Recipes We Use at the Tent

Jonas knows the lemonade packets go into
the coffee pot, but he hasn't gotten the idea
of opening them yet.

      At our US Christian Commission tent we have fed thousands of soldiers & civilians over the years.  They come in under the fly for a cold drink and to munch on whatever Vicki has been able to cook up and bring to the reenactment that day.  We often get asked for recipes.  So we will list some of the most asked for on this page as we have time.  We realize that not everything we serve at our tent is 100% period authentic baked over a camp fire.  We do what we can inviting reenactors in with "God's love is free, this is free, come on in."  When I talk to spectators who come by I explain how the USCC would have offered more basic foods like soft bread, oatmeal etc.  I explain that we offer refreshment in the same spirit they did -- given to encourage and remind these "soldiers" they are important to God.  Spectators understand how we can give cookies which encourage today in the same way a soft slice of bread and jam would have encouraged a hungry 1860's soldier who had lived on hard crackers too long.  Enjoy the recipes that fit for you.
     On our Website is additional information of the variety of things we do to reenact the USCC at our tent;  suggestions about varieties of food we hand out, along with other things we offer as gifts to the soldiers who come to us.  Please refer to that site also.
     Every oven is different, so try the time & temperature we give, but understand you will probably have to tinker with them.  It's typically better to under cook the cookies a bit as they finish cooking a bit on the tray.  Take note of the warning to avoid over-mixing in some recipes as that can affect taste and texture.  Enjoy.
Vicki's Battlefield Famous Biscuits
     Mix together in large bowl:
          2 c. flour
          1T Baking Powder
          1 tsp. Salt
          2T Granulated Sugar
     Add in and use hand pastry blender (or a fork or couple of knives) to mix together until shortening is pea-sized and coated with the flour mixture.  The point is, you are not creaming this mixture, just breaking up the shortening.
          1/2 c. Butter Crisco
                (can use reg Crisco & can substitute 1T butter for 1T shortening from the 1/2 cup total)
     Add and just barely stir until looks like gloppy mess (Vicki's technical term).  Each stir past 6 to 8 will make biscuits tougher when cooked.  Do NOT over mix.
          1 c. Milk (higher the butterfat, the more tender the biscuit)
     Grease 9x13 pan.  Makes six biscuits about 1/3d cup size. (I use an ice cream scoop, but a large spoon will do).  Bake at 425 for about 20+ min until biscuits start to turn golden.  Do NOT over bake.
     If you are making for a large group, use 11 by 17 cookie sheet, five batches will fit in pan with biscuits crowded together (makes 7 rows by 4 or 5 across);  bake for about 30min until starts to turn golden.  Cover with towel until lukewarm, then put in large garbage bag to keep them from drying out.  Can be transported in pan stacked in banana boxes following instructions at end of Pumpkin Bread recipe.  NOTE:  If you triple batch in mixing, cut milk down about 1/4c so it's not too gooey.
     Serving suggestions:  Serve with peach cobbler topping, honey, apple butter, pumpkin butter, jellies, or butter.  Serve with stew.  Some like to cut biscuit in half and make a sandwich with the ham or pepperoni & cheese.

Peach Cobbler Topping
     Stir together in large fry pan:
          Juice from one 29oz can of sliced peaches
          1 c. Granulated Sugar
          3/4 c. cold water
          1/4 c. Corn Starch
          1/4 tsp Cinnamon
          a few drops of yellow food coloring (omitting this means sauce will look milky white and not taste
          "peachy" to people, even though it's just for looks and the color does not really add flavor)
     Stir with wire whip while heating sauce until boiling;  continue stirring until thick.  Remove from heat.  Add the sliced peaches.  This sauce is good either hot or cold.
     We use a big kettle, and make 4 batches of sauce, but add 1 extra undrained can of peaches in last step.  We usually take the time to cut the sliced peaches in half to make them go further.  The cooked peach sauce will fill a 5 quart ice cream bucket to transport.  At the tent we use recycled tuna cans and condensed milk cans to serve;  put half a biscuit covered with peach sauce;  add a gutta percha spoon imported from France (or plastic if you cannot get the imports).  Left over peach sauce makes good eating over ice cream when you get home from the reenactment.  Friends save us cans all year long.

Pumpkin Bread
     Mix in large mixing bowl until creamed:
          1 (29oz) can Pumpkin
          2 c. Granulated Sugar
          2 1/4 c. Oil
          6 Eggs
     Mix together and add to creamed mixture above
          4 1/2c. Flour
          1 T. Baking Soda
          1 T. Baking Powder
          3/4 tsp. Salt
          3 T. Cinnamon
          1 T. Nutmeg
      This fills one large bundt pan and one loaf pan that have been greased & floured, or three loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 45min for loaf pan, and 65min for the large bundt pan.  Use a sharp knife to test the thick part of bread --  if done knife should come out slightly doughy;  do NOT over bake.  Cover with a towel when loaf first comes out and let partially cool before turning out of pan.  But avoid letting completely cool or it will stick to pan.   When completely cool, put in large 2gallon baggies for storage & transport.  (We make two batches of this recipe and fill 2 large bundt pans and one small bundt pan;  45min for small bundt, 65min for large;  all of this fits in one oven.)
     One large bundt pan will feed 18 to 20 people.  It makes a good breakfast or a nice desert.  It is a moist bread that is filling.  Once people try it, they will come back for more.
     Transporting Pumpkin bread:  Take 2 banana boxes, cut both bottoms of the boxes in half so you can flip the top of the box over, lay cardboard over opening to give strength; 2 large & 1 small pumpkin bundt breads fit together on a layer, then cover with one of the cut box bottoms, add another layer of 2 large & 1 small bundt loaves and cover that with the other cut box bottom.  This makes a stackable carrier that is fairly strong for transporting a lot of things.  Cookies on trays, etc.  Back in the day for larger reenactments Vicki took 5 boxes of pumpkin bread like this, along with all the other cookies etc.  The troops ate well.

Vicki & Bonnie Rose making up the
small coffee pot of sugar-free lemonade
     In a 3 gallon coffee pot add sliced fruit:
          3 Juice Oranges
          3 Lemons
          4 Limes
     Then fill to bottom of pour spout (approx 2-1/2 gal of water)
     Stir in:
          14 or 15 unsweetened Lemonade Packets (Wylers is better tasting than Koolaid)
          3-1/2 c Granulated Sugar
     Let marinate a bit, then taste test.  It's better to have it tart than sweet so it doesn't taste like koolaid.  We mix it in a large 3 gallon enamel coffee pot.  The sliced fruit and tartness are keys to good taste.  You can reuse the fruit all day as you make new pots.  Do not let marinate overnight as it becomes bitter.  The type of powder you use will affect taste;  some are stronger tasting than others.  Add ice just before serving.  We use tin cans with period labels glued on them as cups at the tent.  We have served over 100 gallons of this lemonade at some reenactments.  And at one reenactment it was so cold we only made up one pot and didn't give that away.  Temperature makes a difference.
     You can find extra long handled spoons for stirring at a restaurant supply store.  You must stir to remix frequently before serving because sugar settles out.  A large number 10 can makes an excellent container to spoons to keep them clean and ready to use for this.
     Some people mix half & half this lemonade with the mint iced tea below.
     Be aware that some people have severe allergy to aspartame, so we don't use artificially sweetened lemonade in this mix.  It is possible to make a sugar-free version of this which tastes good, just keep the mixing spoons separate (see next recipe).

Sugar Free Lemonade
     In one gallon of water add sliced fruit:
          1 orange
          1 lemon
          2 limes
     Mix in
          2 Wyler's Sugar Free Lemonade packets
          3 unsweetened Lemonade packets

George is serving lemonade from one of the three gallon pots we use.  Note the tin can cup.  This makes it so the reenactors can take it with them.  We say "the cup is your's;  bring it back and we'll fill it up again all day".
 Mint Iced Tea
     To one gallon water add:
          2 Black Tea bags (Lipton/ Jewel)
          2 Bigelow Plantation Mint bags
          2 Bigelow Green Tea bags
     Microwave on high till streaming (approx 10min;  we use a 5 quart ice cream bucket)
     Let cool to room temperature.  Squeeze and remove tea bags.  Refrigerate or freeze for transport.  Serve over ice at the reenactment.  People sugar to taste at the reenactment.  This gives diabetics a safe drink that is tasty and sugar free.  We use either recycled 5 qt ice cream buckets or gallon milk containers for transport. 

Mulled Cider
     Mix in large kettle:
          6 12oz Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate
          2 c Brown Sugar
          1 6oz Frozen Lemonade Concentrate
          1 12oz Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
          2 Gallon Water
     Put in small drawstring bag and add to kettle:
          2T. Whole Cloves
          2T. Whole Alspice
          6 Cinnamon Sticks
     Simmer 20 min.  Remove drawstring bag (leaving it in for long periods of time makes the drink bitter).  Serve drink warm or cold.

Dawnielle is serving cookies.
Our son Joshua is the soldier in the picture.
He is one of the designated water carriers of our group.
 Molasses Cookies
     Beat until well blended:
          2/3 c. Oil    1 c. sugar    1 egg     3/4 c. Molasses
     Mix in separate bowl and add to creamed mixture:
          2 1/4 c. Flour   2 tsp. Baking Soda   2 tsp. Cinnamon   1 tsp  Ginger
     Roll Tablespoon sized balls of batter in sugar.  Bake on greased baking sheet at 350 for 13 minutes.

Vanilla Drop Cookies
     Cream together until fluffy:
          1c. Shortening    1 1/2c. sugar   2 eggs  2 tsp. vanilla
     Mix together, then add to creamed mixture:
          3c. Flour    1 tsp. Baking powder   1/2tsp. salt
     Do not over mix dough.
     Grease cookie sheets.  Roll tablespoon of dough in sugar, then use a glass or fork to flatten. 
     Bake at 400  for 11 min.  Remove before bottom of cookie gets brown.

