Monday, November 05, 2012


Guest Post and Recipes by Charlene Raddon

Charlene Raddon has a terrific guest post for today. First, let me tell you about her generous giveaway of a copy of TENDER TOUCH and a $10 Amazon gift card. Don't forget to leave your email with your comment if you want to be entered in the drawing.

Second, let me announce the winner of the free download of HIGH STAKES BRIDE from my weekend post. The winner is Denise Z. Congratulations, Denise. I'll be emailing you about your prize. AND WATCH FOR MY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT AT THE END OF THIS POST!

Now,  here's Charlene's excellent post.

Cooking on the Oregon Trail
The trip to Oregon from Missouri took five months. How did the pioneers know what to take with them and how to be sure they were well enough supplied for the long trek? Several guidebooks existed, as well as newspaper articles. Some pioneers had the additional advantage of advice from family and friends who had already made the trip. The key lay in keeping everything in the wagon as light as possible and taking easily preserved staples. 2,000 pounds total weight per wagon was the goal. As the journey progressed and draft animals tired, pioneers faced the difficult and painful task of discarding excess food, furniture, and other goods.

Staples needed per person:
200 pounds of bread stuff (flour and crackers)
100 pounds of bacon (see note below)
12 pounds of coffee
12 pounds of sugar

Additional staples per family:
From 1 to 5 pounds tea
From 10 to 50 pounds rice
From 1/2 to 2 bushels beans
From 1/2 to 2 bushels dried fruit
From 1/2 to 5 pounds saleratus
From 5 to 50 pounds

Whiskey or brandy
Cheese, dried pumpkins, onions and a small portion of corn meal

Cooking utensils: cast iron skillet or spider, Dutch oven, reflector oven, coffee pot or tea kettle, tin plates, cups, and utensils, matches, crocks, canteens, and buckets or water bags for liquids.
Other basics: a rifle, pistols, powder, lead, and shot for hunting game, and for self-defense. Candles (less expensive and lighter than oil). Several pounds of soap. Two to three sets of practical, sturdy, and warm clothing of wool and linen and a small sewing kit for repairs, shovel, ax or hatchet, tools to repair wagon equipment, bedding and tents.

1,600-1,800 pounds of the supplies were food, leaving little space for anything else. Furniture, books, and treasured belongings, were too often discarded along the way. Many accounts of the journey tell of the trail being littered with the cast offs of previous wagon trains. Prices and availability of goods varied from year to year, but a minimum of $600 to $800 was needed to assemble a basic outfit of wagon, oxen, and supplies.
Note: the bacon the pioneers carried was not in plastic covered one pound packages or sliced, but "salt pork," a heavily salted, fatty side or back portion of pork, un-smoked, and preserved in a barrel of brine. Pieces were taken out, the needed amount of meat cut off and the rest replaced. The piece to be used often needed to be soaked to dissipate the saltiness before being sliced for frying or cut into chunks for soups or stews.

Butter churns were sometimes attached to the side or underneath of the wagon. By day's end, with the jolting and swaying of the wagon, there would be butter to be had for the next stop.


Cornmeal Mush

1 cup cornmeal
4 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon lard or butter
1 teaspoon salt
dried currents (raisins) optional
Put currents into water and bring to a boil. Sprinkle cornmeal into the boiling water stirring constantly, adding butter and salt. Cook for about 3 minutes, then portion into bowls. Can be topped with milk, butter, sugar or molasses.

Trail Beans

Prepare 4 cups of beans by rinsing and placing in large pot, covering with water and letting stand overnight for at least 12 hours. Drain, then place in pot with 1/2 lb. ham hock or 1/2 lb. bacon, covering with fresh water to simmer on low fire for 3 hours. At start of 4th hour add these ingredients: 1/4 cup dark molasses, 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cayenne, 1/2 tsp. ground pepper. Optional ingredients to add if you have them, and according to taste: 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp. mustard, can chopped tomatoes. Stir and let simmer an additional hour, then serve. If additional liquid is needed, use the water beans soaked in.

Soda Biscuits

Take 1 lb. of flour, and mix it with milk enough to make a stiff dough; dissolve in a little milk 1 tsp. carbonate of soda; add this to the paste with a teaspoon of salt. Work it well together and roll it out thin; cut into round biscuits, and bake them in a moderate oven. The yolk of an egg is sometimes added. (Sarah J. Jale, Mrs. Hales New Cookbook 1857)

Molasses Pudding
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
raisins, optional

Blend molasses and milk. Add in butter, baking soda, salt and mix well - butter will be chunky. Add in flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Add raisins of you like. Pour this thick dough into a buttered deep bread pan, spreading evenly. Put pan on top of pebbles in a large kettle of slow-boiling, shallow water. Liquid should only go half way up the sides of the pan. Cover and steam for 1 1/4 hours. Serve sliced, as is, or drizzled with syrup.

