Dad’s Cowboy Beans

My Dad, despite being a self-confessed carnivore, is one of the biggest supporters of my new vegan lifestyle. He's seen me go through hell and back so I know it truly makes him happy to see how healthy my diet has made me.

Last week he emailed me and asked me to share a recipe with you that he specifically adapted for us "Veg Heads."

Edward Abbey, Milo, Ken Sleight

To give you a little background on Milo (my dad), he's an animal lover, an environmentalist, a real estate developer and rare book collector. Though some of these things may sound contradictory, he worked hard to make his real estate projects environmentally friendly and when I was a child I remember him going to Washington D.C. on a mission to protect the endangered desert tortoises in the Southern Utah area.

He may best be known for his ability to clear a room with a belch.

Growing up we were always vacationing, going river running or camping. Since there were 9 of us kids, we had to travel in a big vehicle, a giant Chevy Suburban that was aptly named "The Tackle Box."

Dad's Man Cave

Our home was always open to strangers and friends, at any given time there was at least 1 or 2 strays staying with us. We always had plenty of good food. My dad really knows his way around the kitchen and he gave me my unrequited love for mashed potatoes.

The real men of Lydia's Canyon, Dad is second to the right

When it comes to food, I have a 4 day leftover rule. After 4 days it gets chucked out. My dad has closer to a 2 week rule.   Because everyone in the family knows his food rule, one holiday family gathering while we were all at my parents house, we were all afraid to eat Dad's Cowboy Beans because we didn't know how long they'd been incubating the fridge. So while dad made a trip to the store, someone secretly dumped the Cowboy Beans and buried them in the woods. When dad came back in, we pretended we had eaten them. It was at that point he told us he had just made them the day before in anticipation of us all coming to stay. Sorry dad….

Dad's Cowboy Beans


  • 1 can Kidney beans
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can stewed spiced tomatoes
  • 2 white or yellow onions diced
  • 1 small can green chopped chilies
  • 3 shots (vegan) Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 shots Soy sauce
  • 1 big squirt table mustard and another of Dijon
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • ½ C. to 1 full C. brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper as desired

Method: Cook chilies and chopped onions till well done, throw the rest of it in after draining off about ½ of the bean juice and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat anywhere from ½ hour to 2 days until the flavor and consistency are superb. Eat with big bowl and large spoon. Leave the house and walk 4 miles or one hour after consuming to protect the family and neighbors. 10 servings

Thanks dad for taking these photographs.



  1. Hmm, not sure 4 miles would be enough if my husband got his hands on these. Though they sound seriously good. I think these might be on the menu next weekend to help us get over Thanksgiving turkey fatigue. I’ll let you know how everybody likes them. I hope it’s a warm weekend, cause I anticipate many open windows.

    1. My dad wrote that bit. Seriously funny, though as a family fart jokes are probably a little too common. Hey, would you consider joining the Virtual Vegan Potluck? it’s on November 1st, bloggers don’t need to be vegan, just have to post a vegan friendly recipe πŸ™‚

      1. Cool idea – I had a look at the link. I’ll think about joining. Most of my vegan friendly cooking is accidentally vegan, not purposely.

  2. I hope I get to meet your dad, Somer. He looks so shaggy and sweet. And oh, you know that I worship Cactus Ed above almost all others. To have known and spent time with him…wow. I’m not worthy!!

    1. I had a pretty awesome childhood. I remember a guy we only knew as “dirtbag” playing guitar and singing for us around a bonfire in our backyard. Every kid should have those kind of experiences.

        1. If you need a beach holiday after all your stuff is done here in Utah, I know a pretty great place (my parent’s casita) in the gulf of Mexico where Ike would be more than welcome, did I mention you can kayak with the dolphins?

    2. Dood, I am “shaggy and sweet”. Please don’t worship Ed. He was just a damned good writer with his heart in the right place, and………. maybe you are worthy.

        1. Dudette,
          Please don’t cry, just eat good food, read good literature and walk with your eyes wide open. See and feel all around you. That is healing at its pinnacle.

