Friday, September 19, 2008

Pioneer Cooking

Wow. It's Friday. I'd forgotten.


I forgot it was Friday until I sat down to write.

Where did this week run away to? Are you certain we didn't miss a day somewhere? Maybe someone sneaked in and bumped our calendars ahead while we slept.

Or maybe I forgot because I was busy.

I wish I had pictures of this afternoon to share with you. For today's history, my younger siblings got to study pioneer life skills - in particular, cooking.

I had SO much fun in the kitchen with them. Justin, though he loves to cook on ordinary occasions, declared that only the pioneer women cooked, ...but he later relented and whipped up some absolutely delicious fried cornbread.

The girls (Tiffany and Lezley) and I made pumpkin butter, hasty pudding, syrup, and fried mush. We are also letting some milk sour so we can make cottage cheese tomorrow.

Everything was done the old-fashioned way...with the exception of an electric refrigerator and cook stove. The girls really got into their efforts, and I was as pleased as I could be to hear them pretending to be certain pioneers that we have studied. Tiffany said "Hey, I'm going to be Narcissa Whitman, feeding the people on the wagon trains!" to which Lezley promptly replied "And I'm going to be Lewis." in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I hid a smile, and refrained from asking her what Lewis was doing in a kitchen.

Everything turned out edible - and we sampled everything. I don't think I need supper. But I'll eat it anyway - can't refuse pizza! :)

Actually, the hasty pudding, syrup, and pumpkin butter were quite yummy, but my favorite part was observing my siblings as they worked.

The girls giggled and laughed as they dug fistfuls of pumpkin seeds and goo out of the medium-size pumpkin. They roasted uncomplainingly as they took turns stirring the hasty pudding - and then smacked their lips over the results.

I let them do as much as possible by themselves. I had to restrain my natural assertiveness, but it was worth it. I think they really enjoyed themselves, and felt the sense of actually doing something, not just being in the way. Their pride in the food was justifiable - they did a lot of real work.

The recipes, due to their pioneer sources, were quite simple. Here are the recipes for the hasty pudding, and the pumpkin butter. If you have some little people in your life, and would like to nurture your relationship with them, try rolling up your sleeves and getting in the kitchen together!

Hasty Pudding:

Bring 3 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. of salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal in a steady stream, stirring constantly so that the mixture will not form clumps. (This is very important.) Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium heat, stirring often (or constantly, if your sister insists:).

When done, ladle into cereal bowls. Pour a little cold whole milk over each serving, then top with syrup. (See below.)

For the syrup, mix 1/2 cup honey, 2 TBS molasses, 1/8 cup water, and 1 TBS brown sugar together in a small pitcher. Use this on your pudding. (This is actually what I use on everyday pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc. I don't like store-bought "fake" syrup. Only fresh maple syrup from my grandparents beats this syrup recipe!)

Eat pudding while it's still warm. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butter:

Use one medium pumpkin. Wash it, and remove seeds and goo from center. Then cut into small pieces and peel the rind from each piece.

Place the pumpkin pieces in a pot of water and boil until soft and mushy. Drain, and mash with potato masher (or food processor, if you're being modern) until VERY smooth.

Measure how many cups of the pumpkin mixture you have. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar for every 1 cup of pumpkin. Also add 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. of allspice for each cup. Mix well. Put in a saucepan and cook until thick. Remove from heat. When cool, place in a container and store in the refrigerator.

This is great on bread!


YayaOrchid said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! It sounds so good! It'll be good to add another pumpkin recipe, now that pumpkins are available at the store.

Amber said...

You're very welcome. Hope you enjoy!