May 13, 2016

Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party Post, April and May

It's been awhile since I've posted a Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party Post! The last few months have been characterized by abnormal weather. Snowy, cold and rainy. I've been sewing a lot in an attempt to have a whole new set of Civil War clothing or two. The corset is finished and one dress is close but the hem is too long and I need to redo it. It's at least 160 inches of hand sewing so I've been putting it off. I am also not looking forward to sewing hooks and eyes. :)   

Cleaning artifacts from the archaeological dig at Newlin Gristmill. There is so many artifacts from this dig, it's crazy. The ones I cleaned here were 1860s-1870s period.

I was so happy to see the crab apple trees in bloom. Unfortunately, the rain knocked the petals off shortly after.

The sheep have been sheared.

It seriously felt like we hadn't seen the sun in weeks.

Snow in April.

It's snake season. I've been seeing them all over the place. 

Max at work gets a visit from the dentist.

At least the storms look pretty through the lens.

I've been having a lot of fun saving seeds from tomatoes. It's weirdly fun.

Corn snake in the garden.

It's time for the lambs! We should have more soon. Can't wait.

Spent some time with my mum and grandmum for Mother's Day. 

May 5, 2016

Civil War Era Confederate Milk Substitute

"We have a quantity of arrowroot, and I was told by several that it was useless to prepare it, as the men would not touch it." Kate Cummings, Confederate Nurse

This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks. This week I tried my hand at a confederate milk substitute called Arrowroot powder. 

Arrowroot powder is a starchy powder made from the Maranta Arundinacea plant that is native to Mexico and South America. While it is not something most people are familiar with in modern times, the powder was ubiquitous during the 1860s. Arrowroot powder was frequently used to make a custard like meal for children and those with "weak constitutions." It was a staple in hospitals. 

Additionally, it was used to make mock cream, puddings, jellies, and was considered a good cough syrup and very nutritious. I was excited to share this recipe, even though it is very simple. because arrowroot was something so common in the 1800s and it's not something many people today have even heard of.   

The Challenge: Mock Foods (April 22 - May 5) Historic cookbooks are full of recipes meant to imitate rare, expensive or impractical ingredients. It’s your turn to help your food pretend it’s something that it isn’t!

Arrowroot Powder

The Date/Year and Region: American South, Mobile Alabama

The Recipe: "I make it into a liquid, and while hot stir in several well beaten eggs, then season well with preserves (those slightly acid are the best), then let stand until cool. With wine instead of preserves it is excellent. It makes a pleasant and nourishing drink, will ease a cough, and is beneficial in cases of pneumonia. The men drink it with a relish, but I do not enlighten them in regard to the nature of the mixture. "

Civil War Era Recipe: Confederate Milk Substitute


- Arrowroot Powder
- Water
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 cup of wine or spoonful of citrus preserves


Put your water in a saucepan on medium heat. Add enough arrowroot powder to make it a milk consistency. Break and scramble the eggs in a separate bowl. Add the eggs and preserves or wine to the arrowroot mixture when it is simmering. Mix the eggs in and remove from the heat to cool. If you want a milk substitute, only stir the eggs in until combined. If you'd rather have an arrowroot meal or medicine, stir until it forms a custard consistency.    

Time to Complete: 15 minutes

Total Cost: $2.00

How Successful Was It?: I have a horrible habit of tasting what I'm cooking as I am cooking it. I tasted the arrowroot powder mixed with the water. It tasted like the left over residue from smarties and smelled like the grease on Auntie Anne's Pretzels. It was so bad I could not believe this was considered a substitute. With the addition of the egg and wine it actually did become a neutral flavor that would be passable for milk with the addition of a little sugar. It was good enough when mixed with something out.     

How Accurate Is It?: No substitutions made. 

April 17, 2016

How Did they Get Hair Smooth in the 1860s? Civil War Era Hair Oil Recipe

Civil War Era Macassar Oil Recipe for Hair

Macassar Oil was popular in the 1800s as a way to strengthen and smooth hair. It is a simple concoction typically made of scented olive or castor oil. The most popular kind was Rowland's Macassar Oil. Alexander Rowland, a fashionable hair dresser in the late 1700s, popularized the oil to the point that it was a household name all the way through the 20th century.

