June 19, 2012

Low or No-Cook Civil War Dishes for Reenacting in the Hot Summer Months

 One of the most frequent questions that reenactors get asked is "Aren't you hot in that?" and the answer is "Yes!" Cooking over the fire isn't usually too bad but there are some events, like the 150th Manassas, where it is so hot no one can move and no one was willing to cook and it really wasn't safe for anyone to be eating hot food. Here are some tips and recipes for those days where it is so hot that you burn your hand picking up your tin plate that you left sitting in the sun.

There are three ways to avoid cooking in the heat. The first is to plan to bring foods that require little or no preparation such as nuts, fruits, bread, pies and cakes or things that can be prepared ahead of time at home. The second way is to plan to cook at night after the sun goes down and eat the dishes cold the next day. The third is to cook meals that are prepared without heat.



No Preparation Food:

 -Peanuts, bread, cakes, bread, pies, pickles, apples,watermelons, cheese, hardtack, etc.

Things to Eat Cold:

 -This includes pretty much anything that you are okay with eating cold but also includes period dishes such as cold meat slices or hard-boiled eggs. This is a period option, especially in the army where men have time to cook but might have to wait until later to eat. 

No Cook Dishes:
 

What we know today as "Cole Slaw," although the dressing is a little different.

 It's a good idea to have cold drinks available. This version of Lemonade doesn't need to be heated.







This isn't like today's chicken salad and is much more like a chicken cesar salad with a few additions. The recipe recommends gherkins, which are cucumbers and chopped hard-boiled eggs.






Be creative with your meals and preparation times. If you are going to make breakfast and know it's going to be a hot day, try to start early. You can also get an early start on lunch or start meals at night. Try anything to keep yourselves away from the fire for long periods of time.

14 comments:

  1. I always wondered about that. Thanks for sharing and I should try some of these recipes for a hot day!

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  2. Great post, Steph. I wish I could apply this to cooking for camp. :/

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    1. You always make some ice cream, right? :)

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  3. I took this post totally wrong at first and luckily read it again. I take it now that you are saying that these are good foods to make during a re-enactment?

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    1. I didn't think of that but I re-read it again and see what you meant. :D Yes, these are good foods to cook when it's hot.

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  4. I am a cook in one of the historical houses a the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Western NY. Lately it seems that it is always boiling hot on the days I work...these suggestions are wonderful! Thanks.

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    1. Let me know if you come up with some others.

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  5. I am a cook in one of the historical houses a the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Western NY. Lately it seems that it is always boiling hot on the days I work...these suggestions are wonderful! Thanks.

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  6. Thanks for the ideas Steph! I decided to just cook for myself from now on. The 'mess groups' thing, while it feels more authentic, in practice doesn't always work. At events like Manassas, people set up their tents and then left the camp for their hotel rooms or went out to dinner. After I finally found the camp (which wasn't in the right place), everyone was gone. There was no fire and I had no cooking utensils. I had brought some bread and ham and cheese in a small ice chest, but there was nowhere to get ice (the ice vendors by that stopped making their rounds) What ice I did bring melted and made half the rolls soggy, I'm pretty sure the ham spoiled. When I had to evacuate the camp from heat sickness I just left the stuff there and told the guys in my company to eat whatever food was okay in my tent. It ended up getting thrown out.

    Of course now I'm smarter.

    It makes more sense to eat the kind of foods they ate, of course they didn't require refrigeration because there was no such thing. If it needs to be kept cold, don't bring it. It's just not a good idea.

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    1. I prefer to cook individually but my group has recently been better about group meals. The thing about authentic meals is that it gets boring fast, so I see why my group likes to try more exciting things. I'm okay with boring. :)

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  7. Thank you for a lovely blog! I just stumbled over it...and
    will no doubt spend weeks gleaning all the interesting info! Very cool!

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    1. Thanks so much! I hope you find some things to your liking and I will be checking out your blogs. :)

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