Civil War Camping Recipes

Food of the American Civil War was kept simple by necessity. According to Hardee’s Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, individual rations consisted of salt pork or beed, desiccated mixed vegetables, and a kind of tooth shattering biscuit called hardtack. In addition to dealing with few ingredients, Union and Confederate soldiers had little cooking know-how since meal preparation was usually handled by wives or servants. Because of its ease and simplicity, Civil War cooking happens to make excellent camping fare.


Recipe courtesy of




  • 5 Cups Flour (unbleached)
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1-1 1/4 cups Water
  • Preheated Oven to 450


1. In a bowl, combine the ingredients to form a stiff, but not dry dough. The dough should be pliable, but not stick a lot to your hands.

2. Take this mound of dough, and flatten it out onto a greased cookie sheet (the ones with a small lip around the edge…like a real shallow pan…), and roll the dough into a flat sheet approximately. 1/2 inch thick.

3. Using a bread knife, divide the dough into 3×3 squares. taking a 10-penny nail, put a 3×3 matrix of holes into the surface of the dough, all the way thru, at even intervals.

4. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 Min., till lightly browned. Take out and let cool.

5. Do this the day before your go on the field, and your will have enough tack to fill your haversack. It will be somewhat soft on Saturday morning, but, by Sunday, you should soak it in your coffee before eating, else you will have a hard time chewing.

 Civil War Beef Stew

Recipe courtesy of the




  • 2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp pork fat or lard (vegetable oil can be subbed)
  • 3 quarts + 1/2 cup water
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, sliced, and rinsed clean
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Chopped turnips or salsify


1. Sprinkle the stew meat with salt and pepper. Heat the fat in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the meat and sauté for a few minutes, stirring frequently, till well browned, but not fully cooked.

2. Transfer the browned meat to a large pot and cover with 3 quarts (12 cups) of water. Bring to a boil. Skim the fat that rises to the surface. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips and sliced leek to the pot.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with 1/2 cup cold water till a thick, smooth liquid forms.

4. Slowly stir the flour water into the stew pot. Season the pot with salt and pepper (I used 1 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper; use more or less to taste if you prefer). Bring to a boil.

5. Reduce the heat a low simmer. Let the stew simmer for 3 1/2 hours, stirring periodically and skimming any fat that rises to the top. If the stew becomes too thick over time, you can add additional liquid to thin it out as needed.

6. At the end of cooking, the meat should be very tender and the sauce rich and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Serve hot.

Civil War Johnnycakes

Recipe courtesy of




  • 2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 rsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 TB butter
  • syrup, molasses, or preserves for topping


1. Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan.

2. Combine the cornmeal, salt, boiled water, and milk in a medium bowl. Stir well.

3. Melt the 2 TB butter in a skillet or a cast iron griddle over medium heat.

4. 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.

Civil War Orange Cake

Courtesy of




  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 2 c. sifted flour
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. chopped raisins
  • 2 orange peels, ground


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Add buttermilk and dry ingredients.

3. Save juice from two oranges.

4. Spread mixture in 13 x 9 x 2 inch greased pan.

5. Bake until golden brown and pulls away from edges.

6. Mix equal parts of orange juice and sugar. Pour over hot cake.

Apple Sauce Cookies

 Recipe courtesy of



  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 6 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. salt


1. Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add applesauce and mix well.

2. Add sifted dry ingredients and blend well.

3. Drop by heaping tablespoons on greased cookie sheet, flatten.

4. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees (do not brown). Makes 44 four inch cookies.


5 Awesome Music Festivals in State Parks

Whoa! Did a bunch of garland-wearing, fringe-loving, long, flowing skirted hippies just crash your campsite? No, you’re not crazy; it’s festival season! And it just so happens that there are some awesome music festivals in state parks.

So, check it out now (funk soul brothers)—here’s our list.

1. Newport Folk Festival (Fort Adams State Park, Rhode Island)

The Newport Folk Festival is a big deal in festival land, so it’s truly exciting that it’s held in a state park! The Festival was founded in 1959, and is regarded as a launching point for some of history’s greatest performers (most notably Joan Baez and Bob Dylan). According to the Newport Folk Festival’s website, “Fort Adams is situated at the mouth of Newport Harbor with panoramic views of the Newport Bridge and the East Passage [of Narragansett Bay].” From July 25th-27th, you’ll be showered with melodies (yes, showered!) by tons of folk, indie, country, rock, and reggae artists, like Band of Horses, Jimmy Cliff, The Milk Carton Kids, Caitlin Rose, Jenny Lewis, and Noah Gunderson, among many others.

at the newport folk festival

Newport Folk Festival in Fort Adams State Park, 2013.

