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  • Writer's pictureJBBK

Rustic Recipes inspired by Bodie, California circa 1908

Eating Bodie Style never tasted so good!

During the gold rush years, the people in Bodie ate a lot of beans, bacon, ham, dried apples, deer meat, fish, boiled potatoes, biscuits, and pies and cakes made with sugar and molasses. Most farmers had a milk cow. They drank some of the milk and used the rest of it to make butter, cream, and sometimes cheese. A lot of farmers also had a few chickens that laid enough eggs for their own family and to sell to others. Farmers also raised as many vegetables as they could and preserved them to use after the growing season was over. Even people in town had a garden—even if it was a little one in their back yard. They drank water, coffee, and tea (when they could get it).

Things like chips and French fries hadn’t been invented yet. Candy was rare, and they didn’t know about fruits like kiwis and bananas. They didn’t have your favorite cereal, either—just oatmeal.

If you don’t think you would have liked eating the food Bodie residents ate, you might be surprised to find out it was actually very good. The food was also a lot healthier to eat because it was fresh. It didn’t have preservatives to make it last longer. People didn’t eat too much fat and sugar, either.

The people in Bodie knew they needed to eat healthy foods so they would be strong enough to do all the hard work they did. They also knew how important it was to store food for the winter because the cold temperatures and heavy snow made it hard for the stagecoach to bring supplies. Food wouldn’t grow, and it was even hard to go hunting and fishing.

Are you ready to spend a day eating like a gold miner?

Beans and Cornbread:

  • One of a miner’s favorite meals was beans and cornbread. You can make cornbread from a mix if you want, but ask your parent to take you to the store to buy great northern beans or pinto beans and cornbread mix. Cook this meal for your family.

Dried Apples:

  • Core two apples and slice them about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle them with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Place them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake them at 200 degrees until they are wrinkled and feel like leather. NOTE: You will have to check them about every 20 minutes. You have to do this because not all types of apples bake in the same amount of time. Let them cool and enjoy eating them for a snack.

Campfire Casserole:

  • Cook 1 pound of bacon in a skillet. Drain most of the grease out of the skillet—leave 3 or 4 tablespoons in there. When the bacon is cool, crumble it up and set it aside.

  • Put 2 cans of pinto or kidney beans in the skillet with ½ cup molasses or honey, ½ teaspoon of salt, pepper (to taste), and ½ cup chopped onions. Mix well and cook on low heat until bubbly. Add the crumbled bacon and cook for 10 minutes more on low heat.

Eat and enjoy!

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