Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sherry Monahan and Frontier Fare

Meet Sherry Monahan, author of "Frontier Fare"
Sherry is a lady of 'many hats.' She is a contributing editor at True West magazine.

Her column Frontier Fare has appeared in the magazine since 2009. Each monthly column features a recipe that has been adapted from Wild West frontier days accompanied by some interesting lore associated with the recipe. Citrus for the Rich was her most recent column in  the March 2015 issue.
Sherry's newest book is "Frontier Fare" published in 2014. For a complete list of Sherry's non-fiction books on the Victorian West go to

Sherry is a marketing consultant and professional genealogist. In addition she is the current president of the Western Writers of America, Inc. This organization was founded in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West and bestow Spur Awards for distinguished writing in the Western field. The founders were largely authors who wrote traditional Western fiction, but the organization swiftly expanded to include historians and other nonfiction authors, young adult and romance writers, and writers interested in regional history.
Today it has over 650 members who write everything from mainstream fiction to local history. WWA actively helps its members promote their books and articles, and aggressively promotes the literature of the American West, which it considers this country’s unique contribution to world literature. 
Sherry's enjoys tracing the genealogy of food and wine. Her passions of cooking, collecting recipes and love of the Victorian Wild West are reflected in her newest book "Frontier Fare." 
I am impressed with the creativity of the author and how ingenious she was to devise this type of cookbook. It is based on actual recipes from the Wild West days and provides the reader with back stories of recipes, adding in myths and legends of cooking during this time period. 
The recipes are arranged by theme: those recipes carried west by pioneers, ethnic foods that appeared with the new settlers, to those created by pioneers and even some recipes found at famous hotels and historic restaurants. The last chapter includes recipes served for special occasions and holidays. 

In the introduction the author states that many of the recipes are period recipes and because of unusual measurements or terms used during that time period some recipes have been slightly modified to make it easier for anyone to make them today.  I enjoyed reading some actual diary entries from cooks from the 1800's. 
Many of the recipes the pioneers brought as they headed west were kept on slips of paper or orally passed down from one generation to another. Each chapter touches on the challenges and hardships pioneer cooks faced with lack of supplies, weather and availability of fresh foods.  

Cook's notes: Following Sherry's suggestion I started with an easy recipe, Huckleberry Shortcake, as I cook my way through the gastronomy of the Victorian West!
Pioneers had more accessibility to huckleberries than we do in Minnesota or even in Arizona. It is much harder to find fresh ones, and their availability is often limited to areas in which they flourish in the wild. I did find out that huckleberries are Idaho's state berry.
The good news is blueberries can be easily substituted. Today I found blueberries for a shocking $.97-what a deal!
The aroma from the shortcake as I took it out of the oven was amazing. But I did make the mistake of leaving Huckleberry/Blueberry Shortcake unattended while I was outside. When I returned it looked like some leprechaun mischief had gone on. I noted green sparkles now covered the top of the shortcake.  
Sherry's recipe was adapted from the Dallas Morning news, May 10, 1891
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (my addition)
  • 1/3 butter room temperature
  • 1-1/2-1-3/4 cups milk (I used buttermilk)
  • 1 pint berries
  • topping: 1 TB. sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease  a 8 x 8 pan and set aside.
  • Place flour, salt, powdered sugar, cinnamon and baking powder in a large bowl. Use a whisk and mix well.
  • Using a pastry blender work the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs.  

  •   Add in milk starting with 1-1/2 cups first. The dough will be stiff use extra milk as needed. 
  • Evenly pat batter in pan. Sprinkle on topping.
  • Bake 22-25 minutes. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. Garnish with whipped cream.  

"Frontier Fare" can be ordered following this link

1 comment:

  1. This type of cookbook is so genius. This would make for a fun party with a western theme, guests arriving in western attire, western food and maybe watching an old western.