California - Camp Cookery
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
FOR THE NON-PROFESSIONAL CAMPER
WHAT OURS IS NOT
(With Apologies to Mr. Stewart Edward White.)
IT was before the days of some experiences set down in this book, and Sylvia was seated at a civilized window in a civilized room reading a large green volume. She looked troubled. Passing through the room I noted the anxious expression and inquired the cause. The book was closed with some emphasis.
"I am discouraged," she said.
I was alarmed. When before had Sylvia been discouraged? she who had always found the interest of life rise with the increasing difficulty of its daily problems, and who thanked Heaven for obstacles because they made such admirable stepping-stones to greater heights. What catastrophe had dampened this cheerful spirit? What barrier had closed the door of hope?
"This man," and Sylvia made a vicious poke at the green volume, "this man is telling how to cook in the wilderness. I have never cooked in the wilderness in my life, but the performance as he describes it does not seem difficult. The difficulty to my mind lies in his results—they would simply kill us both. Now, we are planning trips as wild as these. Do we have to live in this dreadful way? Please listen to this"—and she read a stomach-turning recipe involving the compounding of flour, raisins, baking powder, fat salt pork and sugar, "mixed into a mess with a quantity of larrupy dope.''
Having written a little myself, I felt privileged to speak as one of the craft, and so I expounded my views of the matter.
"The author is just astonishing the natives a little, I think; nobody has to live that way anywhere, and certainly we don't. The men in this book were possessed of iron nerves and robust physiques, and the very bohemianism of their fare was part of the fun to them. We are of a different makeup. We have nerves and stomachs and livers that must be treated with a certain consideration, or we are out of the running. Now I think we can prove to our-selves and to the public whom we shall try to reach with the account of the accomplishment, that it is entirely possible to live in the wilderness like people of gentle breeding and to provide, a hundred miles from anywhere, without any extraordinary outlay of means, a menu and a ménage to which we should feel in nowise ashamed to invite our most particular friends—only we won't!"
The following chapters are an endeavor to show how this was done and contain some practical directions, based on our own experience, as to how others may achieve a similar result.