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Author Topic: Cold lunches  (Read 19472 times)
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LissaWilson
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« on: March 29, 2009, 10:55:57 AM »

Go easy on me here as this is a new area to me, and I am still digging out from the brain overload of Carolann's Fantabulous class!

I am committed to doing authentic period lunches with the family this year. In the past we have just brought sandwiches and paper plates to eat in the "break" area behind the fence and out of spectator view designated for non-period foods, but I'm tired of the hassle, so I'd rather just go authentic. We are at a historic site, and I don't have a fire to work with, as those are all in use for various scheduled activities, period cooking, baking, blacksmithing, etc. I have printed out Liz's compendium article on No Refrigeration Needed, but I would be grateful for any other suggestions as well.

What can we eat for cold lunches? Where would I start to look for period recipes? The simpler the option, the better as long as it is documented. Thanks so much!
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hanktrent
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2009, 11:19:14 AM »

Mrs. E.F. Haskell has a section on "cold dinners."

Not all of these are truly cold, like the one that includes "baked potatoes hot," which makes me wonder if some of the things that don't sound very appetizing served cold were meant to be served hot also.

And not all of them are food safe for all situations--not sure I'd want to eat all these things kept on a hot day for hours at room temperature.

But it gives lots of ideas, and at the end of the listing a couple pages later, there are some "cold lunches" which are lighter more upscale things, requiring ice.

Recipes for the individual items can be found within the same book, or in any of the numerous period cookbooks online at google books, Making of America or Feeding America. If you need urls to those sites, let me know.

For a poorer or more casual impression, there's also a variety of snack foods such as a family might eat on a train or steamboat or from a streetcorner vendor, some of which would depend greatly on the historic situation and would require getting period-looking varieties: all kinds of cakes, peanuts, apples, oranges, bananas, ginger beer.

Hank Trent
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« Last Edit: March 29, 2009, 11:21:44 AM by hanktrent » Logged
Cassandra
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2009, 12:51:38 PM »

Home-made bread is always great. Bring a "tin" of preserves, and the kids can eat happily all day. (Please omit the peanut butter though, not accurate. Peanuts were hog food back then) Biscuits, cakes, cookies, etc.
Dried fruits, garden vegetables, berries, an jerky.
Sauerkraut, pickles, and other fermented goods. There is a period correct way of making these types of foods, if you are interested I can explain this easy process to you.
It will need to be kept cold, but Chicken Salad is period. I have "receipts" if you are want them.
Puddings are period. It's a bit different than out puddings today, so don't get the boxed stuff. Get a period recipe and try to make it your self
Fried chicken, served cold with gravy, was mentioned in Petersons 1859.
Pies are good. No cheap aluminum pans though.
A really good book for research is Victorian Rumbles "Home Companion, or the whole art of cooking" She is very thorough in her research on period recipe's, food use and storage, and even into what varieties of vegetables, plant and animals were used for food. She makes some things so plainly searched, and descriptive, I use this book on an everyday basis for modern cooking. No one has complained yet! lol.
Hope this helps!


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Marta Vincent
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2009, 01:56:04 PM »

At events with our mercantile, we rarely have time to sit down to a lunch; so we usually graze on things that need little or no refrigeration.  We also often have youngsters with us: a 9 yr old girl (picky) and a 13 yr old boy (even more picky!)

We always have cheese, which if it's a hard cheese can sit out awhile.  Sliced hard salami (no refrigeration needed until it's sliced).  Hard boiled eggs (really, they won't go off in one day!), or pickled eggs (yum!). cut up tomatoes, cukes and other veggies in season; and seasonal fruit. Bread and crackers are good. Cookies: (no chocolate chip  Wink) gingersnaps, oatmeal, hermits.  Lemonade to drink and water. 

If you choose things the boys like, and that are easy to prepare at home, you can stash a cooler out of sight and not necessarily have a sit down meal, but let them eat as they are hungry.  I expect that they'll end up with a pretty balanced diet over the day.  It sure works for us.  (We make a hearty breakfast and have dinner fairly late, but we do fine, even with picky kids!)
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NoahBriggs
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2009, 04:20:24 PM »

Saint Liz posted an article in Auntie Maude's which discusses this very topic.  It's aimed at keeping the family fed during the day, but a lot of it's applicable to your situation.