The oil was so popular that antimacassars, removable washable cloths were invented to protect furniture from hair oil. Antimacassars were woven, tatted and crocheted and many patterns were printed for them in the mid-1800s. They were even on the chairs in theaters. The recipe is very simple!

Macassar Oil


- 1 Cup Olive Oil
- 2/4 teaspoon Oil of Oregano**
- 3/4 teaspoon Oil of Rosemary
- 1/2 Cup Alkanet (optional for coloring)
- Muslin
- String
- Bottles

Pour olive oil into bowl, add the oil of rosemary and the oil of oregano. If you want it a red color, tie the Alkanet in the muslin so it forms a bag. Soak the Alkanet bag in the Olive Oil. You can cook this on low heat or in a crock pot for about an hour or until the color and scent infuse the main oil. Or you can combine and let sit for a few weeks.

**To create scent oils, put your scent in a small saucepan. Cover in olive oil. Heat on medium for 10 minutes. Let cool and bottle. Let the bottle sit for a week. You can alternatively just put the scent and oil in a jar and let it sit for more than 2 weeks. Rosemary, Oregano, Orange Flower, Cloves, Rose, Jessamine, Cinnamon, and Bergamot were common scents. To use the oil, place a small amount in a saucer or small bowl and rub it through the hair with your fingers.  

 I thought I'd be the guinea pig and let you all see the result. Please don't mind the grainy cell phone picture and forgive me for being dressed for the 18th century I had just got home from work.

 First rule of hair oil is a little oil goes a long way. The oil acted as you would expect. It did give some texture and body to my hair and did smooth out the curls. It felt like I hadn't washed my hair in a few days and was slightly greasy to the touch but not terrible. It was really good on the ends of my hair that don't generally get a lot of natural oil and made my hair shiny. It did get rid of most of the frizz and made period styles more obtainable.

However, I tried the scents authentic to the recipe. It smelled like a pizza shop! And while smoked bacon is my normal smell I thought smelling like a wood fired, artisanal, bake oven deep dish was a bit much. Even for me. I ended up scenting the rest with rose oil for my sanity. I know that people in the 1860s would not have associated those smells in the same way but there's only so long I can smell olive oil and rosemary before having to visit my grandma.


1 Hale, Sarah Josepha Buell. The New Household Receipt-book: Containing Maxims, Directions, and Specifics for Promoting Health, Comfort, and Improvement in the Home of the People: Compiled from the Best Authorities, with Many Receipts Never before Collected. New York: Long, 1853.

2 Leslie, Eliza. Miss Leslie's Lady's New Receipt-book: A Useful Guide for Large or Small Families: Containing Directions for Cooking, Preserving, Pickling. Philadelphia: A. Hart, Late Carey & Hart, 1850.

April 8, 2016

Civil War Era Open German Tart Recipe from Godey's Lady's Book

Civil War 1860s Recipe Apple Tart

This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks. I had such a hard time thinking of something that I would actually eat. I didn't have a need for a pretty cake or fancy marzipan dish but this tart is as delicious as it is pretty and you likely have the ingredients on hand!

The Challenge: Pretty As A Picture (March 25 - April 7) If you’re a fan of cooking competition shows (like I am!), you know how the saying goes: we eat first with our eyes. Make a dish that looks just as spectacular as it tastes. Extra points for historically accurate plating - and don’t forget to post pictures!

The Recipe:

"OPEN GERMAN TART—Half a pound of flour, quarter of a pound butter, quarter of a pound sugar, and one egg, to be rolled out and baked on a flat surface, having first covered the top with slices of apples or plums. A round shape looks best, with a little rim of the paste round the edge." -Godey’s Lady’s Book March 1863.

