Maybe this should have stayed with the pioneers

July 27, 2007

I found a cookbook in the thrift shop the other day for 29 cents. Famous Mormon Recipes by Winnifred Jardine. Printed in 1967 with a foreword that reads:

Part of the heritage handed down by early Mormon pioneers to our generation is to be found in pioneer recipes, many of them still a treasured part of family collections. Lamb stew, chicken and dumplings, biscuits and Mormon gravy, split pea soup, whole wheat bread, even buttermilk doughnuts made by my own great grandmother Emily Dow Partridge young for her husband Brigham Young…these are of Mormon tradition.  Some recipes have been brought up to date — streamlined to fit modern ingredients and time schedules — but the good flavors are the same as those that permeated early pioneer homes, and many of them are classics.  The “saints” as the Mormons called themselves came to Utah from many countries of the world, creating a sort of melting pot within a melting pot. Consequently, the recipes are as international as the “saints” themselves were. But no matter their origin, the dishes they prepared have lived beyond them, bringing pleasant eating to third and fourth generations…and to all who care to partake of their wholesome goodness, no matter where in the world they may live. (quotes original. those are not Amri quote-y fingers)

After reading through the 75 or so recipes, I decided that this is where the pioneers no longer matter. Where I no longer need their advice or their experience or their example. Pioneer Lettuce Salad is the worst offender. Listen to what’s in the recipe. 1 head lettuce, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/4 c vinegar, 1 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt.  You shred the lettuce and then whip the heavy cream with the other ingredients. Then you put a huge dollop of whipped cream on the lettuce. For variety it says you can add onions and a little bit of black pepper.

 I am flabberghasted by this recipe. Whipped cream that is a little bit sweet and a little bit sour on lettuce? And this is the 60s, so while I have no idea what kind of lettuce the pioneers used, Sister Jardine is talking about iceberg. The great and abominable lettuce. The whore of all the earth lettuce. Plus did I say that it was whipped cream?

I like the pioneers. They’re my people. I like to hear real stories about them. I have always thought it’s obnoxious to ask if we could give up our lives, just like the pioneers did but otherwise I say bring on the stories and the celebrations. Now I have just one more stipulation to remembering the people who walked across the plains and kept our religion going: please don’t serve me their food.

However, if you are interested in more horrendous recipes, leave a comment and I’ll leave some recipes to make for your friends and family.



  1. The lettuce salad sounds awful. But how about the Buttermilk Pancakes? Please share that one. And are there really any international recipes included?

  2. It’s actually Buttermilk Doughnuts. No pancakes. Maybe they weren’t invented yet?

    2 c buttermilk
    2 lg eggs
    1 c sugar
    5 c sifted flour
    2 tsp soda
    1 tsp bkg powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp grated nutmeg
    1/4 c melted butter or shortening

    Combine buttermilk, eggs and sugar and blend well. Beat in sifted dry ingredients, then stir in melted butter. Roll or pat dough on floured board about a quarter inch thick and cut with 2 1/2 inch doughnut cutter. Fry in hot fat (375 F) until golden brown on both sides. Drain and sprinkle with sugar.

    Okay so this one doesn’t sound so bad.

  3. I like iceberg lettuce. So there.

    Just today I had salad bar for lunch and I started with a my usual bed of romaine and spinach and I figured I’d throw on some iceberg for extra crunch. I was glad I did. My salad crunched very nicely, as green salads should. What’s gross is the “higher class” salads that don’t crunch and are bitter. There are other ways of getting vitamins.

    And iceberg is the only lettuce that should ever get near a hamburger.

    But shredded iceberg with whipped cream? Yuck.

  4. Where did green jello with carrots start? I can imagine the pioneer recipe now: “When your ox dies, cut off the hoofs before burying him. Simmer them for three days. Strain….”


  5. Okay, Tom, there is a place for iceberg. But it’s a small place. One usually only reserved for hamburgers. Even then, romaine on a burger is not so bad.

    I think the jello extravanganza started in the 60s and 70s Ann. I actually think Mormons are the slightly lower brow version of what swept America briefly. Early 70s cookbooks are full of them. Apparently the highbrow stuff has shrimp in it.

    But ox-hoof jello? that’s something.

  6. I think Ann was pointing out that one could derive one’s own gelatin from the ox hoofs. Mmm-boy!

  7. So I imagine someday one of your descendants will try one of great granny’s special recipies and promptly give thanks she doesn’t live in our age!

  8. No, my recipes and cooking will transcend all barriers of time. I’m really that good.

  9. Me too. And I wouldn’t be so quick to grant any place to iceberg lettuce. Maybe as a cooling compress, but, like you said, other lettuce is even better on burgers. And you can get your green crunch without resorting to the iceberg.

  10. My aunt makes green jello with, get this– shredded iceberg lettuce and tiny shrimp! Nasty!!! At first we all felt obligated to eat a little at family gatherings. But it got to be unbearable. I thought my cousins (her children) must like it. Years later my cousin made a comment at a family function, ” I better go eat some of my mom’s Jell-O so she doesn’t feel bad.”
    Eventually she quit making it. Bt it went on for years, my aunt making it and ranting about how everyone loved it and how good it was; all of us squeamishly looking at it in horror, trying to make ourselves eat a little. We couldn’t do it forever, because EWWW!

  11. Don’t you people know that lettuce has an opiate ingredient. If you cook it in some water a little bit, it’s going to make you sleep. It’s the reason that the French people eat their lettuce as the last course before bedtime. Haven’t you read the authors (James Thurber) and the Bunny Rabbit Mopsies who felt asleep after they ate lettuce? Get with it. If you wanna sleep, try a tea made of stewed lettuce. If you wanna get a meaty meal into your blood stream to make you sleep and produce the sleep hormone (melatonin), have something sweet like one of Brigham Young’s doughnuts as your last snack of the day.

    Need more ideas for sleep. Let me know. Dr. Diane Cheney, Dianepsych@aol.com

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