Recipes for Camp

By Wayne Thompson


4 cups non-enriched flour (NOT self-rising!)
2/3 cup lard or shortening*
2 cups water, divided into one cup portions
1 tablespoon salt

    Put 2 cups flour and all of the shortening in a bowl and mix together. Add remaining flour and mix well. Add 1 cup water, with salt dissolved in it, to bowl and mix thoroughly. SLOWLY add as much of the remaining water as needed to make a firm, but wet, dough.
    Let the dough rest at least one hour in the refrigerator, then roll out on a well-floured board to ¼ -inch thickness. Cut into pieces about 2-1/2” by 4 “.  Put 4 to 6 holes into each cracker.
    Bake in a 275?F oven for  one and a half to two hours. Hardtack should be dry, but not browned. If the hardtack is browning on the bottom, try placing a pan of water in a lower rack or lower the temperature to 250?F and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.
* Crisco makes a butter-flavored shortening if you can’t stand the plain taste of traditional Army bread.

Classic Italian Dessert:

4 firm pears
4 cups of a good Italian red wine
½ cup sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
½ teaspoon each lemon and orange zest
12 prunes (yes, prunes), pitted

    Peel the pears and slice off enough of the bottom of each pear so they will stand up straight in the bottom of your coffee boiler (leave the stems on). Stand the pears in the boiler and pour in enough wine to come up within an inch of the tops of the pears. Add the other ingredients and bring everything to a boil, then allow to simmer, covered, for about twenty minutes to half an hour. Remove the pears to a nearby pan and reduce the sauce about one-third by bring it to a vigorous boil, uncovered.
    When the sauce is ready, place a pear on its own plate, spoon out three prunes  for each pear, and spoon sauce over each pear at serving time. Remaining sauce makes a wonderful syrup for pancakes or cornbread.
  Not a period recipe, you say? Well, the Romans served this dish quite often, and the Sicilians, where this dish is still made, got the idea from the Greeks. Compare to the next dish:

Army Beans:

2 pounds of white beans
½ pound side meat or dried beef

    Pick through the beans for stones, vermin, and other items unfit for human consumption. To make the surviving mass unfit for human consumption, soak the beans about two hours. Skim off any “floaters” and pour out the old water. In a large pot, put in the beans and add enough water to cover all by about two inches or so. Cut the side meat or dried beef, and add the meat to the pot. Bring to vigorous boil, stirring frequently, for about twenty minutes. Reduce to a simmer, and cover the pot. After one hour, check the mess in the bottom of the pot, and add enough water to make the whole thing a watery obscenity to the culinary arts. Add salt, so as to annoy the hungry recipients even further. Any leftover salt should be offered to the soldiers as a final insult. Cook should not be in camp during mealtime. Do not feed to prisoners. They have suffered enough already. Serve with hardtack. Reserve pear dish for last-ditch effort at appeasement.

“Essence of Coffee”:

1 - 8-oz. Jar of your favorite instant freeze-dried coffee
Sweetener of your choice
Coffee-Mate (flavor of your choice) [Optional]

    Place all of the coffee in a bowl. Add enough sweetener to equal your usual dosage for the number of indicated servings on the jar of coffee (e.g., if your coffee yields 16 servings, and you usually put two teaspoons of sugar per serving, then you would add 32 teaspoons of sugar to the coffee). If you want to add creamer, add it in the manner you would add the sugar. Now, slowly add hot water to the dry ingredients until you end up with a substance that has the same consistency and appearance of shoe polish.
    Put this goo in a sealable container and place it in the refrigerator. When you get ready for the next reenactment, take the stuff out and place enough into a clean cap tin to accommodate your addiction over the course of the event. Two teaspoons of this stuff will make one 6 to 8-oz. serving of coffee. One tin will make about a dozen such servings. Make  sure the tin has a secure lid on it.
  Essence of coffee was issued to US Army troops during the course of the war. It was one of the things that Gen, Jackson had distributed to his troops after the battle of 2nd Manassas from stores captured at Manassas Junction by A. P. Hill’s Division. It was quite popular with both Johnny Reb and Billy Yank.