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Utah pioneer party; young ladies dress up and cook like their great-great-grandparents.

Utah pioneer party

Campfire cookery, part of everyday life a few generations ago, is a party treat for pioneers' descendants today. Joyce Terry of Woodland Hills, Utah, devised a pioneer dress-up dinner for a group of young cooks to prepare with some supervision. The guests learn first-hand about the past, while having fun in the present.

The Utah activities include milking a cow to get milk and cream, and grinding wheat for the dumplings. But even when modified for less rural settings, this simple meal involves chores that hark back to the days of the covered wagon.

Pioneer dinner

On the frontier, midday dinner was usually the main meal of the day--unless you were on the move. Homemade ice cream was a luxury you could enjoy only if you lived in or near a town with an icehouse.

Celery Sticks

Pioneer Pork Stew with Buttermilk

Dumplings

Homemade Butter

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Milk with Wheat-shaft Straws

A hearty stew with wheat-and-buttermilk dumplings simmers over a campfire or hot coals; the cooks can munch celery sticks as they await the results.

Start the fire or briquets about 30 minutes before cooking is to begin. Prepare stew ingredients and set pot over hot coals. While the stew simmers, make the butter and ice cream. Shortly before the stew is done, mix the dumpling batter and steam it on the stew.

Serve stew in bowls. Offer the butter to melt into the warm dumplings.

The ice cream can wait, cold and firm, in the ice used for freezing, while the pioneer entree is being eaten.

Use shafts of wheat straw, if available, for sipping milk.

Pioneer Port Stew with Buttermilk Dumplings

2 pounds boned pork shoulder or butt

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 large resset potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 small onion, chopped

2 cans (15 oz. each) marinara sauce

1/2 cup water

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dry basil

1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas, thawed

Dumpling batter (recipe follows)

Salt and pepper

Trim excess fat from pork and discard. Cut meat into 1-inch cubes. In a heavy 5-to 6-quart pan with a lid (or cast-iron or heavy aluminum Dutch oven), combine pork, carrots, potatoes, onion, marinara sauce, water, bay, and basil.

Cover pan and place over medium-hot charcoal briquets (directions follow), or over low heat on a range top. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours. If stew boils, spread out briquets slightly to lower heat.

When meat is tender, mix dumpling batter. Uncover pan and stir in peas; then drop 8 equal spoonfuls of the dumpling batter on top of the stew, spacing them about an inch apart. Cover and simmer until a wooden skewer inserted in thickest part of dumpling comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Spoon dumplings and stew into bowls to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Dumpling batter. In a small bowl, stir together 1 large egg, 1/3 cup buttermilk, and 2 tablespoons salad oil. In another bowl, mix 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture; stir just to blend.

To cook over charcoal briquets. You need a sheet (or sheets) of heavy-duty foil at least 4 inches wider all around than your cooking pan. Place foil, shiny side down, flat on ground or in firepit. Set 3 bricks, narrow sides down, in Y formation as shown above (bricks should stand about 4 inches high); space bricks as illustrated. Mound and ignite about 40 charcoal briquests on the foil. When the briquets are evenly covered with gray ash (about 30 minutes), stack coals in center of brick circle (no higher than bricks) and in between bricks.

Set pan on bricks so it rests securely over coals; adjust position of coals, if necessary, so they are underneath pan. Scatter 6 additional briquets over coals; add 6 more briquests every 30 minutes thereafter until cooking is done.

Homemade Butter

Bring 1 cup whipping cream to room temperature. Pour into a 4-cup jar and screw on lid. Shake vigorously until whey separates from butter, about 10 minutes; drain. Add cold water to almost fill jar. Shake vigorously, then drain off water. Serve butter soft, or chill, if desired. Makes 1/2 cup.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 cups milk

2 cups whipping cream

1 tablespoon vanilla

ice cream or table salt

Chipped ice or ice cubes

In a small mixing bowl, best eggs until blended. Add sugar and beat until thick and light yellow. Stir in milk, cream, and vanilla.

Pour into an ice cream freezer container (at least 2-qt. size), cover, and assemble in ice cream maker. Surround with 1 part salt and 8 parts ice, added in layers. Turn churn until ice cream is firm. Drain off water and pack churn with more ice and salt to keep ice cream firm up to 2 hours. Makes 2 quarts, 8 to 12 servings.

Photo: Eight-year-old pioneer ladies take cooking chores outside for fun. They're cubing meat and slicing vegetables for simple stew

Photo: In plenty of ruffles, party guests churn cream to make butter (or just shake cream in a jar until whey separates from butter)

Photo: Two pots full of stew cook over coals. As stew simmers, dress-up "pioneers' share tales passed down from their great-grandmothers

Photo: Rest stew pot on 3 bricks in Y formation with center ends spaced 3 inches apart. Arrange coals around bricks

Photo: More giggles than toil make up job of the cook who sits on ice cream freezer to hold it steady as it gets cranked
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1986
Words:970
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