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


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



Stuffed Baked Fish

Today’s post is by talented editor and fellow author, Pegg Thomas. Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Pegg!

My story in The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection, Anna’s Tower, is set on Thunder Bay Island near Alpena, Michigan. There was a thriving fishing village there in the 1800s, so I went looking for a fish recipe that might have been enjoyed by Anna and the rest of the characters living at Thunder Bay Lighthouse in 1883.

From Cement City Cookbook, Alpena, Michigan, 1910


After cleaning fish, wipe out inside and rub in a little salt. Make a dressing of raw potatoes, chopped fine, and season with salt, pepper, onion and poultry savory. Stuff the fish with this dressing, sew it up and dredge with flour. Pepper and salt the whole and put pieces of pork or butter over the top, and 1 cup of water. Bake slowly 1 1/2 hours. Garnish the whole with chip potatoes or lemon.

My first challenge was finding a whole fish. It seems that not one single grocery or market in the county sells whole fish. That left one option … catching our own.

A call to our friend, Steve Benedict, resulted in a Friday evening spent on a pontoon at Lake Winyah. My husband caught a 16” small mouth bass, and Steve caught a 20” walleye. I caught a perch that was, ahem, a little under optimum size. Two fish were more than enough.

I’ve never been very good at following recipes. I view them as loose guidelines. To be historically accurate, we should have left the heads on the fish. But today’s diner has a bit of an aversion to an entrée that stares back from the platter. So the heads were removed. I grated the potatoes instead of chopping fine. It was faster. I have no idea what poultry savory is, so I used salt, pepper, and a little rubbed sage. The recipe doesn’t say whether or not to cover the roasting pan, so I did. A slow oven is about 325 degrees, and that worked out perfectly at an hour and a half.

Then, just to be bold and daring, I invited Steve and his wife plus another couple from church to come to dinner and be guinea pigs. Because if I’m going to have an epic fail, I want witnesses. Thankfully―it wasn’t! It was very tasty. If I ever do it again, I’ll omit dredging the fish in flour. And, to be honest, I’d probably fillet the fish and sew the two fillets together. I’m spoiled. I like the bones removed before the fish is cooked. Still, it was fun to play with this recipe from yesteryear.

-Pegg Thomas

Anna’s Tower is Pegg’s novella, part of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection.


Anna’s dream of running the lighthouse was difficult enough to achieve, but then a Russian stowaway was left on the island, and that complicated everything.


 About Pegg

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working or writing, Pegg can be found in her barn, her garden, her kitchen, or sitting at her spinning wheel creating yarn to turn into her signature wool shawls. Connect with Pegg on her blog at



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


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


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

Toby’s Troubles Recipe

Today’s post is written by fellow author and sweet friend, Carole Brown. Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Carole!

A delicious Tuna Salad from The Coffee Shop in Toby’s Troubles that has a light kicky tartness (due to the dip and lemon juice), but is utterly delicious.

I love writing seemingly minor details into my books that add a touch of realism and hominess. On Toby and Amy’s lunch date, Toby teases Amy with an original menu item on sale from The Coffee Shop because it is one of Amy’s favorites. Hence, The Tuna Salad Sandwich.

I like to encourage those who try this recipe to experiment with the ingredients. Start light with some of the ingredients, then add more to satisfy your taste. Or switch an item with a different, special touch you crave.  Be inventive.

Tuna Salad Mix:

Fresh tuna, chopped (or 1 can, 5 oz. chunk Tuna, light)

2 tbsp of Spinach dip

1 tsp of lemon juice

1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup Mozzarella cheese (or your choice of cheese)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Lightly mix these ingredients together. Then choose one of the following:


Wheat swirled bread, buttered, and lightly toasted and sliced in half

Warmed floured tortilla shells

Eat on top of chilled and halved cucumber slices with centers scooped out

Eat as a salad on a plate with crackers or tortilla chips or Fritos

Then add:

One thick slice of tomato

Spinach leaf(s)

A dash of Parmesan cheese on top

-Carole Brown

Toby’s Troubles Blurb:

Everyone loves Toby Gibson. A co-owner of Undiscovered Treasures, a unique shop of antiques, collectibles and junk, Toby is friendly, generous to a fault, the director of the local plays in Appleton and supports his church’s youth functions. But the minute his sister, Caroline, and her new husband take off for their honeymoon, a “ghost” begins to haunt the shop—or maybe it’s just an intruder. If so, Toby has no idea for what the thing is looking. To add to his troubles, he suspects Amy not only is bidding for the property he’s wanted forever, but is in love with him. And he’s not interested.

Amy Sanderson who owns the only flower shop in Appleton—Bloomin’ Life—is drawn into capturing Toby’s “ghost” when her own business is damaged by a destructive intruder. Having loved Toby since a teenager, she’s more than willing to join forces with him. But she has no interest in being his best friend or a sister to him. And if she has to resort to schemes of outbidding him at his frequent auction attendances to get his attention, then so be it. She can be just as stubborn as the man who’s determined to ignore her love.

In between the break-ins, destruction of property, thefts and personal competitions against each other, Amy and Toby work together to find the thief who seems so determined to find a valuable item, he’ll stop at nothing.



Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. An author of ten books, she loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with Carole on her blog and Twitter.


