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History Corn Meal Mush

Discussion in 'Foods of the Civil War' started by donna, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    One of the early foods enjoyed by early colonists and settlers to America was corn meal mush. The newcomers learned to make and eat this from the native American Indians. Indians had been grinding corn for centuries making all kinds of dishes.

    Hot cereal was known for years in other parts of the world. It went under various names, as porridge, hasty pudding and lobiolly. Thus, during the decades of European settlement of America, mush made from cornmeal became the usual breakfast and supper dish. People served it with butter, milk, or meat drippings. Mush with drippings was the ancestor of today's grits with red eye gravy or sausage gravy.

    An old simple recipe for Mush:

    "Boil 1 cup of cornmeal and a little salt in 4 cups of water. Stir often until thickened (about half hour)."

    From: "Your Food Has Ancestors, Too" by Kay K. Moss, Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History.
     

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  3. ggson2

    ggson2 Cadet

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    Your recipe for mush is exactly the same as that for polenta, which has eaten in northern italy since before Roman times. I believe it was made from nuts before the introduction of corn. My northern italian grandfather loved polenta. My southern italian grandmother hated it because it took so long to cook - it's my understanding that when she made polenta, she MADE POLENTA. (I hope this north-south dichotomy qualifies as a tie-in to the forum's title?)
    I like to let it cool in a loaf pan, then slice it kinda thin, fry it in a little olive oil, and top it with a dab of marinara sauce and parmasean cheese.
     
  4. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Cornmeal Liver Mush

    This a mush dish many in Smoky Mts. would make.

    2 cups liver
    3/4 cups fat

    Cook liver well done. Have 1 1/2 cups stock. Take 3/4 cup cornmeal and parch cornmeal good and brown. Add stock and stir until good and thick. Then add liver and fat. Grind liver and fat. Add 1 teaspoon sage. Salt and pepper to taste.

    From: "Mountain Makin's in the Smokies".
     
  5. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    ggson2 Thanks for posting on Polenta use bt Italians. My Mother's sancestors are all from Italy.

    In old day in Italy polenta was made from garbanzo beans sometimes called chick peas, ceci to Italians. They also made a sweet polenta out of dried chestnut flour. This dish of Garbanzo Polenta is very good. Usually can find garbanzo flour in an Italian market.

    1 quart water
    2 teasoons salt
    1 1/2 cups garbanzo flour
    freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1/2 teaspoon whole thyme
    1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

    Bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the garbanzo flour, using a wire whip. work fast and stir hard or you will get lumps. Return the pan to the burner and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it is very thick, about 15 minutes. It should be as thick as breakfast cereal. Add the remaining ingredients and pour the mixture into an oiled bread pan. Chill overnight, covered. Slice the polenta 1/4 inch thick and pan-fry in olive oil, just before dinner.

    From:"The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines China Greece Rome", by Jeff Smith.
     
  6. kel1985

    kel1985 2nd Lieutenant

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    Sounds like a variation on scrapple...
     
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  7. kel1985

    kel1985 2nd Lieutenant

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    When I was a kid my grandfather would slice a thicker consistency mush and fry it in butter...serve up with syrup...Love fried mush!!!
     
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  8. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Scrapple recipe from"MountainMakin's in the Smokies".

    "Scrapple is a most palatable dish. Take the heart, and any lean scraps of pork, and boil until it will slip easily from the bones. Remove the fat, gristles, and bones; then chop fine. Set aside the liquor in which the meat was boiled until cold. Take the cake of fat from the surface, and return to the fire. When it boils, put in the chopped meat, and season well with pepper and salt. Let it boil again. Then thicken with cornmeal as you would in making ordinary cornmeal mush. Cook one hour, stirring constantly at first, then putting back on the stove to boil gently. When done, pour in a long pan to mold. This can be kept several weeks in cold weather. Cut in slices and fry brown as you do mush. A delicious breakfast dish." Mrs. W.P. Trotter
     
  9. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Another version of Cornmeal Mush. This one is from "Blue and Grey Cookery" by Hugh and Judy Gowan, page 20.

    1 lb sausage
    3 cups water
    1 cup cornmeal
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper

    Brown the sausage in skillet and pour off the fat. Add 2 cups of water. Heat to boiling. Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper and remaining water. Add to the boiling liquid and stir constantly. Place on low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir this frequently. Pour into a greased loaf pan and chill. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and fry in hot fat until brown.
     
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  10. DR_Hanna

    DR_Hanna Sergeant

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    I spent some time in the Charlotte area of Western NC... They eat this stuff to this day.

    Liver Mush

    I like odd foods but could never get past the way this concoction left my teeth feeling like they were coated in penetrating oil. :smile:
    Very popular with the locals, tho.

    My experience with polenta was that it was not that different from grits... If you put butter on'em they taste like butter, If you put cheese on'em they taste like cheese. The great grits debate around N.E. GA has always been - "on top of the scrambled eggs or next to them."
     
  11. MRB1863

    MRB1863 Captain Forum Host

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    Scrapple, polenta and mush makes me hungry just thinking about them! I always dust my scrapple with a generous amount of black pepper when preparing my plate....yum! What a delectable table fare for breakfast, or in the case of polenta, even supper with a few links of sausage or slice of ham. When we were kids, sometimes Mother made pancakes for supper. We really enjoyed them whether at breakfast or dinnertime.
     
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  12. MissREP

    MissREP Private

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    I'm in the wrong state--I was told so.
    :smile:

    What you said about the "great grits debate" tickled my funny bone. I grew up in various Southern states and I LOVE my grits and eggs--but I'll eat them under, over, or beside, probably a mix of North Carolina (side-by-side), Florida (eggs on top), and Louisiana (eggs on the bottom). My parents are Florida natives, so I generally eat them Florida style.

    My understanding of polenta/cornmeal mush versus grits is the only difference is that grits are ground up hominy rather than just plain ol' corn.
     
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  13. DR_Hanna

    DR_Hanna Sergeant

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    It is a testament either to the ingenuity of humans, or the fact that when hungry humans will eat anything.
    Corn soaked in lime water = Hominy. Dried ground hominy = Grits.

    Apparently it is not possible to live exclusively on corn but one can live a lot longer on hominy - useful for getting thru the winter.

    I have often wondered who figured this out.
     

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