February 9, 2018

Fight the Gap Crud: WWII Era Chicken Noodle Soup

Everyone had a great weekend at the Fort Indiantown Gap Event!

But now it's here: The Gap Crud, The Barracks Plague, The Soldier's Sickness! Everyone is sick now. This post isn't going to be very in-depth because I'm typing from my bed, under a mound of crumpled tissues. I'm leaving it up to sleep and the science of Chicken Soup to fix this.

Chicken soup has been a staple in homes since chicken became a thing, although it wasn't until 1934 when Campbell's released their "Noodle with Chicken Soup" that Americans began buying and stocking their pantries with it. The 1930 and 40s were the start of being able to buy this previously homemade dish at the store, a luxury to anyone who has had to cook three meals a day from scratch.   
Although many people erroneously think a Campbell's Soup name mix-up on the radio in the 1930s is the origin of the name, the name "Chicken Noodle Soup" was in use at least since WWI. The mix-up did; however, prompt Campbell's to change the name of their soup to "Chicken Noodle,"  and it's a popular name for the dish today.
1947 Advertisement

Chicken Noodle Soup


- 4 Cups Chicken Broth
- 2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs of Celery. chopped
- 1 medium Onion, diced
- Handful of noodles (fresh or store bought, we're sick so I'm doing store bought.)
- Chopped parsley, optional
- Cooked shredded chicken, optional


In a large saucepan, boil the carrots, celery and onion in the chicken broth until tender. Add the noodles and chicken, serve with a garnish of parsley.

Some recipes recommended making broth using a whole chicken. If you used a chicken to make broth, it was likely only a few shreds would find their way into the soup, the boiled chicken would likely be served in other dishes to stretch it. Chicken soup is a great way to use the chicken bones though.

Some pics from the Fort Indiantown Gap Event:

I wish everyone a speedy recovery!

January 27, 2018

WWII Knit Cap : Easy Pattern

I was hoping to get this out before FIG because I hear it's supposed to snow! O.O  I also here there will be a fair amount of knitting going on next weekend. Hopefully I'll have a female pattern up by then. I have an easy and fun one in mind but I might have to post it after the event.

This pattern comes from the booklet Knit for Defense (1941) which encouraged women to knit for the troops. It advertised this cap as "A practical cap for winter wear in any branch of the Service." It suggested Chadwick's Red Heart Knitting Worsted, which you can still find on occasion on etsy, but Lion Brand Collection Pure Wool is very similar.   

This pattern is very easy but I had to frog it about 6 times because I couldn't keep focused. :D I've included some extra instructions if you also need a little help on the decreases.


GAUGE: 5½ sts make 1 inch; 7 rnds make 1 inch.

Cast on 108 sts on 3 needles (36 sts on each needle). Join, being careful not to twist stitches. Work 2 inches in ribbing of k 1, p 1. Now work in stockinette stitch (k each rnd) for 4 inches.

To Shape Crown: 1st rnd: * Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 12, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (96 sts remaining). 2nd and 3rd rnds: Knit around. 4th rnd: * Sl 1, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 10, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (84 sts remaining). 5th and 6th rnds: Knit around. Continue decreasing 12 sts in this manner on every 3rd rnd, until 24 sts remain.

Break yarn, leaving an 8-inch end. Thread needle with this end and run through remaining sts. Draw up tight and fasten securely on wrong side. Turn back cuff.

To Shape Crown for the Pattern Unfortunate:

Round 1: * Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 12, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (96 sts remaining).
Round 2: Knit All
Round 3: Knit All
Round 4: * Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 10, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (84 sts remaining).
Round 5:Knit All
Round 6: Knit All
Round 7: * Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 8, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (72 sts remaining).
Round 8: Knit All
Round 9: Knit All
Round 10: * Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 6, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (60 sts remaining).
Round 11: Knit All
Round 12: Knit All
Round 13: * Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 4, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (48 sts remaining).
Round 14: Knit All
Round 15: Knit All
Round 16: * Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 2, k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (36 sts remaining).
Round 17: Knit All
Round 18: Knit All
Round 19:* Sl 1 as if to knit, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 2 tog., k 2. Repeat from * around (24 sts remaining).

