More Pioneer Food
The titles to these posts are amazingly creative, are they not? This one is an homage to the sequel to the tiny British children's book Ant & Bee, which is very logically called More Ant & Bee. I mean, it's more Ant and Bee, what else would it be called? And this is more pioneer food. Introduced as awkwardly as possible.
This giant ladle was my best friend all weekend. The dishpan came in a close second. I was constantly doing dishes - more to to keep the fly population low than because of cleanliness. What my pioneer experience taught me is that I'm way more vigilant against germs at home than I need to be. I was getting all kinds of raw meat juice everywhere and nothing happened. Not to say I recommend licking raw chicken, but my general paranoia about food is, I now believe, actual paranoia. I could stand to relax a bit.
My other best friend was my apron. I wasn't a huge fan of the clothing, as we know, but having an apron to wipe your hands on while cooking was incredibly useful. My apron at home is more of a stiff splash-guard and, as it is covered in drawings of ridiculous desserts from Mrs. Beeton's Household Management, is too amazing to get dirty. Note to self: get useful apron.
On to Sunday's food. For breakfast, we had corn mush in two forms. First, the mush form, which we didn't have time to cook enough - it was watery and not terribly delicious. Second, the fried form. We'd had some leftover mush from Saturday, so we spread it on a plate and left it for Sunday morning, when we sliced it like a pie and fried it. We were having trouble getting the fire hot enough, so it didn't quite get properly fried, but it was decent nonetheless. Moreover, it showed that nothing ever gets wasted, just repurposed into a new meal. Usually the repurposing is by way of frying.
Speaking of frying, dinner on Sunday was sausage with lovage in it, coated in cornmeal and fried, and then simmered in hard cider, with a side of fried apples and onions. Very autumnal, since hogs are generally slaughtered around this time of year. (Sorry, Miss Ham.)
Lovage, in case you hadn't heard of it either, is an herb. Cursory internet research tells me it was brought from the Mediterranean to Britain and from there to the American colonies. For some reason everyone thinks it tastes like celery, but Allison disagrees and so do I! I can't describe its taste, as it is entirely unique to me, but it's sort of . . . bright and fresh and . . . herby. And it smells marvelous.
The complete dish gets high marks for flavor, but low marks for presentation and for charring the apples slightly. Still, I’d cook this in my own home in the 21st century. And I will, as soon as I figure out where to get lovage.
Since we left around 4pm on Sunday, I didn't make supper. But I would have continued cooking happily. I could take or leave cooking as an activity at home. But you get a strong sense of purpose and focus and even comfort when food is your one job. At this time of year, women would have been not just cooking meals, but preserving a hopefully large autumn bounty for the winter. I seem to remember from my own research that women also had some slaughtering duties. Food food food.
Of course, an actual pioneer woman would also have been a nurse, seamstress, gardener, caretaker, and fourteen other things. Chances are she was also gestating a human at any given time as well. But the constancy and immediacy of the need for food must have been consuming (pun intended). I do not deny that men had it tough, too, but they got to wear pants and hats. This is how they oppress us!
The difference between me and a pioneer, obviously, is that a pioneer would have been a lot better at being a pioneer. I had no idea what I was doing and was slow and inept, which probably made everything harder. But on the other hand, I got to go back to electricity and top-notch mattress technology after two days. So let's call it even.
One last post on pioneering next time, and then I promise I won't babble about GCVM again... until they open up for sugaring in March.
Photos of GCVM by me and my mother.
Photo of lovage by the internet.