Food production, preparation and consumption--especially eating together—is crucial to the formation of communities. For most women in early Montana, food occupied their days. Preparing meals for their families, neighbors, or threshing crews required planning and skill. They grew gardens, preserved fruits, vegetables, and meats, cooked over all kinds of fires and stoves, dealt without refrigeration or good storage facilities. Apart from native peoples, everyone was a newcomer to Montana and they brought with them recipes from their home countries or home counties.
The homestead experience is a common theme in the lives of women in eastern Montana. The stories of their interactions with food, from production to preservation to preparation, demonstrate that frugality, resiliency, creativity, and sheer dogged determination characterize Eastern Montana women's cooking.