Vinegar Lemonade
Mix 1 to 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar into a 12 oz. glass of water. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of sugar or to taste, and Drink Up!

Dandelion Greens
Cut off leaves of plants that have not blossomed yet, pick over carefully, wash in several waters, put into boiling water, boil one hour, drain well, add salted boiling water, and boil two hours; when done, turn into a colander and drain, season with butter and more salt if needed. Or boil with piece of salt port, omitting butter.

Sandy Duff
Mix flour and water into thick batter, add raisins, and boil in small canvas bag. Sweeten with syrup or sorghum before eating if preferred.
Gravy and sourdough were the food staples of the pioneers. Nearly all meals could be prepared using a bake oven, and gravy was made to complement the main dish. Gravy served as added nutrition, but mostly it served as a filler when other food was not available. Sourdough was so precious to the pioneer cook, she often slept with her sourdough starter so the yeast action would not be killed by the cold.

Pioneer remedies:
Eye ailments—Put a few drops of castor oil in eyes.
Eyewash—Gun powder dissolved in water.
Fever—Boil two roots of wild ginger in a cup of water; strain and drink.
 Hiccups—Hiccup can usually be stopped very quickly by taking a teaspoonful of granulated sugar and vinegar. If it does not give relief, repeat the dose.
 Infection—For drawing out infection on burns, use raw grated potatoes.
 Scrapes and abrasions—Smear rabbit fat over raw areas.
 Bee stings—Put mud or red clay on area.

And here's the a blurb from Charlene's story about travel on the Oregon Trail:

They had lost everything that mattered . . .

Three nightmarish years of marriage has shattered Brianna Wight's sheltered world. Leading her husband to believe she's been murdered, she flees to St. Louis . . . harboring terrible secrets that could be the death of her.

The tragic loss of his Indian wife left Columbus Nigh a wanderer; necessity made him a wilderness guide. But now he finds himself drawn to the enigmatic woman who's hired him to lead her westward. Her gentle strength stirs his lonely heart . . . her tender beauty arouses his deepest passions.

Would they find love again on a western journey?

But the perils of the Oregon Trail pale beside the murderous wrath of the man who tracks them across the harsh frontier. Briana knows the only way to save herself and Columbus is to risk their tender love. Only then can she free herself from the horrors of the past -- and embrace a rapturous future . . .

Here's an excerpt from TENDER TOUCH:

Chapter One

St. Louis, Missouri, April 1849
Brianna Wight’s heart pounded as she reluctantly fol­lowed her housekeeper’s son inside the dingy, cavernous livery stable. She felt as though she were entering the very bowels of hell.
Heat from the blacksmith’s shop blasted her delicate skin through her clothes and fluttered the veil covering her face as she waited for her eyes to adjust to the dark­ness. The flames leaping from the forge and the murky silhouettes of men, dancing about the fire like so many devils, were all she could make out.
Harsh, angry voices flew at her out of the blackness, like hurtled knives. Instant terror stiffened her body and she threw up an arm to shield her face.
“Wait your turn, stinkin’ squawman. Whaddya need yer horse shod for anyways? It’s only one o’ them Injun ponies. Get back to yer slut squaw an’ have her pick the lice from yer hair, why doncha?”
The voice that answered was soft, deep and—Brianna thought—deceptively calm, but the words were unclear.
“Why, you bastard!” the first voice yelled.
The sound of flesh and bone striking flesh and bone froze Brianna. Her heart stuttered. That sound was entirely too familiar, as was the pain that always followed. She tensed, waiting to feel the expected blow. Instead, a man sailed toward her out of the smithy. Brianna screamed in the instant before he slammed into her. Together, they tumbled to the straw-littered floor in a tangle of arms, legs and skirts.
“You blasted squawman!” someone bellowed. “Look what ya done now. Get up, damn you! That’s a lady you’re laying on.”
Brianna fought for air and shoved frantically at the heavy man weighing down her already bruised and bat­tered body. Pain from a hundred places threatened to rend her unconscious. Inside her head, a voice shouted,“It’s not Barret!  Not Barret! But the fear had her in its grip. She could not stop batting for her life, as she had been forced to do, so many times before.
Close to her ear a low rumbling voice muttered, “Hell- fire! Give it up, woman. I ain’t gonna hurt you.”
Hands like steel bands pinned her wrists to the hay-and horseshit-strewn dirt floor. His panted breath warmed her cheek, smelling of tobacco, and, oddly enough, apples. Brianna felt her breasts flatten against his hard chest, felt that same hard chest expand and deflate along with hers, as they each gasped for air. Something stirred inside her, something she had never felt when Barret held her this way, something that left her confused, as well as scared.
“All right,” the low voice rumbled. “I’m gonna get up now.”
The weight lifted from her body. He towered above her, ten feet tall and at least three across. As she lay there staring up at him through her veil, still fighting off the fear, he reached down to offer her a hand up. She could see better now, well enough to note that his palm was dirty and callused, the smallest of the long, slender fingers missing a joint.
“You all right?” he asked, not unkindly.
Before she could gather enough sense and wind to answer, Sean and his mother were there, bending over her. Brianna groaned as they hauled her to her feet. Every bone in her body ached. It was all she could do to stay upright while Mrs. O’Casey brushed the dirt and straw from her rumpled skirts. She refused to give way to the tears and pain and terror that threatened to engulf her. If she couldn’t even survive one day of freedom without knuckling under, how would she live long enough to start a new life?

