Sunday, February 14, 2016

Johnny Cakes for #BookClubCookbookCC and #FoodiesRead2016

This month's selection, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, was chosen by Ashley of Cheese Curd in Paradise.  You can easily join us, there is still time, just go take a look at Ashley's invitation post.

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The Book Club Cookbook CC is a group of 12 bloggers, gathered together by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  We were all assigned a month and some of us were given a copy of the Book Club Cookbook by Tarcher-Penguin, who is also giving away one each month to one of our lucky readers. You will find the raffle at the bottom of the page.  I had already purchased this cookbook so I was anxious to join the club when Cam suggested it.

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The Killer Angels is the novel on which the movie Gettysburg was produced.  It gave you an in depth look at what could have been going on in the men's minds during this battle.  Of course, nobody knows what another person is thinking or feeling but Shaara does a pretty good job of getting you to feel as if you know them a bit.  

The book disturbed me a little as I felt it struck just a little too close to home, living as we are right now in the United States where are political parties have become so distant and divided to the far left and far right with no common middle ground.  Or so it seems.  I fear another Civil War in this country and I fear that I will be on the opposite side from most of my family and dearest friends. 

But enough!!  This post isn't about politics it is about food.  There wasn't much food available during this battle, many of the men gorged themselves on cherries and this inspired the authors to provide a recipe for cherry-apple cobbler.  There was also mention of stewed chicken, roasted beef, hard tack and corn dodgers.

As luck would have it, I received another cookbook from my swap partner during The Book and Cuppa Swap based on the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and written by Barbara Walker.

I was reading through this book, which I found very interesting and enjoyed very much when lo and behold I came across a recipe for Corn Dodgers inspired by the book On the Banks of Plum Creek.  I didn't make this recipe, however, because the preceding recipe in this book had this blurb from Little House in the Big Woods:
"Laura always wondered why bread made of cornmeal was called johnny-cake.  It wasn't cake.  Ma didn't know, unless the Northern soldiers called it johnny-cake because the people in the South, where they fought, ate so much of it.  They called the Southern soldiers Johnny Rebs.  Maybe, they called the Southern bread,cake, just for fun.  Ma had heard some say it should be called journey-cake.  She didn't know.  It wouldn't be very good bread to take on a journey."
The author goes on to say that if Laura had heard a New Englander say the word journey she would not have been puzzled.

In The Killer Angels one of the story lines was of a group of soldiers from Maine, some of whom tried to dessert and were brought back to be met with Chamberlain who was a kind and compassionate man.  I thought this made the recipe for Johnny-Cakes the perfect choice.

I served the johnny-cakes as a side dish to another recipe in The Little House Cookbook, baked pork spare ribs, that I am sharing here as well, and a side of Sauerkraut as the cookbook suggested you should serve the johnny-cake with boiled cabbage.

I am posting this with Foodies Read 2016 as well as The Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew.

from The Little House Cookbook

2 c. cornmeal (I used 1 cup coarse ground and one cup processed)
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 T. drippings ( I used the drippings from the ribs)
2 T. molasses
1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. buttermilk

Combine the cornmeal, salt and soda in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and add the drippings to the well.  Dissolve the molasses in the boiling water and pour into well over drippings. Stir until well combined and paste like.  Stir in the buttermilk.  Spread onto a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 15-25 minutes, until edges are browned and surface is cracked.  Print Recipe

Baked Pork Spare Ribs
from the Little House Cookbook

5-6 lbs Pork Spareribs, rinsed and patted dry
salt and pepper to taste

Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil, and place racks on them.  Cut the spare ribs into pieces of 3-4 bones each.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place on the racks and bake in a preheated 350* oven for one hour.  Remove from oven, drain fat and flip ribs over.  Return to the oven bake for at least another hour until brown and crackling.  Print Recipe


  1. Johnny-cakes was a perfect choice, looks great, and cool to know the origins!

  2. My mom used to make Johnny cakes! I, too, fear this country might be headed for a Civil War. It is pretty scary what we are dealing with here in the country that is supposed to be the greatest country on earth!

  3. Both books sound like great reads! And the Johnny-Cakes sounds delicious!

  4. This is such a fun idea -- trying some new recipe to go along with a book that you're reading.

    I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook a few years ago, which included lots of little tidbits about Laura's life and homemaking philosophies. If you liked the Little House Cookbook, you should definitely check it out.

    1. I'll have to check into the Country Cookbook. You should join us at Cook the Books which is another club to which I belong. You can find info in my last post at

  5. Yum! What a great combo of flavors! Love how you incorporated both recipe books. I would love to see the Little House cookbook. :)

    1. It is a fun cookbook Andrea. Filled with little tidbits from Laura's books.


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