Explorers, prospectors, cowboys, and settlers who pushed west in the 19th century faced constant challenges as they struggled to survive and establish roots. The animals they hunted, the crops they planted, and the food they ate depended on the local surroundings, while how they cooked was most often a reflection of their cultures.
Early American Cooking: Recipes from the Western Historic Sites by Evelyn Beilenson introduces readers to 20 of the great historic sites, from the Mississippi to the Pacific, and to the cuisine served at or near these sites, both traditionally and in contemporary times.
Here's a recipe from the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Site: Theodore Roosevelt's Eggplant-and-Tomato Casserole.
Theodore Roosevelt's Eggplant-and-Tomato Casserole
Makes 6 servings
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 small onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch slices (don't bother peeling).
3. Fry in melted butter or margarine until lightly browned on both sides but not wholly cooked (takes 2 to 3 minutes). Transfer slices to a plate for a moment.
5. Now chop onion fine and fry in the eggplant skillet until limp.
6. Cut tomatoes in chunks, toss in with onions along with salt, pepper, and sugar, and cook gently for 5 to 7 minutes.
7. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices on the bottom of a 2-quart casserole or baking dish, spoon all the tomatoes on top, add another layer of eggplant, and top with a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
8. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until top of the casserole is nicely browned.
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