In the l9th century if you were a lady cooking at a lumber camp this is what would be required on a regular basis.
In those days the cook worked from sunup to sundown and had to be ready for a supper call. Beginning at 5:30, three times a day a meal was prepared for 65 healthy appetites. Sometimes there were one or two flunkies sometimes called "cookies".
Twice a week 35 loaves of bread were baked and 350 buns. Every forenoon a 50 pound keg of molasses cookies and a 50 pound keg of white cookies. Every other day she turned out a key of fried cakes and every morning before daylight 18 pies were in the oven.
Enough beans were cooked over time to feed a small army. Side pork and beef steak were common bill-of-fare and now and then a little venison--there was always lots of meat.
Breakfast in a lumber camp was one to bolster a weakened constitution. Generally there were warmed up "taters" and salt pork along with pancakes - all you could eat. Lots of coffee boiled in a big pot and poured black and scalding.
There's more to warming up "taters" than most women know. You have to get the meat fryings just so hot - almost smoking before the taters are put in the iron skillet. Then you chop them with a tin can until they are very fine. Brown them and turn them two or three times and they are fine, not like the soggy ones in restaurants.
Dessert was ample with prune pie, dried apple and now and then, lemon pie - if the ingredients were available.
There were no recipes to go by when one cooked for a lumber camp. One just took a pinch of this and a scoop of that, a little fat or shortening and a dab of something else and presto - good wholesome food.
Another item of which the men were fond was cornmeal mush. For breakfast it was served as cereal. Cooked slow and thin and served with brown sugar or it can be cooked longer and poured in a bread pan , then sliced and fried with a dab of butter and maple syrup - it is fit for a king.
Swedish and Norwegian lumberjacks liked their thin odorous sourdough pancakes. The worse they smelled the better they liked them. Another favorite was Vinegar pie: 1-1/4 c. sugar, 1-1/2 c. boiling water, 1/3 c. vinegar, 1/3 c. cornstarch and a dash of nutmeg. Stir the ingredients together and cook until clear and thick. Stir half the mixture into 3 beaten egg yokes, combine mixture again; place entire filling back on wood range for 1 minute add a tablespoon of butter and pour into baked shell.
Call to meals varied from camp to camp Sometimes a great iron triangle struck by a heavy iron was the signal. Or it was a long dinner horn with a call like that of a mating bull moose. Whatever the call no one was ever late for a meal. Each man had his own place and heaven help a new man who sat in the wrong place. There was no idle chatter at the tables. "Pass the taters", "some bread", "hand me the butter" was the extent of the conversation.
The ladies were there in major numbers. They did not have any electric toasters or dishwashers; they had no vacuum, coffee makers or electric mixers. They did have ambition, endurance, and skill. They also had long hours; a 15 hour day was not unusual and an 8 hour day was rare. The ladies-- God Bless Them All!
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