In addition to listening to the musical stylings of those above, there’s also a Family Stage with “family-oriented artists”, beer/wine/hard cider (and beer gardens) and tons of food, the Quad Beer Garden sponsored by shoe company Tretorn, where you can play pong and corn hole (what is this game, guys?) with friends and artists, craft vendors, and the Martin Jam Stage, where you can grab some guitars and banjos and jam.

Spirit Family Reunion at Newport Folk Festival in Fort Adams State Park

Band Spirit Family Reunion posing in front of Fort Adams at the Newport Folk Festival. Photo by Nina Westervelt

Unfortunately, no camping is allowed, but if you check under “Rules & FAQs” here, the Festival gives some nearby options. Since the festival’s so popular, most tickets are sold out, but you can get a Friday pass here while supplies last. Otherwise, next year is where it’s at!

2. Pocahontas Live (Pocahontas State Park, Virginia)

Pocahontas State Park is not only “the first recreational park in the Richmond-Petersburg-Hopewell area” or a site built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)—it’s also the home of Pocahontas Live, a family-friendly concert series featuring national and local bands under the stars.

Pocahontas Live outdoor concert series

Pocahontas Live.

Beginning May 9th, the series runs till August 6th (see the schedule and ticket information here). A highlight includes the final Wednesday night concert with Slightly Stoopid, Stephen Marley, and G. Love & Special Sauce.

No tailgating is allowed (they’ll remove you with no refund), so be aware. For more information, see Pocahontas Live’s Facebook page and website.

3. Country Stampede (Tuttle Creek State Park, Kansas)

The 19th annual Country Stampede lasts from June 26h-June 29th in Tuttle Creek State Park in Kansas. The 2014 Main Stage lineup is pretty impressive, featuring a number of top country music artists: Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Randy Houser, Easton Corbin, and Sarah Darling, among many others.

In addition to the Main Stage, there’s the Nashville Songwriters Association International Songwriters Tent, where you can catch all of these musicians.

Country Stampede music festival in state park

Country Stampede.

And you’ll be happy to hear that camping is not only permitted but encouraged at the Stampede. If you wish to enter the campgrounds, you have to either get a four-day general admission, Weekend Reserved, or Weekend VIP ticket, but it’ll be well worth it: “the campgrounds at Stampede have become as legendary as the festival itself. Thousands of festival attendees come together in a friendly and exiting atmosphere, setting up a community.” Act fast, though—general primitive and family camping are the only ones not sold out.

For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

4. Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival (Sacajawea State Park, Washington)

Head to Pasco, Washington, on June 13th (and stay till the 15th!) for the 11th Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival and Dutch Oven Rendezvous!

Sacajawea State Park

View from Sacajawea State Park, where the Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival’s held.

Headliners include John Resichman and the Jaybirds, The Sweet Lowdown, North Country, and Rural Delivery. You’re welcome to camp and/or use your Discover Pass (but check the nitty gritty details by scrolling down to Camping and Discover Pass Information).

There will be food vendors, artists, music workshops, dutch oven activities, and lots of bluegrass, so you won’t want to miss it!

5. Newport Jazz Festival (Fort Adams State Park, Rhode Island)

Fort Adams State Park happens to be so spectacular that it hosts not only one but two summer music festivals.

Newport Jazz Festival view of water

Newport Jazz Festival by boat.

Begun in 1954, the 60th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival runs from August 1st-3rd and features dozens of talented jazz musicians, including Ravi Coltrane, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and many, many others. There will also be craft and food vendors to make the festival complete.

To get tickets, click here.

Nothing goes together quite like live music and the outdoors. Will you be heading to any of these festivals? 


New Jersey’s Pine Barrens



Wharton State Forest made headlines recently (you can read our own take here) when residents of New York and Philadelphia awoke to the unfamiliar sight and smell of wood smoke from a brush fire that consumed 1,600 acres. The state forest, which at 110,000 acres is New Jersey’s largest, makes up only one tenth of an undeveloped and heavily forested area of coastal plane known as the Pine Barrens. The Pine Barrens, as the name suggests, is a region defined by vast stretches of pitch pine and a sandy nutrient-poor soil which locals call sugar sand. The region is home to a number of rare plants and animals including several unique species of orchid. The Pine Barrens is also home to the legend of the New Jersey Devil.