We snacked on small ham and cheese sandwiches, and ginger beer while we prowled the Harpers Ferry Dry Goods Store.  That place is a smorgasbord of material culture.
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BetsyConnolly
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2009, 05:18:25 PM »

My favorite cold lunch at events is cheese, bread, and seasonable fruit. For a picnic, if I'm committed to hauling out major things, I'll go with German potato salad, summer sausage or cold fried chicken, cookies, pickles (pickled anything, really), some preserves, dried fruit...basically, anything that is seasonable, or preserved, and things that can be snacked on are best.

Makes me want to have a picnic now...
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Betsy Connolly
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2009, 08:36:18 AM »

Yeah, bread and dried things are usually the first things I gravitate towards, and any seasonal fruits that I can take. A jar of jam, a little cheese, and possibly a summer sausage. Lots of drinking stuff (love lemonade, or just a jug of water with a little mint spring or lemon slice added) When hiking, I make a big batch of jerky, and we can cook it back up with potatoes and onions if we want, letting the spices flavor the stew. During the winter, when I buy apples in bulk and we don't get to eating them before they might go bad, I dry the slices with a little cinnamon on top. You can eat a whole apple in like 5 slices!

I hate bringing coolers and things. I would rather not. Most of time, you can find a shady place to put items that might need to be kept cooler. Bringing things that are easy to cook also works nice. There's always someone with a fire you can get to cook a potato or boil and egg. Using ceramic crocks for things also helps to keep them cool.

Don't forget that great article Linda Trent did on slaw and other cabbage things. It's like a great salad!
Bevin
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Bevin MacRae

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vmescher
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2009, 05:12:49 PM »

This is Virginia's spouse posting.

One of the earlier posts made mention of omitting peanut butter because it is incorrect but then gave as rationale that peanuts were pig food.

The rejection of peanut butter is correct for the civil war period because it wasn't invented until decades later (and not by George Washington Carver). 

But I would question a blanket statement that peanuts were pig food.  While some may have been eaten by pigs, in _The Practical Cook Book_ by Mrs. Bliss (1858), she describes a groundnut cake that uses a pound of parched and pounded peanuts.  I'm sure there are other recipes calling for peanuts which Virginia could locate more easily but this was one that I found quickly.

And in the _Charleston Mercury_ from December 17, 1861, there is the following quote:  "A reporter in one of the morning papers states that the members of the Virginia Legislature made so much noise eating peanuts , that he is unable to hear the reading of a bill." 

And for one more reference to people eating peanuts was from _The Liberator_ of December 3, 1858, where the following quote appeared :  "A few more persons straggled in, till we numbered thirty, including a few boys who had come in to eat their peanuts  and discuss their affairs;..."

These are just a few quotes found with a few minutes of searching.  But I think it can be safely said that peanuts were definitely people food by the time of the civil war.

And to make one other comment that was discussed thoroughly on another forum, the peanuts they were eating were roasted.  No documentation for boiled peanuts could be found by anyone on that forum for the civil war period.  So even though they are a regional delicacy in parts of the South today, it looks like they "hadn't been invented yet" during the civil war.

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hanktrent
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2009, 04:42:24 AM »

These are just a few quotes found with a few minutes of searching.  But I think it can be safely said that peanuts were definitely people food by the time of the civil war.

Definitely. There was widespread use of roasted peanuts as snack food in theaters, on trains, from vendors in cities and crowded areas, for decades before the Civil War, all along the eastern coast up to Maine and at least as far inland as Ohio--haven't researched further west. We were importing them from Africa to meet the demand. I don't know about extremely rural areas of the country, but certainly any city person or anyone who'd traveled would be familiar with them. I can give examples, but Andrew J. Smith's book on peanuts is a good overview.

Hank Trent
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bevinmacrae
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2009, 06:46:15 AM »

Oh few! I like to take them camping as well-easy protein. Glad to hear they are people food. I would think they would be quite costly Hog feed.
Bevin
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Heidi Hollister
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2009, 10:09:37 AM »

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the confederate camp song "Goober Peas"  They refer to peanuts being eaten by the confederate soldiers during the Civil War.  While that song was not published until 1866, it seems that it was sung before that and the soldiers *were* eating peanuts as their other rations became low.
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Cassandra
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2009, 10:19:10 AM »

Peas, peas, peas, peas! Funny you mentioned that song, I've had it stuck in my head all morning! Just goes to show you what a crazy perons I am.  Roll Eyes
I wonder if the civilians at those though? When in a soldier camp I'm sure you are forced to eat things you normally would not (like mules for instance) but civilians...especially better-to-do civilian portrayed at a reenactment? I don't know. Good thought. What do our experts have to say?
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Heidi Hollister
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2009, 10:36:35 AM »

That is true, but especially toward the end of the war the civilian southerners weren't going to be doing THAT much better than the soldiers considering how many of them lost what they had to the soldiers rummaging through and taking what they wanted.

