Corn Oysters Recipe

Around the time of the Civil War, corn fritters were commonly called corn oysters because the fritters resembled fried oysters.

Callie, my female protagonist in my Civil War romance A Musket in My Hands, made corn fritters several times while masquerading as a soldier in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. When I found this recipe shared by Mrs. H.B.S. in Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, I looked forward to trying it.

I cut the corn off two ears of corn. It yielded 1 ½ cups of corn so I modified the recipe in the book for this amount of the vegetable.

Stir ¾ cup milk into 1 ½ cups of fresh corn. Add ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon butter, and 1 beaten egg. Salt and pepper to taste—I added ¼ teaspoon of each.

A cast iron skillet or griddle works well for frying the fritters. Heat the skillet over medium high heat and then lower to medium while cooking. Melt about 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet.

Use a tablespoon to drop batter into the skillet. The batter is very runny and it flattens out like a small pancake. Watch carefully as it browns quickly. Then flip it over. This seems to be an acquired art as I tore several fritters while turning them.

But boy, are they tasty! I loved the fresh corn and lightly fried flavor.

This is a quick, easy recipe. The longest part of the preparation is slicing corn off the cob—and that does not take long. I will make them again.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

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Spoon Biscuit Recipe

There is a scene my Civil War romance, A Musket in My Hands, where spoon bread is a great treat for Confederate soldiers in the Army of Tennessee. A spoon bread recipe from Confederate Home Cooking uses cornmeal, not flour as this biscuit recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook does. The bread recipe also begins with scalding the milk, which the Buckeye Cookery cook (Mrs. A.B. Morey) does not mention for making the biscuits.

Flour was pretty scarce in most of the South after the Civil War started. By 1864—when my story begins—corn meal was a staple for most of the breads for Southerners.

Pour 2 cups of buttermilk into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in one teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt.

Melt 2 tablespoons of shortening and stir into the mixture.

Then Mrs. Morey advises adding enough flour to achieve a stiff batter. This was 2 ½ cups of flour for me.

These were dropped by spoon into a gem pan. These pans resemble modern muffin pans. I sprayed my mini muffin pan with cooking spray and dropped the thick batter into the small slots.

Bake the biscuits at 400 degrees until lightly browned, about twenty minutes—longer if using larger muffin pans.

The biscuits were good but somewhat bland. It seemed that this type of bread was probably spread with jellies, jams, and fruit butters such as apple butter. I tried it with apple butter and liked it much better. Though my husband liked them plain, I’m thinking of making sausage gravy to go with the leftover biscuits from this batch. Yum!

I had extra batter so I baked the spoon biscuit dough in a small loaf pan. This made a thick, hearty loaf of bread.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

Mitchell, Patricia B. Confederate Home Cooking, 1991.

 

 

 

Rice Pudding Recipe

There is a scene my Civil War romance A Musket in My Hands  where rice pudding is a great treat for sisters who have disguised themselves as Confederate soldiers in the Army of Tennessee. This recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook published in 1877 would have been similar to the pudding served to Callie and Louisa.

Add a teaspoon of salt to two cups of water in medium-sized kettle. When water boils, add one cup of rice (not instant) and simmer until dry. (This took about a half hour for long grain brown rice.)

Stir a teaspoon of corn starch into 2 cups of milk. Pour this into the cooked rice. Return to a boil.

Separate two eggs.

Beat ½ cup of sugar into the egg yolks and stir into the rice mixture. Remove from heat.

Grate the rind of 1 lemon. Stir this into the rice along with the juice of 1 lemon.

Spoon the mixture into custard cups, leaving room at the top for meringue topping.

Pour an inch or two of water into a large baking dish and arrange the custard cups inside.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Toward the end of that time, add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the reserved egg whites and beat with a mixer until white and stiff. Remove the pudding from the oven and spread the meringue over the top. Return the pudding to the over to lightly brown the topping.

I allowed these to cool before eating. I like rice dishes and I liked this dessert. The tangy taste of the lemon is there but did not overpower the dish. The sweet taste was not overly sweet. My husband also enjoyed the pudding.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

Corn Cakes Recipe

Since Callie, my female protagonist in my third Civil War romance A Musket in My Hands , made corn cakes so often while disguising herself as a Confederate soldier, I could not wait to make them. This recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook published in 1877 would have been similar to Callie’s—except as a soldier in the Confederate army, she lacked some of the ingredients.

The recipe calls for equal amounts of corn meal and buttermilk. I quickly saw that this mixture would not be thick enough to make into a patty for frying so I doubled the corn meal to two cups.

Combine two cups of cornmeal with one teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt. Beat one egg and add to the cornmeal mixture. Stir in one cup of buttermilk.

Melt a tablespoon of shortening in a skillet on a medium high heat. Take a portion of the cornmeal batter and form it into a cake. Carefully place it in the hot skillet. You can fry about 3 at a time, depending on the size of the cakes.

Lower the heat to medium. These cook quickly so flip them over after a minute or two to brown on the other side.

