Pioneer recipes...or receipts, as they were called at the time... from the 1800's were "make do" recipes. Log cabin cooking was not easy, and ingredients were often times scarce. Food sources consisted primarily of domestic animals, fish, wild game, vegetables and crops that they grew and preserved themselves, and a few items purchased or traded for at the closest general store.
Cooking utensils for pioneer cooking were basic and usually consisted of whatever items the early pioneers brought with them in their covered wagons. Plates and spoons carved from wood, a few teacups and glasses, Cast Iron Dutch Oven , pots and griddle were some of the basic equipment used for cooking in log cabins and on the way westward.
Ingredients used in pioneer recipes consisted of some of the "essentials" - coffee beans, baking soda (saleratus), cream of tarter (tartaric acid), salt, flour, molasses, sugar and a few spices. If you were lucky, you might find yourself with some luxury items such as dried fruits, dried vegetables, salt pork, some canned goods, whiskey, cheese, dried beans, corn meal, tea and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Pioneer cooks primarily cooked in the fireplace in the earlier years, and later on cookstoves in the late 1800's. Some foods were prepared directly in the coals in the fireplace . Some hearths had ovens built into the hearth, mainly for baking bread. Temperatures were regulated by the size and type of wood used. Measurements were eyeballed, and rough equivalents were used - for instance, one tablespoon of butter was approximately the size of a hickory nut - two tablespoons the size of an egg.***Paraphrased from "Log Cabin Cooking" by Barbara Swell, copyright 1996 - ISBN 1-883206-25-1
Betty Botter bought some
butter. "But," she said, "this butter's
bitter. If I put this bitter butter in my batter, it would
make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter
would make my bitter batter better." So Betty Botter bought some
butter, better than the bitter butter. Made her bitter batter better.
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Enjoy these recipes as they were written, with misspelled words, funny grammar and all!
Take 1/2 gallon wild (or tame) cherries, and put in a 5 gallon crock. Add the same amount of water and one pound sugar. Mash well. Add 1 qt. brandy and let it set for about 4 months, mashing and stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time. Strain seeds and pulp, and pour liquid into jars, seal, and let rest for another month, then sip slowly!
Steep one ounce dandelion in a jug with a pint of boiling water for fifteen minutes. Sweeten with brown sugar or honey, and drink several cupfuls during the day. (1852 recipe)
Chew pumpkin seeds before bed.
Salt wetted into a paste, with a little vinegar and rubbed on bite will stop the itch.
Combine two ounces of honey, two ounces juice of the lily bulb, and one ounce of melted wax. Apply to the face night and morning.
Recipes from "Log Cabin Cooking: Pioneer Recipes & Food Lore " by Barbara Swell.
Peel six potatoes, lay them in a stewpan with salt and pepper sprinkled over them, then cut in small pieces three small sausages, a small slice of lean ham, minced neatly, the crumbs of two crackers, or a slice of toasted bread, crumbled over the surface, another layer of potatoes, pour in a cup of water with melted butter; stew it slowly.
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Get a calf's head with the skin on, take out the brains, wash the head several times in cold water, let it soak about an hour in spring-water, then lay it in a stewpan and cover it with water and a half-gallon over. Take off the scum as it rises, let it boil gently for one hour, take it up, and when almost cold, cut the head into pieces about an inch long, also the tongue--add the brains. When the head is taken out, put in a knuckle of veal and as much beef, add the trimmings and bones of the head, skim it well, cover it close, and let it boil five hours. Then strain it off, and let it stand till next morning, and take off the fat.
Set a large stewpan on the fire with half a pound of good, fresh butter, twelve ounces of onions sliced, four ounces of green sage; chop it a little; let these fry one hour; then rub in half a pound of flour; then, by degrees, add the broth, till it is the thickness of cream. Season it with quarter of an ounce of ground allspice and half an ounce of black pepper, ground very fine. Salt to your taste. The rind of one lemon, peeled very thin. Let it simmer very gently for one hour and a half, then strain it through a hair sieve; do not rub your soup to get it through the sieve; it will make it grouty; if it does not run through easily, knock your spoon against the side of your sieve. Put it in a clean saucepan with the head, and season it by adding to each gallon of soup, half a pint of wine, (either claret or Madeira,) two table-spoonsful of lemon juice; let it simmer gently till the meat is tender; this may take from half an hour to an hour. Take care it is not overdone. Stir it frequently to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the stewpan, and when the meat is quite tender, the soup is ready.
Crack a shin-bone well, boil it in five or six quarts of water four hours. Take half a head of white cabbage, three carrots, two turnips, and three onions; chop them up fine, and put them into the soup with pepper and salt, and boil it two hours. Take out the bone and gristle half an hour before serving it.
Take a strong wooden vessel that will not leak, and large enough to hold sufficient for the consumption of a family during the winter. Take off the green leaves from the cabbage heads, and chop the cabbage into small pieces, pressing them closely, and between every two or three layers of cabbage, scatter an handful of salt, until the cask is full. Then cover it, and place a heavy weight in it, and let it stand in a warm place four or five days. Then remove the cask to a cool situation, and keep it always covered up. Anise-seed, strewed among the layers in the course of preparation, communicates to it a peculiar and agreeable flavor.
It requires two hours to boil.
Take a handful of hops, put them in three pints of water, and boil half an hour. As soon as you take it off, strain half the water on a pint of flour, mix it well, and then pour on the rest of the water. When it is almost cool, put in a cup of yeast, half a cup of molasses, and some salt.
The pig should be killed in the morning, and requires very careful roasting. The ends must have more fire than the middle, and, for this purpose, some persons keep an iron to hang before the middle part, called a pig iron; but, in the absence of this, a common flatiron may be used.
