Cooking for Threshers

The following story has been reprinted from The American Thresher man, August 1902.

Very soon now this subject will be uppermost in our thoughts. How I used to dread it in my earlier experiences! As soon as the grain was sown I began to worry about threshing. Now I have gotten bravely over that. Threshers are only ordinary, hungry men after all and just so there is plenty of good, wholesome food on the table at the stroke of the clock, that is about all that is needed to please them.

Bake cookies and ginger cakes, and a fruit cake some days before they are expected. Then when they are about two days away bake a big batch of white bread; make fried-cakes and a lot of steamed brown bread. Make this in baking powder tins and, if they do not come as soon as you expect them, you can keep it from spoiling by reheating it in the cans, with the covers on, of course. There is no danger of spoiling it by over-cooking. Fruit puddings are also nice made in these cans, then reheated and served with a good sauce.

Give threshers plenty of baked beans and potatoes and meat. Serve onions sliced in vinegar, corn, cabbage, and tomatoes, though many times these will not be touched. Study your crew a little. I have served plain boiled cabbage and had it go like hot cakes when cauliflower or butter beans would be untouched. If the crew is made up of foreigners, serve coffee three times a day, but for Yankees serve tea for supper. If it is the custom to serve lunches, send out cookies, fried-cakes and coffee at ten, and again at three o’clock. In hot weather many will prefer buttermilk to any other drink if you can furnish it cold. Have water on the table at each meal. Have sauce canned and mince meat or pumpkin ready for the pies. Pie shells may be baked before and filled with cream filling the day they are wanted. Serve either pie or pudding for dinner, but no cake or cookies.

Serve fried-cakes and ginger cookies for breakfast, and cake and cookies for supper. Fry potatoes for breakfast and supper, and at the latter meal serve cold beans and sauce.

Have plenty of clean towels and give the men warm water and tar soap to wash with. Have plenty of bedding if the weather is cold, even if you have to borrow, and, if the house is too small, fix beds in the hay mow rather than send men to the neighbors, unless they live very near. A thresher’s hours for rest are short at the best, and he doesn’t want to spend them on the road.

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