Civil War 1860s Recipe Apple Tart

The Date/Year and Region: Philadelphia 1863. This recipe was published the same year in Peterson's Magazine 

How Did You Make It: 


- 3 cups Flour
- 1 cup Sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons
- 1 stick of Butter (1/4 pound)
- 1 Egg

- 2 Apples, peeled and sliced
- Lemon Juice


Peel and slice your apples, set aside. In a medium sized bowl, mix sugar, softened butter and egg. Slowly add the flour until it forms a stiff dough. Add a little cold water if needed. Divide the dough in half and roll out on a floured surface. Roll the dough on to your pin and transfer to a baking sheet. Fill with the slices from one apple and fold the sides of the dough up. Drizzle lemon juice and a tablespoon full of sugar on top on the apple slices. Repeat with second tart. Bake in a oven preheated at 450 for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.    

Time to Complete: These made up very quickly. About 40 minutes, including baking time.

Total Cost: Very inexpensive. I had all of the ingredients on hand.

How Successful Was It?: Surprisingly good for not having any cinnamon or nutmeg. I was expecting it to be very plain but even my family enjoyed it, which is a major feat. 

How Accurate Is It?: Fairly accurate. Used sugar beet sugar instead of cane sugar.

March 24, 2016

Civil War Era Pinappleade Recipe

"Poor Mr. Doe and Mr. Chick are both very low to day. I carried them cocoa, milk, and pineapple preserves."
- Harriet Eaton, Nov. 14th, 1864

Civil War Recipe Pineappleade | World Turn'd Upside Down

This recipe was cooked for the Historical Food Fortnightly. A yearly challenge that encourages bloggers to cook a historical food every two weeks.

For this challenge I decided to take on a lemonade twist with pineappleade. Pineapples were exotic fruits in the 1800s, mostly grown in Jamaica. They were used for such dishes as ice cream, pudding, pineapple chips, fritters, drinks and marmalade. They were considered a "dessert" fruit and was often paired with sugar.1 Pineapples, being imports, were not as common as home grown fruits. The first large quantity producing pineapple plantation in Florida was started in 1860 by Captain Benjamin Baker, who was probably accustomed to the enjoyment of them at sea. 2   

I wanted to add a dessert type feel to the pineappleade so I dressed it up like fancier drinks of the time, particularly with a straw. In the 1850s and 1860s, drinkers had a few options for drinking straws: rye grass, glass tubes made for the purpose and even hollow noodles.3 4 I opted for a glass tube although I could not find any as long as typically pictured. Rye grass was most common although it gave the drink extra flavor.   

The Challenge: Juicy Fruits (March 11 - March 24) It’s fruits! Do something with fruits. It doesn’t get more simple than that. Bonus points for use of heritage crops and ingredients!

The Recipe:

Civil War Recipe Pineappleade | World Turn'd Upside Down

The Date/Year and Region: United States 1850s-1860s

How Did You Make It: 


-8 Cups Water, boiling
-Powdered Sugar, to taste
-Oranges, Lemons optional.


Pare and core the pineapple. Mince it fine and place in a pitcher. Pour boiling water over the minced pineapple and mash occasionally with a wooden spoon, cover it until room temperature. Add powdered sugar to taste. Refrigerate or put on ice until cool. Pour into cups, add an ice cube, extra sugar if needed and a thin slice of pineapple.

Civil War Recipe Pineappleade | World Turn'd Upside Down

Time to Complete:
Few hours, most of the time was letting the pineappleade cool.

Total Cost: About $4.00

How Successful Was It?: Pretty good. If I was to make it again I would probably add some orange and lemon. It would be a fantastic, chilling drink on a hot summer day.

How Accurate Is It?: The only thing I changed was the garnish style. The drink called for having a thin slice of pineapple stuck on the top of the drink but you couldn't see it in the pictures so I opted for a more modern style.

Another recipe:

1 Webster, Thomas, and William Parkes. An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Economy: Comprising Such Subjects as Are Most Immediately Connected with Housekeeping ... New York: Harper & Brothers Publisher, 1855.

2 Wilkinson, Jerry. HISTORY OF FARMING. Accessed March 24, 2016.

3Timbs, John. Hints for the Table, Or, The Economy of Good Living: With a Few Words on Wines. London: Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1860.

4 Thomas, Jerry, and Christian Schultz. How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant's Companion. to Which Is Appended a Manual for the Manufacture of Cordials, Liquors, Fancy Syrups, Etc., Etc.: Over 600 Valuable Recipes / by Christian Schultz. New York: Dick & Fitzgerald, 1862.