Kansas Homesteaders Watched the Cows to Determine Edible Wild Plants

While we were proving up our Kansas homestead,
we had a battle to find enough food. Someone told Mother that anything a cow
would eat would not poison us – these were edible wild plants. So we watched to see what the cows ate, then we
tried the plants.

Here are some of the delicious
dishes we kids were crazy about. Boiled soapweed blossoms. The flowers were
carefully picked just before they opened; open blossoms were rejected because
insects flew into them. The blooms were boiled until tender, then covered with
cream and salt and pepper.

Creamed morning-glory. It was great
fun to hunt for the wild morning-glory. From the time it came through the
ground until it was about 6 inches high, it was as tender as asparagus. The
shoots were washed, boiled, and covered with cream sauce. Since this was an
early spring plant, the dish was especially welcome.

Fried cactus. There was an
abundance of round cactus plants. They were so covered with stickers that
Mother had to pick them. She skinned off the spines and fried the center in
butter, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Russian thistle
“spinach.” The wild Russian thistle was picked when it was young and
tender, washed about a dozen times, boiled, then seasoned with bacon and salt
and pepper. Served with vinegar, the thistles made the best

Mrs. Virginia Tucker

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the
Capper’s Weekly asking for readers
to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from
early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from
grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were
received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first
My Folks title –
My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon
hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the
My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true
tales from Capper’s readers, and
we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.