There are loads of things that I have wondered about through my decades of reading and re-reading the Little House books. Although I am curious about many aspects of pioneer daily living, I have to confess that most of my questions have to do with food, though that may just be a personal thing!
So much of what we take for granted when we cook, from refrigeration to microwaves to stoves that burst to life at the turn of a knob or push of a button, the pioneers had to do without. They couldn't collapse on the settee at the end of a hard day and decide to order Chinese food instead of cooking, either! Preparing meals was a time consuming but necessary endeavor to ensure they consumed enough nutrition and calories to sustain themselves through their very physical labors.
But how did they vary their diets? How did they preserve foods through the winter? How did they make simple foods palatable?
The 'Little House Cookbook' (which is a treasure of information, not merely recipes!!) states that the pioneers had access to Cream of Tartar and Saleratus (now combined into our modern day baking powder), as well as 'peppercorns, mace, nutmeg, and cinnamon from Malay; ginger from Africa and the West Indies, salt from American mines. . .' That is, if they had a store nearby and the money to buy the items!
Given my own penchant for international cuisine, however, this seems a mighty short list of seasonings. Thankfully, the pioneers knew how to grow or forage for a whole lot more. They also knew how to make substitutions for basic ingredients when the preferred items were not available. This flexibility and ingenuity was a valuable skill.
So, this section will give you a few idea of how the pioneers handled the culinary side of their existence. Some of the tips and recipes are useful, and some are merely informative, but I hope you find them all interesting and a worthwhile read!