10 Foods to Help You Feel Like a Pioneer
I am a homeschooler and I love to eat, so it should come as no surprise that I like to prepare foods that go along with our studies! I shared about the foods we ate during our study of the 50 States, and today I’m sharing foods we enjoyed during our study of the pioneers of the 1800s.
We actually had a few opportunities to focus on food from this time period: my daughter had a Little House themed birthday party, I shared about pioneer life for her Girl Scout troop, and we invited friends over for a chuck-wagon style dinner as an end of unit celebration.
Snacks and Sides:
1. Homemade Bread: I shared this recipe for simple whole wheat bread during my Tea Time post last week. It really is an easy to make homemade bread even for the novice bread-baker. It’s a great way to show the kids how much different it is to make bread from scratch rather than pick up a loaf at the store.
2. Homemade Butter: I’ve made butter with three groups of kids and it’s not only fun but gives them great insight into the work required for every little thing you ate before the days of supermarkets.
- Put some heavy cream into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. I use a canning jar and fill it about half full.
- Then shake, shake, shake! After a while you’ll see whipped cream in your jar.
- Keep shaking until you see yellow lumps.
- Keep shaking until you have a big yellow lump (butter) and some white liquid (buttermilk–save it to make pancakes with the next day!)
3. Canning: This isn’t a recipe for a certain food, but an activity I highly recommend you try with your kids. Make a batch of jam (strawberry, blackberry–anything!) or pickles. We’ve canned a few times and I’m always amazed at the amount of work. We work together on it, it takes half a day and makes a big mess, and we talk about how they had to preserve enough food to last them through the winter. If you’re a total novice, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a great guide that covers all the basics and has lots of recipes.
4. Cornbread: I’m partial to this recipe for honey cornbread from Allrecipes.com, but would love to try this authentic-looking recipe for Little House style cornbread that adds bacon grease and cooks in a cast iron skillet.
5. Apple Butter: This is a nice treat on a slice of homemade bread. We made ours in the oven using a recipe from American Kids in History: Pioneer Days (a great book, by the way, with lots of ideas for things to make, do, and eat). Allrecipes.com has a recipe for apple butter that cooks in the crockpot.
A full pioneer style dinner calls for a simple and filling main course.
6. Beef Stew: Again, if we’re using bullion we’re cheating a bit, but this recipe for a fairly simple beef stew is a satisfying main course.
7. Baked Beans: This simple recipe for baked beans has ingredients pioneers might have had on hand. We use a recipe from my husband’s Aunt Alice. Hopefully I don’t get in trouble for giving out a secret family recipe!
- 2 pounds soldier beans
- 1/2 pound salt pork
- 1 medium onion
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup molasses
Soak the beans overnight. In the morning boil them for 5-7 minutes. Add everything to a bean pot, add water just to cover and bake for 8 hours at 275 degrees. We don’t have a bean pot so we use a crock pot on low for 8-10 hours.
A Sweet Ending
8. Apple Pandowdy: I tried this recipe for Pandowdy. It’s sort of like a cobbler though messier looking, but in a bubbly and delicious sort of way.
10. Pie, with a homemade crust: Does any one else love the convenience of the easy unroll-and-bake refrigerated pie crusts? For the pioneer experience make a pie crust from scratch and have the kids help you with the whole messy job. Fill it with apples or pumpkins (if you’re really adventurous you could skip canned pumpkin and prepare the pumpkin yourself) or for a main course try chicken pot pie. This pie crust recipe I learned at a pie-making class. (And forgive me for the shortening. I do try to avoid it!)
- 4 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cup shortening
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
Mix flour, sugar, salt and shortening by hand until it crumbles. Add wet ingredients just until mixed. Roll out and proceed with your yummy pie recipe. Makes four crusts.
Don’t forget to enlist your kids’ help preparing these foods from scratch–they’ll understand a little more about life for children during that time period. In truth we aren’t even getting the full experience since we didn’t have to grow and thresh the wheat to make our flour, or slaughter the animals, and Ma Ingalls certainly didn’t have nicely ground dried spices from the store or canned chicken stock. It may not be fully authentic but it helps us understand how much work was involved in making all their food–and that children had to help!
Hop over to iHomeschool network to see what other homeschool bloggers are cooking up.
This blog hop series was inspired by Angie of Many Little Blessings where you’re welcome to link up, too!