Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Oregon Trail

On our way home yesterday we visited the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. It was a very cool museum that the whole family thoroughly enjoyed. As we went up to the reception area to pay the lady asked, "Do you homeschool your little ones?" When I said, "Yes," she said, "Well, you're home free, then. Go right on in!" I thought that was so nice! I don't believe we've ever received any "perks" before for being homeschoolers! The museum consisted of hallways of life-size dioramas of life along the Trail. We didn't have time to study everything as thoroughly as we would've liked, so we will plan to return.

Website for the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

The lady in the gift shop gave us a Educational Resource Guide. It lists all sorts of activities that you can do to build a unit study about the Oregon Trail. It included a section of recipes. Here is one that intrigued me:

Trail Lemonade To make this proper you want real vinegar, one with the "mother" in it. If you don't already have it, ask around; it is like sharing and passing a sourdough starter. The lemon essence was often added to improve the flavor of brackish water found on the trail. This "lemonade" is refreshing. Some emigrants claimed that when ginger was added to cold water, a body could drink as much as one wanted without feeling bloated or get an achy stomach. Start with 1 cup real vinegar. Add cup of sugar (try raw sugar for a more authentic taste), 2 oz. Lemon essence, 2-3 cups water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Taste. Adjust sweetness to your liking.

Okay, so does anybody have "real vinegar" with a "mother" in it? I never heard of that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the "mother" must be some sort of fungus growing in it that keeps the vinegar fermented? Sounds absolutely nasty! Wonder what regular apple cider vinegar that you can buy at the grocery store would taste like. And what is "lemon essence"? Is that different than lemon juice?

Honestly, I'd be willing to give some of these old pioneer recipes a try if I knew where to get the ingredients! I'm not sure that we would actually like them, but it would be a good learning experience, huh?

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