All hail the Mormon pioneers!

Religion News Service | 7/22/2019 | Staff
gracey (Posted by) Level 3
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Covered wagon. Wikimedia Commons.

It’s that time of year again, when Latter-day Saints remember—and remember, and remember—the brave pioneers who settled the Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847.

Utah - Pioneer - Day - Ohio - Places

I’ve never been in Utah on Pioneer Day myself. Here in Ohio and in other places I’ve lived, Pioneer Day is more church-centered—we sing “Come, Come Ye Saints” in a sacrament meeting and discuss the pioneers’ sacrifices for religious freedom.

We also send our teenagers out on “trek,” a re-enactment experience that has become popular in recent decades. The idea is to give youth several hours or even days of hellish outdoor living conditions so they’ll learn to appreciate how their ancestors managed to survive without cell phones. In June, one of these groups in Utah made national news because the participants got so dehydrated. The dehydration, at least, is historically accurate. Welcome to pioneer living, kids.

Vintage - Pioneers - Pioneer - Story - Generations

Although “trek” is of recent vintage, what folks do now to honor the pioneers is low-key compared to how omnipresent the pioneer story was a few generations ago. To my delight I was recently given a couple of Mormon cookbooks from the 1960s and 1970s, with cover art featuring white women in vague nineteenth-century dress preparing food before an open hearth. Each woman is assisted by precisely one girl, presumably a daughter, to whom she will impart the family’s culinary heritage. There are no sister wives in sight.

My new cookbooks!

Thing - Interesting - Cream - Vegetable - Recipe

The first thing to strike me as interesting was how much heavy cream there was; no vegetable was safe from it. (See recipe for “Pioneer Lettuce Salad” at the end of this column.) But after my arteries recovered from that shock, the second thing I noticed was that the pioneers were on nearly every page: Brigham’s Buttermilk Biscuits, Mormon Johnnycake, pioneer candies, a pie crust recipe someone carried across...
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