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North American Frontiersmen

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Articles

"Following in our forefather's footsteps."

Continuing Series       

Article No.# 5        

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Edibles/Forged & Cultivated

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There's an old Chinese proverb - it goes something like ....

"Speak only if it is an improvement upon silence"

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Kaskaskia/Ft. Clark. M. M. Quaife in his 1913 book, "Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1835". Quaife has many good references to forts and players. Kaskaskia, its taking by the Hannibal of Kentucky (which was a county of Virginia) Clark, and its history are fully covered.

Later (1814) Forsyth is pleading the case for a Factory at Ft. Clark, so the Pottawatomies can receive goods "as cheap in this was as they formerly did in the factory at Chicago". They were bemoaning the high prices at the sutler's store.

  • This is an excellent text in some ways, and the fact that the map shows many forts and settlements and pointedly does not show Fort Clark in relationship to Kaskaskia may or may not shed light. We have found some recipes used at some of these locations and are shown below.

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Lets start with the measurement for: a "cupped hand full" = ( 1) measuring cup.

This doesn't sound like much, I agree, but remember most dried edibles do swell when water is added. Rice, barley and peas will double in size or mount prepared. Most of us (not all) can go with less food from a few days to several weeks without any problem - doctors will tell you that the amount we eat regularly is a mind-set in most cases, we can do with less and would probably do better weight and health wise.

We try to eat two small regular meals daily, gathering or foraging for edibles in our short trips around camp when scouting game or looking at the area. When you get in a mind-set of watching for edibles as you make your scouts, it's surprising what you find, even if not hunting for squirrel, rabbits or flying foul. Wild edibles are everywhere it's just the problem of figuring out what your looking at.

Working around water is always a good place for small plants that are edible, as well as the little crayfish, fish and small animals getting a drink. I think you are getting the idea or already do this in your normal outing experiences.

I have a good friend that I wrote an article about a few years ago in the T&LR journal Jerry LaVelle, he's an expert at foraged edibles in the Rockies, takes a small frying pan, buffalo grease, period fishing kit and he's off for the weekend. His wife gets a little rattled about his limited resources, but he uses what is available at hand, cat-tail flour for bread (bannock), has different plant leaves for a salad and so on, she's good for about two weekends like this a year. But it can be done, so she goes to prove that she's a tough as he is !!!! I wish I had the mind-set, the ability or guts to believe enough in myself to do this as much as he has.

MENUS :
Morning meal: corn meal w/ Havana Brown sugar, (Havana Brown is an old sugar [less costly than white sugar in the colonial days] have switched to blue corn - better taste) 1/2 cup per person with water, a few small pieces of fruit and small amount of tea (save the tea leaves), corn flour, use a 1/2 cup per person of flour to make "bannock" bread (will produce a loaf per say the size of a regular hot dog). Surprisingly this will satisfy you, no matter what your brain says.

Afternoon snack: some parched corn, a little fruit and whatever you may find in your travels.

Evening meal: with a little testing you will be able to judge the amount of rice or barley needed to make a small portion, and not waste anything. We have used mixed small amount of wild rice, barley pearled, split peas and a little jerky (changing the meal of one or two items) to make a stew, use a little more water than what your wife would use - fills you up with the broth. Use your used tea leaves for a mild tea flavor. Use any left overs and try and eat late in the evening (going to bed on a full belly).

Don't forget what you have foraged during the day that can be prepared to supplement your evening or morning meal. Our biggest problem seems to be mind-set that we are going to starve, hell you'll die from lack of water long before you'll starve.

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The chance of you doing great harm on a weekend or a week from the lack of food is really not a major problem according to most doctors, unless you have medical problems, special medication, etc. that may require you to use with food. But do make sure you keep liquids in your system, plus a good drink of water is somewhat filling by itself.

This all sounds great, right. Well it's easier to write or tell it - than when packing for that adventure, you'll find yourself cheating and adding this and that - just in case. You'll stop and think and remember that first hunting trip (a day long) and all the extra stuff you took that Dad told you wasn't needed, (well just in case).

The big thing is do some testing the night the wife had to work late, make up a meal, simple - small in amount, bottom line is testing. With your experience you'll have NO problem, it's just that mind-set that we all fight with. I'm always packing and unpacking different amounts, if you take just so much - small amount of food, and leave out "the just in case" factor, then your options are get along with what you got and start foraging.

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These daily rations are taken from the French and Indian War's period records:

Cornmeal or oats 2 handfuls, Peas or beans 2 handfuls, Parched corn 2 handfuls, Dried meat 3-6 pieces (venison, beef, fish), Dried fruit 1-2 handfuls (apples, peaches, raisins, pumpkin or combination), Small red potatoes 2-3 each, Small onions 1 each, Maple or muscavado sugar 1-2 Tb
Salt 1/2 Tb, Peppercorns 4-10 each, Coffee 1-2 handfuls, (Alternate) Chocolate 1/2 - 1 full cake or tea 1-2 Tb.

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Another daily rations from the Fur Trade period are much similar:

corn meal (per person) mixed with Havana sugar (2 cupped hand fulls), corn flour (2 cupped hand fulls), wild rice (cupped hand full), barley pearled (cupped hand full), split peas (cupped hand full), fruit [dried apples or peaches] (2 cupped hand fulls), dried meat strips broken into 3" pieces (2 cupped hand fulls), parched corn w/ local nuts (3 cupped hand fulls), tea (same measurement per person, lasts for 3-4 days - cupped hand full) a little on the weak side last day or two.

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SEE OUR MENU LIST BELOW

Breads  Drinks  Meats  Soups  Sweets  Snacks  Vegetables

Edible  Research  Camp Ware  Cooking  Meas.Amts.

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"light up your pipe, enjoy the fire...."

Copyright 2005 - "North American Frontiersmen" with guidance of "Council of Elders" member Walt Hayward. All Rights Reserved.

last updated 10/20/05