          1. Shagster, I’ve got my library card, a shelf filled with cookbooks, good friends, loyal family (including the dog…) and beautiful mountains in my backyard – life is good and your advice is spot on.

  3. Mmmmm, yum yum! Hey, if they were good enough for cowboys, they’re good enough for everyone! I love beans of all kinds, but especially pintos. Have been known to eat a bunch in one sitting. Glad you’re doing so much better healthywise with the changes you’ve made. You’re an inspiration to me & many others. Thanks for your blogspiration! (hey, I coined a new internet term!)

    1. I have talked with many who’ve asked me “how did you lose so much weight?” Well, it really was an unintended consequence (albeit, a welcome one!) of going gluten-free. So far I’ve lost 36 pounds and aim to lose another 20 to get to my goal weight of 140.

      Many people tell me they just could not make the changes to their diets that I have. In which case I tell them, “OKay, then just go for a walk!” I walk at least 5 times a day with my dogs. If getting a dog or two helps a person become motivated for themselves (this is key) then great. Don’t care what sort of “carrot” one has to dangle for motivation, just do it. Walking is free, and great exercise. I start before the sun comes up, and end my days after the sun goes down. You don’t have to walk as often as I do, that’s MY choice. Some may say they don’t have the time, or have to watch the kids, etc, to which I say, grab your kids & take them with you!

      1. Proud of you for sure! My parents are in their 70’s and still walk (hike, really) four miles every day. They support me at my races and are so much of the reason why I love fitness and good food.

  4. Damn Somer, now I am famous………. by the way the fellow on the right is Ken Sleight, alias “Seldom Seen Smith” in Ed Abbey’s “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and not Lyman Hafen. Small correction. YOU BURIED MY BEANS? RAT BAG……………. Milo McCowan Dos Pollos, LLC 1739 S Hwy 89-A Kanab, Ut 84741 435-648-2688 Fax: 435-644-3077

    1. Error fixed! Sorry πŸ™‚ p.s. It wasn’t me who buried the beans, it was someone by the name of S. M.c.C.a.l.l…..
      Love your guts.

  5. This is so awesome:) so sweet of your dad to make a veg cowboy beans for you! my dad’s rule is 1 day. anything older than a day in the refrigerator and he wont eat. my father in law’s is 2 hours. he wont eat anything reheated.:) now i know why my mom and mom in law are always busy int he kitchen

    1. Thanks Richa! We love leftovers, in fact, I think as a family we almost always make extra on purpose. Some things are even better the next day πŸ˜‰ I can’t imagine having a no re-heat rule, your poor mother in law!

  6. I love this post! I love your dad and his pitbull (pats from Tasmania) and his man cave and his determination to be true to himself from way back. My dad was always on my case about me being a vegan. Whenever we would visit he would pull out some steak and when I sighed and for the thousandth time told him “I don’t eat steak dad!” he would say “What’s wrong with you?” and would pull out some fish/chicken/eggs etc. and it would progress from there to the point where I would get salad and blank stares. I was always a bit of a letdown for my (now dead) carnivore father but your dad is a glowing vision of health and he supports you! You are a very VERY lucky woman. Please hug your dad when you next see him for the anonymous people of the world (we are in Tasmania Australia) who appreciate him πŸ™‚

    1. The pitbull is Penny. She is an angel, I had the privilege of having her stay with us for 3 weeks once while my parents were visiting Switzerland. We’ve had a special bond ever since. Sorry about your late father, I think the world is changing and people are becoming more tolerant of vegans and vegetarians – some even see the purpose behind our diets (like my family) even if they don’t follow the same lifestyle. I am a very lucky daughter however, and I don’t take that for granted. Hugs passed on to my dad from you. p.s. my father-in-law is switching to a plant based diet, guess where he lives? Tasmania. I’ve been there to visit before and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Small world, eh? πŸ™‚

