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Original Issue

Living It Up in the Bridger Wilderness

Mary Faler's starter, the vital ingredient of sourdough biscuits and pancakes, is one of the traditional recipes of the pioneer West. Sourdough pancakes, hard to come by these days, were a mainstay of the country 100 years ago, and biscuits, rare in the rest of the world, have always been an indispensable part of American cookery. A sourdough starter is as well adapted to modern pack-trip cooking as it was to the covered wagon. When some of it is used up, more flour, water and sugar are added to the original mixture and it will keep on souring indefinitely. Mary Faler's own recipe for sourdough starter can be made for use at home. It should be stored in the refrigerator and used at least once a week. The starter can also be frozen.


½ pound potatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 cups unsifted flour (approximate)

Cook potatoes in 3 cups water; reserve 2 cups of the water. Mash potatoes and add ‚Öì cup potato to the lukewarm potato water. Then add sugar, yeast and enough flour to make a "sponge." Cover and put in a warm place to work.

On the following morning pour off what is needed for pancake batter and leave the rest of the sponge as starter to be used later.


2 cups starter
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
2 eggs

Add other ingredients to starter and beat into a batter. Let the batter sit half an hour or longer. Ladle onto a very hot griddle or flapjack pan and cook like any other pancake. Stack cakes and serve with honey.


½ cup starter
1 cup milk
2½ cups unsifted flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
About ½ teaspoon baking soda
Bacon grease or vegetable oil and butter

Mix starter, milk and 1 cup flour in a large mixing bowl the evening before if biscuits are for breakfast, in the morning if they are for dinner. Cover bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place.

Turn this very soft dough out onto 1 cup flour on a board. Combine salt, sugar, baking powder and soda with remaining ½ CUP flour and sift over the top. Work dry ingredients into the dough, kneading lightly and for a short time only. Roll out half an inch thick. Cut out biscuits and dip each one in bacon grease or mixture of oil and butter.

Place biscuits close together in a 9-inch-square pan. Cover with foil and put in a warm place to rise about half an hour. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Gut trout. Leave small fish whole, fillet large ones. Pat dry. Salt and pepper inside and out, and dip fish in vegetable oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Grill over gray coals in a basket rack 7 minutes on one side, 5 minutes on the other. Naturally, timing depends on size and thickness of trout, and these times apply to small fish weighing about half a pound each. For a thicker coating, take trout from fire and sprinkle again with sesame seeds. Grill for 2 more minutes on each side, until seeds are golden brown.


3 pounds trout, cut in chunks
3 cups water
3 cups reconstituted freeze-dried potato cubes
1 cup onion flakes
1 tablespoon vegetable flakes (optional)
3 cups evaporated milk or reconstituted powdered milk Salt, pepper
4-6 tablespoons butter

Simmer trout for at least 15 minutes in boiling salted water in a covered pot, remembering that high-altitude cooking is slower. Drain fish, reserving broth. Boil potatoes and onion and vegetable flakes in broth until tender. This takes about 10 minutes at sea level, 20 minutes at high altitude. Skin and bone fish. Add to broth. Season with salt and pepper, reheat, and just before serving swirl in the butter. Evaporated milk makes a creamier chowder, so less butter is needed than for a chowder made with powdered milk. Canned butter can be found in some specialty stores and department stores.