Lyndy Ireland's sister Dell developed this ketchup-glazed meat loaf to feed crews hungry from long days in the corrals. "You need good food to do the work people do out here," Lyndy says.
Lyndy and Kenny Ireland use their Spanish-style house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, as both headquarters for their 2,000-acre ranch and as a bed and breakfast. Lyndy's great-grandfather built the house near the cottonwoods along South Dakota's Bad River in 1923 after saving enough alfalfa profits to upgrade from a cabin to a grand home built from a Sears kit.
Lyndy Ireland cooks up breakfast favorites such as this classic biscuit mix recipe for her guests at Triangle Ranch in western South Dakota. She tops the Sausage Pie with refreshing salsa and serves it on replicas of her grandmother's china.
Six generations of prairie hospitality show in the meals Lyndy has served guests since she and her husband, Kenny, began hosting them on the ranch in 1996. The Triangle's meals, like those served to working cowboys and ranchers and ranch guests across the Great Plains, draw heavily on tradition, with ties to the chuck wagons of freedom-loving cowboys.
On this and the following slides are some of the Triangle Ranch's most popular recipes.
Bacon and brown sugar punch up the salty-sweet flavors in this canned pork and beans fix-up from Triangle Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Use half this amount of bacon if you want to cut calories, fat and sodium. For a candied top, leave Baked Beans 'n' Bacon uncovered in the oven.
These turtle cookies are cooked in a waffle iron, not oven-baked. "Our children demonstrated this recipe for 4-H," Lyndy Ireland says. Fellow 4-H'ers consumed the cookies before the demonstration was even over.
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Oaties blend peanut butter, semisweet chocolate pieces, brown sugar and oats into an easy-to-make drop cookie.
This cake, another of Lyndy's breakfast favorites, is full of streusel crunch. Because of that, it doesn't cut into perfect slices. "Shingle two slices dusted with confectioner's sugar beside the entree and not a crumb will be left," Lyndy says. It gets even better as you store it, covered, at room temperature. If Lyndy has streusel left over after making Kate's Blue-Ribbon Coffee Cake, she uses it to top ice cream or French toast.
At Lyndy's Triangle Ranch Bed and Breakfast, the morning meal might also include Favorite Frozen Fruit Cup, a combination of canned pineapple, frozen sliced strawberries, canned apricot halves and sliced bananas, all mixed with a syrup and frozen overnight.
Juicy grapes and crunchy broccoli blend sweet flavors with another all-time favorite ranch ingredient: savory, salty bacon. It's a lighter side-dish salad that often appeals to the ladies in the group, Lyndy says.
Visitors at South Dakota's Triangle Ranch are treated not only to Lyndy Ireland's ranch cuisine, but also to the family's long tradition of hospitality.
"From homestead days, a guest was to be celebrated," Lyndy says. "You treat them as you would want to be treated, offering your best, however simple that may be."
As guests gather in the dining room, family tradition surrounds them. Generations of china sit in a sideboard. A family Bible rests beside a Nativity scene that's on display year-round. A hutch shows off arrowheads found in the ranch's streambeds.
When Lyndy and Kenny (pictured at left) mark the home's history, they count it in Christmas Eves--86 so far, including the year Lyndy's dad rode his horse through chest-deep snow to bring her and her sisters a red-seated saddle. All this heritage also shows in such details as wooden floors scuffed by countless cowboy boots.
"I've thought many times of refinishing the floors," Lyndy says, "but these are the marks of my family."
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® July/August 2009.)