Bear Creek Smokehouse of Marshall publishes cookbook celebrating 73-year legacy
Dec. 22, 2016 at 4 a.m.
Every day, Nellie Shoults, co-founder of Bear Creek Smokehouse along with her husband, Hick, would cook a large meal for the family, workers and even visitors at their family business.
"Back in the day when they used to have all the livestock out here, raising turkeys, hogs, cows and everything, (my grandmother) would always fix a big lunch every day because she never knew who was going to stop in," Vice President of Bear Creek Smokehouse Robbie Shoults said. "In these days you had feed salesmen and people from all over stopping by the barn, just checking on things. It was kind of funny, because my granddad would notice they'd all stop in around lunch."
Now, more than 70 years after his family business began in Harrison County, Shoults said his family wants to bring the spirit of those grand family lunches, where everyone was invited, to East Texas and beyond. This month, the Shoults family published "Bear Bottom Bliss: Five Generations of Food, Family and Faith," a cookbook including Nellie's recipes and family anecdotes.
"Our family has been in the food business for generations. We've been providing hickory smoked meet and holiday goodies for 73 years now," Shoults said, stating the company has grown exponentially from the simple backyard operation with 600 birds Hick and Nellie started in 1943, to today's 43,000 sq. ft. modern facility, employing about 50 workers. "The idea behind the book was to share the family story and recipes with everybody we could. The book has been about 18 months in the making. It's been a really huge project. It had been in the back of our mind to do a cookbook and we finally just got serious about it and finally pulled the trigger."
Over the years Bear Creek Smokehouse has offered premium smoked turkey and ham. Bear Creek raised hogs, turkeys and livestock until 1972 when the company shifted to ordering from providers. Shoults said his family still raises some longhorn steer.
The book features more than 175 recipes in its 200-page bind, compiling recipes from family members, such as Shoults' wife Tracy, but most prominently from Nellie.
"(Nellie's) recipes were kept in an old oak filing cabinet," Shoults said. "They're all tattered and torn and everything else. We used a lot of those recipes because they had been tried and true for generations."
Shoults said in the brief time the cookbook has been out, the response has been huge, receiving compliments from cookbook collectors and venue owners alike.
"We're getting lots of feedback on it," Shoults said, adding his family recently held a book signing at Barron's in Longview, stating the owner was complimentary of their book. "She said, 'when you first contacted me about your cookbook, I was a bit skeptical, but being that you were from East Texas, I thought at least I can look at it. This is one of the most well done cookbooks I've ever seen and books have been my business for 40 years.'"