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About Kent Rollins
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About Kent Rollins:

Kent Rollins is a sought after entertainer and cook, appearing at Western heritage festivals throughout America.

With a restored 1876 Studebaker wagon, Kent preserves a part of America's heritage though his business, Red River Ranch Chuckwagon Catering. Kent's Dutch oven talents are uncontested as he is named the Official Chuckwagon Cook of Oklahoma, by its Governor. He also won the Lubbock, Texas, Chuckwagon Cook Off and the Will Rogers Award for Chuck Wagon of the Year in 1996, and was chosen as the 1997 Chuckwagon of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists.

In addition to cooking for folks on the modern trail, Kent also takes pride in cooking out on the range for working cowboys. A fading tradition, there are few wagon chefs who actually cook on working ranches. Yet Kent still fills the boots of "Ranch Cookie" across the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas areas during spring and fall gatherings.

Along with slingin' hash, Kent has become pretty good at slingin' bull. For more than a decade, Kent has described life on the range through poetry and storytelling.

Kent's poetry is a varied collection about the life and legacy of the cowboy along with stories passed around from cow camps and old-timers. He also shares humorous stories about growing up ranch. He shares the tales of comical calamities, sagebrush sagas and true cowboys.

"Cowboy poetry was a way for me to tie cooking and entertaining together.  I share the old stories and let people know what went on in the 1880s so they can see life wasn't really like what they've seen on the silver screen."

Kent's poetry and storytelling talents have earned him prestigious recognition including: the Skinny Roland Humor Award for Best Humorist and Storyteller and was nominated three times for Best Storyteller, all by the Academy of Western Artists.


Kent's poetry, cooking, and cowboying were featured in a PBS Gallery documentary, It Ain't Shakespeare, available from OETA (800-879-6382; The Gallery Series, show 201).


In October 2010, Kent Rollins were featured on the Food Network's Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Find a media release below.


In September 2004, Kent Rollins' Chuckwagon Bootcamp was featured on the Food Network's Roker on the Road.  He's pictured here with General Tommy Franks:

Kent Rollins has shared some of his photographs from his camps, below.

Visit Kent Rollins' web site for much more:

www.KentRollins.com

 

Poems

 

Frugal Cowboy Meal

The Vision

Horseshoes and Heaven

 

 

Frugal Cowboy Meal

This ain't no Hardee's
Nor is it a Mickee-dee's
There ain't no drive-up window
And a menu you won't see

This is just an old chuckwagon
That's been through hell and back
You won't see no Happy Meals
'Cause my food won't fit in a sack

We don't give no little toys
With the meal you receive
But will pass out the Rolaids
They're about the only thing that's free

We ain't got no purdy waitress
To bring out yer gourmet meal
Just an old wore out camp cook
Who's plum nasty, mean and ill

'Cause he's been up early fixin
Your meal didn't come pre-cooked
And there ain't no tellin what fell in
When you weren't there to look

But his coffee is always hot and black
You won't find no preservatives here
And the meat is 100% pure
Mostly coyote, beef and deer

Now don't go getting squeamish
Cuz we ain't killed nobody yet
And you'll get a free coupon
For a visit to the vet

So get up here in line, folks
For a frugal cowboy meal
Before ole cookie starts tenderizin'
With them big ole wagon wheels

© Kent Rollins
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

The Vision


Photograph by Kent Rollins


It stands there below the hill
A vision from the past
Once a sturdy structure
But now it's fading fast

Built of rock and mud
It once stood proud and tall
But now the chink is crumbling
And the walls have begun to fall

These rocks came from the Wichita's
They hauled 'em by the wagon loads
But now there's not even a trace
Of wagon or a road

Built by a Texas cattleman
A headquarters for his spread
As miles and miles of grass he had
From the Saltfork to the Red
 
Many a head of beef
This man turned out to graze
As he fought life's many battles
And his family he tried to raise

I bet this ole rock house
Was a mighty welcome sight
When he had been gone a horseback
Trying to get home before night

As he rode up to the house
I can almost hear his wife say
"Johnnie, your Pa is home 
Go unsaddle his horse
And throw him a bite a' hay"

She met him at the door
With a smile and a kiss upon his cheek
For she had truly missed him
He's been gone at least six weeks

"How did it go," she said
With a weak and trembling voice
"Well it could have been better
But I really didn't have much choice
  
"I lost a bunch there at the river
It was running fast and deep
I should have picked another spot
Where the banks weren't so slick or steep

"By the time I got the rest to market
The price had went way down
And when I started paying bills
Well, there wasn't enough to go around." 

"How will we make it," she said
"We never will be get by
If it's not drought or disease or prices,
I'm tired of it all let's quit and go home
I don't want to even try."
 