Forest fires are actually quite common in the Pine Barrens. The lack of decomposing bacteria and earthworms in the soil allows fire-prone materials like leaves and pine needles to accumulate. The sandy soil also wicks up moisture at a rapid rate creating dry conditions on top and large aquifers deep below. In areas where brush fires are the most frequent, dwarf forests of pine less than 4 feet high can be found.



In addition to Wharton, the Pinelands Reserve contains Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, Bass River State Forest, and Penn State Forest. The forests are popular hiking and canoeing destinations with numerous scenic trails and gentle rivers. The area is also a popular hunting destination known for its abundant white-tailed deer, bear, and low hunting pressure. Numerous industrial ruins and ghost towns dating as far back as the Revolutionary War can also be observed. Weymouth Furnace (below) was an iron works and paper mill before it was abandoned in 1887.

Image: Weymouth Furnace

Image: Weymouth Furnace

The Pine Barrens has escaped development in part because the sandy soil makes conventional agriculture unfeasible. However, with its numerous swamps and bogs, the region has become a major producer of cranberries. Blueberry farming is also popular. Using wild blueberries from the Pine Barrens, Elizabeth White developed the first cultivated varieties in 1916.



It’s almost hard to believe that a wilderness this large and unspoiled can exist in such close proximity to New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Guess you’ll just have to see it to believe it!

Mullica River

Mullica River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Great Blue Heron, Cranberry Harvest White's Bo...

Great Blue Heron, Cranberry Harvest White’s Bog New Jersey (Photo credit: harmonica pete

Enjoy Art and Nature at Storm King Art Center!


Are you looking for an escape from New York City that also provides its own unique blend of the outdoors and art? If you’re a lover of these things and are in the New York State area, then have we got an answer for you!

The Storm King Art Center, located in Orange County in the Hudson Valley, is just one hour away from Manhattan and the perfect way to spend a beautiful day. It’s a unique 500-acre landscape that is very much like an open-air museum. Work by contemporary sculptors is still being added to the already impressive permanent collection, some of which have been on the grounds since 1960. It features one of the largest collections of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the United States.


Ralph E. Ogden purchased the land that would become Storm King Art Center in early 1958. A retiree who made a successful career for himself as the head of Star Expansion Company, Ogden opened the grounds to the public in 1960. The attraction was the beautiful landscape and a number of small sculptures that he purchased in Europe. The collection became more established in 1967 with the purchase of 13 sculptures from well-known sculptor David Smith. The art center is named for its close proximity to Storm King Mountain, and its relatively close proximity to Storm King State Park.

Since its opening almost 55 years ago, Storm King Art Center has expanded in numerous ways. The permanent collection now features works by masters Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Isami Noguchi, Louise Nevelson, and many more. The ever-expanding contemporary large-scale sculpture collection features work by Roy Lichtenstein, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Alice Aycock, Alexander Liberman, and many more. Over the years, Star Expansion Company has bought many large tracts of land to expand upon the original 180-acre center, making it the current size of 500 acres.


There are four major sections to the grounds, and its layout is similar to four large outdoor rooms. There is the North Woods, Museum Hill, the Meadows, and the South Fields. Each of these sections have their own personalities. Parts of the landscape have been altered over the years to complement the sculptures, although it’s almost impossible to tell.


As if the beauty of Storm King Art Center wasn’t enough of an attraction, it is also located near the impressive Storm King Mountain and Storm King State Park. For the shoppers it is worth noting that it is also close to the Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets. Various bus services offer package deals to both the center and the outlets. Please consult the Storm King Art Center website for offers from Zipcar and transportation alternatives. The website also has listings of upcoming events at the center and information for those looking to become Storm King Art Center members. A look at the New York State Pocket Ranger® app will show that it is also close to Bear Mountain State Park and a number of other attractions. Now that the weather is warming up in New York, you owe it to yourself to get out of the house and take in some art, culture, and as always, the great outdoors!

Fun Earth Day Events at State Parks

Stout Memorial Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwood...

Stout Memorial Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City in northern California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s almost that time of year againEarth Day! Today we’ll be sharing our annual list of Earth Day events at state parks. Before you start digging holes in the soil in an attempt to plant a tree, a shrub, or any type of greenery, we’d like to give you a mini history lesson so you can truly appreciate this day (and our planet, of course).

Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. After an alarming oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson became extremely concerned about the future of our planet. He attempted to pass several reforms after that event to raise awareness about the importance of keeping the earth both healthy and clean. One of the reforms was to create a national Earth Day.

Over 20 million people across the nation celebrated the first Earth Day. The event was so big that there was even an unofficial Earth Day flag! Following the first Earth Day, several acts were passed by Congress to protect our drinking water, wild lands, and wildlife from people and companies. Talk about a success!

More than 40 years later, the tradition carries on— and not just in the United States. On this global holiday, we can all pitch in and make our world a better and cleaner place to live.

And now without further delay, check out some fun, educational state park plans for Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day, Big Blue Marble!

Happy Earth Day, Big Blue Marble! (Photo credit: EraPhernalia Vintage)

Georgia: Earth Day at Floyd State Park

Saturday, April 19th. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

What better way to spend the day hiking and observing wildlife? There will be an Easter egg hunt and a campfire later in the evening. For more information on this exciting event, call (706) 857-0826.

Tennessee: Panther Creek State Park

Tennessee State Park with bridge by water


Saturday. April 19th. 12:00 p.m.

Panther Creek will be hosting Earth Day this year. State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath and many other rangers will be there helping you with planting. This event is for those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Call (423) 587-7046.

North Carolina: Carolina Beach State Park

Tuesday, April 22nd. 2:00 p.m.

Come and learn about plants and animals that are found at this park. Make this Earth Day a special one with family and friends. Call (910) 458-8206.

New Jersey: Liberty State Park

English: The tall buildings of Jersey City, NJ...

The tall buildings of Jersey City, NJ are easily seen from Liberty State Park, NJ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday, April 26th,11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This daylong event provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about the environment and create wonderful memories with the family. Arrive early to register for the Race/Walk. Race registrants will receive gifts!

Virginia: Beer Creek Lake State Park


Globe on Leaf Earth Day Post


Saturday, April 26th. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thinking about donating non-perishable food items for the less fortunate? This is the place to be! A donation of four or more items will get you a coupon for a free 30-minute boat rental, with your choice of canoe! Click here for details.

New York: Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve

Saturday, April 26th. 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Come out and celebrate Earth Day at this festival. There will be many activities for all. Visit New York State Parks.


Related articles

How to Dress the Part of an Outdoorsperson

Let’s say you’re walking along, you find yourself at some kind of park, and you strike up a conversation with a person that you begin to fancy. All’s going well: you’re talking about your favorite books and bands, where you grew up, and other such things that occur in potential pre-first date conversations. But then, lo and behold! This person starts talking at length about this great overlook he/she wants to take you to, and it’s only a 15-mile hike, and you start to realize that your six summers at sleepaway camp as a child just aren’t going to cut it because you’ve somehow roped yourself a true outdoorsperson.

Between hipsters masquerading as lumberjacks, overalls (which look suspiciously like fly fishing waders) being back in style, and fashion plates mimicking chic safari garb, it was understandably hard to discern that your new potential love was a hiking/camping/fishing/hunting/general outdoor enthusiast, but now that you know, we’re here to help.

Disclaimer: We don’t advise completely changing who you are for love. We just thought this was funny. Also, we want everyone to love the outdoors.

So, read closely, friends. We’re going to tell you how to dress the part of an outdoorsperson. Luckily for us, it’s in time for spring fashion finds, so here are our picks!

For the fellas:

dress the part of an outdoorsperson


These men’s skeena river waders are lightweight but durable. If you show up to the watering hole with these on, you’ll look like a fly fishing pro.

backpacking shoe for men


The North Face’s men’s storm mid waterproof leather shoe is fashionable yet rugged, and is perfect for backpacking on wet terrain. Put these babies on and your new special someone will think you’ve been hiking for ages.


men's fishing jacket

Image: www.

Throw on the Simms men’s flyte jacket, and its windstopper technology will have you feeling comfortable throughout your whole excursion.

