Beatrice Ojakangas

Recipes from the Scandinavian Chef

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Location: Duluth, Minnesota, United States


My Dude Ranch Experience


Last summer I spent a week visiting Colorado Dude Ranches. I never expected to ride a horse, I was just curious about the food and what else you could do in the setting. We have a daughter who is crazy for horses, and she would have loved nothing more than to spend a week at a dude ranch where the first thing you get on Monday morning is a comprehensive, personalized horseback riding and horsemanship lesson. The rides got more complex each day, and by the end of the week, you’re just about an expert after climbing mountains, descending them, crossing rivers and winding your way through wooded terrain.

What else could you do on a dude ranch? Lots of natural things like mountain hiking and biking, fly fishing, river rafting, archery, golf, reading, relaxing, evening barbecue cookouts and dancing. The focus is on family activities with supervision for young kids as parents take off on their own. During the winter season, some of the dude ranches are located near popular ski resorts, too.

Cost? The range was from less than $200 to about $300 per day per person, and there are various discounts and family plans at different ranches. Usually, but not always, a week long stay is required. I’ve included web sites below if you’d like more information.

What about the food? Well, it’s not just baked beans and wieners anymore. Even though the meals might be labeled as chuck wagon or cookout, the fare is more likely to be an updated version of American Western with a barbecue or southwestern flair. Some of the ranches have trained chefs at the helm.

You may be looking for something sweet and gooey for Valentine’s Day about now. From the Latigo Ranch cookbook here are two really easy sweets. The Peanut Butter Cookout Pie recipe makes three pies, each one serves 10. Make three and freeze two. Or, invite friends in for coffee and dessert. The brownies are always a hit. We enjoyed them for dessert at lunchtime after spending the morning outdoors. I’ll offer more “fun” recipes from dude ranches in another issue.

(Adapted from the Latigo Ranch Cookbook)
3 Oreo cookie crumb pie crusts
2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups whipping cream, stiffly beaten
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup hot coffee
Chopped peanuts and whipped cream for decoration, if desired
Prepare the pie crusts using your own favorite recipe. Beat the peanut butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Spread mixture into the three cookie crumb crusts. Melt the chocolate chips in the coffee and spread over the three pie tops. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts, if desired. Chill until firm. These pies freeze very well, but add whipped cream after thawing, if used Each pie makes 10 servings..

(Adapted from the Latigo Ranch Cookbook)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup white corn syrup
2 large eggs
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired
Melted White Chocolate, melted, for garnish (if desired)
Preheat the oven to 350*F. (325*F. for convection oven). Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, and line bottom with parchment.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, corn syrup, eggs, chocolate and oil and mix well. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder and stir into the creamed mixture. Blend in the chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the center of the brownies are firm to the touch. Drizzle with melted white chocolate if desired. Cool before cutting into bars.

For information, prices, photos and descriptions of six of the ranches, look them up on the internet at the following addresses:

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