20 LOST RECIPES FROM THE PIONEERS: WHAT THEY COOKED IN THEIR JOURNEY WESTWARD




Allow milk to form clabber.
Skim off cream once clabbered.
Set clabbered milk on very low heat and cut in 1 inch squares.
Place colander into clabber.
Dip off whey that rises into the colander.
When clabber becomes firm, rinse with cold water.
Squeeze liquid out and press into ball.
Crumble into bowl.
Mix curds with thick cream.
Mormon Johnnycake
Here is a form of cornbread used not only by the Mormon immigrants,
as the name indicates, but quite often by most of the immigrants traveling west.
Because of the inclusion of buttermilk, a source of fresh milk was a necessity.
  • 2-cups of yellow cornmeal
  • ½-cup of flour
  • 1-teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients and mix in
2-cups of buttermilk and 2-tablespoons molasses.
Pour into a greased 9” pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
To get a lighter johnnycake include two beaten eggs
and 2 tablespoons melted butter.
Soda Biscuits
Take 1lb flour, and mix it with enough milk to make a stiff dough;
dissolve 1tsp carbonate of soda in a little milk;
add to dough with a teaspoon of salt.
Work it well together and roll out thin;
cut into round biscuits, and bake them in a moderate oven.
The yolk of an egg is sometimes added.
Vinegar Lemonade
Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a 12 ounce glass of water.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar to taste.
Note: The pioneers used vinegar for numerous reasons.
One reason was to add vitamin C to their diet.
Fried Apples
Fry 4 slices of bacon in a Dutch oven. Remove bacon.
Peel and slice 6 to 8 Granny Smith apples.
Put apples in Dutch oven with bacon grease,
cover and cook down the apples, but not to mush.
Serve topped with butter or cream and crumbled bacon.
They’re great for breakfast or desert!
Dutch Oven Trout
As soon as possible after catching your trout,
clean them and wipe the inside and outside of the trout
with a cloth wet with vinegar water.
Don’t put the trout in the water.
Roll the trout in a mixture of flour,
dry powdered milk,
cornmeal,
salt and pepper.
Heat deep fat in a Dutch oven and fry until crisp and golden brown.
Black Pudding
Here’s an old ranch recipe courtesy of Winkie Crigler, founder and curator of The Little House Museum in Greer, Arizona.
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Sweet Milk
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tsp Soda
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Molasses
Mix well.  Pour into 1-pound can and steam for 2 to 3 hours by placing in kettle of boiling water.  Keep covered.
  • This is to be served with a vinegar sauce:
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp  Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Vinegar
  • ½ Tsp Nutmeg
Put in enough boiling water for amount of sauce wanted.
Add two slightly beaten eggs and cook stirring constantly to the desired consistency.
How To Fry Quick Doughnuts
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.
Kid Pie
If the kid (goat) is too fat to roast, cut it into pieces and make pies.  Make a sauce of cut up perejil (parsley) and put in the pies with a little sweet oil and place it in the oven.
A little before you take it out of the oven beat some eggs with vinegar or orange juice and put into the pie through the holes made in the crust for the steam to escape.
Then return pies to oven for enough time to repeat The Lord’s Prayer three times, then take the pies out and put them before the master of the house, cut it and give it to him.
Brown Gravy
The following is a farm recipe for gravy from the late 1880’s.
This gravy may be made in larger quantities, then kept in a stone jar and used as wanted.
Take 2 pounds of beef, and two small slices of lean bacon. Cut the meat into small pieces. Put into a stew-pan a piece of butter the size of an egg, and set over the fire.
Cut two large onions in thin slices. Put them in the butter and fry a light brown, then add the meat. Season with whole peppers.
Salt to taste. Add three cloves, and pour over one cupful of water.
Let it boil fifteen or twenty minutes, stirring it occasionally.
Then add two quarts of water, and simmer very gently for two hours.
Now strain, and when cold, remove all the fat.
To thicken this gravy, put in a stew pan a lump of butter a little larger than an egg, add two teaspoonfuls of flour, and stir until a light brown.
When cold, add it to the strained gravy, and boil up quickly. Serve very hot with the meats.
What Kind Of Supplies Did The Pioneers Take With Them?
The question is answered by the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center this way…
A variety of guidebooks, newspaper articles, and helpful tips in letters from friends or family who had already made the trip provided different lists about what and how much was essential to survive the five-month journey. The critical advice was to keep things as light as possible, and to take easily preserved staple foods. Supplies in each wagon generally had to be kept below 2,000 pounds total weight, and as the journey progressed and draft animals grew tired, many pioneers had to discard excess food and baggage. Items taken by nearly all wagon parties included flour, hard tack or crackers, bacon, sugar, coffee and tea, beans, rice, dried fruit, salt, pepper and saleratus (used for baking soda). Some also took whiskey or brandy, and medicines. Minimal cooking utensils included a cast iron skillet or spider, Dutch oven, reflector oven, coffee pot or tea kettle, and tin plates, cups, and knives, forks, spoons, matches, and crocks, canteens, buckets or water bags for liquids. A rifle, pistols, powder, lead, and shot were recommended for hunting game along the way, and for self-defense. Candles were used for lighting, as they were far less expensive and lighter than transporting oil, and several pounds of soap was included. Only two or three sets of practical, sturdy, and warm clothing of wool and linen had to last the wear and tear of the journey, and a small sewing kit for repairs was important. Basic tools such as a shovel, ax or hatchet, and tools to repair wagon equipment were essential. Bedding and tents completed the list of necessities. For most families, 1,600-1,800 pounds of their supplies would be food, leaving little space for other items. Although some people tried to include furniture, books, and treasured belongings, these were soon discarded. According to many accounts, the trail was littered with cast off trunks, bureaus, beds, clothing, excess food, and even cast iron stoves. Though prices and availability of goods varied from year to year, for most emigrants it cost a minimum of $600 to $800 to assemble a basic outfit of wagon, oxen, and supplies.
An article from the St. Joseph, Missouri Gazette dated March 19, 1847
Final Word
We are straying away from our roots on a dangerous road from which there will be no turning back. And the good and bad news is that we are the last generation that can truly do something about it.
We no longer know how to live without refrigerators, without cars, without phones or without supermarkets.
What will you do tomorrow if you simply are unable to buy things?