Monday, February 9, 2015

Ranch House Pot Roast

The Black Hills Stock Show ended yesterday, so we don't have as many cowboys in town as we did last week. Which is sad.

Because face it, how often do you get to have a photo op with a bunch of rodeo cowboys?

My daughter, Carrie, with the Wrangler Rodeo Cowboys
a couple years ago. These guys are all brothers from Utah.
A friend of ours had his picture taken with the rodeo queens this year. Much to his wife's dismay!

But all week long we've been livin' cowboy culture and sheep ranchin' and horses.

On Thursday I went to the sheep activities over at the Central State Fairgrounds.

There was the National Sheep Shearing contest -

- where I learned tons about shearing sheep. Once those woolies are on their backs, they relax and let the shearer do his work. The top guys can shear a sheep in about a minute. That's a lot of wool in one minute!

I also got to watch the preliminaries of the North American Sheep Dog Trials. It's thrilling to watch those dogs work.

I also learned to weave on a rigid heddle loom, card wool and spin. The Black Hills Crafters spent the entire day demonstrating the "sheep to yarn" process.

On Saturday we had made plans to head over to the stock show again to watch the afternoon PRCA rodeo, but our youngest son was coming home for the weekend. I wanted to fix a special dinner for him, so I decided to use my trusty slow cooker and a classic western dish.

This recipe is from a Montana ranch in the 1890's, where the lady of the house fixed it for family and guests. This is no Yankee Pot Roast!

Ranch House Pot Roast
(Slow-Cooker version)


A medium-sized lump of lard
3-4 pound beef roast (chuck, round, or whatever you have)
2 handfuls of flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups beef broth or water
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
6-8 potatoes - enough for all being served

I cook with lard occasionally - often enough to keep a
small container in the cupboard.

Heat the lard - a lump about the size of a small hen's egg - in a skillet over medium-high heat. 

Season the flour with salt and pepper, and spread out on a plate. Dredge the beef in the flour. Brown the roast in the hot fat. Move the browned beef to your slow cooker.

Now add your broth (or water), onion, garlic, bay leaf and chili powder. Simmer until the onion is softened. 

Pour this over the roast.

Scrub or peel your potatoes, cut them in half, and arrange them on top of the roast.

Cover your slow cooker, turn it on low, and let it cook for 6 - 8 hours.

Now it's time to go to the stock show and rodeo!

If you're looking for a western stock show, here's a hint. Follow the nearest cowboy.

Before the rodeo, we wandered over to the show ring where they were judging the Simmental bulls.

This big guy can father a lot of calves by UPS!

I also fulfilled a long-time dream (close to 50 years!) by buying my first (and probably only) pair of cowboy boots.

Puppy photo-bomb!
Okay, here's a better view - 

I love these boots :)

The rodeo was great, we got to hear our friend's five year old grandson sing the National Anthem, and we got home in time for supper with the family...

...except the prodigal son had decided to go to a friend's house with his brother for a bonfire and supper there.

No worries. We have plenty of leftover beef, so I'm fixing barbecued beef sandwiches for supper tonight!


  1. It seems every home school event we have at shearing time includes someone bringing their sheep for a shearing display. It cracks me up how fast those guys work.
    Did you only work with wool? The big thing here is llama, alpaca and vicugnas. We live about 5 miles from an alpaca farm and those babies are about the cutest things EVER. And a neighbor of ours got alpacas three years ago and has made a pretty good income from the fibers.

    1. There was a lot of talk about alpaca, llama and dog - but since the event was focusing on sheep, the main thing on the menu was wool.

      I looked into alpacas at one time...until my husband convinced me we have moved to often to invest in livestock like that! Still, maybe someday!

      And you're right about those baby alpacas. All babies are cute, but baby alpacas? Oh. Silly sweetness to the max!

    2. I know! My neighbors had two baby chocolate alpacas last spring (twins) and I just couldn't take the cuteness! I have so many pictures it's downright unhealthy.