      1. Whoa! Small world! I live in teeny tiny little Sidmouth right on the river on a ramshackled 4 acre inherited property from the dreaded vegan hating dad (at least he thought enough of me to allow me to inherit!). I am amazed and gobsmacked that your father in law lives in Tassie. My dad was intolerant full stop so I guess me being vegan wasn’t really all that different for anything in my life. We have 2 Amstaffs (pitbulls) both boys. Bezial is the oldest, wisest and sadest because we bought Earl who is our Karma and who is the most loving rambunctious crazy mix of slobbering eating tomfoolery around. I bet Earl would LOVE penny! πŸ˜‰ Cheers for replying and say “Howdy” to your dad AND your step dad. Now I am curious as to where he is in Tassie? No street adresses, just areas lol πŸ˜‰

        1. When we last visited he lived in Hobart, but has moved to the outskirts and lives on some farm property. I went to visit your blog, your pitbulls are beautiful! I’m sure Penny would love both of them!

          1. We live at the other end of Tasmania 50km from Launceston. We love it here and our boys would most CERTAINLY love Penny πŸ˜‰

  7. Typical Somer… Awesome food and fart jokes! Thanks for the recipe, Somer’s dad. The beans look great.

    Somer, what course shoul I make for the virtual vegan potluck? I can’t decide, and don’t want to sign up until I have myself together.

    1. Nice! Thanks!

      Um, here’s a hint, appetizers, breads and beverages are the 1st courses and will get more hits to your blog. Desserts, while possibly the awesomest section of the potluck, may get the least views (people don’t always want to look at 100 blog posts, so it’s best to be one of the firsts on the list) I know you’ve got some good bread recipes up your sleeve πŸ˜‰

  8. Your dad is officially my hero, to have a photo with Edward Abbey is nuts! I also noticed he signed off from Kanab, one of my fav small towns in Utah… πŸ™‚

    1. He’s my hero too πŸ˜‰ Copies of the Monkey Wrench Gang and so on were always everywhere in the house (Dad has quite the collection in his rare book stash) Kanab is gorgeous, he lives near there, but not in the city boundaries. Regards!

    1. He is totally rad. There’s a few of us vegans and vegetarians in the family, I think it’s starting to rub off on him πŸ˜‰

  9. My parents keep leftovers forever too. And we also rolled in a huge Chevy Suburban back in the late 80’s, but there were definitely not 9 kids. Just 2.

    These beans look pretty hard-core! And totally perfect for when the weather cools down. Your dad pretty much rocks- I can see where you get it from. xo

    1. He does rock! The leftover deal must be something to do with that generation! Love that you guys had a “tackle box” too! So funny Kristy! Heading over to visit you now, so behind on reading with MOFO! xoxo

  10. this food looks like what the cowboys would eat years ago and also reminds me some Mexican food too. A great protein rich vegan food πŸ™‚ Nice photo of your Dad too….

  11. Hahahahahaha: such a lovely post & your dad’s bean recipe is a really tasty one too! πŸ™‚ Great pictures & know we know what your dad looks like! πŸ˜‰ xxx

    1. Thanks Sophie! It was so much fun writing this post. As you can see, I adore my dad to bits. And yes, his cowboy beans are really, really great! xx

  12. These look so amazing! Your Dad sounds so awesome Somer, I love all the pictures you posted of him and his man cave – thanks for sharing a little more about you and your family πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Heather! Isn’t he juicy? πŸ™‚ This post was probably my favorite post to date, it means so much to me to have his support!

    1. Thanks so much! Do try the beans, you can’t go wrong! They are delicious, Dad has been making them for years, this vedged out edition warmed my heart! πŸ™‚

  13. Just wanted to tell you that I made these for my boys and they LOVED them and my son also loved the story about your Dad’s beans getting thrown out. He thought you’d be in trouble for posting the story but we suggested that the offense of throwing out his beans was ameliorated by the honor of sharing his recipe. Very yummy! They qualify for the school lunch box mixed with rice πŸ™‚

    1. I’m so glad that you made them! I’m feeling homesick at the moment, Cowboy Beans would certainly be on the Halloween menu at my parents house!

  14. These sound yum w some cornbread. It seems like lot sugar though. (For us at least.) Recommendations on reducing? Or you just make as is?

    1. I would just reduce it by half or according to your tastes. The beans are good sweet like my dad makes them, but could certainly be equally delicious if they were more savory.

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