Baked Milk

“Weak persons” can drink baked milk, according to a recipe in an 1877 cookbook under “Food for the Sick.”

Nurses probably gave this beverage to wounded soldiers during Civil War. As a historical novelist, I love to add authentic details like this when a story requires it.

Since this was totally new to me, the brief recipe instructions left me wondering. I did an Internet search. According to Wikipedia, room temperature storage for baked milk is safe up to 40 hours.

The 1877 recipe called for baking 2 quart jars of milk for 8 to 10 hours. I used 2 pint jars. Early cooks tied writing paper over the mouth of the jars.

I experimented. One Mason pint jar opening was covered with copier paper fastened by a rubber band. I closed the other with a Mason jar lid.

To allow room for the milk to boil, I added only 1 ½ cups of milk to each jar. These were placed inside a dish with about 2 inches of cold water.

I placed this inside the oven and then turned it on, setting the temperature to 350 degrees.

The liquid slowly reduced. A layer of brown grew around the rim. After 4 hours, a burning smell alerted me. They were removed from the oven.

Milk in the lidded jar had burned and tasted burned. I removed a layer of brown crust in the papered jar—missing from the lidded jar—and tasted the now beige liquid. Not bad, but it wasn’t “thick as cream” as the recipe suggested.

I tried again. I used the same amount of milk—12 ounces—and used another paper covering. This time I tied it on with string. (Not surprisingly, the rubber band melted on the first one. It was quicker to put on, but not the best idea.)

I cooked it for 8 hours in a 350-degree oven. It was baked inside a dish half-filled with water. As the water level receded, it was slowly refilled with water almost boiling hot.

Turn off oven after 8 hours. Allow the jar to cool.

The milk reduced to about half in that time, with the same brown rings and layer as previously. The tan liquid wasn’t as thick as expected, but tasted surprisingly good. I’m not a fan of white milk, but I liked it prepared this way.

It’s been sitting on my kitchen counter for 40 hours and still looks good. I refrigerated the beverage and liked it even better.

Milk was baked for weak persons. Convalescing patients. I’m not a health professional, but that suggests that baked milk is easier to digest.

I’d love to hear from you if you try this dish. Enjoy!

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Baked Milk,” Wikipedia, 2017/05/09

Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.




Civil War Camp Letterman: Caring for Gettyburg’s Wounded

Railroad cut, Gettysburg battle, July 1, 1863

Medical Director Jonathan Letterman shipped tents, supplies, and provisions to Adams County—where Gettysburg resides—on the evening of July 1, 1863, the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. He ordered that a general hospital be established there on July 5th. Confederate and Union wounded would be provided transportation to the hospital for treatment.

The army erected tents on George Wolf’s farm on York pike approximately one and a half miles east of Gettysburg. Railroad tracks adjacent to the property made it easy to deliver supplies and transport patients to Washington, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

Surgeons, nurses, supply clerks, quartermasters, and cooks staffed the general hospital, known as Camp Letterman, when it was ready in mid-July. Infantry guarded Confederate patients and supplies.

Almost forty folding cots each with mattresses and linens fit in rows of tents. Camp Letterman held five hundred white tents with only ground as the floor. Trains brought supplies to warehouse tents set up near the railroad. A large cookhouse in the middle of camp gave cooks a place to prepare nutritious meals such as soup and bread.

Wounded from both sides arrived at camp in ambulances where they were assigned beds. The hospital camp was filled by late July. It housed over 1,600 wounded soldiers. Hundreds more continued to receive medical care in temporary hospitals in Gettysburg.

A morgue and cemetery near camp were established by the army. An army chaplain gave them a Christian burial.

Yet most of Camp Letterman’s patients survived. Surgeons worked around the clock while treating the seriously wounded. When patients recovered enough to travel to city hospitals, Sanitary Commission workers assisted the army in transporting them to the railroad depot. They waited a long time for the single Gettysburg railroad line.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Sheldon, George. When the Smoke Cleared at Gettysburg: The Tragic Aftermath of the Bloodiest Battle of the Civil War, Cumberland House, 2003.


Gettysburg Remembers President Lincoln by Linda Giberson Black

The full title of this book is Gettysburg Remembers President Lincoln: Eyewitness Accounts of November 1863.

This nonfiction book shows what the citizens of Gettysburg did to bring about a national cemetery in the town in the aftermath of the horrific battle. David Wills, a Gettysburg attorney, was instrumental in planning the cemetery.

The ceremony to dedicate the cemetery took place in November of 1863. President Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettysburg Address” but was not the event’s main speaker. This book shows the fascinating details of the whole day and Lincoln’s hours in the town.

Great book for anyone interested in learning the background of the Gettysburg Address and history lovers.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Buttermilk Stew

A recipe in an 1877 cookbook for Buttermilk Stew was included in a section titled “Food for the Sick.”

