Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Your Summer Reading

by Carmen Doyle

Summer is (almost) here! That means more time to read! Since November, the History Center has gotten in several new books!

The Iron Men of Indiana’s 44th Regiment is two volumes. Part 1: Biographies and Regimental Statistics has mini bios of every soldier who served in the 44th. What’s interesting is the amount of detail included in each biography- a general description of what the soldier looked like (for example, John Deardoff “was 5’10.50” tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, and black hair”) where they fought, and where the soldier was born, the pension certificate number, and places of residence. If you’re looking for info on a specific soldier, this book is awesome. 

There are also small chapters on regimental statistics, which had some good information, such as the nativity of the men in the regiment (mainly German heritage) but it involved far too many numbers for my taste. I had trouble figuring out the difference between enrolled, drafted, recruits and subs.

Part 2: Formation and Photos is full of details such as who would be in a company (each company had two musicians.) What I found intriguing were the court-martial records, which included the transcript for a trial. If you are interested in the nitty-gritty details about Civil War regiments, these books are a great resource. There is so much information, though, that it can be hard for the casual reader to get into. Great for scholars.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War takes place in 1812. It is the story of two 12 year old boys, Anikwa and James. Anikwa is a Miami Indian and James lives in the Fort. Their families are good friends, but not everyone else in their communities even trusts one another. The narrative is a series of almost poems, each section alternating between the voice of Anikwa and James, with poems about the importance of salt between them. The book was appealing in the way it tried to describe how each boy heard rumors about a coming war and how their families felt about that. The torn loyalties are easy to understand. The armies- both British and American- look like ignorant bullies or cowards who have no idea what really happens in the communities. This book is short (less than 150 pages) so it is an easy read. It was also nice that the author had a character list and a pronunciation guide for some of the Miami words used. The torn loyalties are what make this book fascinating.

Author Helen Frost and members of the Miami Tribe talked about her book at the History Center a few months ago.
Shopping in Fort Wayne 1848 features the same family from A Trip on the Wabash and Erie Canal. (See the blog post from July 2013.) It takes place about a week after Trip ended, and continues to tell about the adventures of Daniel and his family. This book is about a day in Fort Wayne, where Pa tries to buy everything that the family will need when they move out to their farm. Daniel visits the cooper, the tannery, and the blacksmith shop, and each shop features new vocabulary words and pictures of what the tools mentioned look like. I had no idea what an adze or a croze looked like or what they were used for until I read this!

The History Center got in two cookbooks, Blue and Grey Cookery: Authentic recipes form the Civil War Years and Johnny Apppleseed Cookbook: Favorite apple recipes of our land.

I try to make my family dinner once a week, so I was really interested in seeing if these recipes could be used for that. Blue and Grey Cookery has traditional Civil War recipes, with some equivalencies for modern cooking. Many of the recipes seemed to call for salt pork or shortening. A lot of the recipes seemed complicated to me (but I’m one of those people who often wonder how people managed to cook before Bisquick!) The recipe for sauerkraut was interesting- I didn’t realize it took weeks to make. Germanfest is coming up- maybe I should try and make my own sauerkraut and compare it to the kind I get there. The recipe for noodles looked very easy- just flour, egg, and shortening. It seems like something I not only have the ingredients for, but don’t need any special equipment to make.

I was more intrigued by the Johnny Appleseed cookbook. I’ve gotten apples from the Farmers’ Market before (the Barr Street Market is held at the History Center on Saturdays) and a co-worker recently brought in applesauce cookies, so I was really curious to see what I could make with apples beside my attempts at applesauce. I was happy to see several apple pie recipes as my only complaint at Johnny Appleseed Fest is that no one ever has apple pie, and I can’t think of any better use for an apple. The book has recipes for pie crust as well as the apple filling. Just reading the recipes made me hungry! There is also a recipe for sauerkraut and apples.

I haven’t dared to try any of these recipes yet, so I don’t know in reality how easy or good tasting they are. But many sounded delicious, and easy. Maybe this summer I’ll work up the courage to really expand my cooking abilitie


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