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Interesting thoughts from some hard times.

Who said; "meat’s meat", many people in the "know" claim that Bridger made the statement on a return trip from the shining mountains. You may be surprised to know that was a very common term made by many, famous and not-so-famous starving men....

George F. Ruxton wrote "meat’s meat, is a common saying in the mountains", and "from buffalo down to rattle- snake, including quadruped that runs, every fowl that flies and every reptile that creeps, nothing comes amiss to the mountaineer.

Moses Schallenberger was snowbound in the Sierra Mountains in 1844, he wrote after trapping a coyote. "I soon had his hide off and his flesh roasted in a dutch oven. I ate this meat but it was horrible. I next tried boiling him, but it did not improve the flavor. I cooked him in every possible manner of my imagination, spurred by hunger could suggest, but could not be eaten without revolting my stomach." On another occasion he wrote of catching two foxes, roasted one and found "the meat, though entirely devoid of fat, was delicious."

Lewis & Clark remarked "on October 2, 1805, nothing except a small prairie wolf killed that day" they did not comment as to the flavor. Merriweather Lewis’s journal entry of June 3, 1806 states "our party from necessity having been obliged to subsist some length of time on dog have now become extremely fond of their flesh; it is worthy of remark that while we lived principally on the flesh of this animal we were much more healthy and more fleshy than we had been since we left buffalo country...."

Charles Larpenteaur wrote of nothing but dog to eat, which the squaws cooked. Some of the group cried out "Mad Dog! Mad Dog! sure enough, he did look like a mad dog; his head sticking partly out of the kettle, with his fine ivories, growling as it were, and the scum was frothing about his teeth...."

James Clyman while camped on the Sweetwater River in 1825 became separated from his companions, he wrote "after having killed two badgers, I skinned and roasted them, making a suitable meal with parched corn..."

Thomas Becknell while on the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 wrote "I killed one small prairie dog, roasted it, but found it strong and unpalatable..."

John R. Bell, on the Arkansas River in 1820, complained that "Our hunters came in having killed a skunk, which we must keep for our dinner tomorrow." The next day "boiled the skunk, which tasted skunkish enough..." Joe Meek had similar remarks for eating polecats..."

Osborn Russell reported that "beaver feeding on wild parsnips were poisonous and those that ate of the meat, within a few hours became sick at the stomach and the whole system became cramped..."

Rev. Samuel Parker said "that while flesh of the beaver was usable, the fore part is of a land animal while the hind part is of the taste of fish like..."

Joseph R. Walker and his party considered all eggs edible regardless of their age or condition, embryos well deve- loped, and small birds only a few days old, would be cut into small pieces and used in soup or stews. The same group had a feast with Indians on the Sierra Nevada range to find that "pounded fish was really not fish but worms, which suddenly was rejected by our stomachs when found out..."

Buck G. Connor’s journal stated that "ants and snakes when cleaned and roasted were eaten with flour cakes for evening meals while in the employment of the Mexican Army...." and "was probably one of the better meals available at the time" a reporter for the hometown newspaper, the Phila. Evening News wrote.

Joe Meek wrote of the Indians of the Great Salt Lake area pulverized grasshoppers which they mixed with a jam of service-berries and dried in the sun to form a "fruitcake". "Fried grasshoppers, caterpillars, wood-boring beetles, termites and spider bodies were disguised in stews.." "Rattlesnake was occasionally eaten by these people as a special treat.." Nuts; hazel, walnut, pinion and acorn were favorites of these travelers.

William Ashley’s journal of May 28, 1824 records that "during the last two days we have lived on fish we caught with hooks and lines..." Hooks and lines were often mentioned on lists of supplies by traders.

John C. Fremont, Benjamin Kern and Jed Smith have written of eating "mule meat, making minced boiled mule meat pies for New Year’s treat... and mentioned that the pies were very good..."

These early travelers made good use of any provisions available showing great resource fullness for the situation and location they were put into.


Saw an article in the local paper about "Talking Turkey", how appropriate this close to the Holiday’s to write about our American Holiday’s and our American Bird.

Before European colonization of North America there were no turkeys outside the Western Hemisphere. There are only two species of turkeys in the world, and several sub-species off of them several centuries later - originally there was our familiar wild turkey in the United States and Mexico, and the smaller ocellated turkeys in subtropical lowlands of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.

When the Spanish colonized Mexico, they discovered the wild turkeys kept as domestic animals by the Indians of Mexico. Archaeological evidence found in Anasazi ruins in the Four Corners region told of people of the Southwest having domesticated turkeys at least 1,300 years ago. The Spanish were intrigued by these big meaty poultry birds and shipped them to their homeland in early 1500's, along with other native American foods that have become world dietary staples, such as tomatoes, chiles and onions.

The Spaniards soon found the habits of the big bird were predictable and their liking for and being nut-eaters, making trapping them in the oak brush of the Southwest easy. Although being wary and secretive, their roosting habits made capturing them easy for these early explorers.


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*   Boiled Duck or Hare (colonies - 1812)

Use a good deal of water and skim it as often as anything rises. Half an hour will boil them. Make a gravy of sweet cream, butter, add flour, a little parsley chopped small, salt and pepper, and stew until done, and lay them in a dish and pour the gravy over them.