Funny you should mention that... as soon as I read this thread I started singing the Goober Peas song and I've got it stuck in my head too!
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netnet
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2009, 11:26:13 AM »

thanks all...of all songs that will get stuck in my head randomly it's this one and now I'll be hearing this until I go to bed tonight Smiley.
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Stephanie Brennan
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2009, 02:08:10 PM »

I had heard something similiar about sweet potatos being a southern food and a poor man's dish.   I was lucky enough to come across a drawing of a tavern with a listing of foods served  from York, PA. The year 1800  "-smoking sausage and ballones ( bologna ?);  frying sweet potatos - the(y) were good eating"       Stephanie
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southerngal
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2009, 04:03:28 PM »

Peanut brittle and roasted peanuts were also made during the period.
They were also called "pindar"  http://books.google.com/books?dq=peanuts+civil+war&lr=&pg=PA19&id=v79huBKyzIsC&as_brr=1


Southerners, before the Civil War and often to this day, call peanuts: ground nuts, ground peas, pindar, goobers, and goober peas. The names pindar and goober were African tribal names that slaves remembered. As the names imply, sometimes people think of a peanut as a nut. It isn't a nut at all but, a legume like beans and peas.


Margie
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Trish Hasenmueller
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« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2009, 06:57:48 AM »

Here are three random examples from Making of America referring casually to peanut consumption. 

The first is a cartoon from 1864 with children decrying the costs of some of their favorite snacks:
http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/pageviewer?frames=1&coll=moa&view=50&root=%2Fmoa%2Fharp%2Fharp0029%2F&tif=00287.TIF&cite=http%3A%2F%2Fcdl.library.cornell.edu%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmoa%2Fmoa-cgi%3Fnotisid%3DABK4014-0029-48

The second is an account of a festival at Cape Cod:
“Whoever had no baker's gingerbread in his pockets, had peanuts in them; and if any father of a family had neglected to stuff his coat tails with buns for the children at home, be sure his better half had not forgotten to fill her “working bag” with lions and elephants in cake, and dogs and cats in sugar.”  "A Dash at Cape Cod"  Putnam's monthly magazine of American literature, science and art. / Volume 9, Issue 49 Publisher: G.P. Putnam & co. Publication Date: January 1857 City: New York Pages: 674 page images in vol.

The third is a fictional story about a ne'er do well on the warves of the Hudson River:
“For a few minutes Mr. Biggs stood absently on the corner of Battery Place ruminating and picking up single peanuts from a stand, the leagal owner of which slept sweetly beside it, and gazing far out upon the bosom of the Hudson.
   'Charming river!' said Mr. Biggs at last just as the apple and peanut lady awoke, and turning his back as he spoke to the edibles.”   "Along the Warves, by J. W. Watson   Harper's new monthly magazine. / Volume 25, Issue 147
1862

Trish Hasenmueller
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vmescher
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2009, 04:56:42 PM »

This is Virginia's spouse posting again.

Concerning the question whether civilians ate peanuts, reread my earlier post.  All three of the quotes were dealing with civilian populations.  And all three quotes were prewar so we can't assume the peanuts were to ease the privations of wartime.  And the legislators in Virginia weren't from the poorer elements of the population so we also can't assume peanuts were only a cheap protein for the poor.

Another post mentioned peanut brittle.  The link had mention of peanut candy but was that peanut brittle?  Peanut brittle involves more than just putting peanuts in hot sugar syrup.

Michael Mescher
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southerngal
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« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2009, 08:56:28 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMIm807k_G8

Video of WBTS food.

Margie
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2009, 03:43:13 AM »

This is Virginia's spouse posting.

What came up first when I clicked on the youtube site was a talk on civil war laundry.  I'll do a longer post this evening critiquing that segment but I found numerous errors in the presentation.  The ultimate low point was when she pulled out the enamel ware pan to do her laundry in.  If the food segment is equally accurate, well....

Michael Mescher
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