‘CowBelles’ Puffs And Fluffs Will Give Your Thanksgiving A Montrose County Touch

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7min 55sec
Courtesy Kelly McGuire
A tasty looking serving of Bee Party Puffs from the “Favorite Ranch Recipes of the Montrose County CowBelles” cookbook.

Fluffs and puffs aren't something that immediately comes to mind when you think Colorado cattle country. Yet, Grand Junction middle school teacher Kelly McGuire has “eaten many fluffs in (her) lifetime.” A fluff, of course, is a dish made with marshmallows and whipped cream, the sort of thing you'd picture at a county fair.

The fluff in mind here is a Thanksgiving friendly cranberry-festooned affair with oranges and apples found in McGuire’s treasured “Favorite Ranch Recipes of the Montrose County CowBelles” cookbook.

“Some people cringe at these ‘salads’ and I have in the past.” But this one is good, she said. Not too sweet. “I was surprised to see that there was no sugar in the whipped cream in this recipe. That gave me some hope.”

Courtesy Kelly McGuire
It's a salad. It's fluff.

McGuire’s late grandmother, who lived in nearby Olathe, “had quite the collection of community cookbooks.” She remembers cooking with her grandmother and following recipes out of the book. Cattle brands adorn the cover — along with the names of the ranchers who owned them. “There are several female names and some male names, as well,” McGuire pointed out. “This cookbook was put together by a group of ranch ladies.”

Crack open the cover and the first thing that greets you is an ode to ranching families titled “What Is A Rancher?”

Courtesy Kelly McGuire

“Ranchers are usually found where there’s cattle feeding, dehorning, branding, trading, groping, and doctoring. Bankers hate to see them coming. Little boys admire them. The Secretary of Agriculture confuses them. City people visit and don’t understand them. Meals wait on them. Other ranchers compete with them. Barbed wire cuts them. Television glorifies them. But nothing discourages them.”

Navigating Thanksgiving in this pandemic year is going to be complicated, but with a little touch of Montrose County, your sides don't have to be. Alongside a little fluff you can add some simple ground beef party puffs.

“They are like little cheeseburgers and I’m pretty sure any kid would be able to make them and really love them,” McGuire said.

Cranberry Salad

1 lb cranberries
1 large orange
2 large apples

2 cups sugar
8 oz mini marshmallows
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Grind fruit all together. Place in a colander and drain 1 hour. Add 2 cups of sugar and refrigerate overnight. Add mini marshmallows and the whipped cream. Pour into well-oiled mold and chill several hours before serving.

Bee Party Puffs

1 lb ground beef
1 pkg. onion soup (dry)

1 cup grated cheese
3 pkg. crescent rolls

Brown beef with soup mix, drain, add cheese and toss. Cut crescent rolls in two. Press out, put 1 teaspoon of meat mixture on, close dough around and seal, put on cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until brown at 375°. Good for any time.

For our series “The Kitchen Shelf,” CPR News wants to know about other local Colorado cookbooks and we want your help. Whether your cookbook is collecting dust on a shelf or is a butter-stained countertop workhorse, take a picture of the cover and tweet @cprwarner or email it to [email protected]. We’d love to share more of these family recipes and the stories behind them.