10th Massachusetts, authenticity, Bennington, Brigade of the American Revolution, common people, common soldier, cooking, Enos Hitchcock, food, hearth cooking, history, living history, Research
Camp cooking can get old. Stew, sigh. Bread, sigh. Cheese, sigh. Apples, sigh.
Don’t get me wrong: all of the above are delicious today. Historically, New England troops are all about cheese and cider, and have much to say about the quality of beef, but menu can be repetitive and lacking in challenge.
Ever since I had boiled flour pudding at Coggeshall Farm, I’ve wanted to make it since I so much enjoyed the texture.
When I found it mentioned by Enos Hitchcock, I was particularly excited.
1777 May 24
Dined upon flowr puding & Venison Steak.
Flowr puding? I love that guy! But there it is, documented, even if eaten by the officers and not the private soldiers. It’s common enough that I think it likely almost everyone knew how to make it. The trick would have been getting hold of eggs and milk, which is easy enough for me, if not for the soldiers of 1777. Fortunately, as we drove down Cottrell Road headed for home, a flock of Plymouth Rock chickens crossed the road in front of us: there were the eggs, at least in our time.
The method I had tried at home worked: I beat three eggs and four spoons of milk in my tall redware mug, and added the liquid slowly to the flour and salt mixture. The whole mixture went into a cloth bag, which I tied with a string and boiled in the smallest kettle, not want to risk any damage to the beef stew. I’ll test the works at home on my nearest kin and willing victims before I loose it upon a regiment and hungry guests.
Although the pudding was a strange shape, it cooked up quickly in about 45 minutes, had a firm texture and a satisfactory enough flavor. I would have liked it to rise a bit more, which is an argument either for beating the eggs with a fork in the confined cylinder of the cup, or risking the splash of the whisk in a bowl, or, finally, for a smaller whisk.
Still, not too bad for expanding the camp cooking repertoire of Things That Can be Boiled and Eaten.