Break yarn, leaving an 8-inch end. Thread needle with this end and run through remaining sts. Draw up tight and fasten securely on wrong side. Turn back cuff.

Suggested Colors:

Khaki, Navy, Maroon, Lt. Oxford, Oxford Gray, Air Force Blue. 

I'll get a guy to model it at the next event but for now, I'm tooling around town like Lea Salonga in Les Miserables. Hope you enjoy! If you end up knitting this, I'd love to see a picture of the finished cap. 

January 19, 2018

WWII Boston Clam Chowder Recipe

WWII Clam Chowder Recipe Navy

This is a fairly standard, but tasty, clam chowder recipe, if you need to feed 100. The beauty of this recipe is that this recipe can be made entirely with preserved foods with minimal effort most of the time is just waiting for the potatoes to soften. It definitely does not contain tomatoes as that would be sacrilegious. I reduced the recipe down to 10 servings but it would likely feed 5 as a main coarse. You'd think I would have made this last week when the temperature was in the single digits but my first free day was today when it was a balmy 40 degrees out. :D Next time! 

WWII Clam Chowder Recipe Navy

This recipe is from a WWII Merchant Marine manual. The book emphasized presentation. "Soups are vastly improved in appearance by sprinkling chopped parsley or paprika on the surface before serving. Croutons are often served with soup." I thought it was a good idea and greatly improved the flavor. The recipe also indicates that you can make corn chowder instead of clam chowder by just exchanging one ingredient  but I also think this would be good with a little corn added.

Makes 10 Servings of 1 Cup


- 1/4 Cup Bacon, cubed
- 1/2 Cup Onion, Chopped
- 2 Medium sized Potatoes, cubed
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Salt
- 5 1/2 Cups Boiling Water
- 3 Cups Clams, chopped with juice
- 16 ounces (2 Cups) Evaporated Milk
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Pepper
- 1/2 Cup sifted Flour


Chop bacon, onions, potatoes and clams. Fry bacon until crispy, add onions and fry until lightly browned. Drain fat and save for later. In a large pot, add water, 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add onion mixture and potatoes, let simmer for an hour. Add clams, juice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. In a small sauce pan, blend flour and bacon fat. Slowly add the flour mixture into the soup. Add evaporated milk, wait for the boil. Let simmer for one minute to thicken. Serve with some chopped parsley as a garnish.

Hope you and enjoy! Please share and if you make the recipe, please let me know how it was!

January 10, 2018

The Spectrum of Reenacting

Reenacting. It's not just one thing. 

One of the biggest complaints I hear in reenacting is about the "quality" of events. You'll hear one reenactor complaining that they hardly got to fire their guns, another complain that the whole event was nothing but a "shoot 'em up", and people like me that complain that they just didn't learn enough or see enough new things. The truth is that reenacting is a spectrum. There are many ways to reenact and ALL of these ways can have value. 

It has never been my hobby to pretend to be someone in the past; although, it has been my hobby to live like people in the past. I have always been firmly in the living history/experimental archaeology / history education segment of reenacting. It has allowed me to be a 3rd party observer in a lot of these arguments as I don't feel so strongly about any one type of popular event style, both of them typically lack what I'm into but I know that prior to attendance.    

You can't have a discussion about quality without a discussion of goals. Most reenactors will tell you that their goals are to educate the public and to honor the vets. (Although most reenactors are terrible at doing both of these things.) Reenactors need to be more realistic about their personal goals. Education and honor sound like great goals but are so often used as a mask for other more personal, and no less, acceptable goals.

