150 years ago today, North Carolina succeeded from the Union to become part of the Confederacy. Crazy!
By mere coincidence, I am currently reading a book about the Civil War, mainly the Reconstruction period. I’ve learned so much about what went on that no one covered in any history class I’ve taken: most of the south couldn’t vote in the 1868 election and Virginia’s statehood was revoked — it was referred to as “Military District One” — North Carolina was “Military District Two.” Insane!
Anyway, while I was reading this book, I found a word I had never heard before: hard tack. It’s a cracker-like biscuit that they ate on the battlefield, a staple of a Union soldier’s diet.
And with all things Civil War, there was the southern equivalent: johnny cakes. As a carpetbagger myself, I feel more southern now than I do with my northern roots. Sure, I will never say “soda” (it’s pop, people!) or buy supplies for the forecasted blizzard (2 inches of snow! In an afternoon! Agghh!), but I love the southern lifestyle here. So as a good southern wife, I decided to make johnny cakes using a real Civil War recipe. The General had to work at the crack of dawn the next day, so I thought this would be a perfect for him before going into battle.
Well, they sort of worked. Two things occurred to me with my 1st bite of johnny cake, fresh out of the oven:
- I know why the south lost the Civil War. It’s because of these cakes. They are disgusting. Flavorless, dull, slightly bitter and all around terrible. Even honey didn’t help.
- I should only serve these to people I don’t like.
Civil War Johnny Cakes
2 cups cornmeal
2/3 cups milk (I had to add a bit more)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt