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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 cooks.com
- 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.