Today is Pioneer Day, if you are not aware, that is the day the pioneers of long ago walked across the U.S. in search of a place to build their new Zion and settled in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was 161 years ago. This was after Joseph Smith restored the church on the earth and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had been established. You can go to www.mormon.org to learn more about it.
It is a big celebration on this day every year as we remember the pioneers and all they endured for their rights and in finding peace for their families. If you're in Utah, it's even a government holiday. There are lots of celebrations with parades and food and games. I thought it would be fun today to find some good old pioneer recipes to try and make with the kids. And when I say with the kids, I mean with Taylor, basically. The other two are playing at a neighbor's house and, well, Sam just isn't a big helper in the kitchen yet. One thing the pioneers did as they crossed the plains in covered wagons was live very frugally with very little means. The cookies I chose today are just that, while even then, I'll bet the pioneers didn't have all these things even on hand. While they did settle in a few places for a few years at a time, such as Kirtland, Ohio and Nauvoo, Illinois, they were driven west by mobs of people who didn't think they should have freedom of religion in their areas at the time. So these cookies I found are called Nauvoo Ginger Cookies.
Remember that I mentioned they used frugal ingredients in their baking! I first thought these would be yummy and similar to a good ginger molasses cookie, as that is some of the main ingredients. Well, these "little rock" cookies really aren't very tasty and in truth, I'll probably throw them out. Taylor does NOT like them and didn't appreciate the smell of the molasses as he helped mix ingredients together.
When I noticed the first sheet was looking like stones, I flattened the second with a glass.
So they looked better, but that didn't change the taste. They aren't very gingery. And, well, when I saw that the recipe only called for 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, I wondered if that was enough. They are somewhat dry and kind of gummy and just really bland on taste. I even rolled them in a cinnamon/sugar mixture that was not even part of the recipe. Oh well, we had fun pretending we were pioneers. I am not going to post the recipe, but you can find it here. I'm really glad I wasn't a pioneer, as I just know they never had one of these: (The New York Times Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with some added pecans-yum!)
Okay, so bomb number one with the ginger cookies. We decided to make one more pioneer favorite. This was said to have been one of Joseph Smith's favorite "treats". The Johnnycake! Now I knew this was similar to cornbread, so we found a recipe (also found on the link above to the ginger cookies) and quickly whipped them up. There was a lot more wet ingredients compared to only the cornmeal and a few leavening ingredients. When I poured it in the pan (the recipe makes 8x8 pan, which I cut in half and made mine in a bread pan), it looked like milk/egg liquid. We baked it up and, well, made some cornbread. That's really all it was. At first taste, I thought it was a bit too eggy, but I tasted it again and it really wasn't too bad. So if you're looking for a simple cornbread recipe, check this one out! It also has no refined sugar but just a touch of molasses and honey, as well as very little fat (1 T. butter for the 8x8 pan). So there you have it, a serving of grains and a reason to think about the pioneers and what they had to do for us. They really endured a lot as they traveled and I am thankful for them and thankful that I wasn't one of them!
Now, I really need to go make something ooey and gooey. It's killing me not to!