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


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


“Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting,” Taste of Home, 2018/09/26

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

“Soured Milk,”, 2018/09/26


Laundry Detergent Recipe

According to the writer of an 1870s cookbook, all good housekeepers chose Monday as washing day. This meant gathering all dirty clothes on Saturday night and separating coarse clothes from finer fabrics. Then the dirtiest clothing was separated from the less soiled.

Mrs. Gov. Hendricks of Indiana shared her recipe for washing fluid.

You’ll need one pound of sal-soda. This is a hydrated carbonate, a grayish-white powder used as a general cleanser that is also called soda ash and washing soda.

Another substance required is a half-pound of unslaked lime, a caustic substance produced by heating limestone. The addition of water to unslaked lime, at least in part, makes slaked lime.

A small lump of borax (water-soluble powder or crystals used as a cleanser) is also needed. No dimensions of a “small lump” are given. The size of 2 tablespoons of butter or a lump of sugar? It’s difficult to say though I’d tend toward the conservative guess for the first time and see how well it cleams.

Boil the sal-soda, unslaked lime, and borax in 5 quarts of water. When it cools, pour it into bottles for storage. One teacup is used for “a boiler of clothes.”

Mrs. Hendricks considered this a superior washing fluid.

If you ever wanted to make your own laundry detergent, here’s your chance!

-Sandra Merville Hart


American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. S.v. “slaked lime.” Retrieved July 29 2018 from

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

“Lime (material),”, 2018/07/30

Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc.

Bluing Recipe for Laundry

I’m always searching for interesting or little-known tidbits from our past. While reading about how folks laundered clothing in the 1800s, bluing was often mentioned.

White fabrics can become gray or yellow after washing. Adding bluing to the wash or rinse water gives a subtle blue hue to whites even as it makes whites appear whiter and cleaner. Bluing is part of the manufacturing process for many white fabrics.

Laundry detergents improved over time, but whites can still grow dingy with frequent washing. Even today, bluing is a better option for whitening because bleach weakens the fibers. Bluing is still available today.

Women made their own bluing in the 19th century.

One ounce of Prussian blue (dark blue pigment) and ½ ounce of oxalic acid (used to remove yellow or brown rust stains) are dissolved in 1 quart “of perfectly soft rain water.” Store in a corked bottle. Insert a quill into the cork to easily control pouring the bluing, as 1 to 2 tablespoons is enough for one tub of laundry.

Chinese blue was considered the best. In the 1870s, it cost 12 ½ cents per ounce. Oxalic acid cost 3 cents. The amount made by this recipe lasted a year for a mid-sized family.

-Sandra Merville Hart


“Bluing for Laundry,” Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., 2018/07/29

“Bluing (fabric),” 2018/07/29

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

“Oxalic Acid,” Sunburst Chemicals, 2018/07/29

“Prussian Blue,”, 2018/07/29


From the Stage to the Page

Today’s post is written by fellow author and friend, Sharyn Kopf. Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Sharyn!

Two weeks before I moved to Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 2013, I saw a notice that the local theatre was holding auditions for Our Town. I couldn’t resist. I love being in a show. During the audition, I told the director I would be interested in a humorous part. She must have liked my interpretation because she cast me as the comedy relief, Mrs. Soames, and a star was born.

Ha! Not really,* but a story was. Because it was in rehearsing that play that I first stepped into the Holland Theatre, a unique structure built by Schine Enterprises in downtown Bellefontaine in 1931. The Schine family was responsible for constructing about 150 theatres in six states, but the Holland is the only one with a Dutch-style atmosphere.

Theatre architecture was at its peak in the 1920s, and many were built with an eye toward atmosphere, designed to resemble anything from an Italian piazza to a Grecian ruin to a Moorish courtyard. Theatre-goers would enjoy performances amidst Corinthian columns and loosely draped Roman statuettes with come-hither eyes. The majority of these theatres favored a Spanish or Italian fashion.

Which is why the Holland stands out with its 17th-century Dutch cityscape. If you’re not caught up in what’s on the stage, you can cast your gaze on almost life-sized timber-framed facades with softly lit windows next to two windmills that turn beneath a ceiling covered in twinkling stars.

The building screams, “Story!” and not just when you’re watching a play. I loved the historic charm from the moment I walked through one of the three sets of double doors at the entrance. But it was the romance oozing from the brick and wood and stone and dripping from the two-story red curtains that appealed to me most. Though much of the restoration has been done, it’s still an old theatre … an ideal setting for a love story and, perhaps, a haunting. All of which led me to create Stephie Graham, a lonely graphic designer who’s directing The Rainmaker at the Holland … and is distressed to find herself falling for her leading man, Andy Tremont.

But I had to bring a touch of the theatre’s history into it and did so by introducing Juniper Remington, a young girl who sang from her broken heart on the same stage 80 years before … and now may be a forlorn ghost trying to keep Stephie and Andy apart.

Or is she?

After all, the theatre is a place where magical things happen and happy endings bring the audience to its feet. And who doesn’t love being a part of that?!

-Sharyn Kopf

*Though I did win a Holland Windmill Productions Award for best supporting actress!


Sharyn’s bio:

Sharyn Kopf didn’t find her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes in being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. The sequel to the novel, Inconceived, released in September 2016 and, one year later, she finished the series with Altared. Her current project is a novel about a lonely girl with a knack for matchmaking.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is a freelance ghostwriter, editor and marketing professional. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, taking long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.