Mrs. Owen, New Lady’s Cook Book,1759


*   Roast Rabbit/Hare (18th-19th century)

Rabbit or hare was an esteemed dish in the 18th and 19th century, so much so that cooks occasionally doctored beef to try to make it taste like hare.

After casing (skinning & gutting) two rabbits, skewer their heads with their mouths upon their backs, stick their forelegs into their ribs, skewer the hind legs doubled (this approved position in which 19th century rabbits appeared at the table); next make a stuffing for them of the crumbs of half a loaf of bread, a little parsley, sweet marjoram and thyme-all cut fine, salt, pepper and nutmeg, with (4) ounces of butter, a little good cream and (2) eggs; put it into their bodies, and sew them up; dredge and baste them well with lard; roast them about an hour. Serve them up with butter and parsley. Chop the livers, and lay them in lumps around the edge of the dish. (serves 4-6).

Harpers Barzaar Magazine,1853

Note: a rabbit and a hare are different, according to Harpers Magazine, a rabbit being raised and a hare being wild. Wild hares in some areas are reported to have a disease and may be harmful if eaten. Harpers’ 1853.


*   Bear Hams (Indian Wars)

Bear meat is best roasted and may be treated the same as pork, cooking twenty minutes to every pound. Prepare the hams in the usual manner by rubbing them with common salt and draining them; Take (1) ounce of saltpeter, half a pound of coarse sugar and the same quantity of salt; rub it well into the ham, and in three days pour a pint of vinegar over it. A fine foreign flavor may also be given to the bear hams by pouring old strong beer over them and burning juniper wood while they are drying; molasses, juniper berries and highly-flavored herbs, such as basil, sage, bay-leaves and thyme mingled together, and the hams well rubbed with it, using only a sufficient quantity of salt to assist in the cure, will afford an agreeable variety.

Mrs. Roper, Phila Cook Book,1886


*   Venison Steaks

Take nice size steaks from the neck or haunch while having your griddle well buttered, and fire clear and hot (cook in a hot frying pan). Lay steaks on the bars and boil rapidly, turning often not to lose or a drop of juice. They will take three or four minutes longer than fine beef steaks. Have a chafing dish, a pinch of salt, a little pepper, a tablespoon of currant -jelly for every pound, and a glass of wine for every (4) pounds. This should be liquid, and warmed by boiling water under a dish, heat in a saucepan. Lay each steak in the mixture and turn over twice. Cover closely and let all heat together, with fresh hot water underneath -serve in an ordinary dish, covered.

Mrs. Webster, The Improved Housewife,1854


*   Lenape Pemmican (makes 1 1/2 lbs)

(5) oz. of chipped beef, (1) 6 1/2 oz. of roasted peanuts, (1) cup of seedless raisins, (1) 8 oz. bar of beef suet, make a quick trail lunch / high energy.

Dry beef on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes @ 140 degree oven, chop nuts and raisins up into small pieces, melt suet in a large skillet - low heat. Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (beef cut in 1/4" shreds), add melted suet - mix thoroughly. Spread mixture in half inch layer in shallow pan, refrigerate until the layer is hard and then slice into squares. Wrapped in foil, bars stay clean and fresh, will keep for a year in freezer.

This was rewritten in the 1930’s for use in a hunting camp in Pennsylvania, the original 1840’s recipe has been lost in the passage of time.

L N Conner, Jr., Milroy, Pa. 1937


*   Boiled Fish (colonies)

Take the nicer fish, more simply it should be prepared. A long , narrow fish skillet with a rack is the best to boil fish in, but even a deep frying pan and a cheesecloth sling, which lets you remove the fish from the water without breaking, will do. Start the fish in cold water, with salt and vinegar in it, or in cold court bouillon. Bring it slowly to a boil and simmer gently until just done, 8 to 10 minutes to the pound. Serve hot, with lemon wedges or a tart sauce.

Mrs.North,Home Cook Book,1721


*   Fish Moultee (Rev. War & War of 1812)

Take any nice fish,(roll it in) egg, bread crumb and fry it with a little turmeric and butter, after cutting it to a nice fillet. Scrape half a fresh coconut, take the milk from it (or soak dried coconut a couple of hours in a little warm water, then use the water), cut some green gringer, green chilies in slices, boil them with the coconut milk and a little water. Add the fish and let stew until the sauce is slightly thickened. Send to the table with rice.

Col.John Johnson,N.England Gazzett,1782


*   Fry Fish (Civil War)

Fillets of fish may be rolled in corn meal, dredged in flour, dipped first in beaten egg and then in fine bread crumbs, or fried plain. Small fish or small pieces of fish may be dipped in batter and deep fried. For deep frying, the fat should be moderately hot; for sautéing, the pan should be hot but not smoking. Lay the fish in and fry it according to size and thickness, about 10 minutes per pound. Turn it only once. Serve it with slices of lemon.

Pvt.S.B.Boyer,Union Army,Ohio,1866

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Until next time, we leave as friends and followers of those that went before us.

Buck Conner 

"One who trades”

"Uno quién negocia"

“Unqui commerce”