My batter made 6 corn cakes. Yum! They are filling but not enough to feed a soldier hungry from a long march, like the characters from my novel.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

 

Buckeye Cake Recipe

Since my novella, Surprised by Love , recently released in the “From the Lake to the River” collection of Ohio locations written by Ohio writers, I couldn’t resist trying this 1877 recipe for Buckeye Cake. The recipe was submitted by Mrs. W. W. W. for the Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping cookbook published in 1877.

This makes an 8×8 cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir 1 teaspoon of baking soda into 2 cups of flour. Set aside.

Give 1 cup of raisins a rough chop then dredge into a little flour. (I used the flour mixture above and then removed the raisins and kept them separate until ready to add to the batter.)

Separate the yolks and egg whites of 3 eggs into 2 bowls. Beat the yolks and set aside.

Beat the egg whites into a stiff froth and set aside.

Cream ½ cup butter with 1 cup of sugar. Add the egg yolks and ½ cup of buttermilk.

Hint: The recipe calls for sour milk, which was another name for buttermilk 150 years ago. If you don’t have buttermilk, add a teaspoon of vinegar to regular milk. Let this set about 15 minutes and then it’s ready to use in the recipe.

Stir in the flour mixture. Then fold in the beaten egg whites. Lastly, fold in the raisins. I loved the fluffy and creamy texture of the batter!

Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Since buckeye candies are made of peanut butter and chocolate, it seemed fitting to use Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting. Delicious frosting!

I loved the cake with this icing. However, I didn’t enjoy the raisins in the cake. Next time, I may substitute chocolate chips for the raisins or omit completely.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

“Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting,” Taste of Home, 2018/09/26 https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chocolate-peanut-butter-frosting/.

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

“Soured Milk,” Wikipedia.com, 2018/09/26 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soured_milk.

 

Southern Tomato Pie Recipe from 1877

I had six tomatoes in my fridge that I needed to use. I found a recipe for tomato pie that called for green tomatoes. These were ripe, but I’ve never been a big fan of green tomatoes anyway. I decided to make the pie, substituting red for green tomatoes.

Wash and slice tomatoes without peeling them. Put the tomatoes in a medium-sized saucepan with about a cup to a cup and a half of water. Cook over medium low heat until they start to become tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove from burner. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. The 1877 cook then says “flavor with nutmeg.”

I cringed a little, unsure how this spice would taste with tomatoes. I added ½ teaspoon nutmeg.

Prepare double-crust pie dough.

Hint: I learned a little trick from another 1877 cook when baking liquidy pie fillings: Mix 3 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle this over the crust. You may only use 1/3 to ½ of this mixture. It keeps the bottom crust from getting soggy.

Using a slotted spoon, add stewed tomatoes to bottom crust. Then arrange the top crust over the tomatoes and add holes with a knife.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

I tasted the pie warm from the oven (not hot) and also cold. I liked them both.

The small amount of sugar in the pie didn’t make it too sweet. There was just a hint of nutmeg. If you’d like more, add 1 teaspoon of nutmeg instead of ½ teaspoon to the stewed tomatoes before baking.

Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods but I don’t like them roasted. I was surprised how much I liked this pie.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

 

Iced Blueberries Recipe from 1877

Flipping through the fruit section of a cookbook from 1877, I found a recipe for Iced Currants. The cook suggested that cherries and grapes can be substituted for currants.

So why not try blueberries this way?

Wash and drain ½ cup of blueberries on a paper towel.

Separate 3 egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat them. I used a hand mixer for this easy recipe.

The cook suggests using a sieve for the next part, which I don’t own. I used a baking rack covered with paper towels.

Dip each blueberry into the beaten egg white mixture and set on the baking rack so that the fruit doesn’t touch. Sift a thick layer of powdered sugar over them. The cook didn’t mention waiting for the berries to set so the blueberries still had a frothy coating from the egg whites when I covered them. The froth kept the sugar from sticking.

I tried again, this time giving the berries an hour to set before sprinkling on powdered sugar. Still too frothy to hold the sugar coating.

What do they say about third time is the charm? The next time I dipped a batch of blueberries individually into the egg whites, I stayed away from the frothy part. I rolled the blueberries in powdered sugar to achieve an even coat. Perfect!

Tip: Don’t beat the egg whites. Give them a little whisk. Don’t sprinkle but roll the fruit in powdered sugar.

Delicious! A light, sweet healthy snack in about five minutes.

I’d try this with blackberries and raspberries as well.

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe with other fruits.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

 

Lemon Cake Recipe from 1877

Wanting to make a dessert for the gathering of a few friends, I found a recipe for lemon cake in my 1877 cookbook. I love lemon desserts and decided to try this recipe originally submitted by Miss M. B. Fullington.

I have to confess that I had to make this dessert twice. Miss Fullington didn’t give a lot of details with her instructions. Since the recipe calls for 7 eggs, I went through a lot of eggs to get this right. The batter consistency for this first batch was all wrong—not at all the creamy texture I expected. When I noticed that the cook hadn’t even mentioned baking the cake, I realized that a few important details were missing.

