This summer I'm going on a "pioneer trek" with the youth group from our church. We will dress up in pioneer-ish clothing and pull handcarts in the mountains for 15 miles or so. I've been told repeatedly that historical accuracy is not our goal, but rather spiritual experiences. So then... why the funny old clothes and handcarts?
It all got me thinking back to when I went on one of these treks as a wild rebellious teenager twenty years ago. They starved us, but they did let us have a little flour, which would have been historically accurate. But we didn't know what to do with flour. They told us to mix it with a little water, flatten it to a thin cake, and throw it directly onto the coals or hot ashes of the fire. When it was "done" we brushed the ashes off and ate it with butter.
Since then I've run across a couple of other gen-u-wine accounts of life on the trail. This from Andrew Jackson Allen, who was part of the insurgency of 1857 against the invading U.S. Army. On the plains of Wyoming, he and others rustled cattle from the supply trains supporting the Army, and left us this account:
"Oct 11, 1857: We drove to the rivver and killd a fat cow that war in the hird and cooked breakfast. We injoyed our meal verry much in deed, we baked our bred by roaling the doe around a stick and stuck it in the ground before the fier”
This approach was also reported to have been used by Benjamin Morgan Roberts who marched with the Mormon Battalion in 1847. I think it sounds much more practical than baking directly on the coals. Too bad they aren't going to give us flour in our upcoming trek. I've been told that ready-made store-bought biscuits will be distributed, since making biscuits is beyond the ability of most who will be on the trek. I might just have to smuggle some flour in my bedroll...