Civil War Cookin’: An Introduction

civil-war-cookin-happy-thanksgivingWe’re just days away from Thanksgiving. So…it’s time to start those shopping lists (I prefer to call them logistic lists for the quartermaster’s department) and working on the menu or food preparations. Or maybe your mom, wife, aunt, or grandma is doing the cooking on Thursday?

I know that some guys enjoy cooking or baking, but usually it’s the ladies who get the fun of working in the kitchen during the holidays. The ladies at ECW have been chatting, swapping ideas, and deciding to pull out some favorite historical food stories or recipes to share with you. Caroline, Meg, and Sarah are all hoping to share an article or two in the next week – but bear with us if we get interrupted by the ongoing improvements to the blog and website (or real cooking in our modern kitchens!)To start this “mini-series” correctly, here’s some advice from Mrs. Child’s “The American Frugal Housewife” (first published in 1833) which was an influential book for women during the Civil War era. Were you wondering how to roast a turkey? 19th Century advice for you…

A good sized turkey should be roasted two hours and a half, or three hours; very slowly at firs. If you wish to make plain stuffing, pound a cracker, or crumble some bread very fine, chop some raw salt pork very fine, sift some sage, (and summer-savory, or sweet-marjoram, if you have them in the house, and fancy them,) and mould [mold] them all together, seasoned with a little pepper. An egg worked in makes the stuffing cut better; but it is not worth while when eggs are dear. About the same length of time is required for boiling and roasting.

A note to all our readers: While we expect to have a lot of fun looking at old recipes, please be sure to use good kitchen and food handling safety when preparing your own food. We’re a history blog (not a test kitchen) so be careful if you decide to try any of these recipes or food experiment in your own household.

Let’s get the coal in the stove or the wood on the military camp fire…and start some cookin’!


5 Responses to Civil War Cookin’: An Introduction

  1. This should be an interesting article series…any chance of posts including what the armies in the field served during Thanksgiving meals when in winter quarters?

    1. Hi David,
      Yes, I’m preparing an article or two on cooking in the field and camp. One important thing to remember is that Thanksgiving during the 1860s hadn’t evolved into the holiday as we know it today. Sure, there were harvest celebrations, family gatherings, and religious days of thanksgiving, but the actually holiday wasnt “officialized” until during the Civil War.

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