Pack the Skillet:
American Pioneer Cooking

by Patricia B. Mitchell

Pack the Skillet

Entries from journals and diaries illustrate pioneer life and westward movement from early colonial days until the mid-1800's, with special emphasis on food. Published 1997. 24 recipes, 98 research notes, 36 pages. 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Soft cover, saddle-stitched. ISBN-10: 0-925117-84-6. ISBN-13: 978-0-925117-84-7.

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About the Book

An overview of the “Westward-Ho!” philosophy in action is presented in Pack the Skillet by Patricia B. Mitchell. This entertaining volume tells about “culinary adventures” enjoyed by pioneer women and men as they made their way west, and after they were settled in new territory. Excerpts from letters and diaries of the day tell much about life and challenges and filling one's tummy. Harriet Loughany wrote:

“After a hard day's work, we were of course hungry but to cook with a fire made of green sage brush with the sand driving into your eyes, ears and mouth, being mixed in our dough, meat and coffee was a task that we seldom want repeated. We finally abandon the fire part and crouch into our wagons and nibble hard tack.”

Mattie Oblinger told about cooking in her new home in Nebraska:

“Yesterday morning I thought I would have some cakes for dinner. I was going to make Jumbles but Giles had no rolling pin or cake cutter, so I made a plate of pancakes as they always turn out well. I had no eggs but I thought I would try it without. I tell you what I used — nearly a teacup of sugar, about half [a] teacup of cream filled up with water, a small lump of butter and a little soda, enough flour to make [the batter] quite stiff — and I never made any better pancakes in my life. Try it sometime.”

Old and updated recipes are fun for the modern cook to try. “Molasses Ginger Snaps,” “Custard Pie,” “Fanny's Pickles,” and “Squash Pie” are good stomach-stuffers — all are included in Pack the Skillet.

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