Pioneering Recipe Books


My love affair with old cook books started many years ago. We had bought an older but well taken care of, very clean truck camper. While checking through the cupboards I found this…

Each new chapter explains the history of the pioneers and the diverse ethnic groups that were homesteading in Saskatchewan Canada.

My favorite has to be the Pioneer chapter. They touch on and explain in detail the process of preparing tradition things such as a sourdough starter and recipes for baking with it, curing a ham and making head cheese…. “Have a pig’s head well cleaned, brains, ears, eyes removed and the head cut into four pieces. When cutting up the meat be sure to skin the tongue and only use a small amount of the cheek part. Put in a large kettle…..”
It also includes this bannock recipe that I have been using a lot lately because it cooks up in the fry pan quickly, rather than heating the house to make biscuits.


This primitive sort of bread was introduced into the west by the Selkirk settlers. It has become a favorite of northern fur trappers.

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup shortening (I use butter)

3/4 cup water

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course bread crumbs. Add water and mix quickly to a soft dough. Turn out on floored board, kneed lightly for 30 seconds and pat into a 10 inch round. Cook in lightly greased frypan over medium heat till brown. (about 15 minutes per side) Serve warm. Yeild: 1  10-inch bannock.

Note: I never mess up my counter… just knead quickly in bowl and flatten into pan or make smaller ‘patties’ in your hands for quicker cooking and individual servings.

DSCN5160 I came across these other books at different garage sales. I love that I found a book compiled by the ‘Women’s Auxiliary of the Western Development Museum’. This museum is located in my hometown city in Saskatchewan and is an absolute favorite family outing. We were always sure to go at least once a year and never missed going during the holidays when they have their famous vintage toy display and Christmas trees with homemade old fashioned ornaments. So I was shocked and so excited to have found this treasure, randomly in Alberta.

Boomtown's First Edition Cookbook.

My next favorite is called ‘Buckskin Cookery, the pioneer section. A souvenir cookbook of pioneer recipes donated by old timers and natives of B.C.”  First printing in 1957 from Williams Lake, B.C.

It’s full of recipes and homestead hints.  Here’s a short hint for Clothes Pegs… “Soak the clothes pegs in a strong salt water solution and they will not freeze to the clothes on the line in winter.” And what do you suppose they did before you could buy sterilized potting soil?  “Flower Seeds.  When flower seeds must be started in the house, bake the earth thoroughly in the oven to kill all worms, insect eggs, and weed seeds.” Here’s a cute one… “Love Charm. Carefully dig up any female plant. Talk to it. Call it by name of girl. Dig up male of same plant. Talk to it, and name for man. Plant together. If plants live, couple will fall in love, if plants die, no good.” 🙂

Homestead hints, medicines, Witch doctor....

Homestead hints, medicines, Witch doctor….

This is the best, most interesting and amusing piece of history I’ve ever come across. This will be cherished forever in my home and put to good use as we set up our own homestead.


One response »

  1. Pingback: Schnitz Pie | Ever Evolving Mama

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