IMG_4535Inspired by our recent historical program “Food and Family in Mid-19th Century Fincastle,” we have decided to include some good old Southern recipes here for your use and enjoyment.  Jean Robbins and Gail McMillan offered us a fascinating look at Fincastle-native Ann “Nanny” Godwin Figgatt (1835-1919) and her recipe book that was recently acquired by the Virginia Tech library. Among the personal papers, ledgers, and letters were two handwritten cookbooks–one from Nanny and one from her mother, Martha Mary Godwin. Among the exciting information provided through Nanny’s letters was a description of a dinner held in Fincastle to honor the Botetourt Dragoons who were home on furlough!

One recipe Jean and Gail shared was for Rusk–a popular 19th-century teatime bread. The leftovers were often dried in the oven, placed into muslin wrapping, and hung to dry. To reconstitute the dried bread, it was soaked in milk with sugar. Jean shared information on the various tools, ingredients, and cooking techniques used by the Godwin ladies. She said that the Godwin household was cosmopolitan in its dining habits.  For more information on the Godwin-Figgatt collection and the Peacock-Harper Culinary History Collection at Virginia Tech, click here.

Gail and Jean have completed a book, “Jumbal & a Quire of Paper Pancakes” that details mid-19th century life in Fincastle and the foodways of the times as seen through this collection. The book will be published and sold by the Botetourt County Historical Society as a fundraiser. More details soon.

Links and other recipes

Robert E. Lee Cake

An article in the Christian Science Monitor commemorated the beginning of the Sesquicentennial (April 2011) with recipes for Hardtack and Johnny Cakes. Make sure to listen to the humorous rendition of “Hardtack Come Again No More” on the second page of the article!

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