As a culmination of our study of the Civil War (which the kids got really into), we watched some selected scenes from Glory, and I served hardtack.
I included the recipe in an earlier post, and as I researched further found that there are a few techniques necessary to the authenticity of this wartime snack. The basic recipe is 1/2 to 3/4 cup water to 3 cups of flour and "knead until your wrists are sore"--which mine were. One recipe even instructed not to wash your hands and allow the sweat from kneading the dough season the hardtack. Gross. I am proud to say that my hardtack was not that historically accurate. It took quite a while to get the dough to a "leather-like" consistency, and it was even harder to roll that tough dough out in a flat sheet. After baking the squares for an hour, the result was very hard, very thick, tasteless cracker. . . which was perfect.
The reaction to the hardtack was mixed: some tasted the stale white biscuit with great trepidation (and understandably so), others were curious, still others were just excited to have a snack of any kind. (The latter prove the theory that some middle schoolers will eat anything. I have found this to be true for boys and girls alike. This insatiable adolescent appetite knows no gender.) One student examined his hardtack carefully before venturing a taste. He knocked the snack against his desk, and judging from the sound of the two objects hitting one another and the fact that no crumbs resulted, I think the desk and the hardtack were equal in density and rigidity. Still funnier was the deep thud that came when some of hardtack hit the trash can.
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3 years ago