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Help with "pioneer food" homework assignment

My son wants to make something that the pioneers would have eaten to bring into school on pioneer day. I'm thinking cornbread. I usually make it in my old Griswald cast-iron cornstick pan, but he doesn't think that's authentic enough. So, I'm thinking a cast-iron skillet, but I need to make enough for a class of 22 kids. And it has to travel with him on the school bus. Help me convince him those pioneers on the prairie would have had corn bread sticks!

asked by avimom over 6 years ago
8 answers 3221 views
23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 6 years ago

your might find some genuine cornbread recipes here:

8a5161fb 3215 4036 ad80 9f60a53189da  buddhacat
added over 6 years ago

Pioneers ate dried fruit, canned fruit, beef jerkey. They baked their own bread with and topped it with preserves. They ground their own wheat. Possibly you could grind wheat, make bread and jam and send that along. Bread to be sliced at school and preserves added there. Sounds like a fun assignment!

E0cc9d5c 6544 49fb b0e4 5c150d9ac0f7  imag0055
added over 6 years ago

Dried beans were a staple, as was salted down pork. You would be quite accurate if you made baked beans, using molasses as the sweetener and a piece of salt pork. Lacking an oven, a settler might have steamed brown bread in a kettle, using a mix of corn (called indian) meal, rye, and wheat, with molasses again as the sweetener. There are lots of recipes for this. Simple corncakes baked in a skillet would be authentic, as well. If an oven was available, pie was common, most likely made with dried apples or dried pumpkin. I've been working with the diary of a late 18th century woman who lived in Maine (frontier at the time) and these dishes are mentioned often. The most common pie seems to have been mince (a way to use odd bits of beef) but I doubt that will thrill the kids. References to gingerbread appear as well; dried ginger was a common purchased item and molasses was cheap. You might want to avoid refined white sugar, which was expensive until later in the 19th century.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 6 years ago

What about cornmeal mush? Aka polenta, refrigerated in a shallow dish and then cut up, a drizzle of maple syrup. My mom used to heat it up (fried in butter on the stove) to indulge our Laura Ingalls Wilder fantasies (she was such a trooper), but for transport to school, I think teeny room-temperature squares of it would be fine.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 6 years ago

Thanks for the suggestions!

549d9fb3 53ef 4170 b68e 8bae2e055be7  dsc 0048b
added over 6 years ago

My kids did something like this when they were in 3d grade - for real authenticity, the cornbread they would have made would have had very little sugar as it was a prized commodity. If you make it that way, you might find that a skillet will serve all 22.

2269774e 64e7 47ec 8fb3 d6fb03cce199  debbykalk photo
added over 6 years ago

Cast-iron baked cornbread is mighty authentic. It's standard chuck-wagon fare.

0337e045 7f1c 48a8 8aaa 65ec9ac96b5d  jeani photo 160 size from blog delightfulrepast
added over 6 years ago

Or you could make biscuits, using butter or lard rather than shortening. I always make my biscuits with butter anyway.

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