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Recipes of the Civil War Era

This was sent to me from The Civil War Reenactor's list:

"My grandmother - born in 1880 - handed down the following "old" sugar cooky recipe, which we all find delightful. Please note that we have usually used twice the amount of flour called for - I don't know if that has to do with modern differences in milling flour or my capabilities.

As to the size and shape of the cookies: a docent at a local historical society showed me replica cooky stamps some six by four inches. She told me the originals were used at least in the later Victorian era, but I have no idea about the '60s.

Grandma Walther's Old Sugar Cooky Recipe

(no oven temperature given - we set ours at 350 degrees)

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter (or margarine)

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon baking soda (in sour cream)

About 4 cups flour (more if needed to roll)

Good for animal cookies.

Handle as little as possible.

Happy to share this bit of my heritage!

Warm regards,

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This old Virginia dish is easy and delicious. Start with about a pound of sausage meat. You can obtain the real stuff at most butchers but I suppose Jimmy Dean will do in a pinch. Form into patties and fry lightly in a pan until just browned. Remove the sausage, pour our the fat (not in the fire) and melt some butter in the pan, enough to barely cover the bottom. Core and slice three apples to a thickness of about 1/4 inch and place in pan setting it over a low heat. When apples have softened slightly add a half cup of brown sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon. As soon as the sugar has mixed with the butter and formed a thick syrup add back the sausage and cook for another ten minutes or so. That's it.


To Prepare Summer Pickles- Pick very small cucumbers, pour over them weak hot brine, let them cool, and pour over them Hot vinager and spices to the taste, they will be fit to use in twenty-four hours; but will not keep long.


5 cups unbleached, all purpose flour 1 tablespoon salt 1 to 1 2/4 cups water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Combine ingredients. Add water until you can form a firm ball. If the dough gets sticky, add more flour. If it gets too dry, add more water. Roll out on a well-floured surface, using liberal amounts of flour to keep dough from sticking to roller. Roll to approx. 1/2" thickness. Cut dough into 3" x 3" squares and poke with holes. Place on cookie tin and put into preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes (until lightly browned). Cool and enjoy.

Note: You can bake at a lower temperature, it just takes longer. Remember, your object is to dry up the water you used to from the dough.


6 parts flour
one part water
pinch of baking soda
pinch of salt.
Add water to smooth out dough
bake in low oven approx 2 hours and let air dry two days.
Ce la !! Hardtack a la 1862.


Five cups stoneground whole-wheat flour
One cup water Knead in bowl.
Keep sprinkling in flour until it's soooo dry that it won't stick to your hands (or anything else).
Preheat oven and cookie sheets to 400F. Cut to 3X3" size.
Punch holes in with a nail.. I've been coding my batches with the hole numbers.
Bake 15 minutes.
Turn over and make sure holes go through, entirely.
(I think these let the stream out & keep 'em from rising.
Bake 30-35 more minutes at 400F. They come at, seemingly, rock hard.
Let them cool on the sheets overnight.
Put them in a glass jar, but open to the air.
You can say that you're "pre-staleing" them;
I admit that I'm hoping to grow some of those weevils we were talking about!

Experiment: I put two in the hands (in a zip lock bag) of a sixth grade class. Both came back broken. They're hard outside, but, somewhat, soft in the absolute center. The kids gnarffed up the bits and pieces that I was able to break the 'tack' into. (The originals must have been allowed to dry out in the air, or, the oven temp was 450+F). If you're a hardcore, pal... let's dine together.


We have a bang up recipe for Hardtack on our Regimental web site from the 1st Tennessee.
3 Cups of Milk
6 Teaspoons of Brown Sugar
8 Cups of General Purpose Flour, non-rising type
3 Teaspoons of Salt
8 Teaspoons of Shorting

Mix it all together, it makes a very stiff dough. You need to mix it all up well. Then roll it out on a well floured surface. You want to roll it about 1/2" thick, don't roll it any thinner.. Then cut it up into 3" X 3" squares. Then take a toothpick and put about a dozen holes in each cracker. Put these into a oven that has been preheated to 400 Degrees and bake for about 20--25 minutes or until they are just beginning to brown. Do not let them cook too long. After they cool you may store them in a plastic bag but only for a few days as they will mold if kept there too long. I have found out that it is best to bag them for two days and then throw them in your haversack and your set.

The recipe is located on the Bulletin Board section of the page. It turns out rather well, and tasty, and presents itself well. Enjoy..



The recipe that I use the most for jerky is 3:1 soy sauce to liquid smoke. Marinate your meat for about three days for optimum effect. Make sure that the meat is well-trimmed of fat, and slice at 1/4" AT THE MOST.

I use a dehydrator, but if you use a gas oven, make sure to put a drip pan at the bottom so that you don't upset anyone! :-)


In my haste in posting the jerky recipe, I forgot something (shame on me!) :-)

The ingredients for the marinade should be as follows:

3 parts soy sauce

1 part liquid smoke

1 part brown sugar

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Add meat, sliced to NO MORE than 1/4". Allow to marinate for three days.


Place in a dehydrator and run until the meat take a leathery, but moist consistency.

Gas Range

If you have a gas range, skewer the meat with toothpicks, allowing the meat to hang from the racks. PLACE A PAN UNDERNEATH TO CATCH DRIPPINGS!!!!! Let the piot light do the work for you. This takes a while, but remove when the meat takes a leathery, but moist consistency.

Electric Range

Repeat as the method for a gas range, but set the electric oven on its LOWEST setting, placing a drip pan underneath.


Ginger Cakes:

Ginger cakes (All sorts of ginger cakes or breads were popular. Some were soft and others were hard or crisp. Some recipes could be rolled out and cut into shapes and hung on the tree. These are crisp, sugar coated cookies and are delicious.)

3/4 cups shortening

1 cup sugar

1 beaten egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

2 cups flour

Cream shortening and sugar. Add the egg and molasses and mix well. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the shortening mixture. Mix until combined. Roll into walnut sized balls and roll in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 - 10 minutes.

"To Make Chocolate"

To each square of chocolate cake allow three jills [two jills=1/2 pint] or a chocolate cupe and a half of boiling water.
Scrape down the chocolate with a knife, and mix it first to a paste with a small quantity of the hot water; just enought to melt it in.
Then put it inot a block tin pot with the remainder of the water; set it on hot coals; cover it, and let it boil (stirrint it twice) till the liquid is one third reduced.
Supply that third with cream or rich milk; stir it again, and take it off the fire.
Serve it up as hot as possible, with dry toast, or dry rusk.
It chills immediately. If you wish it frothed, pour it into the cup, and twirl in it the little wooden insturment called a chocolate mill [like the Mexican "molinillo"], till you have covered to top with foam.
Other chocolate recipes from the same source, but found in the "sick cookery" section.


Put into a large sauce-pan two ounces of good cocoa (the chocolate nut before it is ground) and one quart of water. Cover it, and as soon as it has come to a boil, set it on coals by the side of the fire, to simmer for an hour or more. Take it hot with dry toast.

"Cocoa Shells"

These can be procured by the principal grocers and confectioners, or at a chocolate manufactory. They are the thin shells that envelope the chocolate kernel, and are sold at a low price; a pound contains a very large quantity.
Soak them in water for five or six hours or more, (it will be better to soak them all night,) and then boil them in the same water.
They should boil for two hours.
Strain the liquid when done, and let it be taken warm.

For those of you who are chocoholics there are two books that deal exclusively with chocolate: "The True History of Chocolate" by Sophie and Michael Coe, Thames and Hudson, New York, 1996 and "Chocolate Fads, Folklore & Fantasies: 1,000+ Chunks of Chocolate Information" by Linda Fuller, Haworth Press, NY, 1994.

If anyone is interested in a reproduction of the Aztec chocolate mentioned earlier it is as follows: (Taken from "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American" by Jeff Smith, William Morrow & Co., NY, 1987. The original recipes were in "The True History of Chocolate.")

"Chocolate Drink"

2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 tsp. plain cocoa powder, Tabasco to taste, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Combine the ingredients and heat.

And Now For Some Teas

Blackberry Tea

Pick the blackberry leaves and dry them.
When you want to make tea, just crumble a couple of teaspoons of leaves
to one cup of boiling water.
Steep for five to ten minutes, and you have blackberry tea.

Relaxing Tea Blend

This combination of herbs helps you relax after a stressful day.
1/4 C. dried spearmint
1 C. dried lemon balm
1/4 C. dried lemon grass
1/2 C. dried catnip
3/4 C. dried chamomile flowers
2 Tbs. Dried lavender flowers
Combine the herbs and store in an air tight container in a dark cool location.
Make tea using 2 teaspoons of herb blend for each cup.
Turn on some relaxing music and write in your journal.

"Blackberry Cordial"

Mash and strain the blackberries; put the juice on to boil in a brass or bell-metal kettle [you can use a glass or enameled pot]; skim it well, and to each gallon of juice put three pounds of sugar and a quart of spirits [brandy works well]; bruise some cloves [I also add a cinnamon stick] and put in. This is valuable as a medicine for children in summer.

This is only one recipe that I have found, but the others are similar. I have made it, and in small doses it is very good and warming in cold weather. Beware that you don't drink too much since it was used for its binding qualities.

Cabbage Stew - Older than dirt..

Adapts very nicely to camp fire cooking
Submitted by Widow Barfield

One head green cabbage
Salt Pork
Stewed Tomatos
salt, garlic salt, pepper, cajun seasoning or ground red pepper
cut the salt pork into small cubes
slice the cabbage and onions (approximately 1/2 & 1/2)
If you use canned tomatos, open the can. If not, cook them well ahead of time.

Fry the salt pork in a large,hot, cast iron pot until well browned. (Do NOT drain)
Turn the heat down. (move to a cooler fire area)
Add cabbage and cook until wilted
Add onions and cook until wilted
Let cook approximately 1 hour (low fire)
Add tomatos to more than cover. (that's why we use a LARGE pot)
Let cook ..... and cook..... and cook..... Simmer is a good word.....
You can't really overcook this dish. The flavors will blend nicely the longer it cooks.

Add garlic salt (small amount) Add salt and pepper to taste....
Add a very small amount of cajun seasoning or ground red pepper. Be sure to taste after adding each time. It takes the seasoning a few minutes to make themselves known.. Better to add too little than too much. People can add more at the table if they wish.

Stir occasionally......

After approximately 2-3 hours, start tasting....It's the cook's sworn duty to taste test!! If you feel really brave, offer a spoonful to someone else..
Remember, it's not what they say, It's their REACTION to a small taste.. Watch the eyes. However, under no circumstances, let them have more. Pronounce it "not quite ready". This gives them time to tell others about how good it is... Thereby guaranteeing you will have nothing left when you are finished serving...

Onions and Apples,

Submitted by A Vermonter

Good for a weak bowel, or disposition,

1qt of water
1/2 Pound of Salt Pork
4 Apples( use the tart green ones)
2 Large onions
Cook diced salt pork in a heavy iron skillet until crisp, and set aside the salt pork, core the apples and slice into thin rings, slice onions into thin rings also, fry in salt pork fat until brown, add 1qt of water and cook until apples and onions are tender (about five mins.) and add water as needed, when tender add in the salt pork, and season to taste. This a easy dish to prepare in the field.

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