So much has been happening this week that I've fallen a day behind in my scheduled blog posts. Here's Thursday's entry featuring Civil War recipes. I'll catch up with "The Second Mouse" later today.
Nellie Chase’s inspiration to learn more about cooking for an army on the move came during a train ride. At one relay station, a group of volunteer women had set up an outdoor kitchen to provide hot, home-cooked meals to the soldiers passing through. The following passage comes from Beyond All Price, Chapter 4.
Looking around, she noted how the soldiers, almost to a man, had perked up. They were smiling, laughing, relaxing. Mentally Nellie made a note. I won’t be able to see the men fed like this often, but I must try to come up with some sort of treat for them now and then, she thought. I’ve heard an army marches on its stomach, but I never realized how true that is.
It took several hours for the baggage handlers to unload the train and reload the Roundhead baggage onto wagons. Nellie filled the time by chatting with the women who had provided their meal. One gray-haired lady cheerfully introduced herself as the Widow Barlow. “I don’t have anybody to cook for at home anymore,” she said, “so I enjoy getting the chance here to put on some really big feeds. Who cooks for all these men when they’re in their camps?”
“Well, mostly they do their own cooking, which isn’t good, I’m afraid. And at the moment I’m not much help. I can stir up some broth for those who are sickly, but I don’t know what to suggest to the men sitting around a campfire with nothing but a great big pot.”
“I can help you there. Let me find a scrap of paper and I’ll give you a couple of recipes that’ll fill their bellies.”
The Widow Barlow called this recipe “older than dirt.”
Cut the salt pork into small cubes.
Slice the cabbage and onions (approximately 1/2 & 1/2)
If you use canned tomatoes, 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. Add cabbage and cook until wilted
Add onions and cook until wilted.
Let cook approximately 1 hour (low fire). Add tomatoes to more than cover. Simmer.
You can't really overcook this dish. The flavors will blend nicely the longer it cooks.
Add seasonings. 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.
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