer door cocktails. Now

I'm not talking about slushies or syrupy frozen margaritas. I'm talking about whole bottles of your

favorite cocktail that live on your freezer door perfectly chilled and ready to drink whenever you are. It's

actually really, really simple. So, here's the gist. You start with a full bottle of the primary liquor of your

favorite cocktail. And you pour off just enough to add enough the other ingredients needed to make a

full bottle of that cocktail. Give it a good shake, stir it in the freezer door done. So, for summer, let's

make a classic freezer door Daiquiri. You're going to start with a full 750 milliliter bottle of white rum and

pour off seven ounces. Now add to the bottle, two ounces of lime juice, two ounces of water, one- and

three-quarter ounces of simple syrup or agave syrup, and a quarter teaspoon of Peychaud's bitters, tap

it, shake it, freeze it when you want to drink it, pour it over ice, and maybe add a lime wedge to garnish.

That's it. Summer drinking simplified on your freezer door.

CK: By the way, if you'd like to learn more about how to make freezer door cocktails, follow us on

Instagram at 177 Milk Street. You're listening to Milk Street Radio. Now it's time to check in with Grant

Barrett and Martha Barnett. Grant and Martha what's what's up?

Martha Barnette: Well, Chris, at the moment, Grant and I are both cooling off with a refreshing pitcher

of lemonade.

Grant Barret: You're on the front porch in the swing. And we're thinking about the sweet and sour of


CK: Oh, this is going to be deep I can tell.

MB: Well, maybe instead of lemonade, you'd rather sip a half lemonade half tea. You know that's called

an Arnold Palmer after the golfer who loved that drink, sometimes called half and half are sunshine tea.

And we should also note that a Winnie Palmer is named for his wife and that's made out of sweet tea

and lemonade.

CK: In the days I played golf a little bit. I think every place I ever played. People ordered Arnold Palmer

Golf at courses, so I guess that's where it started.

GB: Yeah. And then, of course, tons of variations. Now some we won't go into but they're more

alcoholic than ever. And Martha I don’t know how much lemon & lime we have today. But we could go

on and on with this..


Transcribed by

MB: We could, we could have a great lemon and lime as a matter of fact

GB: And that’s time It's rhyming slang for time. We have all the lemon & lime time in the world. Right

Chris? You're gonna give us the full hour to do this. Oh, yeah, no

CK: Oh, yeah, no problem, guys, if you don't hear me talking it’s not a problem.

GB: Or we could go to Trinidad together and we could just do some ___ which means hanging around

or chilling or just relaxing again with a cold lemonade, maybe.

CK: Oh, I like that one. That's good. Yeah, that's a good one.

MB: And of course, if life hands you lemons, there are lots of things that you can do besides make

lemonade. When life hands you lemon, you can ask for salt and tequila.

CK: Good point

GB: Yeah, that's one of the variants in English and in German. The old expression about when life

hands you lemons, make lemonade goes back to probably 1910 or so. But it has reached a dozen

European languages and probably many more world languages. It's such a great expression about

making the best of a bad situation just turning it on its head.

MB: Well, you can also be assertive, you know when life gives you lemons ask for something higher in

protein. I like that one.

GB: Yeah, there we go. That's it. That's for the weightlifters out there. And sometimes life is so hard on

you that it squeezes you like lemon it just exhausts you think so all that is left is the writing and the pulp

and there's none of the juice.

CK: I'm getting behind that one. I'm juiced I'm totally juiced.

GB: C'est la citron the squeeze the lemon literally but also figuratively to wrack your brains to squeeze

the lemon means to rock the brains.

MB: And Chris, I hope nobody's ever tossed you aside like a squeezed lemon. That's pretty grim.

CK: It's bad enough to get squeezed, but that being thrown out, it's like insult to injury, right.

GB: And then there's this odd expression that you might hear among Pennsylvania German speakers.

At one time, they might have said, three teams on the road, and yet no lemons. And this refers to teams

of horses and their drivers. And it's about having lots of opportunity or abundance, but still not having

what you want.


Transcribed by

CK: Can I as a question, were lemons. When that expression I went on when the expression comes

from the 19th century, were lemons common at that time. I mean,

GB: No, they were particularly precious. And if you got them, they came up from the south, you know,

obviously, right. So, it was in the in the north and Pennsylvania, you weren't likely to encounter lemons,

except as this precious commodity.

MB: Well, Chris, it looks like we've run out of lemon and lime and I'm going to have to get up and get a

refill here

GB: But it is always great liming with you, Chris. It’s the highlight of my week.

CK: Oh no. Martha you've got to take him aside and buy him an Arnold Palmer with some tequila in

maybe, there you go. Grant and Martha as always, a pleasure. Thank you.

GB: Our pleasure. Take care, Chris,

MB: Bye Chris.

CK: That was Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette hosts of A Way With Words. That's it for today. You

can find all of our episodes on Apple podcasts or wherever you do get your podcasts. To learn more

about Milk Street go to 177 Milk There you can become a member and get full access to

every recipe access to all of our live stream cooking classes, free standard shipping from the Milk

Street store and more. You can also learn about our latest cookbook Milk Street Noodles. You can also

find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street on Instagram and Twitter at 177 Milk Street.

We'll be back next week with more food stories and kitchen questions and thanks as always for


Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is produced by Milk Street in association with GBH co-founder

Melissa Baldino, executive producer Annie Sensabaugh, Senior Editor Melissa Allison, producer Sarah

Clapp, Assistant Producer Caroline Davis with production help from Debby Paddock. Additional editing

by Sidney Lewis, audio mixing by Jay Allison and Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole Massachusetts.

Theme music by Toubab Krewe, additional music by George Brandl Egloff, Christopher Kimball’s Milk

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