For the ladies:

These women’s wreck mid GTX North Face hiking boots are fashionable (get a load of those blue laces) without being too in-your-face. Plus, they’re lightweight, waterproof, and have Grippy Vibram® rubber soles for optimum traction when hiking on wet or dry surfaces.

hiking boots for women


These grey socks may not look like stunners, but SmartWool mountaineer socks will show your new partner that you mean serious business when hitting the outdoors. Perfect for hiking, mountaineering, etc., the extra cushioning, breathability, and ability to not get stuck in your new boots will have you thanking us after your excursion. (We accept all kinds of gifts, like love letters, Twitter shout outs, etc.)


women's mountaineering socks


Did your new squeeze suggest a trail running date? No problem! Get yourself these Patagonia Houdini® pants, and you’ll look like you were born ready. They have a water repellent finish, cuff with snap closure to get them on and off over running shoes, and a reflective logo so everyone will see you speeding by.


clothes for outdoorsperson


Love is in the air, friends, so fall in love with the outdoors with these fashion finds. For other get-ups perfect for outdoor adventures, check out our Gear Store.

What are your favorite picks for outdoor wear?


The Top 5 Documentaries About Bears

In an animal kingdom that features many characters, few would argue that bears are the most fascinating. From the diminutive Sun Bear to the massive Kodiak and Polar Bears, there are many variations among these mammals. There are also many variations in documentaries about bears. There’s even a Disney documentary appropriately titled Bears coming out this Friday. Here are five Pocket Ranger® blog picks, and an honorable mention for a fictional bear movie!

1. Grizzly Man (2005)



It’s unfortunate that people fear bear attacks so much, because for the most part bears are solitary and peaceful creatures that possess many unique and even human qualities. Still, bear attacks do happen, and it’s the brutal maiming of animal documentarian and preservationist Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard that is the centerpiece of Werner Herzog’s excellent 2005 documentary Grizzly Man. While the movie goes into length about Treadwell’s life and lengthy time spent living amongst bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, it also provides insight into bear behavior, what provokes bear attacks, and why extensive physical contact with bears in the wild is bad on many levels. Despite Treadwell’s good intentions, his work is now punctuated with this cautionary tale.

2. Project Grizzly (1996) 



This offbeat documentary is also about a bear attack, though the major difference between this and Grizzly Man is that the man survives and makes it his life goal to build an armored suit so that he may one day battle a grizzly bear. Directed by Peter Lynch, this National Film Board of Canada documentary focuses on Troy Hurtubise and his project. It also goes into length about how his research and testing of the suit over the years has allowed him to study bears at length, and how he now possesses a desire to study them rather than fighting them. Still, you’ll have to check this film out to find out if he steps into the ring with a grizzly! It’s a funny yet sincere film about a man’s passion and dream.

3. Polar Bear: Spy on the Ice (2010)


This BBC documentary puts you within a paw’s swipe of the massive Polar Bear. Utilizing remote-controlled spy cameras that are blended in with their surroundings, the documentarians manage to get some amazing footage of several different polar bear families as they go about raising their cubs. Narrated by former Doctor Who star David Tennant, this documentary will provide entertainment for polar bear fans and newbies alike! 

4. The Edge of Eden: Living With Grizzlies (2007)


This documentary is also about a man living amongst grizzly bears, but practicing more caution than Timothy Treadwell. Charlie Russell wrote about his experiences in the book Grizzly Heart, so this movie acts as an expansion as well as a companion piece to that. This film details Russell’s extensive preservation efforts and grizzly bear studies. An informative and fascinating film. 

5. MonsterQuest: Giant Bear Attack (2008) 


Monster Quest is a TV show that airs on the History Channel. This 15th episode of season 2 takes a look at how big bears may be getting more assertive and aggressive, which ties into their look-back at monstrously massive prehistoric bears that appear to have been much more aggressive predators. The series also goes into environmental factors like humans moving into bear-inhabited land that would explain the bears’ aggressiveness. A foreboding segment of the episode even speculates on hybridization and breeding experiments that could introduce a close approximation of giant prehistoric bears back into our modern world.

Honorable Mention: The Bear (1988)


The Bear is a fantastic French film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Starring two live bears, this film is an adaptation of the James Oliver Curtwood novel The Grizzly King. While it’s supposed to take place in 19th century British Columbia, the movie was actually filmed in parts of Austria and Italy. It is the tale of an orphaned bear cub who befriends an adult male grizzly that eventually comes around to the cub and teaches him how to hunt and survive. An award winning film with a minimal score and dialogue, it’s a wonderful story that fully utilizes naturethe best special effect of allas a narrative tool.

Many of these documentaries can be watched for free online so seek them out!


Related articles

315 W 57TH ST