About that time I heard somebody holler
"Youngin' are you going or not?
Off daydreaming again, get back on
We still got to get these cows to the lot"

I reached for the saddle horn
As that ole sun was fading fast
I turned once more to look
Was it really there or was it gone
Or was it a vision from the past                

© Kent Rollins
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Horseshoes and Heaven

He was covered all with sweat
As I tied my ole horse there in the shade
He said an ole horse that will stand still
For more than five minutes
Why I don't think there's ever been one made

He wore an old ragged pair of leggins
That had been cut off just below the knee
His old hands were hard and callused
And his arms were like two big limbs
Hanging off a giant oak tree

He said you reckon you could hold this old feller
He seems to have a lot a trouble standin' still
Why I don't know why I ain't quit this
You'd think after 45 years
I had enough to get my fill

He let that ole horse's leg down
And went to his anvil to shape a shoe
Awe I guess being a cowboy and doing this
Is about all I ever really knew

He said trimming & shoeing these old horses
Is sorta like dealing with life
Nobody said it was gonna be easy
But if you'll do it with pride and honesty
You can get through the times of trouble and strife

With that shoe in hand and a mouth full of nails
He went back to resume his chore
Pick it up old feller he mumbled
We just like this one and one more

Well he nailed that shoe on pretty quick
He never missed his aim
He said sometimes in life
You've really got to struggle
If there's gonna be any kind of gain

He said take that ole anvil there
That I use to shape a shoe
Sometimes we've gotta have a little adjusting
To keep us all straight and true

Now take these old horses some are pretty good
And some act awful ill
But it's just like everyday livin,
Cause sometimes you just don't get a fair deal

Well I watched him untie this old horse
His back still slightly bent
And in my mind I wondered about the many hours
Under an ole horse's belly that he had really spent

His shirt by now was salted down
Soaked by the summer's sun
It didn't take him long a trimmin'
And my ole horse was done

Well I thanked him for his story
And paid him for his time
And as I was riding away
I could hear his ole anvil a ringing
Making a perfect chime

There ain't a day that goes by
That I don't think of him and his advice
I'd stopped by an seen him every week
Usually once or twice

But now his old anvil is silent
The horses ain't lined up no more
His old chaps hang there empty
And his hammer lays still there on the floor

Sometimes I go to wondering
And it makes me feel sorta sad
Now I know the good Lord needs a farrier
And this makes me sorta proud
Because I know he got a good one
When he came and hired my Dad

© Kent Rollins
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 


 "Wash" Rollins at age 17


Below the Rim

Long before the dawning
Not a creature heard about
Old bones they start to aching
As tired muscles begin to shout

He struggles from his bedroll
Tired and broke and bent
Mornings they come early below the rim
When you're under ole “Cookie's" tent

An ole black hat sets on his head
Weathered by sweat and smoke
As he kneels there on the ground
The morning fire he begins to stoke

It is a battle to stand upright
And he is proud to make it once more
His ole tired muscles have faded
Like time washes sand there from the shore

Sixty years he’s been a wagon cook
And time it hasn’t been too fair
Weathered, scared and weary
He has seen and done his share

They say he broke his back
I believe it was in the fall of '83
A runaway team flipped the wagon
And it was the next day b’fore they got him free

The many wrinkles on his face
Etched there by time and sun
Maybe there his message or a reminder
That his ole race is nearly done

You will never here him say much
But I’d give anything to know his story
Oh you’ll catch a little mumble ever now and then
Something about his days of glory

They say he came over from England
A young'un of 14, a stowaway on a boat
Craving the cowboy lifestyle
From reading dime novels, some feller wrote

You can ask him about his past
He’ll just say it sure went by in a flash
Then he’ll go back to making biscuits
Stirring gravy and the hash

His eyes still have a little sparkle
But like his ole lantern it too is growing dim
His gait is somewhat slower
As the first hint of morning peaks above the rim

But you wont catch him loafing
His food is always hot
The grub it is aplenty
And coffee is always in the pot

Now I’m glad I heard him stirring
And peeked from my bedroll
To watch this bit of history
And the journey that did unfold

I never will forget that morning
That time I spent with him
I now look back on it often
That morning there “below the rim”

© 2009, Kent Rollins
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

The Winter, 2011 Persimmon Hill magazine from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum includes Jeri Dobrowski's feature, "Wrasslin' Pans and Pots at the Red River Chuck Wagon Boot Camp." It explores the experience of "a taste of life in an Old West cow camp" and profiles Kent Rollins. In the lively article, which includes Jeri Dobrowski's photography, she comments, "Rollins wants folks to get more out of the experience than just learning to cook. He serves up life lessons and turns out friends."

Find more about the Red River Chuck Wagon Boot Camp at www.kentrollins.com. Find some of  Jeri Dobrowski's images from her experience at the Chuck Wagon Boot Camp here.

