Civil War Recipes for Your Wedded to War Book Club (Including Hardtack Recipe!)
By Jocelyn Green
Wedded to War is almost here! It’s set to release July 1, and after you read it, you’re sure to want to get together with some friends and discuss it (questions are provided in the back of the book). You can get your Kindle copy free this week (June 25th, 2012)!
Of course no book club is complete without food, and what better way to add flavor to your experience than to sample some of the foods eaten by characters in the novel? Below you’ll find recipes for five such Civil War foods—with a bonus recipe at the end. Some of these have been modernized so you can try them at home, and some are taken straight from cookbooks published during the Civil War.
1. Charlotte Waverly’s Tea Time
Sighing, Charlotte reached for the Blue Willow teacup on the walnut table next to her, and breathed in the fragrance of orange and cloves. She picked up the New York Times and froze. Without taking her eyes off the paper, she rattled the cup back on its saucer.
Afternoon tea was a regular routine in the Waverly household. Try these Tea Cakes with Charlotte’s favorite tea—orange spice—or her sister Alice’s favorite—raspberry.
- 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 375 F. 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 flatten 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.
*Recipe courtesy of Total Gettysburg
2. Dr. Caleb Lansing’s Hardtack
Wiping his glistening forehead with the back of his hand, Caleb looked through the haze of smoke at the rest of the camp. The men sat on the ground or overturned barrels, unwrapping small bundles of hardtack from their haversacks. He pulled out his own, placed it on a flat rock, and rammed a Sharp rifle butt onto it, breaking it into pieces.
Hardtack was a staple food in the Union soldier’s diet, but notorious for being either rock hard or full of weevils. Imagine drilling and marching for miles with very little but hardtack to eat!
- 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 450 F. 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.
*Recipe courtesy of Total Gettysburg
3. Matthew O’Flannery’s Camp Potatoes
We don’t get to see Matthew eating his camp potatoes with his fellow soldiers in New York’s 69th regiment in the novel, but as an Irishman, you can bet he was eating these as a welcome break from hardtack whenever potatoes were available. This recipe is a simple one, from Camp Fires and Camp Cooking, or Culinary Hints for the Soldier, by Capt. James M. Sanderson (1862):
“Cut the vegetable into thin slices and throw them into cold water for half an hour; then put them into fat hissing hot and fry them until they acquire a golden hue. Some persons cut them only into quarters, but they are not near so crisp and nice.”
What Civil War recipe would you like to try? What food would you not want to live without during wartime?