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Multi-Day, or Events with Fires

(e.g. Redcoats & Rebels at OSV, “encampments”)

Less will be more next time, I swear.

We use as small a cooler as we can, and save it for things that get dangerous, like meat. We skip dairy. If your impression is that of soldiers in the field, forget cream in your coffee or milk in your tea, unless you can point to the farm you stole it from! (See John Smith’s diary.) We hide the cooler under a blanket in our tent. Yes, the blanket is a red bed cover from Ikea and needs to be replaced.

Carrots, onions, potatoes, parsnips, beets, apples, can all travel in bags, baskets or bowls. Think basics if your impression is common soldier or common person.

Rations were generally a pound of beef for a soldier, half a pound for women on the ration, and a quarter pound for children. You can use these proportions to figure out what to make, and John Buss had a lot to say about the quality and frequency of the beef and other rations. Jeremiah Greenman of the 2nd Rhode Island ate dog on the way to Quebec, and that was one time they weren’t the 2nd Helping Regiment. We draw the line well on this side of that kind of authenticity.

Three sticks, two kettles, one bucket. I love that bucket.

Men carried their rations in haversacks, so yes, a little eeww if you’re thinking a pound of salted beef in a linen sack along with a pound of bread or flour.  That’s where the cooler comes in, and a metal bowl or plate. We use split firewood to cut the meat on, and then burn the wood instead of washing a wooden cutting board in the field.

I have brought home-baked tea bread to events, and taken cookies (little cakes) to the farm. But you have to think about the context of the event, and your specific impression. I’d like to strip everything down to the “three sticks, two kettles, no matches” principle, but we’re stuck with cooler because we cook.

What we did at OSV, which was two dinners (Friday and Saturday) and two breakfasts  and lunches (Saturday and Sunday) was this:

Friday Dinner: pasties

Saturday Breakfast: apples, bread and ham and cheese. Guess who forgot the eggs and oatmeal? Yes, me! The one in charge of stores. Thankyouverymuch.

Saturday Lunch: Apples, bread and ham and cheese.

Saturday Supper: Beef stew with carrots, onions and potatoes. Authenticity would have made this plain boiled beef but fortunately for us, OSV is a farm, and we could pretend John Smith had helped us enhance our rations. We scraped the kettle clean.

Sunday Breakfast: Apples, bread and cheese. The soldier in the tent next to us appeared with a cup of coffee. We eyed him with real envy; sensing peril, he quickly told us we could get our mugs filled at the OSV store, at a discount. Off we quick-marched, and Bob finished his coffee in safety. It wasn’t very good coffee, but it was the best coffee I had that week.

Sunday Lunch: By this point, the child had eaten anything that remained, and we had to buy lunch.

What did I learn from that experience?

  • Bring more fruit
  • Bring more bread
  • Bring the coffee & the coffee pot

When we consider packing for Monmouth this summer, these are the factors we’ll take into account, and one of the largest factors will be the amount the kid is accustomed to eating.