Cookbook and Recordings

 

Prairie Dogs and Pastures


2011

Want to take a plane ride with a prairie dog and go to the Olympics all in one trip? Kent's humor and stories come together in his new 2-disc CD compilation. Kent's all-time favorites along with new tales are all brought together in 20 tracks. Set to a live audience you will laugh along with.

Available for $15 from:

www.KentRollins.com

 


 

Kent Rollins Live in Branson

Nine stories and three poems, including:

The Olympics
Cast Iron Luggage
The Exterminator
Olee & Jacob
Dumb Questions
The Cowboy Midwife
Horseshoes and Heaven
12 Days Down the Trail
Poison Mushrooms
The Pain
Grandkids
Ben Hur

Available for $17 postpaid from:

www.KentRollins.com


 

Chuckwagon Cooking from the Red River Ranch

 Includes nearly 50 recipes and information about chuckwagon cooking and the following stories and poems:

A Calm Day
Both Sides
Frugal Cowboy Meal
Horseshoes and Heaven
Not in My Cast Iron
Spring Works
Uninvited Guest

See the CowboyPoetry.com review below

$19.95 postpaid

www.KentRollins.com


Kent Rollins Stories and Poems

See the CowboyPoetry.com review below

Includes:

The Pain
The River
Exterminator
The Vision
Cowboy and the Skateboard
Cowboy Midwife
Frugal Cowboy Meal
Springtime on the River
Poison Mushrooms
Chicken House Massacre
My Last Trip
Ben Hur
12 Days Down the Trail
Kinfolks
The Roundpen
Horseshoes and Heaven

tape is $10.00 postpaid

www.KentRollins.com

 


Review:

If you find yourself headed for that proverbial desert island and can take only one thing, quick, grab Kent Rollins.  He can entertain you with his stories and poetry, and he can cook!  His new book, Chuckwagon Cooking from The Red River Ranch is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, and his "Stories and Poems" tape is the perfect accompaniment.

Kent Rollins runs a cattle operation and catering business, has been named AWA Storyteller/Humorist of the year, AWA Chuckwagon Cook of the Year, and is the Official Oklahoma State Chuckwagon Cook. If you haven't had the luck to meet him in person at his 1876 Studebaker Chuckwagon, you may have seen him on the Food Network, QVC, or the Family Channel.

The book's recipes cover breakfast to dessert, with some great standouts including Sourdough Cornbread, Hash Brown Potato Casserole, and Aunt Ola's Chocolate Cake, which the author first made when he was 9 years old. The book has a selection of Rollin's photographs that capture the beauty and mood of the places he roams and of his cooking gear. The well made book includes poetry, tales, musings on meals, and useful primers on cast iron and coffee, "the most important part of any ranch meal."

There's an enthusiastic foreword from QVC videographer Paul B. Kelley who spent time on the trail with Rollins ("Have you ever had a meal that everyone agreed was at the top of their all-time list...a meal that is consistently held up as the holy grail of mealdom? That was what we experienced that night under the Oklahoma stars..."); words from his friend, cowboy and poet Leon Autrey; and from the book's editor who spent time in Rollins' "Cook Camp" ("It was the most peaceful, and good-for-soul camping I'd ever done.").

Kent Rollins mixes words as well as ingredients, and his tape, Stories and Poems, would be a treat to listen to as you cook up his recipes for Chocolate Syrup and Sourdough Biscuits ("Most cowboys tell me 'we ain't never had that.' But after the first couple bites they figure out why I just make it on the last morning.")  Even if you're not cooking, you'll want to sit back and enjoy the tape's 16 original poems and stories and the occasional music of Snuffy Elmore and Steve Schick, which adds just the right amount of seasoning.

Rollins has a lot of hilarious tales, some with city dwellers and his wife's kinfolk as the focal points; some about cooking; some cowboying adventures such as "Cowboy Midwife"; and some about childhood antics such as "Ben Hur," which gets as vivid as the movie that inspired it.

In "Cowboy Midwife," a cowboy who has been assured he needs no horse or rope for a "gentle" heifer about the calve, becomes attached by OB chain to the calf and heifer and is whipped across pens and under fence posts, joined by an eager cow dog who "has never got to chase cattle with cowboys tied to 'em."  As they all head through an open gate into 160 acres of grub mesquite, the cowboy remembers a trick his Daddy taught him "that works on anything of the female species as long as you're wearing headgear... just turn that hat sidewise to where the brim is over lookin' where your ears were...they think you are lookin' in a different direction than what you are and they'll circle and go way wide..." There is no happy ending to that story.

