In my last note I reflected upon the thoughts of millennials who eschewed appliances that needlessly used up energy to cook food when it could be “delivered.”
That provoked me to gaze backwards, as I often do, and think about cooking.
My great grandfather Marbry Morgan moved from Barnes Station, S.C., to Walker County, Ga., and settled around Concord Church. He brought his little trunk, fiddle and a rolling pin the family brought from Ireland.
His household could not afford a stove so for decades they cooked in the fireplace using “Dutch ovens,” cast-iron pots with legs and a lid.
Dutch ovens cooked their way across America on the wagon trails.
When I voiced a production for Nebraska Public Television I had to reorganize all I thought I knew about the Oregon Trail.
“A Handbook for Overland Expeditions.” by Randolph B. Marcy (1859) contained all the information one needed for a six-month cross-county hike.
Marcy’s book listed what travelers would need and how much of it.
Since I’m dealing with only one subject I’ll save for later extra wheels, chains and tongues and stick with food.
He said that a wagon holding a ton of supplies would contain 1,800 pounds of food. That would include cured and salted meat and fish, rice, flour, corn meal, dehydrated vegetables and fruit, sugar, molasses, coffee, tea, lard, and spices.
Some time around 1900 my family purchased a “Home Comfort Iron Range,” made in St Louis and sold by Sears.
I don’t know what happened to the stove and my father didn’t remember but the cookbook is on the desk beside me now.
Most of the recipes are familiar until I got to the sweetbreads. They are not sweet breads but organ meat.
You don’t today find recipes for head cheese or Dutch scrapple; chicken cooked in oyster juice, and roasted pigeons. The squirrel recipe is just a copy of the one for roasted rabbit.
There is a whole section on eggs; shirred eggs, creamed eggs, puffed eggs, pickled eggs, egg croquettes. To judge an egg you shake it. If it makes a sound it is not a good egg.
The section on pies includes chess pie, grape pie, blackbird pie and a date pie.
I’ve never heard of candied orange peel but when making orange marmalade you may as well use all of it. There are cauliflower and apple pickles and pumpkin chips.
There are hints on making water-proof paint, white wash, cleaning out stove pipes, making wall paper glue, and extinguishing a chimney fire.
One section deals with household hints but there is no suggestion on how to stop singing; “Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye. Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.”