camp life
Picture from Camp Kits and Camp Life by Charles Stedman Hanks, 1906

Hopefully I’ll come across more camp recipes this summer like these for fish chowder. The ingredients all seem to be portable without much hassle except for the milk. It seems like water can be substituted for milk when you don’t have access to refrigeration. These were found in “Camping and Camp Cooking” by Frank A. Bates, 1914

Recipes for Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder: — Fry out two slices of pork in the bottom of the kettle, and when well cooked, turn in 2 quarts of boiling water. Add 6 large potatoes, sliced thin, and cook until they can be broken by the mixing spoon. Have about 3 pounds of fish cut into convenient pieces, which should now be put in and cooked till it will break in pieces. Then add 1 quart of milk and season to taste with salt and pepper. When it comes to the boiling point, break in 12 crackers. Set it off the fire till the crackers are steamed soft and serve. Some think that the chowder is improved by the addition of a small onion, sliced thin, and added when the potatoes are put in.

Fish Chowder, Southern Style: — Cover the bottom of the pot with slices of fat salt pork; over that put a layer of sliced raw potatoes; then a layer of chopped onions; then a layer of fish, cut into pieces, leaving out all the bones possible; on the fish put a layer of crackers, first soaked in water or milk. Repeat the layers, except the pork, till a sufficient quantity is obtained. Each layer should be seasoned with salt and pepper. Put in enough cold water to moisten the whole mass well, cover the kettle closely, and cook slowly for an hour or more. When it appears rather thick, stir it gently and serve.

Webster Chowder: — The famous Daniel Webster lived in the section where my ancestors passed their lives, and his neighbors, for miles around, gleaned a portion of their sustenance from the contiguous waters. Many of them were professional fishermen and their wives were famous cooks in the direction of these products. As Webster’s Chowder was a noted receipt, it being said that he furnished the following to his friends, we need no excuse for its insertion here.

“Cod of 10 or 12 pounds well cleaned, leaving on the skin, cut into slices of 1-1/2 pounds each, preserving the head whole; I-1/2 pounds clear, fat salt pork cut in thin slices; slice twelve potatoes. Take the largest pot you have, try out the pork first, take out the pieces of pork, leaving in the dripping; add to that three pints of water, a layer of fish so as to cover the bottom of the pot, next a layer of potatoes, then two tablespoonfuls of salt, one teaspoonful of pepper, then the pork, another layer of fish and the remainder of the potatoes; fill the pot with water enough to cover the ingredients; put it over a good fire, let the chowder boil twenty-five minutes; when this is done have a quart of boiling milk ready and ten hard crackers split and dipped in cold water; add milk and crackers, let the whole boil five minutes. The chowder is then ready and will be first rate if you have followed the directions. An onion is added if you like that flavor.”

Once or twice each summer, it was the custom of the farmers to make up a party and go to some beach for a picnic. A chowder was considered a necessary adjunct of the festivities, and I still retain lively recollections of the quality of this toothsome dish. Perhaps it was flavored with the sauce of youth and hunger, but it was good then and is now.

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