In what could be a recollection from his own childhood, the kids in "Ben Hur," who get dropped off in town on Saturdays for a movie and have already "seen so many shoot-em-up Westerns that we'd killed nearly all the neighbors' chickens as well as mama's too," so they look for something new to inspire their later adventures at home. Impressed by Ben Hur's chariot and gear (except the "'little skirt'" deal") and the fact that even though "people was always chunkin' rocks and spears and everythin' at him" he was always the hero, the kids go home to make elaborate re-enactments of Ben Hur's exploits. They replace a wagon's front wheels with tricycle wheels; gather up ammunition to throw, which consists of "sail rabbits" and "sail possums" (road kill that has baked in the Oklahoma sun; the possum were better because they have "a hook tail and you can get more leverage when you throw 'em"); make that "little skirt" of baler twine and feed bags; and use a half watermelon that "the chickens had holed out a week ago" for a helmet, secured by a chin strap made from something found in mama's dresser drawer, with "padded ear protectors on both sides and sorta buckled there under your chin..."  The results would impress Cecil B. DeMille.

Rollins has a serious side, too, and shows it in the poems about his beloved Red River, "The River," and "Springtime on the River" and in his respect for the past in "The Vision" and "12 Days Down the Trail."  There may be no finer tribute to a father's wisdom than "Horseshoes and Heaven," which is also in the cookbook, accompanied by a great vintage photo. 

It's hard to improve on Paul B. Kelley's description of Kent Rollins: "The man himself is a little magical, and he puts genuine cowboy love in everything he cooks, everything he does."  You'll be left with no doubt about any of that after enjoying his book and tape.  Chuckwagon Cooking from The Red River Ranch is $19.95 postpaid and Stories and Poems is $10 postpaid, available from Kent Rollins, Rt. 1, Box 318, Hollis, OK 73550 www.KentRollins.com

CowboyPoetry.com
June, 2003

 

In Fall, 2010, Kent Rollins was featured on the season's premiere of Throwdown! with Bobby Flay on Food Network television.

From a media release from www.kentrollins.com:

Old west trails and stories of forgotten cowboys come alive when Kent Rollins begins cooking with his restored 1876 Studebaker chuckwagon. Rollins has been cooking for more than 20 years with his business, Red River Ranch Chuckwagon Catering, yet his talents extend beyond the “kitchen” as he is also an acclaimed cowboy poet, humorist and storyteller. His unique blend of authentic wagon cuisine with cowboy lore and legend give every foodie under the fly a one-of-a-kind western experience.

Rollins recently was featured in the season premiere of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay.” Under the impression that he was filming for an upcoming chuckwagon food feature, Rollins was surprised when Flay “crashed” the filming to challenge him to a throw down. The dish challenged was Rollins’ famous chicken-fried steak.

“When I turned around I thought, ‘I know this guy.’ That was right before I realized it was Bobby Flay. When he challenged me to a throw down I replied, ‘Welcome to the land of hot and heavy!’”
Using “Bertha,” as Kent lovingly refers to his 400 lb. steel wood-stoked stove, both competitors fried up their own renditions of the country classic.

But this was by no means Rollins’ first moment in the spotlight. Rollins was named the Official Chuckwagon Cook of Oklahoma, won the Lubbock, Texas, Chuckwagon Cook Off and Will Rogers Award for Chuckwagon of the Year in ’96 and was named Chuckwagon of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists in ’97. He has also been featured on The Food Network, QVC, The Family Channel and PBS.

Kent’s cooking career started as a youngster growing up in Hollis, Oklahoma and helping his mother in the kitchen. “When I was a kid, everybody would be up at 5:30 a.m. to feed calves. I found out pretty quickly that it was a whole lot easier to stay in the house with Mom and cook.”

He began cooking for working ranches during their spring and fall gatherings, a fading tradition that few wagon cooks partake in. Business soon expanded, and he began cooking for corporate events, weddings and festivals all across the country.

Rollin’s also hosts a chuckwagon cooking camp twice a year. An old cow camp scene is recreated where he teaches students the art of Dutch oven cooking, the history of the chuckwagon, and what life was like in the Old West.

 

Photographs

Kent Rollins is often the only human observing the magic of the early morning from his camp, and he is a skilled photographer who records cowboys' work. Below are samples from Palo Duro Canyon, May 2003.

 

"Our first camp was at Tom Blassingame's ole' camp...brought a special feeling to me..."

 


"'Moonlight Teepee,'... a picture I took one morning about 3:55 that was my getting up time for getting breakfast ready."

 


"Spring works at Tom's camp"

 


"The Sheraton Suites at the Mallard Trap"

 


"Jingling in the horses" 

 


"Catching the morning mounts"

 


"December Morning"

Kent Rollin's 2004 photo, "Ridin' Out" was the 2005 Cowboy Poetry Week poster and the subject for an Art Spur project.  

See a November, 2009 Picture the West entry with photos from Kent Rollins' Chuck Wagon Boot Camp here.

 

Contact Information

www.KentRollins.com

 

 

www.cowboypoetry.com

 

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