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The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark
Recipes for an Expedition by Mary Gunderson
Book Review by
Cheryl Harvey Hill for Take Country Back – Vol. 1 Issue 4 Winter 2005

Being named "Outstanding Book of the Year" by the Independent Publisher's and receiving the "Benjamin Franklin Award" from Publishers Marketing Association is a well deserved endorsement for this delicious, pun intended, cookbook. This isn't your average cookbook, this IS an amazingly entertaining, educational encyclopedia based on the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The Lewis and Clark that we all learned about in school will pale by comparison to the men we learn about in this uniquely fascinating book.

In the liner notes of the book it says, "Food fueled their journey now let their story fire your imagination and your appetite."  Lewis and Clark wrote about food in their journals almost every day and Mary Gunderson's authentic recipes were inspired by their words. But it isn't just the recipes that will keep you reading. As you follow Lewis and Clark across the country, you discover, not only what they ate, but how they caught, trapped, picked, found their food and how they prepared and/or preserved it. You learn about Lewis' faithful, Newfoundland dog and how he and Clark relied on the animal to help feed them. I never learned in any history class in public school about the talented, squirrel catching companion of Lewis. Now, tell the truth, you didn't either.

And how about this: 9 April 1805, Lewis wrote "when we halted for dinner [Sacagawea] busied herself in searching for the wild artichokes which the mice collect and deposit in large hoards ..." Then Ms. Gunderson not only gives you a recipe for "Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes" but, before doing so, she tells you all about this particular vegetable; it's botanical name (Helianthus tuberosus), what food family it comes from, what region of the country it grows in, where to find it in your local supermarket and even offers up a photo of the plant. If you aren't impressed with that, how about "How to Cook a Bear" (AKA Ursus horribilis)? I bet you haven't seen that in your Betty Crocker cookbook.

Okay, right about now you are wondering what Lewis and Clark have to do with country music; well, it appears that a lot of country music artists have an appreciation for good food cooked outdoors over an open fire. Ray Price, Mark Chesnutt, Andy Griggs, John Conlee and many others appeared with Host Johnny Nix on Campfire Cafe's Fall Celebrity TV Series, the only open fire cooking show on TV. Their menus were created from The Food Journal of Lewis and Clark Cookbook which is based on recipes that are over 200 years old. The series was filmed at the legendary Hank Williams Estate which is now the home of Jett Williams and her husband Keith Adkinson.   

"I think together Mary and I have proven that folks have been enjoying good food cooked over an open fire for centuries," says Nix, an avid outdoor cook for more than 25 years. "We found these recipes to be simple, healthy and delicious by any standards!"

Mark Wills said, "I enjoy the outdoors so much that doing this show was a blast, a great learning experience, and a fun, new way of cooking." His enthusiasm is shared by country music stars and avid outdoorsmen Daryle Singletary, Rhett Akins and Aaron Tippin, who say they are each eager to try the recipes and open fire cooking in their own hunting camps.

Don’t forget the music. On the Lewis & Clark Expedition, fiddler Pierre Cruzatte played tunes for his fellow travelers. Nix;s 21st century food and cooking adventurers share clips from their music videos with Campfire Café viewers. The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark’s Mary Gunderson, author and food historian, agrees that this unbeatable blend of food, music and good company brings history alive for all ages.

Campfire Café (http://www.campfirecafe.com/) airs on PBS and RFD-TV weekly to over 100 million households. The Lewis & Clark Celebrity Series began airing on PBS in November of 2005 and will continue through May 21, 2006.

For more information about the recipes and the spirit of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, visit www.historycooks.com.

Buy the book right now!

Cornish Hens with Sweet Potato Stuffing

2 Cornish hens (about 12 ounces each)                     3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed
salt and pepper to taste                                           1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Place the Cornish hen on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper inside and out. Fill the cavity loosely with sweet potatoes, letting a few sweet potatoes overflow. Brush oil on each hen. Bake in 350 oven for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours or until the juices run clear and the potatoes are tender. Carve the hens and serve with the sweet potatoes.

To roast on an open grill, prepare as above. Place on the side of hot coals. Cover the grill and roast hens as above.

This recipe is reprinted here with the permission from The Food Journal of Lewis & Clark: Recipes for an Expedition by Mary Gunderson.



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