Bear Sign — cowboy term for donuts. A cook who could and would make them was highly regarded.
Quick Fry Donuts: Chronicle of the old west
The following recipe for doughnuts came from the March 17, 1885 Daily Missoulian. Obviously, anyone making these doughnuts will want to find a substitute for fat as a cooking oil.
Put a frying kettle half full of fat over the fire to heat. Shift together one pound of flour, one teaspoonful each of salt and bicarbonate of soda, and half a saltspoon full of grated nutmeg.
Beat half a pound of butter to a cream and add them to the flour. Beat the yokes of two eggs to a cream, add them to the first-named ingredients, beat the whites to a stiff froth and reserve them.
Mix into the flour and sugar enough sour milk to make a soft dough and then quickly add the whites of the eggs. Roll out the paste at once, shape and fry.