Pioneer Potluck: Recipe for a barn raising

From “Farm and Ranch Magazine”


The Mennonite Community Cookbook, “Favorite Family Recipe.”

When a new barn was 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 was made in Great-Grandmother’s kitchen.

Here is the list for 175 people for 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 hams
50 pounds roast beef
300 light rolls
16 loaves bread
Pickled red beets and pickled eggs
Cucumber pickles
6 pounds dried prunes, stewed
1 large crock stewed raisins
5 gallon stone jar of white potatoes
5 gallon stone jar of sweet potatoes

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! 500 doughnuts! I hate to make one!

Peel all the apples for applesauce and stir all that rice for pudding over a hot stove. And then peel all those potatoes!

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

Someone killed 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 stoves to keep them hot? And someone had to cut that wood and split it and carry it in! They also had ashes to haul out! The gas and electric stove was invented because of all the work a cooking stove caused — I am sure!

Make and knead dough and shape 300 rolls ... no brown and serve. And knead dough for 16 loaves of bread — without a bread maker! Someone had to thrash and haul the wheat to a mill to grind the wheat to flour! But first they had to till the land and plant the wheat!

And no paper plates or plastic forks and spoons and no dishwasher ... no running water. Someone had to haul water to heat to wash all the dishes in dishpans … mygoodness, we don’t even own such things any more! And where did they store everything?

They had to cut the 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 used pegs, and someone had to make those! And the horses had to be tended to and fed.

Can you imagine how good that featherbd 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 that tickling together. Then there was the laundry! Hand wash all the dirty clothes and sheets!

Can you think of more?

Good mind exercise.

The series is written by a 44 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends.  She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years.  Some are her own creation.  Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook.

She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.

Grannie Annie can be reached at

Never-Fail Dumplings

Ha! I never made a dumpling yet that didn’t turn out like a bomb. I made dumplings for Dad and Mom one time, and my dad called them “Cannon Balls”. So you make these and I’ll come to your house! This is my mom’s recipe. She made them easy. They were light and fluffy.

1 c. flour
1 egg
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. Milk
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix very lightly. Divide into 6 spoonfuls and drop around roast or chicken. Cover for 15 minutes and don’t peek. Uncover and serve. I’ll be right over.

About Dumplings: The very last time I made these was about 12 years ago. Having little in the house and so hungry for “mom food”, I decided to make chicken and dumplings. I did everything just right. Went to serve them to our neighbor at the time, J.T. … and Bob. Oh! my! They were heavy and soggy, but we were all hungry, so we ate them. Bob made the comment that they were “real gut busters”, but the chicken had a good flavor. When it came time for J.T. to leave I asked him if he would like to take some “Butt gusters” home. John thought he was hearing wrong, but as soon as Bob started laughing and repeated what I said, John started laughing.  He said, “Uh, no, I think what I just ate will last me awhile.”

I have not made a dumpling since.

Buffalo Chicken Strips

A tasty version of Buffalo Wings. Bake in the oven. Prepare early in the morning for the evening meal.


1 lb. Chicken strips (each strip cut in half long ways)
1 (8 oz) tomatoe sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Minced garlic
8 to 10 drops of Tabasco
1/4 tsp. red pepper

Combine the chicken with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate ovver night or up to 6 hours. Do this in the morning and it will be ready for the evening meal.

To prepare: Position oven rack or your smaller broiler oven 4 to 6 inches from heat.

Preheat broiler.

Reserve marinade.

Place strips on cooking sheet. (Can be threaded on skewers and grilled on the barbeque…) Broil, turning once and basting with reserved marinade. Cook through about 6 to 8 minutes.
Serve with the followng “dunk” and other vegetables - celery sticks, scallions, carrot sticks, and cherry tomatoes.


1 (8 oz.) container plain yogurt
1/3 cup crumbled Bleu cheese
2 tsp. Parsley
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine early in the morning.


Best Strawberry Pie

(Two crust)

2 2/3 cups frozen strawberries (I use 3 cups)
1 1/3 cups strawberry juice
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice

Thaw strawberries or use fresh Alaska strawberries, which you crush 1 cup of fresh to make 1 1/3 cups of juice by adding water or apple juice. This means you have to have 4 cups of fresh berries, one from crushing and 3 for the pie recipe.

Measure the 1/3 cup of juice and add cornstarch and sugar into a saucepan. Heat rapidly till thick. Do not boil. Cool and set aside.

Line a pie pan with pastry and add berries and lemon juice to the berry juice mixture. Pour into pie pan and top with pie crust you have put several slits into. Seal and flute. Brush with milk and sprnkle with sugar and bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 425 degrees on the lowest rack in your oven.