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That was odd...

Right. So, finally finished up all of the Holiday Visiting today with…

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Right. So, finally finished up all of the Holiday Visiting today with a trip to Grandma and Grandpa. Had an enjoyable time, and got to visit Fort Washington. It was the gift shop therein which led to an interesting discovery. To be specific, Hardtack. Now, I had grown up hearing stories about hardtack, and always wondered what it was like. Today, I found out.

As it turns out, it's not too terribly tasty. Also, incredibly hard. Which I suppose is why it is called hardtack, but still. It does bear emphasising how it was just under bricks in terms of crunchyness. Luckily, I did not try to just gnaw on it for hours. Instead, I had Dad on hand, who informed me that the crackers were struck sharply to break them up for easier consumption. He told me they would also be dipped in coffee to help soften them, much like a biscotti.

Now, the hardtack itself came with the recipe, and it is incredibly simple. Just three ingredients, too. Flour, Water, and Salt. It also involves baking the crackers for somewhere between eight and twelve hours. I wanted to try this, but was told not to, since it would waste far too much gas to bake for that long. So, I started looking for alternate recipes.

Yes, I become determined to do the silliest things.

However, seeing as how I was unable to make the original recipe, I figured I would look for a tasty hardtack. So rather than the bland-but-salty brick, I have found a recipe for Swedish hardtack which appears to be much more palatable. Either that, or something called "A Sailor's Diet". Both were culled from this site, which is quite interesting. I must say that I now know more about hardtack than I ever thought I would learn.

Before I try either recipe, I think I am going to email the guy who created the page, and ask if he has personally tried any of the recipes listed. Hopefully he has, and can direct me towards possibly tastier permutations to play with. Not entirely certain if I will get a response, but hope is a difficult thing to quash.

Not much else on my mind at the moment, beyond the fact that I will be purchasing a TomTom One tomorrow if everything goes as planned. Glad to be back, and with luck I will have a new recipe within the next week or two. Goodnight everybody, and stay safe out there.
  • If you're trying to come up with tastier hardtack, you're doing it wrong. The whole point of hardtack is to have something that lasts for a while in a soldier's field pack without getting moldy, since pre-20th century logistics elements (such as they were) were pretty bad about getting fresh bread to the troops.
    • I would have thought honey to be an ideal ingredient for that, though. After all, it doesn't spoil. So, it should be able to make the hardtack at least palatable, you know?
      • The honey doesn't spoil, true, but it attracts even more bugs than just plain hardtack. The only thing that makes hardtack palatable (and I'm thinking of the Brits' oat/wheat hardtack here) is stew.
        • Ah! I forgot about the infestation issue. Honestly, I'm trying to keep to what hardtack is requested to be, rather than what it is. For example, from the 1863 specification: "Hard bread should be white, crisp, light and exhibit a flaky appearance when broken. If tough, solid and compact, is evident the fault is either in the stock, manufacture or baking; it should not present the appearance of dried paste. "
          • There's an amusing passage in The Hammer by David Drake and S.M. Stirling pertaining to the consequences of improperly done hardtack. Not so amusing for the bureaucrat caught in the gears...
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