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Old 11-16-2007, 08:47 PM   #1
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Need help with harvest dinner

In the book I'm working on, there are 30 people harvesting corn, picking it by hand, and I am trying the make up four menus for the big meals they are fed at the end of the day. They had no refrigeration, so about all the meat they had in the summer was freshly killed chicken, salt pork, bacon, or things they had canned the year before, like pork chops, beef chunks or sausages. I think they also made dried beef, but I'm not sure about that.

I figure one night they'll have chicken and dumplings, but after that I'm kind of stumped. Of course, they had a lot of vegetables, but surely they fed them some sort of meat.
I have considered having the host kill a spring pig and cook it on a spit, but I don't know if he could have afforded or had the time to do that.

I would appreciate any ideas you all have. Remember, these are poor Iowas farmers trying to survive the depression.



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Old 11-16-2007, 09:21 PM   #2
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Wow!Good questions Im guessing they made alot of stews and a whole lot of beans.Corn Bread? I dont think they ate salads in those days.Im thinking if you go on Ebay you might find some dated cook books in that time.Also biscuits Im just drawing on what the cowboys would eat on a cattle drive and then adding all the extras you should have been able to get on the farm.
I have question did they have easy access to fruit like apples and berries?Did they have established fruit trees by then?
I am very interested and want to be the first to read your book when its done. Maybe you can contact the Universities in that state and get some more concrete information about those times

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Old 11-16-2007, 10:01 PM   #3
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Lets not forget rabbits, squirrel, deer, fish, goat, pig, lamb, beef, duck, goose, chickens, quail, pheasant..... They hunted, fished, raised animals, smoked beef, ham, bacon etc....
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Old 11-16-2007, 10:13 PM   #4
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Before I went to eBay I would learn to Google - and research the Amish history, culture, and foods! As in Amish History, Amish Culture, Amish Foods, Amish Harvest, Amish Harvest Celebration, Amish Harvest Festival. There is even a link to Amish Illinois ... which could give you some real regional insights if you are in the Arthur, Arcola, Sullivan, Tuscola area.
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain
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Old 11-16-2007, 10:19 PM   #5
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Very good advice Michel in Ft W University of Iowa has a huge!!!! collection of early Americana Try A EM to university of Iowa .org
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Old 11-17-2007, 05:29 PM   #6
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Very good advice from all of you! Thank you!

JC, I have Grandma's Amish Brethren cookbook...I just have to be able to get upstairs to get it out.
They did have fruit trees. Grandma dried apples and canned cherries, wild blackberries and rhubarb. She made all sorts of jellies and jams, including muscadine (wild grape) and elderberry.
Dad said she sliced her pies in 6 slices.

Michael, thanks for the great links! Grandma was Amish, but Grandpa and his family were not. He was Scots-Irish. She was shunned by her church and family for marrying outside the faith.
I think Arthur is the one most people from down here visit. I've never been there. I'll have to check it out and see how long a trip it is. I don't travel well.
We do have a good sized Mennonite settlement here, and a lot of them were my customers in the springtime. Mennonites are a lot more modern, though, especially these days. My grandma would have flipped if she'd seen Earline driving that Dodge van. They even have telephones.

Jeff, they did hunt some when they had time, but they didn't kill rabbits until after frost because the danger of tularemia...rabbit fever. They also didn't slaughter anything they couldn't use in a day or two because the closest thing they had for refrigeration was the cave (combination storage and storm shelter) or a limited amount of space in the deep well, which was reserved for cooling milk. The cave stayed around 50-55 degrees year round.
You have something there with the goat, though. And of course, they had the cured and dry meats. They also canned meat...I know of pork chops, beef chunks and sausages for sure.

Dave and CJ, I will check out the University of Iowa. Good idea.

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