October 2, 2009

Civil War Era Receipts for the Fall

Civil War Reenactor Recipes
 Receipt is the historical term for what we now call a recipe. Since it is getting colder I thought I'd share some Civil War Era recipes that will not only warm the body, but keep us all in touch with eating seasonal foods. We sometimes forget that before there were large supermarkets that imported foreign foods all year round, we had to rely on what would grow locally during each season. We also have to remember that we would have to can or otherwise preserve anything we hoped to have in the winter.

Pumpkin Bread from the Confederate Reciept Book; a Compilation of Over One Hundred Receipts Adapted to the Times (1863)
Pumpkin Bread

 “Boil a good pumpkin in water till it is quite thick, pass it through a sieve, and mix flour so as to make a good dough. This makes an excellent bread.”

  • Note the simplicity of this bread. Just two ingredients, one really gets a feel for what southerners had to get by with during the blockade years.* 
  •  This also seems like a good way to get rid of all of the goop inside the jack O' lanterns this year.      Remember to bake the seeds as well.
  • Here’s a modern day recipe with spices galore: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pumpkin-bread-iv/Detail.aspx

Carrot Soup from Godey’s Lady’s Book (1861)
      Carrot Soup
     "Take six or eight full-grown carrots, of the red sort, scrape them clean, and rasp only the outer rind, or soft red part, and, if you have a single ripe tomato, add it, sliced, to the raspings, but use no other vegetable except onions. While this is doing, the broth of any kind of fresh meat which has been got ready should be heated and seasoned with a couple of onions fried in butter, but without pepper, or any other seasoning, except a small quantity of mace and a little salt. When all is ready, put the raspings into two quarts of the skimmed broth, cover the stewpan close, and let it simmer by the side of the fire for two or three hours, by which time the raspings will have become soft enough to be pulped through a fine sieve, after which the soup should be boiled until it is smooth as jelly, for any curdy appearance will spoil it. Thus all the roots, and most of such vegetables as can be easily made into puree and combined with any sort of broth, will, in this manner, make excellent soup of different denominations, though all founded on the same meat-stock. The gravy of beef is always preferred for savory soups, and that of veal or fowls for the more delicate white soups; to which from half a pint to one pint of cream, or, if that cannot be had, the same quantity of milk and the yolks of two raw eggs, should be added for every two quarts of soup; remembering, however, that the latter will not impart the richness of cream." 
  • Regular orange carrots should work for this too. 
  • You are only using the outer shavings of the carrots so the insides of the carrots can be used later in stew or if using you use regular carrots, the whole carrot can be pureed. 
  • Here's a similar modern recipe for Carrot Puree Soup.

Lettuce Soup from Godey’s Lady’s Book (1863)
    Lettuce Soup

"Cut up the white parts of two or four lettuces as needed, a quart of stock, free from fat, and boiling; into this throw the lettuces and a small onion, chopped very fine, and a teaspoon of salt; let it boil twenty minutes; thicken with two teaspoonfuls of flour, first rubbed smoothly in cold water, and a little soup added to it, then strained before putting it to the soup, then throw in a small bit of butter not larger than a walnut; let the whole boil up just once, and serve.

German Chocolate from The Housekeepers Encyclopedia by Mrs. E. F. Haskell (1861)
German Chocolate

“Four large table-spoons of the best chocolate grated fine, two quarts rich milk added gradually to the chocolate, the whites of four and yolks of two eggs beaten light, but not separated; add one gill of cold milk to the eggs, beat well; add gradually a coffee-cup of the chocolate to the milk and egg while hot, beating constantly. Take the chocolate to the milk and egg while hot, beating constantly. Take the chocolate from the fire, keep it hot but not boiling, and add the egg and milk gradually; stir constantly, or it will curdle; flavor with nutmeg, vanilla, or cinnamon, as desired; sugar it to suit the taste. The Germans use no sugar. The egg is to be added just before serving This makes a very delicious drink. Serve in chocolate bowls.”
  • This recipe is a bit confusing, I think you are supposed to heat four large tablespoons of grated chocolate with two quarts of milk. While that heats, in another bowl, beat the whites of four eggs with the yolks of two and add one "gill" of milk.  When the chocolate mixture is hot enough , remove from the fire and slowly mix in the egg/milk mixture, stirring the whole time to prevent curdling. Add vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg and serve in mugs.
*Note: This article is very good at describing the inconsistencies and measurements in Civil War Era receipts:

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