Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pioneer Dinner Party

Last year, when I was a pioneer who died of Malaria, they gave me a reciept (recipe) book of all of the items that I was to cook that weekend. While I did not get to all of them, (Squirrel) I cooked many of them and had wanted to have a dinner party so my friends could share them with us. The foods were very much fall inspired so I waited the entire year to have this dinner. I sent everyone receipts to make and they all did fabulously!

When people arrived I made them churn butter for the meal. This took them an hour taking turns (I think I made my own in about 30 min) They were, however, drinking wine, so perhaps that slowed the process a little as churning usually requires two hands.....

Dinner was:

-Green Tomato & Jalapeno Jam over cream cheese on crackers-we didn't actually eat this as pioneers but I recently made it and thought it was a rather frugal way to make use of green tomatoes. A few guests complained that I didn't make my own crackers. It was yummy though and we'll be serving it for Thanksgiving while people have drinks.

-Pumpkin Apple Soup

-Artisan Bread with Homemade Butter (see above!)

-Sauteed Apples and Onions

-Carrots with brown sugar and herbs

-My fingerling potatoes with leeks-Not part of the original meal, but you can't get much more pioneer than growing your own side dish right?

-Rotisserie Pork Roast-This was neat at the museum-I took a pork roast and tied it between 2 sticks. Then strung it next to the fire and twirled it ALL DAY LONG. It acted like a rotisserie and the taste of this pork roast was really really great. We used the grill rotisserie last night and it worked well.

-Apple Ketchup-This is a rather appley/spicy condiment. I made a full batch and sent guest home with a jar.

-Laura Ingalls's Gingerbread Cake. Also, not on the original menu. Someone else made a dessert for the dance that I didn't get to attend. I don't recall ever hearing about it. When Deanna and Bridget visited me in the infirmary during the dance I was in the final stages of Yellow Fever and no one wanted to mention food....

All in all, everyone thought that the pioneers ate really well. What they didn't actually experience. (as we all cooked pieces of this meal) is that a meal like this takes all day long to make as well as many journeys to the well for water. And I'm just talking about the main part, not including the appetizer, soup or dessert, which would not have been a usual part of the meal. The soup would have been it's own meal.

I'm fascinated by the way in which people used to live but I know I tend to romanticize pioneer life sometimes. Mostly because I get a real thrill doing things by hand. But really, I do those things in my heated or cooled house, on my own time, and not as a means to survival. In practice it was much different.

When I was at the museum they gave me Women's Diaries of The Westward Journey which I read by candlelight next to the fireplace with a shawl on. (Yeah, how jazzed was I at that point?!?!?) It was an amazing glimpse into the lives of those women, much of which was filled with struggle and heartbreak. One woman loses her husband to Cholera (and she also notes that she's been wearing the same dress for 6 weeks while tending to all the sick on the wagon train) and she turns around and marries a bachelor who is heading west as well. I mean, like the next day! Not because she loved him of course, but because she was halfway to her destination, could not go home and could not set up a homestead alone. Good Lord.....

Real pioneers spent most of their lives just surviving and rather isolated. How far can you go when you need to haul water and cook all day just to meet your basic dietary requirements. And while you are inside doing this your husband works tirelessly on crops, hunting and providing food and firewood.

If you happened to live before the time when textile mills appeared, things were much much worse for you. A family had to spend part of every day in the production of their own fabric if they wanted any clothes at all.

And now that I've made you all grateful that you live in this day and age, go get some more coffee and get back to work in your nice heated offices!!!

1 comment:

Krista said...

That sounds like so much fun!