Barbecue, Biscuits and Beans and My German and Wendish Roots
As told to Katie Stavinoha by Cliff as he drove to the Dudley Brothers Hereford Bull Sale in Comanche, Texas. Cliff was in the buying mode.
All of my grandparents migrated from Germany to Galveston in 1854. They were quarantined off the coast for 30 days due to a cholera outbreak; my great-great grandfather watched his mother buried at sea during this time. Once they came ashore and were outfitted, they took an oxcart to Lee County, settling in Serbin. In 1952 or ’53, my great-grandfather was asked by the University of Texas to translate some of the St. Paul Lutheran Church records that were written in Wendish. He spoke Wendish, German and English. Unfortunately, he couldn’t translate Wendish directly to English. It was a three-step process: Wendish to German and then to English.
Long before I got interested in chuck wagons and chuck wagon cooking, I was learning to cook meat from my father and grandfather—the German way. Cooking meat over live coals—mesquite or oak. I helped them cook for weddings, parties, funerals…we were always cooking. My mother, who will be 106 in January, taught me about bread. Richard Bolt, who worked for the Pitchforks [a historic Texas ranch], is the one who introduced me to sourdough. I am kind of known for my sourdough bread. It’s a chuck wagon staple.
My mother, Edna Mickan Teinert, was born in Winchester in 1911, and my father was born in Copperas Cove in 1908. We lived in Copperas Cove for much of my younger life. However, I went to high school in Giddings. After graduation I moved to Albany to work for an uncle on his ranch. I’ve pretty much been in Albany ever since. Oil business, ranching and cooking.
Chuck Wagon Cooking and Cookbooks before Barbecue Biscuits and Beans
In the ’70s, I got interested in chuck wagons and started a catering business. I cooked at Camp David for Mexican President José López Portillo, President Ronald Reagan and future President George H.W. Bush—and for a bunch of parties for Lady Bird Johnson on her ranch on the Pedernales River.
Bill [Cauble] and I had cooked together for a long time—and were encouraged by longtime rancher and friend Watt Matthews. We helped form the Western Chuck Wagon Association—to identify the wagons that might have gone up the trail and needed refurbishing. Garnett Brooks, Tom Perini and later Jimbo Humphreys and Red Steagall were also involved in helping pull that organization together. Bill and I also cook at the Chuck Wagon Gathering at the National Cowboy Museum and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City.
When Bill and I started writing Barbecue, Biscuits & Beans—with your help and Watt Casey’s and Rue Judd’s—it was hard to get the measurements right. We’d been cooking for so long by feel and instinct, it took quite a few times to figure out the exact measurements for some of our recipes.
An aside from Katie: One day, Rue Judd, Bright Sky Press’ founder, told me to make Bill and Cliff sit down and dictate a bunch of recipes to be ready for testing and quality control. We were near Albany, Texas at Lambshead Ranch, 17 miles off the pavement, and it was bitterly cold and snowing. We were on deadline.
The guys were looking for any reason not to dictate ingredients. They’d sit a while, then check on the fireplace—or the temperature outside. Bill thought he needed to get pig feed for his granddaughter’s livestock show project.
Cliff bristled when I asked him how much onion he was talking about. “A medium onion. Everybody should know what a medium onion is!”
After that VERY long morning of writing down recipes, I kiddingly told them that every recipe they’d given me started with “First you take an onion....”
They were in a better humor once we got rolling, but these are not men who are accustomed to sitting down to work—even 15 years ago.
As Bill and I were putting this cookbook together, beef topped our list. We are most comfortable cooking beef outside—for a few or a crowd. You will find some of the recipes in our book are my family recipes: Granddad Mickan’s barbecue sauce, homemade egg noodles, German potato salad—all have that German connection. I love the Cold Oven Pound Cake, which I think is my sister’s recipe.
I think the most German of all recipes is the one for egg noodles. No matter the occasion—a wedding, a reunion, a funeral—Germans are going to have homemade noodles.
Homemade Egg Noodles
1 tablespoon salt
12 cups flour
Beat eggs and salt in a large bowl until salt is dissolved. Gradually mix in flour. Mix until dough is stiff. If dough is sticky to touch, continue to add flour until no stickiness remains. Divide dough into four or five balls. Roll each ball on a floured surfaced to 1/8-inch thickness. When all balls are rolled out, dust first ball with flour. Beginning at one edge, roll into tube shape. Cut tube into 1/4-inch slices. Unroll each strip, and set aside. Repeat until all balls are cut. You may freeze or cook immediately by boiling in water or chicken broth.
Serves 8 to 10
Authors: Bill Cauble and Cliff Teinert
9” x 0.6” x 9.8” inches; 192 pages
Order at: www.brightskypress.com .
Bright Sky Press: Where Texas Meets Books
Bright Sky Press, based in Houston, documents the richness of Texas by publishing high-quality books. The press collaborates with its authors to preserve our history, celebrate our unique culture, articulate our collective concerns and share what we love most, the diverse, positive and creative place we call home.
To see a complete listing of unique offerings, see www.brightskypress.com
by Katie Dickie Stavinoha
Editor’s Note: Katie Dickie Stavinoha helped Cliff Teinert and his chuck wagon co-chef and co-author Bill Cauble put together Barbecue, Biscuits & Beans for Bright Sky Press in 2001. During our editorial planning for this hospitality-themed issue, we suggested our partner Bright Sky focus on this book since we know Cliff has Fayette and Lee County roots. Unfortunately, unlike the first time Katie and Cliff worked together, she didn’t get to sample the dishes.