Oh Pioneers!

April 29, 2016

IMG_5368The latest from the Fales archives: this Black Hills Area Centennial cookbook, compiled on the occasion of Deadwood, South Dakota’s  hundred year anniversary. There’s something wonderful about this spirit of making do under difficult conditions. That kind of imagination often leads to the development of delicious food. (Relevant here: Dan Barber’s argument that great cuisine springs from agricultural hardships.) Other times, it just makes for fun recipe reading.

This, for instance, is a pretty ingenious idea. IMG_5363

And this cake completely captured my imagination.


Finally, here’s a recipe for one of the most important foods in North American history: IMG_5365



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  • ff says:

    Line the cake pan with “writing paper” — boil water & sugar “until it hairs” — measurements by the “teacupful”. Written in English, yet requires translation (like Chaucer, only much more modern). Fascinating! Sounds like it would taste good, too.

  • What is also amazing is the sheer quantity of food consumed by
    the early settlers. Hey, if it wasn’t for beans, those of us living west of the Mississippi river probably wouldn’t even be here. If you were a good cook, you were undoubtedly the second most valued person in the wagon train, next to the “scout” of course.

  • Enid L. Dunn says:

    I am fortunate to be an interpreter for the Minnesota Historical Society at their Historic Forestville Village set in the late 1890’s time period. Preparing meals for twenty plus souls in our pioneer kitchen; we use the Buckeye Cookbook which was published in 1877 and was the “Joy Of Cooking” reference book in the pioneer Midwest. We use tea cups and everyday silverware for measuring and navigate a formidable wood stove. Intimidating at first, then you just damn do it. And it works! (Then you go home and dissolve with a glass or five of wine.)
    Having been raised on the border of MN-SD, I had to have this centennial Black Hills treasure. I found a used edition on Amazon for a song. More curious and satisfying reading!
    I am looking forward to kitchen robots. Kind of.

  • Jessica says:

    Awesome post- such interesting recipes. I’m wondering if you have any recipes for ground antelope or ground goat? I’ve been looking online but so far haven’t found anything really appealing. I was thinking of making the antelope into tacos??

  • Hayley says:

    I have made rose geranium cake and it is delicious. Rose geraniums have become harder to find, at least in western Pa. There are “citronella” geraniums which actually do nothing to keep insects away and in fact can attract them. I have been keeping an original rose geranium plant alive with cuttings…they root easily.