Research involves a lot of reading for historical novelists, but I don’t remember reading about this type of stew. Civil War nurses and cooks likely fed it to wounded soldiers. I love learning about our history. It’s fun to add authentic details like this when a story requires it.

Boil one pint of buttermilk over a medium high heat. I allowed it to boil less than a minute before removing from the heat. The consistency of the milk completely changed. The thick, creamy liquid thinned to a grainy consistency of water.

A “small lump of butter” called for in the original recipe became a tablespoon of butter to this modern cook.

When that melted, I added 2 tablespoons of sugar—a complete guess as the recipe said to “sweeten to taste.” I added more because adding ginger was an option. Ginger has such a strong flavor.

I added ¼ teaspoon ground ginger. Cooks may substitute honey for sugar.

The consistency remained like water as it cooled. It had a very strange flavor. It tasted like buttermilk though different. The sugar overpowered the ginger, so I’d suggest decreasing it to only a tablespoon. Ginger is optional.

After only a couple of sips, I pushed it aside. It wasn’t terrible. I can understand that thinning out the buttermilk made it easier for ailing patients to digest.

Good luck! I’d love to hear if you try this recipe.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.

Blog Tour Giveaway!

An autographed print book giveaway!

The blog tour continues on Norma Gail’s wonderful blog, 2 Me from Him. Norma interviews me and shares the first scene from my new Civil War novel release, A Rebel in My House, which is set at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg.

As a special bonus, enter for a chance to win an autographed print copy of the new release! Go to Norma’s blog  and enter on Rafflecopter. Good luck!

Blog Tour continues with Lasagna Recipe and an Interview

Today I am privileged to be a guest on two blogs.

Fellow author, Linda Matchett, interviews me on the first one. Find out what led me to write my newest Civil War romance and why it is set during one of our nation’s best-known battles, the Battle of Gettysburg. Read about it here!

I share a recipe for lasagna that I tweaked from several recipes on Alice Wisler’s blog. It’s a make-ahead recipe that I think your family will like. My family loves it! Find it here!

Citizens of Gettysburg in the Aftermath

Confederate cannons at North Carolina Memorial, Gettysburg Battlefield

“We do not know until tried what we are capable of.” Sarah Broadhead, Gettysburg citizen, wrote this on July 7, 1863—just four days after the battle ended.

An undated article in Adams County Sentinel reported that the town was one vast hospital. Wounded soldiers filled churches, colleges, the seminary, the courthouse, and many homes. Houses and barns outside of town were filled with thousands of Rebels, left behind when their army retreated. Citizens were doing everything in their power for them.

The Sanitary Commission took over the Fahnestock store, a one-hundred-foot long building in the center of town. They filled it with provisions and clothing, which were distributed to soldiers in the hospitals. Sarah Broadhead praised the work of both the Sanitary Commission and the Christian Commission. Private contributions enabled both organizations to provide generously for the injured men.

Nellie Auginbaugh remembered the Union and Confederate sympathizers who came to town. They couldn’t visit hospitals until taking the oath of allegiance. Some resented the requirement and refused, but others took the oath.

According to Mary Cunningham Bigham, someone at her father’s farm on Emmitsburg Road baked bread to feed the soldiers every day for six weeks. Every soldier able to walk stood in line for the bread hot from a brick oven. The family used all of their 25 barrels of flour stored in the barn.

Visitors came to town to search for loved ones, help the wounded, or to satisfy their curiosity. Sarah Broadhead’s home stayed full and she had to turn people away. One man felt grateful to have a chair to sit on in front of a hotel.

There were no church services while the wounded soldiers occupied the churches. On July 12th, Sarah Broadhead didn’t even feel like she had a Sunday. Not only were there no services, but trains also continued to run and confusion reigned.

The battle had affected the whole town.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Slade, Jim & Alexander, John. Firestorm at Gettysburg, Schiffer Military/Aviation History, 1998.

Sandra’s newest Civil War romance novel, A Rebel in My House, is set during the Battle of Gettysburg. It shows what the townspeople endured through the eyes of a Gettysburg seamstress and a Tennessee soldier (Heth’s Division, Archer’s Brigade, 7th Tennessee) left behind in the retreat.


Firestorm at Gettysburg by Jim Slade & John Alexander

The full title of this book is Firestorm at Gettysburg: Civilian Voices June—November 1863. This nonfiction book contains quotes throughout. The story of the Battle of Gettysburg is told in quotes by the townspeople, giving the account a compelling authenticity.

The townspeople who are quoted most often are briefly introduced at the beginning of the book. The town of Gettysburg and how the war affected the borough are also shown. Then the story quickly starts with all that happens in the month preceding the battle. Then we see what the citizens experienced during the battle and in the aftermath.

I enjoyed learning about Gettysburg, the townspeople, and the battle this way. It brought bring history to life.

Great book for anyone interested in the Battle of Gettysburg, Civil War research, and history lovers.

-Sandra Merville Hart