Pioneer temperaments, Jacqueline Williams shows, were greatly influenced by that which was stewable, bakable, broilable, and boilable. Using travelers' diaries, letters, newspaper advertisements, and nineteenth-century cookbooks, Williams re-creates the highs and lows of cooking and eating on the Oregon Trail. She investigates the mundane--biscuits and bacon, mush and coffee--as well as the unexpected--carbonated soda made from bubbling spring water; ice cream created from milk, snow, and peppermint; fresh fruits and vegetables. Understanding what and how the pioneers ate, Williams demonstrates, is essential to understanding how they lived and survived--and sometimes died--on the trail.
"This book holds an encyclopedia of information culled from diaries and contemporary newspapers. I can't think of a more intimate account of the lives of the overlanders, how they turned their rude wagons into homes, how they made meals both a comfort and a celebration. Some readers will want to try out recipes; others will read in awe as in the midst of difficult travel, women made certain their families marked the Fourth of July with cakes--fruit jelly and sponge-puddings, and ice cream--and clean underwear!"--Lillian Schlissel, author of Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey and Western Women: Their Lands, Their Lives