This photos depicts a Crawford family picnic.

Tread of Pioneers Museum/courtesy

This photos depicts a Crawford family picnic.

Tales from the Tread: Taste of Routt County history

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“If you could make a good pie, you always had someone who was willing to thresh grain for you, brand cattle for you, or help in the hayfield. … The people who worked on the hay teams and threshing crews knew who was a good cook and who was a bad cook, and they did a better job if you were a good cook.”

Tales from the Tread

Tales from the Tread columns publish the first and third Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today.

If you go

What: A Taste of History: “This and That” from the Fair Family Favorites Cookbook

When: Noon, Feb. 17

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum

Cost: Free

What: A Taste of History: Routt County Soups

When: Noon, March 17

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum

Cost: Free

— Todd Hagenbuch, grandson of the late Elaine Gay, at the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s A Taste of History event Jan. 20

The Tread of Pioneers Museum’s three-part series, A Taste of History, celebrates the history of Routt County through recipes and food. Recipes are an integral part of our heritage, as they demonstrate a historical perspective of home life, agriculture and the pioneer spirit that kept a family going against enormous odds.

Quite often, to feed her family, a woman needed to cultivate a substantial garden, preserve much of the garden’s bounty, then make these provisions last without spoiling for most of the year. Her recipes had to be delicious, satisfying and economical.

This enduring spirit, culinary creativity and love of food is what A Taste of History shares with the community. Now in its second year, each program features speakers from longtime local families in the county, as well as dishes from historic Routt County recipes, offering people a real taste of our history.

Many of the historic recipes used in A Taste of History programs come from “Fair Family Favorites” cookbook, a compilation of hundreds of historic Rout County recipes from the past 100 years. The cookbook, which honors the 100th anniversary of the Routt County Fair, was created by a group of women with lineage in Routt County dating back decades. The women contributed recipes from their own families and scoured the county for others.

In the cookbook’s introduction, contributor Nancy Mucklow wrote, “The recipes gathered here come from generations of Routt County ranchers, farmers, homemakers, city folk, culinary geniuses, chefs, master food preservers and young tykes adventurous enough to make an entry for the fair. ... These pages include recipes that pioneers brought with them from home and memories of rows of luscious cakes and clear jars of home canned pickles.”

At the back of the “Fair Family Favorites” cookbook is an intriguing section titled “This and That,” which is the topic of the Feb. 17 A Taste of History program. Using ingredients they had in their homes, clever local women made their own furniture polish, stock liniment, cough syrup, soap, starch for ironing and many other items that may not have been readily available in stores.

“This and That” also includes helpful hints for homemakers, such as using ice cubes to sharpen garbage disposal blades, wings of a turkey or chicken to clean windows and a combination of egg whites and quicksilver (mercury) to prevent bed bugs. In addition, food prepared from historic Routt County recipes will be available to taste.

Tamra Monahan is a museum assistant at Tread of Pioneers Museum.

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