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“KEEP ‘EM FULL” Story behind the Photos

“A man who has had a hand in the work and eaten chuck wagon food, while sitting on a pail, is not quite the same person again. He has been his own man and lived free.”

N. M. Clark, Trail Driver

I’ll be at Burrowing Owl Books in Canyon and Amarillo Saturday, April 30. See details below.

My book about the history of chuck wagons and cattle drives includes authentic recipes from the trail along with favorite recipes from modern ranch kitchens and award winning chuck wagon cooks. It also features archival photos and my ranch photography. Today I am blogging about the cover photos.

KEEP ‘EM FULL hit #1 Hot New Release list on Amazon!


“Bright’s attractive book includes authentic chuck wagon recipes from dumplings and gravy to carrot pie. She provides a generous helping of recipes for every meal of the day and for seasoning, stirs in salty historic facts and cow country wisdom. … is more than a cookbook. It’s filled with descriptions of the lives of cowgirls, cowboys, and the cow-camp cooks.”

Chris Enss
Book Editor, COWGIRL Magazine

While Keep ‘Em Full and Keep ‘Em Rollin’ is a cookbook, it also is a history book. In fact, the author’s summary of how the Texas Longhorn evolved from a mixture of breeds beginning with the Spanish colonists in the 1500s is the most succinct, factual and easy-to-understand explanation I’ve read.”

Sue Hancock Jones
Outreach and Communications Coordinator
Ranch Record Summer 2021, National Ranching Heritage Center

About the Front Cover Photographs

The historical photograph used on the book cover are of cowboys and chuck wagon on the JA Ranch. Founded in 1876 by Charles Goodnight and John Adair, the JA Ranch in Armstrong County is the oldest cattle ranching operation in the Texas Panhandle. Goodnight is credited with inventing the chuck wagon. I spent many hours looking at historical photos and have included a selection of those in this book. Moving several thousand Longhorns from Texas to rail-heads in Kansas is a fascinating legacy and I think you’ll be a little amazed at the skill involved. All total from 1866 to 1890, ten million Texas Longhorns were driven ‘up the trail’ to markets across the United States.

The historical photos included in my book came from the Cattle Raisers Museum in Fort Worth and the third floor Archives at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon.

Working ranch photography is a fun hobby for me, and with this project I got to experiment with food photography as well. I took the photo of the vegetables on the grill on the last day of spring branding at our ranch. The cooks end the week with a huge fajita feast. You’ll find that recipe in the book.

The bean pot, middle top of the book cover, is from the cow camp of Sam Howell II, Cocklebur Camp Cooking Team from Odessa, Texas. Sam serves as the president of the American Chuck Wagon Association and I had the privilege of watching him and his team at a cook-off in Abilene. You’ll find a few more recipes from Sam inside the book. You can also order a more complete collection of Sam’s recipes from the Cocklebur Camp website here.

Sam Howell II dishes up a serving of cobbler at his chuck wagon.

An old, old recipe for brown sugar cake is lower left. The cake was baked and the photograph was taken by a hometown friend, Tami Griffitt. She found the metal cake stand at a local antique store. The pan of biscuits is from Cocklebur Camp (bottom center), and the hand in the next photo stirring the gravy is that of Shirley Creacy from the Wild Cow Ranch Chuck Wagon, Fritch, Texas. She says it’s perfect because she usually has a hand in everything that’s going on around her. That’s also Shirley’s pinto beans at the top right. You’ll find more of Wild Cow Ranch’s recipes that Shirley adapted for the chuck wagon as well as cowboy approved dishes for today’s families from the ranch cookhouse of Tavia Vinson. This book really does have something for everyone, whether you’re a history lover or looking for a hearty dish for your family. It’s in here.

From authentic cow camp basic dishes to modern recipes, dig out your best cast iron and serve a little bit of the old West to your family. You don’t need a campfire, although these recipes will work for that too.

With archival photographs of cowboy work and chuck wagons, as well as my own photographs of a modern Texas cattle ranch, the book is an eclectic mix of both worlds. I hope you will enjoy this unique mix of Texas history, cattle ranching, and the food we eat. Keep ’em rollin’ and happy eating!

Spring roundup on the Sanford Ranch, Texas Panhandle.

Book Signing Amarillo & Canyon

Mother’s Day Special: Your mom or sweetheart needs an autographed book!

Saturday, April 30 from 12:00 to 1:00 PM, Burrowing Owl Books in Canyon, Downton on the Square.

Saturday, April 30 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM, Burrowing Owl Books in Amarillo, 7406 SW 34th Avenue, Suite 2B, Amarillo

You can buy autographed copies of the cookbook or the western romance novel series. Please stop by and say hello!

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