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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cosie's Corner & Feed Bag  |  The Pantry (Moderator: Delmonico)  |  Topic: How to do a period correct meal with out cooking 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: How to do a period correct meal with out cooking  (Read 2474 times)
Delmonico
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« on: August 16, 2010, 07:22:39 pm »


One can put together some pretty good meals from items one can pick up at most grocery stores that duplicate items one could get in the 1865-1900 period.  The dates are in general terms, many of the sources vary a bit on when items came out and different areas might see them sooner or later than another area.

We will start this out by covering bread.  Not everyone baked their own bread, most towns had one or more bakeries and a lot of folks simply bought bread, also travelers often bought bread from folks along the way, cash money being in short supply most folks were glad to get any they could.

Bread was sold in either loaves made in loaf pans or various forms of free form such as round loaves.  Pre-sliced bread was not the way bread was sold, with out modern plastic bags it would have dried out very quickly, also it would have had to have been sliced by hand, since the machinery to slice bread had to wait till it was both invented and the machinery was made to form perfectly formed loaves that could be run through it.

So where to get proper bread with out baking is the question?  Most likely it is a close as you neighborhood grocery store.  Many stores today have an in-house bakery and many sell loaves unsliced or most likely would if asked a day or so in advance. 

As for types white bread would be the most common, stone ground is not needed because by the end of the Civil War the roller mill type machinery was taking over very quickly in this country, having been invented in Central Europe in the late 1840's to 1850's.  This allowed flour to be made on a straight run, wheat in on side and flour out the other side of the mill with out having to stop like stone ground, plus it produced a cleaner, whiter type of flour.  The flour would have been un-bleached till around the time of WWI, but few can really tell the difference between bleached and un-bleached till you have to pay for it.  (I have to pay about $0.75-$1.00 a pound for un-bleached, I pay around $5 for a 25 pound bag of bleached at Sam's Club.)

Whole wheat was also a common type bread in the period, often called Graham Bread, after Sylvester Graham, who promoted it's use.  Graham also invented the Graham Cracker.

Rye breads were also a common form of bread; the exact type would vary with the ethnical group who had settled in the area.

Breads to stay away from would be those you see today that have the mixes of several grains and any with sesame seed on them.  Sesame seed, (called Benne Seed most times) was around but was an expensive item and not what somebody would have on camp food.

As for slicing the bread, that is easy, most of us have one or more large knives in our gear, if it wont slice bread, use it for a tent stake and get one that will.

I would store it out of site in a plastic wrapper till near time to use it, a muslin bag with a draw string would also keep it fairly well with out too much drying out, although slightly dried out bread would be very period correct.  Also the dried bread can be buttered and toasted very nice in an iron skillet, but some would consider that cooking.

Other alternatives would be hard tack, hard to eat for most folks, or plain old soda crackers in the wax paper sleeves, the boxed crackers with the wax paper sleeves are most times dated to the late 1870's or early 1880's and bulk packed go back to at least the 1840's.
With our bread figured out we need to have something to put on it.  For this post we'll cover cheese.

Although many cheeses were imported and the list would cover any cheese made in Europe during this time period, for camp use we will want to limit this to the four main kinds made in the US during this time period and sold on a regular basis.  Large cheese factories in the US began in New York State in the 1840's, before dairy farmers made that most as a side industry.  Wisconsin soon became a large producer also, but there were many cheese factories all over the region, any place there were a enough dairy cattle, cheese factories sprung up because it was a good way to preserve milk with out spoilage. 

The four we need to look at are what today is often called Farmer Cheese, Cheddar, Colby and Swiss.

To start with, what is often sold, as Farmer Cheese today is just an un-aged cheese or "Green Cheese. Green Cheese is just a term for un-aged cheese and if you look at a round of Farmer Cheese, you will now understand why folks say the moon is made of "Green Cheese."  This cheese was simple to make and did not require long storage before selling like other kinds, the taste is a bit bland, but the big disadvantage is it can spoil in a few days in hot weather in a camp box in the summer.

