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Civil War Cooking Recipes

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Here are the recipes originally published in THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE MAZAZINE - Winter 2005 Issue in an article entitiled CIVIL WAR IN THE KITCHEN A Walk Through History.

Johnnycakes were popular particularly in the Northeast but eaten across the United States since the 1600's. The recipe is very simple and fun to make.

1 Cup water
1 1/2 Cups ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 TB butter
syrup, molasses, or preserves for topping

Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the cornmeal, salt, boiled water, and milk in a medium bowl. Stir well. Melt the 2 TB butter in a skillet or a cast iron griddle over medium heat. Pour 1 TB of batter into the skillet, pancake style to cook. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until edges are lacy and lightly browned using a spatula to turn. Serve hot with molasses, maple syrup and butter.

Soak the beans overnight or for at least 8-12 hours before beginning the recipe. Cook in cast iron for better flavor and an authentic re-enactment.

1 Cup (8 oz) dried navy beans
5 Cups water
1/2 pound salt pork or slab bacon
2 large carrots or 1 cup chopped
1 large onion or 3/4 Cup chopped
1 large potato, unpeeled, but cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Wash the beans in a colander and pick out and discard any discolored ones or pieces of dirt.

Place the beans in a large stock pot or Dutch oven covered with water at least 2 inches above the beans and allow to soak overnight. Drain the beans. Add 5 cups water, salt pork, carrots and onions to the beans. Stir the mixture. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the beans at least 45 minutes or until the beans are tender. Add the chopped potatoes salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook about 15 more minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Tart apples cooked with butter and sugar make a wonderful side dish or dessert.

5 Tart cooking apples such as Granny Smith, MacIntosh, Golden Delicious, or other
4 TB or more butter
1 Cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Wash, core and slice the apples into 12-16 narrow wedges, do not peel. Melt the butter in a skillet or cast iron pan and add the apples. Cover the skillet and cook the apples 5 minutes over medium low heat. Stirring continuously, add the brown sugar and the nutmeg. Stir well. Continue cooking the apples covered for 10-12 minutes or until the apples are tender, check every few minutes while cooking. Add additional butter or water if needed to prevent the apples from sticking.

Gift boxes sent to Union soldiers from home might contain the traditional gingerbread along with items such as socks, soap, and other foods.

1 TB butter
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 Cup butter
1 1/4 Cups molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. allspice
1 Cup very hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9" square baking pan with the butter. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, soda and spices, and cut in softened butter to the flour mixture with a fork. Combine molasses, egg and water in a small mixing bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well. Pour the batter into a baking pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 9 servings.

This staple hard cracker like bread made of flour and water must be dipped into milk, tea, hot chocolate before eating as it is so hard you could break your teeth eating it dry!

butter for greasing the baking pan
5 Cups all-purpose flour
1 TB baking powder
1 TB salt
1 2/3 cups water

Preheat the oven to 450F. Grease the baking sheet. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and water. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon. With freshly washed hands, squeeze the flour mixture with your fingers, this will be a very stiff dough. Flatten the dough to about 1/2 inch into a large rectangle. Using a knife, lightly trace lines into the dough to divide the pieces into 3 X 3" square pieces. Use a toothpick to prick holes across the entire surface in neat rows 3/4 of an inch apart. Be sure the holes go all the way through the dough to the baking sheet. Bake the dough about 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Remove the hardtack from the baking sheet with a metal spatula. Makes about 9 hard crackers.

Wheat flour was quite scarce in the South during the Civil War so soldiers baked bread from available ingredients such as white cornmeal. Try to find white cornmeal to make this a bit more authentically Confederate. Although this recipe uses baking powder to make the cornbread fluffier, Confederate soldiers did not have baking powder.

1 TB butter
2 Cups white cornmeal (not self-rising)
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 Cups milk
1/4 cup oil

Preheat the oven to 400. Grease the 9" square baking pan with the butter. Combine the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl whip the eggs with a fork and combine with the milk and oil. Stirring only until all the dry ingredients are wet, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and then pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

5 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup butter
1 Cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 cups sugar

Heat the oven to 375F. Grease the cookie sheets with butter. Combine flour, soda, and nutmeg together in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 Cup milk, 2 eggs, and sugar. Pour into dry ingredients. Stir well. Wash hands and lightly coat your fingertips with butter. Shape the dough into 1 inch round bowls. Place the balls on baking sheets. Dip a fork in flour and use it to glatten the balls in a criss/cross pattern like you might do for peanut butter cookies. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 5 dozen.

Additional Civil War Recipes can found in the following resources:
Cooking Up US History Recipes and Research to Share with Children, Second Editon by Suzanne I. Barchers and Patricia C. Marden, Teacher Ideas Press, Englewood, CO. Copyright 1999. 1-800-237-6124.

Civil War Cooking The Union by Susan Dosier, Blue Earth Books published by Capstone Press, Mankato, MN. Copyright 2000. .

Civil War Cooking The Confederacy by Susan Dosier, Blue Earth Books published by Capstone PRess, Mankato, MN. Copyright 2000.

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