    3. Oh! You'll have to share those pictures here on the blog! Maybe a chocolate themed post for Valentines day?

  2. Love them thar boots. This reminds me of the Aussy cowboy TV series. McLeod's Daughters.

    1. I love my boots, too! Have to get them broken in, though. At this point, I'm not sure how people wear them day in and day out - but we'll get there. My boots and me. We'll be sympatico :)

  3. We have no shearers here. We keep looking into ruminants for a plot of land that's unplantable, but without shearers (and I'm not doin' it!) sheep are out. So are alpacas. Jan, I might have to come west next winter and check this out. I've never been to a show like this, and it's pure Western and I can write it off. And I'm in love with the boots! I'm so proud of you for getting them! Every year I buy the house a present and me a present, not something we must have (like a new washing machine when the old one died) but something the house will embrace (the newly refinished floors)... and for me it's the occasional cute dress or some whimsy for the garden.

    That's my self-reward system at work!!! :)

    1. That's what these boots are, Ruthy! Celebrating and rewarding every step along the way!

      And make those plans for next winter! I THINK South Dakota can handle a Ruthy visit.

  4. My plow guy was just here.... We now have 8 foot high piles of snow surrounding parts of the driveway. As soon as the temps climb into the 20's, the kids will have a ball with their sleds! Mother Nature has been very generous to us the past few weeks, bless her heart!

    1. Snow. I'm seriously jealous. We're looking at another day/night with above freezing temperatures. My allergies are kicking in!

    2. Oh, wow, Ruthy!! Would you believe our temp was in the 60's yesterday? It's 56 degrees right now.

    3. Would you believe there are some cities in Ontario that are banning tobogganing because it's too dangerous? And they are afraid of being sued. Sheesh. One more way to keep kids inside and inactive during the winter months. So more power to Ruthy and her togoggan run!

    4. Kav, they're talking about that in some cities here, too. I am appalled. What kind of weird society are we in that kids can't enjoy winter? I would be the first person to break that law, by the way. How annoying! Kids can't sled down hills.... Sure, people get hurt. But I bet more people get hurt falling on ice in their driveway than sliding down a hill, all bundled up. I totally agree with you, keeping kids in is the worst thing for their health of mind and body. Bring on the sleds!

  5. Such fun. So glad we get to see all this through your eyes.

    1. It certainly saves on those travel expenses, doesn't it, Julie?

      But this is one thing I love about this blog - every week we get to travel from South Dakota to Texas to North Carolina to New York's North County to Georgia and then end up in the Northwest with Virginia. Armchair travel :)

  6. What fun, Jan! I never do take the time to brown my beef roast before putting in the Crockpot. But I think I will next time. This looks so good!

    Enjoy your boots! I had a pair in college that I wore all the time. But I don't know what ever happened to them. They were pointy-toed! :)

    1. I had my choice between pointy toes, round toes and square toes. They all have real names, but "C" just isn't any fun, is it?

      I didn't want pointy toes, because around here those are rodeo boots. Or roping/calf tying boots. For people who have to get in and out of their saddles quickly.

      I'll get in and out of the saddle very slowly, thank you. When I'm mounting Loretta with her saddle five feet up in the air, I show every single year of my age and inexperience! Even when I use the mounting block.

  7. Love the boots, Jan. But I bet 1870's housewife didn't have an electric slow cooker. Just her cast iron dutch oven and she had to hang around to make sure the fire kept going. Ah, don't you love modern conveniences?

    The Stock Show and Rodeo just finished up in Ft. Worth yesterday, too. Grand Champion steer went for a record $240,000+ at auction. I love my beef, but I can't imagine paying that much for it. Luckily, Bob Marley, said steer, will get to hang out at the Ft. Worth Zoo for a while, so he won't be anybody's dinner.

    1. You're right, Mindy! The original recipe calls for a Dutch oven and a slow fire. There are a lot of things to be said about the old fashioned ranching days, but my slow cooker gives me the freedom to do something besides keep an eye on the fire all day Saturday!

      And $240,000 for a STEER??? A bull, sure. You can get a lot of beef out of a bull over the years of breeding. But a steer?

      Okay, maybe for a zoo. After all, he is the Grand Champion!

  8. Goodie, we're still in cowboy mode. I've managed to wrangle a few more cowboy stories since last week so I'm still in the mood. :-)

    Love the photo bomb. A certain somebody knew it had been way too long since there'd been a puppy picture post. LOL. And really, what's more interesting -- a corgi or a pair of boots? No contest in that little canine mind obviously.

    1. I have to get my mind out of cowboy mode and back to Amish Country this week! My writing is suffering.

      But I made some great contacts for future research and a possibility for future stories...nothing firm yet, of course...but western :)