Pioneer Homesteads in BC
Did you know that my region was settled just 2 generations ago? My husband’s mother, Maize Brown, was the child of one of the first pioneer families in the Kootenays — settlers from Scotland, via Manitoba. They homesteaded around Robson, across the river from Castlegar in the 1890s, and planted an apple orchard on their homestead. All the water was carried up the mountain from the Kootenay River, at first in hollowed out log pipes. These froze the first winter and cracked, leaving Grandmother to haul the water in pails up the mountain side for the remainder of their sojourn there. In those days, homesteaders lived off the land and had to make do with what they had or order it from the Eaton’s catalogue or the company store. The railway brought supplies from the East and the homestead house wife was able to find what she needed in the catalogue, so her life was much enhanced.
Because of the railroad, communities grew quickly in the area. Mining and forestry were booming and the economies of small communities thrived where there was work. Milk was delivered in glass bottle or children walked down the lane with tin pails in hand, to pick up milk at the local dairy. Boys brought home fish from the river for supper. Vegetables and fruit were grown in the back yard garden. Huckleberries and mushrooms were found on the mountain trails, along with choke cherries, saskatoons and a few bear.
How I got a Pioneer Cookbook
Mom’s sister, Jean (Brown) Fowler, was a member of the Woman’s Institute in Robson/Castlegar, B.C. her whole life. For our wedding gift in 1982, she presented us with the British Columbia Women’s Institute Centennial Cookbook, fourth edition, 1971, coil bound, originally published in 1958. She had several new copies of this classic and it is one of the few wedding gifts that we received that I still use. It is grungy, splattered, and dog eared with copious notes, made by me. It was a substitute mother, when I was learning how to cook from scratch, in the early years of our marriage. And it is still my most looked at reference. (What temperature do I cook fudge to? Oh, yes, boil hard for 5 minutes). It is a real homestead guide to frugal, sustainable cooking, with tidbits of homemaking helps like this one:
“If a handful of salt is put in the rinse water clothes will not freeze to the line in cold weather.”
“When finished washing always release the pressure on the wringer rolls, they’ll wear longer.”
The cook book was a combination regional history book, home economics text book, and regional cooking book. Many of the recipes came from the original home economics texts put out by the woman’s institute decades earlier. These cookbooks were part of a 5 volume set of pioneer cooking skills for modern women. These were published at the beginning of the home economics movement, when household cooking skills were married with modern sciences and became the foundation for university studies for women. When milk came from the farm down the road, or was delivered in glass bottles, and meat was brought home fresh from the stream or the local butcher, women needed to know how to cook the various cuts or what to do with the rising cream. These books addressed issues that our modern convenience shields us from, but they are far from obsolete. These books will help anyone wanting to live a more simple, and self-reliant lifestyle. They are also an informative look into the life and kitchens of grandmothers, and great grandmothers, many who can no longer share their stories with us. Scriptures say, “A wise woman builds her house.” These books are filled with the wisdom of the grandmothers, for those of us who desire to hear.
Amazon carries many of these classic cookbooks in Kindle Books. Some are free, and those that aren’t free are just a few bucks and well worth it. While these cook books may seem out of date in our world of modern convenience, canned foods, and unlimited choices, they will be a huge help for those wanting to find a simple, frugal, nutritious menu in these troublesome times.
You don’t need a Kindle to download these classic cookbooks. You can download the Kindle app for your pc, apple lap top, or device for free from Amazon, and enjoy these free (and almost free) cookbooks right now. And it won’t cost you a dime for the reading app. You can also read these books in the Amazon cloud. Best of all, all your free Kindle books are kept for you in your Kindle Library on Amazon.
When you are ready to get your own Kindle, you can download your library to it. Most Kindle books are licensed to be read simultaneously on all the Kindle reading devices or Kindle apps registered to a single email address. So you and your kids can read the same book on your own Kindles, but you only have to purchase it once. (How many devices each book can be viewed on will be listed under each book.) This is a great advantage to home schoolers. But more about that in another post. Let me tell you about these really useful pioneer cookbooks…
Free and Almost Free Homestead Cookbooks: A Whole Library of Homestead Cook books for less than 5 bucks!
I rank these cookbooks right up with my “More with Less” cookbook. When I need to know how to cook something simply, from scratch, using the staples that I already have in my cupboard, these are the cookbooks I go to. A chocolate cake, shortbread cookies, waffles, pancakes. My 100 year old fudge recipe came from these books, too. These are the cookbooks that my mother-in-law used and these are the same recipes that were used in Home Ec text books for BC highschools through the thirties, forties and fifties.
Check out the free Cookbooks on Amazon Kindle here.
Don’t forget to check for papercopies of these historical cookbooks
Also check garage sales, thrifts stores, and attic trunks for these historical cookbooks. These are also valuable as historical documents, and they give us insight into the lives of our fore-mothers. By reading through some of the nonrecipe portions, you can gain insight into how women solved problems without modern conveniences, and in many ways, in a more frugal and sustainable way.You can get more free Kindle books for homesteaders by connecting to the Joybilee Farm Facebook Page. Each morning I search the internet for free newly published Kindle Books that would be of interest to homesteaders. These are books about gardening, alternative energy, homeschooling, alternative lifestyle, DIY and crafts. I post these on the Joybilee Farm Facebook page, so that you can download them for free. They are limited time offers and may not be free in all regions. So check the price before you click. Whether its free or not depends on the book publisher.
With so many free Kindle Books is it time to get your own Kindle?
Picture credit: cc license, Paul Keller flickr photo stream: