Traveling across the plains, the members of the Martin Handcart Company had used up their last flour rations and had begun to starve before reaching the Salt Lake Valley. As the pioneer company finally entered the valley, Brigham Young recounted their difficulties and sent the local members home soon after their worship meetings.
He said, “You know I would give more for a plate of pudding and milk or a baked potato and salt, if I were in the position of these people who just walked in, than I would give. for all your prayers, even though you were staying here all afternoon and praying.
Pioneer Day commemorates the trek of Latter-day Saint pioneers through the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. It is a holiday in Utah, but is also celebrated by members of the Church of Jesus- Christ of Latter-day Saints to honor pioneers around the world who helped establish the church in their area. Here are some recipes you could make to celebrate Pioneer Day.
One of Brigham Young’s favorite foods was buttermilk donuts. These simple recipes only require flour, eggs, buttermilk, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and butter.
You could also make Joseph Smith’s favorite dish: Johnnycakes. You can have a family member shake heavy whipping cream in a mason jar to make homemade butter by mixing cornmeal, baking soda, molasses, cream of tartar, salt, butter, eggs and honey.
You can choose to indulge in French fries and sprinkle crumbled bacon on top like the pioneers did. Or maybe you’ll choose to make a local specialty to celebrate your local pioneers – the options are endless.
Although sauerkraut season begins in September, it is available year-round in grocery stores. Be bold and try sauerkraut and noodles for lunch. Using a pioneer-era recipe posted on the pioneer food blog Plain But Wholesome, take an egg, eggshell water, salt, and flour to mix together some quick noodles before frying them with sauerkraut and bratwurst.
For a lighter lunch, make a cucumber salad – freshly sliced cucumbers with vinegar, onion, sugar and salt are sure to please. Serve it with a side of hardtack: a simple cookie that pioneers ate on the trail.
You might choose to make everyone’s favorite cheesy potato dish: funeral potatoes. It could even work as a side dish to bring to a family barbecue.
Or make a quick dish of Hawaiian haystacks or make fried scones with honey butter.
A humble dinner of baked potatoes with salt, pudding and milk would be symbolic. As Brigham Young told church members when the Martin Handcart Company first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, “Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and milk are needed, prayer will not replace them.” By using coarse salt and butter, you can make the perfect baked potato.
You could try making hurried pudding, a favorite of the pioneers. Or if hasty pudding isn’t your favorite dessert, John Taylor’s Applesauce Cake might be for you – Emily Partridge Young recorded this recipe in Salt Lake’s 18th Ward cookbook.
Other dinner options include Chicken Velvet Soup, Pan-Seared Sweet Potatoes, or Pioneer Pork with Mormon Sauce. After a long day of partying, you might want to call in for pizza, pie, and root beer. If you’re raising a glass of root beer, you can choose Brigham’s Brew.
Whatever you choose to do on Pioneer Day, it is a day to reflect on the sacrifices Latter-day Saint pioneers made for religious freedom and to celebrate pioneers in your local community.