Reenactors are frequently mad that an event did not meet their goals. They berate the event on social media and make fun of anyone who dared attend. It's pointless and detrimental to all parts of the hobby as people are stripped of any type of personal enjoyment. I do not think it is difficult for a reenactor to find events that fir their goals and am unsure of why so many still go to certain well known events and complain how there wasn't enough one thing or another then feel the need to complain about it. It is easy enough to find events that align with your personal goals or are at least in the same quadrant of the spectrum.     

Fun should be a goal no matter what type of reenacting you prefer. If education is your goal, be more serious about it. Don't just study history, study educational techniques. Join NAI or ALHFAM or any of the other educational associations out there that pertain to what you want to teach. Learn techniques from Eppley. If your goal is to experience the war as closely as possible, admit that is the only goal and attend events where others share this goal. This goal is not wrong or better than any other goal. There's no reason you can't just enjoy the hobby as it is without trying to make more out of what you want yourself or the spectators to experience.

In the end, it is important to me that more people are interested in history. We need an informed society so that better decisions can be made in the present. We need the average person to be interested in history so that museums, artifacts, and battlefields get saved for future generations. This is where reenactors/ events can really help people. A reenactment, no matter how farby can give visitors sights, smells, sounds and tastes of the past, if only a little. It makes the time period more personal and real to a spectator and therefore more interesting.

From the farbiest of farb events to costume parties to 1st person immersion, there is literally nothing that I will be upset with if it is getting people personally interested in history. (I do not mind if entertainment is misleading, I do mind if educational materials are misleading.) Be honest about what you're showing people and do your best to keep people interested in history.  

Reenacting. It's not all just one thing, but it can all be beneficial.     

December 18, 2017

Civil War Era Cookie Recipe: Ginger Nuts

Civil War Cookie Recipe Ginger Nuts

"He lives, then, on ginger-nuts, thought I; never eats a dinner, properly speaking; he must be a vegetarian then; but no he never eats even vegetables, he eats nothing but ginger-nuts. My mind then ran on in reveries concerning the probable effects upon the human constitution of living entirely on ginger-nuts." 

- Herman Melville, Bartleby, 1856

I was originally going to make Lydia Marie Child's Cider cake but ended up deciding against it. I thought these Ginger nuts would be a tasty accompaniment to the warm cider I had. Ginger-nuts are described in period sources as "little cakes," and seemed to be popular treat. Even William Alcott, the very health conscious father of  Louisa May Alcott, considered ginger nuts to be one of the "least objectionable" pastries. They could be cut out with cutters or formed into "nuts" or lumps and baked that way as is detailed in  The Complete Biscuit and Gingerbread Baker's Assistant (1854.) They are still popular in New Zealand but seem to have lost favor elsewhere.

The ginger and molasses taste went perfect with warm cider but would be as equally good dipped in tea. I only baked mine for 10 minutes because I knew we were going to eat them soon. The longer you bake them and the time they are in storage will determine the hardness. The full recipe would make about 200, 2 inch biscuits!  This was definitely a recipe designed to be baked once and to be used as needed for the rest of the year.

Surprisingly, even my family liked them and they are oddly addictive. I thought the hardness would deter people from eating them but they softened up in a day and were chewy although I know they will harden again in the next week or two. And even though we had a lengthy conversation about them not being dog biscuits, my sister's puppy still stole one from the table when I was not looking. This is definitely a recipe I will make again and it's a perfect reenactment snack. Being similarly hard would make this a good item to send to the soldiers during the war. 

Civil War Cookie Recipe Ginger Nuts

Civil War Cookie Recipe Ginger Nuts

Ginger Nuts


- 3 1/3 Cups Flour (And more, this recipe eats flour)
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Molasses
- 1 1/4 sticks of Butter, softened
- 1 Ounce Ground Ginger
- 1/4 of a Nutmeg, Grated
- Cinnamon to Taste


Makes about 4 dozen cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, softened butter, molasses, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add flour until it forms a thick paste (about 3 1/3 cups). On a heavily floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 of an inch and cut shapes. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on desired hardness. This recipe makes about 4 dozen 2 inch biscuits. 

Civil War Cookie Recipe Ginger Nuts