If you have ever been camping before and cooked your food over an open campfire, then you know what fun it can be and how everything tastes better outdoors. Now imagine cooking all your meals everyday over an open campfire and you will have a pretty good idea of what the pioneers and cowboys went through!
Being able to build a fire use to be a common skill before the invention of electricity. As part of their gear, every pioneer family and cowboy herding cattle on the open range, carried a flint and steel to start a fire. Matches had been invited, but could be hard to come by.
Cooking over an open flame was just as much a skill as cooking over a wood burning cookstove though! For one thing you had to contend with the wind while you could have used a series of drafts to regulate the flames on a cookstove. And trying to find wood on the open prairie was always a struggle! Everyone kept an eye out for anything on the trail that could be used to burn for a fire. Sometimes the pioneers and cowboys hauled their own wood with them. If there was no wood, it meant a cold supper.
And once you got your fire going, what did you cook on the trail? You can cook pretty much anything over an open fire that you would have cooked any other way. Open flames are hotter though and cook faster. So anything you decided to make, you had to keep a careful watch on. But dinner could literally be ready in ten minutes depending on what you decided to cook!