Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Lewis and Clark's way of cooking

A short 200 years ago, two brave men led a three year expedition filled with incredible hardships that helped to make this country what it is today. Lewis and Clark were remarkable fellows and so were the men who made the remarkable journey with them. If you have never read a book chronicling their travels, be sure to do so. And, be certain that your children also read about the sacrifices that were made to create America.

Books abound and because this is the bicentennial of their saga, there is even a cookbook that might be an easy way to teach youngsters a little cooking and a lot of history while you're together in the kitchen. The book is "The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark, Recipes for an Expedition." It is written by Mary Gunderson, published by History Cooks, P.O. Box 709, Yankton, SD, 57078. It is a handsome 80 recipe paperback that looks deceptively like a hardcover book and sells for $19.95. Even without the child factor this unusual book, laden with quotes from their journals next to every recipe, is worth considering for you or as a gift. Father's Day is coming up.

It is interesting to note what provisions were chosen for the expedition. They never expected to be gone three years, of course, nor to be forced to eat only what they could forage or kill. Among their early rations was a version of bouillon cubes. The first person to make Portable Soup probably left meat bones simmering over an open fire until they almost boiled dry. Over time, observant cooks would note that the remains did not go rancid if the fat was skimmed. While we just add water to concentrated cubes, or to packets of powdered soup, those travelers added water to Portable Soup and created a savory broth, or they added vegetables and meat for a heartier meal. As much of their meat was rancid and rotting, the Portable Soup helped make it palatable.

The records show that, "Purveyor Israel Whelen supplied one hundred ninety-three pounds of Portable Soup made by cook Francois Baillet, packed in canvas oilcloth and sealed with wax." For this item Lewis paid today's equivalent of $4,595. Here is a recipe for making your own. You can keep cubes in the refrigerator or freezer to turn into broth or to enhance any soup or sauce you care to make. It is also excellent to enhance the flavor of stews, meatloaf, etc.


Long simmering coaxes proteins from meat and bones and leaves you with a quivering, gelled mass of beef flavor that keeps almost forever.

5 to 6 pounds oxtails
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf

Trim fat from meat. Combine ingredients in a kettle with enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to keep just below the boil. As it boils for 30 to 45 minutes, skim and discard residue from the surface. Add 2 cups water, cover, and simmer gently for 4 hours. Skim when residue rises to surface. The more you skim, the clearer the final product will be. Add about 4 cups more water. Cover and simmer gently 4 to 5 hours more. When meat has fallen off bones, pour the stock through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a large bowl. Cover the broth and refrigerate. Skim fat from the surface of the gelled mass. Spoon the gel into a kettle. Discard any residue in the bottom of the bowl. Bring gel to a rolling boil for about 45 minutes, or until stock is syrupy, slightly thickened, and golden brown. Skim off any residue. Place a wooden spoon in the kettle during the boil to prevent the stock from boiling over. Pour the stock 1/2- to 3/4-inch deep in pie pans or square baking dishes (foil preferred). Cover and refrigerate. Remove the Portable Soup from each pan. Cut into 3 1/2-inch squares and wrap individually. Place in a container with a tight seal. Keep indefinitely. For best flavor, store in the refrigerator or freezer. For an authentic 1803 to 1806 flavor, store at room temperature indefinitely. Makes about 1 1/2 pounds.


Among the meats the Expedition hunted were beaver, deer, geese, grouse, ducks and gophers. When no game could be found they were forced to eat their horses and dogs. They found that they liked the meat and traded with friendly Indians for dogs or horses.

3 to 4 ounces Portable Soup
1 small potato, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cups chopped beef, optional
salt and pepper

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

During the winter of 1804 to 1805, the Expedition had run out of trading goods and provisions. Fortunately they were able to trade the services of their blacksmiths in sharpening axes for corn raised and dried by Indian women.


Tribal women had dozens of ways to cook and preserve corn. Parched or roasted green corn, especially grilled, adds a fresh dimension to soups and stews.

4 large ears sweet corn or 4 cups frozen, whole kernel
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or fat of your choice

Cut the kernels from the cob. Place in a large strainer and dip directly in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain the corn and spread kernels on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss well. Place on a grill over low coals or in heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Roast, stirring often, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until kernels are golden brown. Serve as a side dish or add to other dishes calling for whole kernel corn. Makes about 2 cups.


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