Pioneer Potluck: Recipes for a barn raising

I have been asked to repeat this story I found in a Farm and Ranch Magazine from the Mennonite Community Cookbook “Favorite Family Recipes.” And because I wrote about barn raising, corn husking, pig butchering in last week story, I think this would be appropriate for today. Thanks for asking.


When new barns were built, all friends and neighbors came to help. Homemakers of our day will no doubt be astounded at all the food consumed in one day. It’s even more difficult to believe when you consider that most of it was made in your great-grandmother’s kitchen.

Here is a list for 175 people for just one day.

115 lemon pies
500 fat cakes-doughnuts
15 large cakes
3 gallons applesauce
3 gallons rice pudding
3 gallons cornstarch pudding
16 chickens
3 large hams
50 pounds of roast beef
300 light roles
16 loaves of bread
Pickled red beets and pickled eggs
6 pounds of dried prunes stewed
1 large crock this stewed raisins
5 gallons stone jar of white potatoes
5 gallon stone jar of sweet potatoes

Granny Annie’s note: Just stop and think how they made things! No instant Jell-O pudding for the pies and stop and think how many lemons had to be squeezed to make 115 pies.

Five-hundred donuts! I don’t like to make one.

Peel all the apples applesauce and stir all that rice pudding over a hot cook stove. And peel all those potatoes! And peel hard-boiled eggs for the pickled eggs!

And you had to catch and kill, pluck, gut and cut up all those chickens. No grocery store chickens. No cut chickens or instant fried chicken in a box.

Someone had to kill and cure the hogs for the hams at some point and someone killed and processed the beef for the roasts, not to mention, how did they cook 50 pounds of roast beef? And how much wood or coal did it take to put in the cook stove to cook and keep them hot? And someone had to cut that wood and split and carry it in. They also had ashes to haul out! The gas and electric stoves were invented because of all the work an old-fashioned cooking stove caused, I am sure!  Was it invented by a woman? Should have but I don’t think so! 

Make and knead dough and shape 300 rolls! No brown and serve. And knead the dough for 16 loaves of bread without a bread maker!

Someone had to thrash and haul the wheat to the mill to grind the wheat to flour! But first they had to till the land and plant the wheat!

And no paper plates and plastic forks, spoons and no dishwasher. No running water! Someone had to haul water to heat to wash all those dishes in the dishpan … my goodness we don’t even own such a thing anymore and where did they store everything? Oh yes! Someone had to make the lye soap to wash the dishes.

They had to cut the trees by hand and saw all the lumber for the barn to be built and someone had to hand forge the nails to put the barn together unless they use pegs and someone had to make those!

And the horses had to be tended and fed with the hay you had to bring in from the field and stack by hand.

Can you imagine how good that feather bed felt at the end of the day, but first someone had to gather all those feathers that were plucked from all those chickens and someone had to sew the ticking together!

Then there was all the laundry. Hand wash on a wash board, all those dirty clothes and sheets hang them on a line, gather then back in, sprinkle and fold, which brings us back the sad irons mentioned in the last article. Can you think of more? It’s a good mind exercise.

This was given to me by my Aunt Alma, from the United Methodists church of New Lenox, Kansas:

The basic rules for the clotheslines

If you don’t know what a clothesline is, better skip this!

* You had to wash (Kansas people (and me) say “warsh”) the clothes line before hanging any clothes. Walk the entire length of the line with a damp cloth around the lines.

* You had to hang the clothes in a certain order and always hang whites with the whites because they went in the washer first. Take those clothes out and put them through the ringer, into rinse water. Next came the colored clothes all into the same water.

* You never hung a shirt by the shoulders, always by the tail ... what will the neighbors think!

* Wash day was always Monday. Never hang clothes on the weekend or Sunday, for Heaven Sakes!

* Hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines so you could hide your unmentionables in the middle (perverts and busybodies and neighbors — you know!).

* It did not matter if it was subzero weather. Clothes would freeze dry.

* Always gather the clothes pins when taking down the dry clothes. Pins left on the line were tacky and the weather would turn them black. (Mom had a clothes pin apron)

* If you were efficient you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

* Clothes off the line before dinnertime, sprinkled, neatly folded in the basket, and ready to iron. Well that’s a whole other subject — right back to the sad irons!

Chicken with Black Beans & Rice

This recipe is from my sister Ginger. The balsamic vinegar gives it
an exceptional flavor. This got thumbs up from my taste tester Mr. Bob.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch crashed flakes
1 large onion, diced
4 or 5 cloves garlic chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
2 teaspoons oregano, separated
2 teaspoons ground cumin, separated
2-16 ounce can black beans- undrained (I drained mine)
1-4 ounce jar sliced pimentos-I used one half large red bell pepper-diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups blended rice. Royal Blend Rice was used in this recipe – contains:  Texmati white, Brown, Red, and Wild Rice. 

In a large pan heat olive oil and add red pepper flakes
Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender.
Increase heat and add chicken stir until well cooked.
Lower heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin and simmer 1 min...
Add black beans, pimentos (or red bell pepper) the remaining spices and the balsamic vinegar.
Blend simmer uncovered 30 min. re-season with salt and pepper if needed
While beans-chicken are simmering. bring broth to a boil in a pan, add the rice.
Lower heat to simmer and cover and cook 20 min. until rice is fluffy.
Serve beans, chicken mixture over rice

Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup

This is a tasty soup from my good friend Nikki.

3/4 cups wild rice
1/4 cup white rice  1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced thick
1 large onion cut in chunks
3/4 cups celery sliced thick
1/2 teas onion powder
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt - pepper to taste
1 pound ground beef or other meat, browned
1 can evaporated milk
4 cups beef broth
1 cup whole milk
Cook wild rice 65 minutes and add white rice and cook 15 minutes.  Drain most of the water and add sautéed mushrooms (sautéed in butter or olive oil) until golden brown and moisture in gone.) Add everything else but the milks, to pot and cook till vegetables and rice are done.  Remove from heat and stir in evaporated milk-whole milk and reheat.  
May have to adjust consistency of soup with broth to suit you taste.  
Real good with warm bread or hot biscuits.


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