Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cooking On The Trail

Men on the trail heading west had to make sure their wagons stayed in good condition, keep the livestock healthy, and watch for dangers along the trail. Women had many responsibilities. They assisted their husbands with the wagon and livestock, took care of their children, assisted other women that they were traveling in the wagon train, did laundry when there was a day available--for 'rest', and most importantly, keep everyone fed.

There were many food items to 'experiment' with along the way; sage hens, badgers, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, etc. The main staples packed and brought along from the beginning of the journey included bacon, coffee, flour, cornmeal, soda, beans, and salt. They usually made make-shift biscuits or pancakes with bacon for breakfast in the mornings before starting back on the journey. There was usually a mid-day break so the livestock could rest. Most ate leftovers from breakfast at this time. The evening meal usually consisted of beans, some type of bread, and bacon.

After getting her fire started with buffalo chips, sagebrush, weeds, or wood, if it was available, a pioneer woman could have a meal made within an hour or two. Just in time to curl up under the wagon and rest before it was time to start all over the next morning.

Here is a variation of Irish Soda Bread that was popular on the trail:

Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with one cup of warm water. Stir thoroughly. Add 2 1/4 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Knead well. You may cook at once, (in a covered, well greased Dutch oven or spider skillet over the coals if you are on the trail), or let rise overnight. Press down to one inch thick and bake on greased cookie sheet at 4oo degrees for about 25 minutes.

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