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!

  • Posted by: avimom
  • February 24, 2011


Jean |. February 26, 2011
Or you could make biscuits, using butter or lard rather than shortening. I always make my biscuits with butter anyway.
latoscana February 24, 2011
Cast-iron baked cornbread is mighty authentic. It's standard chuck-wagon fare.
healthierkitchen February 24, 2011
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.
avimom February 24, 2011
Thanks for the suggestions!
louie734 February 24, 2011
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.
mainecook61 February 24, 2011
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.
SKK February 24, 2011
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!
sadie_crandle February 24, 2011
your might find some genuine cornbread recipes here:
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