For the stuffing, take about five ounces of the crumbs of stale, light bread,and rub it through a cullender. Cut up a large onion into small pieces,also a handful of sage, and mix these with an egg, some pepper and salt, and a small piece of butter. Stuff the pig with this, and sew it up. Lay it to the fire, and baste it with salad oil till it is quite done. Do not leave it a moment.
Before you take it from the fire, cut off the head, and part that and the body down the middle; chop the brains very fine, together with some boiled sage leaves, and mix them with the juices that run from the pig when you cut its head.
Lay the pig back to back in the dish, with one half the head on each side, and the ears, one at each end. When you cut off the feet, leave the skin long round the legs. When you first lay the pig before the fire, rub it over with fresh butter, or salad oil, and in ten minutes dredge it well with flour. Let it remain an hour, and then rub it off with a soft cloth.
"The Great Western Cook Book, or Table receipts,: Adapted to Western Housewifery
" - by Mrs. A.M. Collins - Published by A.S. Barnes
& Co., New York -
Baked Indian Pudding - Indian pudding is good baked. Scald a quart of milk (skimmed milk will do) and stir in seven heaped table spoonfuls of sifted Indian meal, a tea-spoonful of salt, a tea-cupful of molasses and a great spoonful of ginger, or sifted cinnamon. Baked three or four hours. If you want whey, you must be sure and pour in a little cold milk, after it is all mixed.
Boil a tender, nice piece of beef--any piece that is clear from sinews, and gristle; boil it till it is perfectly tender. When it is cold, chop it very fine, and be very careful to get out every particle of bone and gristle. The suet is sweeter and better to boil half an hour or more, in the liquor the beef has been boiled in; but few people do this. Pare, core, and chop the apples fine. If you use raisins, stone them. If you use currants, wash and dry them at the fire. Two pounds of beef, after it is chopped; three quarters of a pound of suet; one pound and a quarter of sugar; three pounds of apple; two pounds of currants, or raisins. Put in a gill of brandy;lemon brandy is better, if you have any prepared. Make it quite moist with new cider. I should not think a quart would be too much; the more moist the better, if it does not spill out into the oven. A very little pepper. If you use corn meat, or tongue for pies, it should be well soaked, and boiled very tender. If you use fresh beef,salt is necessary in the seasoning. One ounce of cinnamon, one ounce of cloves. Two nutmegs add to the pleasantness of the flavor; and a bit of sweet butter put upon the top of each pie, makes them rich; but these are not necessary. Baked three quarters of an hour. If your apples are rather sweet, grate in a whole lemon.
To make pie crust for common use, a quarter of a pound of butter is enough for half a pound of flour. Take out about a quarter part of the flour you intend to use, and lay it aside. Into the remainder of the flour, rub butter thoroughly with your hands, until it is so short that a handful of it clasped tight will remain in a ball, without any tendency to fall in pieces. Then wet it with cold water, roll it out on a board, rub over the surface with flour, stick little lumps of butter all over it, sprinkle some flour over the butter, and roll the dough all up; flour the paste, and flour the rolling pin; roll it lightly and quickly; flour it again, stick in bits of butter, do it up; flour the rolling pin, and roll quickly and lightly; and so on, till you have used up your butter. Always roll from you. Pie crust should be made as cold as possible, and set in a cool place; but be careful it does not freeze. Do not use more flour than you can help in sprinkling and rolling. The paste should not be rolled out more than three times; if rolled too much, it will not be flaky.
Cup cake is about as good as pound cake, and is cheaper. One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs, well beat together, and baked in pans or cups. Bake twenty minutes and no more.
As substitutes for coffee, some use dry brown-bread crusts, and roast them; others soak rye-grain in rum, and roast it; others roast peas in the same way as coffee. None of these are very good; and peas so used are considered unhealthy. Where there is a large family of apprentices and workmen, and coffee is very dear, it may be worth while to use the substitutes, or to mix them half and half with coffee; but, after all, the best economy is to go without.
French coffee is so celebrated that it may be worth while to tell how it is made; though no prudent housekeeper will make it, unless she has boarders, who are willing to pay for expensive cooking.
The coffee should be roasted more than is common with us; it should not hang drying over the fire, but should be roasted quick; it should be ground soon after roasting, and used as soon as it is ground.--Those who pride themselves on first rate coffee, burn it and grind it every morning. The powder should be placed in the coffee-pot in the proportions of an ounce to less than a pint of water. The water should be poured upon the coffee boiling hot. The coffee should be kept at the boiling point; but should not boil. Coffee made in this way must be made in a biggin. It would not be clear in a common coffee-pot.
A bit of fish-skin as big as a ninepence, thrown into coffee while it is boiling, tends to make it clear. If you use it just as it comes from the salt-fish it will be apt to give an unpleasant taste to the coffee: it should be washed clean as a bit of cloth, and hung up till perfectly dry. The white of eggs, and even egg shells are good to settle coffee. Rind of salt pork is excellent.
Some people think coffee is richer and clearer for having a bit of sweet butter, or a whole egg dropped in and stirred, just before it is done roasting, and ground up, shell and all, with the coffee. But these things are not economical, except on a farm, where butter and eggs are plenty. A half a gill of cold water poured in after you take your coffee-pot off the fire, will usually settle the coffee.
If you have not cream for coffee, it is a very great improvement to boil your milk, and use it while hot.
Recipes from The American Frugal Housewife: Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy (Cooking in America) - By the author of Hobomok - Published by Carter and Hendee - Boston - 1830
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