I tasted the batter—buttery with nice hint of lemon. I decided to remake with a couple of changes that I will note along the way.

Set aside 2 cups of flour in a bowl. If using all-purpose flour as I do, add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Separate 7 eggs with the yolks in one bowl and reserve the whites in another. Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add 2 cups sugar, the zest of 2 lemons, the juice of 1 lemon, the egg yolks, and ¾ pound butter (3 sticks—I know! It’s a lot of butter. They ate more butter than we do now. I followed Miss Fullington’s recipe but believe it would still work with less.) The recipe does not call for lemon extract, but I added 1 teaspoon of the extract to enhance the flavor—good call!

Beat these ingredients together, adding a little flour at a time. Then fold in the beaten egg whites. My mixer has a FOLD button that works wonderfully for this.

This time the batter was light and creamy with the perfect amount of lemon flavor. Yum!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cake pan with cooking spray. If using a 13 x 9 pan, bake about 35 – 40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If using an 8 x 8 pan, bake about 50 – 60 minutes.

I made white icing following Betty Crocker’s Vanilla Buttercream Frosting recipe.

The whole cake tasted delicious. It has a wonderful buttery lemon flavor. Loving the lemony dessert, my guests ate every last crumb on their plates.

One person mentioned that he tasted an eggy flavor. I agreed. In my opinion, the number of eggs can be reduced to four or five. Also, the amount of butter can be reduced–perhaps to about ½ cup.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

Bina’s Stewed Corn Recipe from 1877

While searching for a vegetable to make for a family gathering, I found a recipe for stewed corn in my 1877 cookbook. It uses fresh corn. It was delicious! You might want to make extra for a large crowd because many folks will come back for seconds.

This recipe is based off 3 pints of corn and I had no idea how many ears of corn made that much. I purchased 8 ears of corn and, to my surprise, that made 3 pints!

Shuck the corn and remove the corn silks. Rinse the corn.

Shave the corn off the ears with a sharp knife. Always work toward the bowl. I start about halfway down the ear and then turn it over and do the other side. Don’t shave the vegetable so closely that you cut the cob.

Hint: A large deep bowl or pot works best for shaving the corn off the cob as it splatters.

Pour the kernels into a cast iron skillet. Add just enough water to cover the corn. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. (My husband isn’t big on pepper so I used 1/8 teaspoon.)

Cover and cook over a medium low heat about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add more water if necessary because the corn shouldn’t brown. The aroma as it cooks will make you hungry!

Meanwhile, stir 1 teaspoon of flour into ½ cup of cream. Add this cream mixture to the corn in the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking. Stir and replace the lid.

Bina, the original cook, served this with roast beef, escalloped tomatoes, and mashed potatoes.

Delicious! Everyone complimented the corn dish and went back for second and third helpings. It was so good that I warmed it up and ate some for breakfast the next day. Yummy!

It’s so hard to find ways to make vegetables like corn into a special side dish. This recipe earned compliments at my house and chances are good it will earn them at yours.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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

 

 

Apple Meringue Pie Recipe from 1877

While searching for a dessert to make for a family gathering, I ran across a recipe for apple meringue pie in my 1877 cookbook. Intrigued by a dessert I’d never heard of, I decided to try it.

The recipe calls for tart apples so I used Granny Smith. For apple pies that I’ve made in the past, three large apples made one pie. Since these apples would be “stewed” before going into the pie shell, I used twice that amount. This made enough filling for a large 9” pie.

Peel and slice the apples. Place them in a large saucepan and add water but don’t cover the apples. Cook over a medium heat until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. The aroma took me back to childhood memories of my grandmother’s cooking.

Remove from heat. Drain excess water. Mash the cooked apples. Add a teaspoon of nutmeg. After tasting the mixture with a spoon, I felt it needed a teaspoon of cinnamon so I added that. It gave the apples a nice flavor.

Hint: To prevent fruit juices from soaking into the pie crust, beat an egg and lightly brush a little onto the unbaked shell. 1877 cooks dipped a cloth into the egg mixture, but I used a pastry brush.

Poor the apple mixture into a prepared unbaked pie crust and bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the shell is done and the apples are set.

For the meringue: Beat 3 egg whites, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla until “it will stand alone.”

Allow the baked pie to cool about ten minutes then cover the pie with the meringue. Increase the oven temperature to 400 and return the pie to the oven just until the meringue is lightly browned. This may take five minutes but keep watching so as not to burn it.

Refrigerate after the pie cools and serve cold.

None of my guests had heard of an apple meringue pie. The novelty and the taste appealed to everyone. The dessert took me back to my grandmother’s cooking. I liked it. I had always used sugar as opposed to powdered sugar for meringues and was a little nervous about how it would work. The powdered sugar took a little longer to whip but tasted good.

The cook advises that peaches can be substituted for apples when in season. That sounds really delicious so I plan to make it with peaches.

I’d love to hear if you try it.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

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