Colby and Cheddar are somewhat similar cheeses and are common in grocery stores, your aged Cheddars store very well in warm weather.  In old time recipes and grocery lists one will see American cheese referenced to.  This is not the almost imitation "American Cheese" we see today, but another name for Cheddar, despite the fact this type was developed in England.

Swiss Cheese refers to the type of cheese developed in Wisconsin in the 1850's that is similar to some of the cheeses made in Switzerland, it is a common cheese in stores today and is aged and stores well.
Any leftover meat such as steak or roast could be added to our sandwich, often at breakfast extra bacon was cooked and eaten on break as a quick meal during the day, ham would be another good choice.  These can be cooked ahead of time for use at a range or reenactment when a quick meal is needed, although folks then were not as careful about food spoilage as we are, many did of food spoilage so one wants to be carful in warm weather and keep these from spoiling if need be.

One must remember, your ham and bacon of the time was cured more with both salt and was a drier product than that we get to day, this reduced spoilage and was the reason for making them.  Also your corned beef and salt pork was carried in barrels or kegs of brine to prevent spoilage.

Some of the dried spiced sausage of the Salami and Summer Sausage would be good also and keep well, some of the more modern types still don't need to be kept in the ice box, look for types they keep outside of the cooler.

Good proper dried beef was also a common item carried, look for the kind you find in the Deli counter and just have them cut a hunk off and slice it yourself when needed, just like the other cured meats, it is not as cured as in times past, but has a lot of spoilage resistance.

Canned sardines in olive oil predate the Civil War and were often used with bread and crackers for a quick meal.  Canned corned beef dates to the early 1870's and was a common item, in the years up to after the turn of the century it had some spoilage problems due to improper canning, but the modern product is quite safe.  In fact it is said that during the Spanish American War, spoiled canned corned beef, caused by being left in the sun on the docks in Havana killed more US soldiers than Spanish bullets.  The uproar caused by this was on of the reasons for the "Pure Food and Drug Act" of 1906.

Canned "Deviled Ham" dates to the early 1860's and the "Underwood Devil" is the oldest trademark still in use on an US made product.


For condiments to put on our sandwich, one of the best is some of the better mustards, such as stone ground and some of the other different types of better quality mustards, in fact mustard was the most common condiment used, this does not include the yellow, mild "Ball Park' mustard, this is an early 20th century development along with canned mayo.  Mayo was a gourmet item that was hand whipped with a whisk.

Butter was also used on sandwiches as well as lard; margarine was developed in France in the early part of the 19th century and was used in this country by our time period, but was mostly seen in big cities away from a steady supply of the real thing.  The quality was far worse even than fake butter today.

Ketchup was another one sometimes seen, Heinz started mass producing "Tomato Ketchup" in 1876, but this product was around since at least the 1840's, plus "Ketchup was also made out of grapes, walnuts, oysters and other items.  A-1 Steak Sauce, originally made in England dates to the 1750's as well as other brands of a similar item.

Of course, jelly, jams and preserves as well as marmalades are always good.  Peanut butter was developed in the 1880's but was considered food for invalids instead of something to spread on bread.

A few other items to carry along would most likely include pork and beans in a can, Van de Camps started these in the 1850's and sold several million to the Union Army. 

Other items for our no cook meal could be canned fruit, peaches, plums, apples, apricots; sweet cherries come to mind along with tomatoes, which were often eaten for dessert.

This should get you fairly well covered for some meals with out having to build a fire.
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
Delmonico
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 07:09:41 pm »

,
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Mongrel Historian


Always get the water for the coffee upstream from the herd.

Ab Ovo Usque ad Mala

The time has passed so quick, the years all run together now.
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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Cosie's Corner & Feed Bag  |  The Pantry (Moderator: Delmonico)  |  Topic: How to do a period correct meal with out cooking « previous next »
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