Mixed Nut Squares
     1 c.Flour
     1/2 c. Packed Brown Sugar
     1/2 c. Margarine
     1/2 tsp. Vanilla
     1/4 tsp. Salt
     1 Small Egg Yolk
Mix all base ingredients and press into a 9x13 ungreased pan.  Bake 25min. at 325 until starting to see a light tan on the edges.
     1 c. Butterscotch Bits
     1/2 c. Light Corn Syrup
     2 T. Margarine
"Come on in soldier and help yourself"
Biscuits, Pumpkin & Banana bread,
Pickles, cookies, peanuts, pretzels etc.
Microwave topping 2 minutes on high and stir;  microwave another minute until most of the chips are melted.  Pour over cooled base.  Top with 1 can (13oz) mixed nuts.  If they are unsalted nuts then lightly add salt.  Press the nuts into the topping.
This cookie must be allowed to cool before eating to taste right.  It lasts well and can be sent through the mail.  We have shipped it to friends serving in Serbia and in Afghanistan.  On a warm day at the tent it gets a bit sticky, but no one seems to mind.  They just lick their fingers after eating it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Cream together in large bowl
     3/4 c Margarine
     3/4 c packed Brown Sugar
     1/4 c Granulated Sugar
     1 (3.4oz)pkg instant Vanilla Pudding
     2 Eggs
     1 tsp Vanilla
Mix together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture.  Do NOT over mix when adding to above.
     2 1/4 c Flour
     1 tsp Baking Soda
Now take one 12oz pkg of chocolate chips & add to dough and barely mix in.
Spread in greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 330 for 30min.  The outer part should start to turn brown but inside will look under-done.  Remove from oven, cover with towel and allow to cool.  The less done parts taste even better the next day.  Best stored in covered container.  (I usually double this recipe and bake in a 12x17 pan for 35 min for the reenactments.)

Almond Cookies
Mix together
     1 1/2 c Shortening
     1 c granulated sugar
     4 Egg Whites
     1 T Almond Extract
     2 1/2 T Water
Stir together and add to creamed mixture above
     5 c Flour
     1/2 tsp Salt
     1 T Baking Powder
Now shape into tablespoon balls, flatten with cup bottom, brush with egg yolk, bake at 350 for 10min on greased cookie sheet.  Optional: can top each cookie with three almond flakes prior to baking.

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
Mix together, stir continually and bring to boil. Boil for one minute (I use a large fry pan):
   2 sticks Margarine melted first then add in:
   3 c Granulated Sugar
    1 c Milk
    6 T Unsweetened Cocoa (Hersey's dark cocoa or Gahirardelli unsweetened cocoa is even better)
    1/2 tsp salt
Turn off heat.  Add these ingredients & stir until combined:
    1 c Peanut butter
    2 tsp Vanilla (stir in these two ingredients until well mixed)
    then add: 5 c Quick Oatmeal
Press mixture into 9x13 greased pan.  Cool before cutting and serving.  Also a good one to send through the mail.

Beat until fluffy:
     1 c Margarine
     2 Eggs
     1 1/3 c Granulated Sugar
Stir together then add to above creamed mixture:
     3 c Flour
     1 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
     1 tsp Baking Soda
     pinch of salt
Roll tablespoon of dough in cinnamon coating mixture:
     (to have a generous coating double this and use any left over on buttered toast):
     1/4 c Granulated Sugar
     1 T Cinnamon
Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 for 12 min.
(When the kids were little we nicked named these cookies YankeeDoodles and nicked named the molasses cookies RebleDoodles just for fun.  The kids enjoyed telling the reenactors what was on the serving trays this way.)

Banana Bread
Mix together in a bowl
     2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 6 bananas)
     2 cups sugar
     2 eggs
     1 cup oil
     1 cup sour cream
     2 tsp vanilla
Stir together and then add to above banana mixture
     3 cups flour
     2 tsp baking soda
     1 tsp salt
Pour into greased bundt pan or two loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 55 to 60 min, until very lightly brown.
     Optional: adding one cup of chocolate chips to batter before baking.
     (You can take out enough batter for 6 muffins before filling bundt pan, as the above generously fills the bundt pan)

Lemon Bars
For bottom crust in large bowl combine these ingredients until mixture looks like coarse crumbs:
     4 cups flour
     1 c powdered sugar
     1 1/2 c cold margarine (3 sticks)
Pat mixture into greased 12x17 cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for twenty minutes. 
While crust is baking, mix together in large bowl and beat until frothy:
     12 eggs
     5 c Sugar
     1 cup lemon juice
     1 T grated lemon peel
     1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     1 1/2 c Flour
Pour mixture over hot crust and bake 20 to 25 min or until beginning to brown and knife comes out clean.  Let cool before serving.