You can find TENDER TOUCH here:


 Charlene Raddon began her fiction career in the third grade when she got up and told her class that a little sister she didn't have died of a black widow bite. Many years later, a particularly vivid dream drove her to drag out a portable typewriter and go to work on her first novel. In 1990 her second completed book, TENDER TOUCH, brought her a first place win in a writing contest and the following year became a Golden Heart Finalist. She has five romance novels set in the American West, published by Kensington, one, THE SCENT OF ROSES, under the pseudonym Rachel Summers. Her books have placed or won other contests and one, FOREVER MINE, received a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award nomination. Charlene has always loved the Old West and her novels reflect that emotion in their depth and vividness.

When Charlene isn't writing, she loves to travel, do genealogy, digital scrapbooking, and dyes eggs in the Ukrainian style. And she enjoys camping and fishing with her husband in the Utah wilderness.

You can learn more about Charlene here:
Charlene's website

Remember to leave your email with your comment if you want to be entered in the drawing for a copy of TENDER TOUCH and the $10 Amazon gift card!

Now that you've read Charlene's post, please go to her blogsite where I have a guest post, I have a giveaway there also. 

And if you sign up for my newsletter at the link about midway on the sidebar, I will include you in a special drawing for a Kindle Fire on December 15th, in plenty of time to give as a gift or load up with your own holiday reading.

Thanks for stopping by!


Unknown said...

Charlene--I'm glad to see you on my good friend's blog this morning. Stories about the Oregon Trail and wagon trains always catch my attention. Your book sounds like a winner.
I loved the "pioneer remedies." The two about caring for the eyes would probably do the trick--or cause blindness! Good grief-the stuff they used! I understand, though, because they could use only what they had.
Congratulations on your book!

Christina Livingston said...

great post!
I also follow you! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Celia. I'm a sucker for anything about pioneers. Glad you stopped by.

Anonymous said...

clivingston, thank you for taking a look and for following me.

Peggy Henderson said...

great post, Charlene. I had a blog post about Oregon Trail food a few months ago, and I'm glad to see you included some recipes (which I didn't do) Good luck with your book!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Peggy. There's so much that can be told about the Oregon Trail, I think we've just scratched the surface. Glad you dropped by.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Hi Charlene. I, too, have a wagon train story and loved learning all the history and hardships found on the trail. Wishing you the best of luck with lots of sales.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Paisley. Good luck with yours. Glad you stopped by.

Unknown said...

I love your research on the Oregon Trail. I find it fascinating, what a journey it was. Thanks for sharing

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Shannon. I enjoy the research. Life then was so different. I love imagining what it was like. Thanks for dropping by.

Amy Denim said...

Oh, my! This is so fantastically fascinating. I remember playing the (really) old Oregon Trail video game a million years ago. The supplies list here sure looks familiar. LOL. Love all these recipes. Can't wait to read the book!

Amy Denim said...

Oops, forgot to leave my addy.
amy at amydenim dot com
Thanks for doing the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

You're welcome, Amy. I played Oregon Trail when I was a child too, but no video games then. I had a cowboy outfit when I was about 6 and still have the six-shooter from it.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank Caroline Clemmons for having me today and everyone who stopped in to take a look.

Mary Preston said...

I love the information about the food & of course the recipes thank you.


Martha Lawson said...

Very interesting post - I really enjoyed it!! The book sounds wonderful, I will be putting it on the wishlist. Thanks for the chance.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

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