Did the Pioneers Make Lasagna?

By Keith Fisher

We were asked by our ward to cook on Pioneer day again this year. When you cook for your church group, It’s a good idea to cook something different each time. You don’t want people to think you’re a one-pot wonder. For that reason, we’ve been brainstorming.

Last year, we made Cheesy Potatoes, Barbecue Spareribs, Polynesian Chicken, Corn on the Cobb, and homemade Root Beer. I’ve been working on a couple of new lasagna recipes for this year, and I tried one for my critique group the other day. We’ve been planning, and counting, getting ready to make lasagna for 250.

So, we got the ingredients today. We’re making Three Pineapple glazed hams; two 15-inch pots of baked beans, nine cobblers and seven turtle cakes. I’ll let you know what happens.

On Sunday, I was asked what we planned to make. I said, "I’m not sure. Probably lasagna." He gave me a funny look and said, "Lasagna? That’s not very Pioneer-ish."

Well I had to admit that it wasn’t, but then again, neither is turtle cake. I was left to wonder about my choice. Then I was reminded that some Italian Mormon Converts immigrated to Utah too. As you might know, Pioneer day, in this state is for commemorating the day in 1847, when the bulk of the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.

I suppose that since meat was in short supply back then, I should make vegetable stew, and corn bread. Fruit cobblers would be out of the question.

If the truth were told, I bet our ancestors watch us celebrate with hamburgers, and hot dogs and wish they’d had food like that. I also think my ancestors will see the hams I’m making, and their spirits will salivate. If disembodied spirits could do that kind of thing.

My saving grace, I guess, is the baked beans. Pioneers had them. Of course I use two different kinds of meat and four different kinds of beans in mine, along with fresh bell peppers and onions.

Oh well, with all my romantic notions, I guess I’m really just a twentieth century guy after all. At least I cook like a nineteenth-century cook with my cast iron pots . . . uh, well, if it weren’t for the charcoal briquettes, my propane starter, and my steel cooking table.

Okay never mind. I hope you can use your Dutch ovens on Friday. Make your ancestors proud. It might help you appreciate what they went through.

Oh, I'm also trying something new with hot dogs. Let you know how that comes out too.