Want a real taste of what life was like for soldiers during the Civil War? I know of no better way than to provide a recipe or two taken from the records of the day.
HARDTACK CORN CHOWDER
• 6 pieces hardtack
• 1 cup milk
• ¾ pound salt pork
• 1 large onion, peeled and sliced or chopped
• 4 large potatoes, sliced or diced
• 2 cups water
• 2 cups corn, kernels sliced off cob (about 2 ears)
• 1¾ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon paprika if available
Soak hardtack in milk. (Skim off weevils and other objectionable matter. You may want to start this the night before, depending on age of hardtack.)
When they are softened, cut salt pork into cubes and brown over medium fire. Add onion and cook until soft.
Add potatoes and water and cook until potatoes are soft, or at least tender.
Stir in hardtack and milk, then add remaining ingredients. Stir and cook to almost boiling, and serve at once.
(For those of you wanting to try this, here's a recipe for hard tack. You'll have to make this first and let it get good and stale!
" Mix 5 cups of flour to 1 cup of water containing a 1/2-tablespoon of salt. Knead into a dough and roll out to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into approximately 3-inch squares and pierce each with a fork or ice pick several times. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes or until slightly brown."
Sounds really yummy!)
• One head green cabbage
• Salt pork
• Stewed tomatoes
• salt, garlic, pepper, ground red pepper
Cut the salt pork into small cubes.Slice the cabbage and onions (approximately ½ & ½) 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.
AULD REEKIE COCK-A-LEEKIE
This is an old Scotch-Irish recipe much favored by soldiers for obvious reasons.
• 5 ounces single-malt Scotch whiskey
• 4 pints water
• 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 1 3-pound boiling chicken, giblets removed
• 3 slices streaky bacon, chopped
• 1 pound shin of beef
• 2 pounds leeks, chopped (white and pale parts only)
• 1 large onion, chopped
• salt and pepper to taste
• 8 prunes, pre-soaked
Mix the whiskey with the water, tarragon and sugar. Place the chicken, bacon and beef into a large bowl andpour the whiskey marinade over. Leave to marinate overnight.
Next day, transfer mixture to a large soup pot. Add the leeks (reserving one) and the onion, and season to taste. Bring slowly to a boil, cover, and then simmer for 2 hours, or until the bird is tender. Skim off excess fat from the liquid.
Remove the chicken from the pot, skin, remove bones and cut meat into pieces before returning to the pot (cut up the shin of beef, if necessary). Add the prunes and remaining sliced leek and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.