‘Recipes’ Category

National Indian Pudding Day

November 13th, 2013 by KM Wall

Sampe Fest wasn’t just about Jonnycakes….

It was also about Indian Pudding. Or as it was sometimes referred to:

Indian-meal Pudding

Samp Fest 2013

Samp Fest 2013

Big Batch Indian Pudding

3 Quarts milk

2 cups cornmeal (Plimoth Grist Mill cornmeal is the best!)

1 jar (12 ounces) molasses (non-sulphered or mild)

1 stick butter (1/4 pound)

6 eggs

4 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tsp ginger



Butter a large slow cooker and pre-heat on high.

Use a large heavy bottomed pan on the stove (so the milk doesn’t scorch). The milk will rise up when it heats, so give it plenty of room. When the milk is just under a boil (lots of bubbles forming), whisk in the cornmeal; keep stirring until the cornmeal thickens about 10-15 minutes. Add the rest of the butter, turn off the heat and cover the pan.

Beat the eggs with the molasses and the spices.

Add some of the hot corn/milk mixture to temper the eggs and then add that to the rest of the corn mixture. Blend thoroughly. Scrape into the buttered, pre-heat slow cooker.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or light cream…..



Raisins, cranberries or chopped apples may be added into the slow cooker, either a little or a lot.

There’s a real divide with the fruit people – they love it or hate it!


It’s also good re-heated for breakfast.

 Cinnamon whipped cream is also pretty heavenly….

plimoth grist mill prodcut




Jonnycakes, or what’s in a name

November 6th, 2013 by KM Wall


Sampe Fest 2013 was a great hit!

Sampe, of course, is course ground corn meal, the best being from Plimoth Grist Mill. Cornmeal, fine ground and course were the backbone of the New England diet in the 17th century, both Wamponoag and English.

Jonnycakes were at one time common all along the Eastern seaboard, and even into the Carribean. They look like pancakes, but they act like bread.

They start with fresh ground whole corn meal…..after this. the variations/disagreements begin…

In Rhode Island, the last bastion and fiercest defender/supporter state for the jonnycake they insist on Flint Corn and flint corn alone. Flint corn is one of several varieties of corn – Zea mays indurata – and was the commonest kind of corn grown in New England until the 1930′s.


Flint corn is now either yellow or white….although the mufti-colored corn was not uncommon in 17th century New England

Now, with the freshly ground corn, you have to choose- water or milk as the liquid. Either is right and either is wrong.


I picked water.

The real secret is that it is HOT milk or boiling water. It really does react with the cornmeal and improves the whole process.



Corn meal and boiling water

Corn meal and boiling water…

Start with 1 cup corn meal to 1 – 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Add a pinch of salt. Some will add a little sugar, and arguments will ensue. Mix well.


Bacon drippings....

Bacon drippings….

Now – to bake or to fry? According to one source, proper jonnycake is baked in front of an open fire on the center  red oak plank of a flour barrel…..or fried in a pan, with either butter or bacon drippings. For Saturdays demonstration I used bacon drippings.

Cast iron skillet - well seasoned it's non-stick with the nonstick surface issues

Cast iron skillet – well seasoned it’s non-stick with the nonstick surface issues


A cast iron pan is best, because you want it hot. According to some sources the proper size for a proper Rhode Island jonnycake is “3″x3″x1/2″ in size” – I didn’t measure mine…..and they were probably too thin.

The first recipe for jonnycakes shows up in Amelia Simmons American Cookery of 1796 . She is from Connecticut and not Rhode Island. Then she moves to New York, which is also not Rhode Island. :

Johny Cake, or Hoe Cake

Scald 1 pint of milk and put to 3 pints of indian meal, and half pint of flower — bake before the fire. Or scald with milk two thirds of the indian meal, or wet two thirds with boiling water, and salt, molasses and shortening, work up with cold water pretty stiff, and bake as above.

1796. Amelia Simmons. American Cookery. Hartford (Dover reprint edition) p. 34.

SOOOO – who is Jonny (however you might spell his name) and how does he rate his own cake?

There are several theories……

Jonny is short for journey….or Jonakin or jannock…and who has mentioned  jannock before?????

Why, none other then our dear friend Gervase Markham!

Chapter VII

The excellency of oats, and the many singular virtues and uses of them in a family

The virtues of oatmeal.

…..:also with this small oatmeal is made in divers* countries six several kinds of very good and wholesome bread, every one finer than other , as your annacks, janacks, and such like. Also there is made of it both thick and thin oaten cakes, which are very pleasant in taste, and much esteemed: but if it be mixed with a fine wheat meal, then it maketh a most delicate and dainty oatcake, either thick or thin, such as no prince in the world but may have served to his table;…

1631. Gervase Markham. The English Housewife. Michael Best, ed. p. 202.

* divers in this instance means diverse, not

Llyod Bridges, Sea Hunt

Lloyd Bridges, Sea Hunt



Flip and keep cooking. They take their own sweet time. These are NOT pancakes.

Flip and keep cooking. They take their own sweet time. These are NOT pancakes.


And how do you serve them ?  Hot,  hot, hot. Some  say with butter and maple syrup. Some say with butter and honey. Some say you can’t eat them cold …..but I have, with cranberry sauce, and I’m none the worse for it.

They smell and taste better then I’m able to make them look.

-  Yaniqueques  (sound it out...) from the Dominican Republic

– Yaniqueques (sound it out…) from the Dominican Republic

I met people from Maine who were fond of jonnycakes, and people from Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, as well as one woman from Bermuda….in the South they call them hoe-cakes ( a hoe being a kind of a pan, not the garden instrument).

plimoth grist mill prodcut

Where there’s a MILL there’s a way!

Salletday – Carrots

October 19th, 2013 by KM Wall

“ In the two months of October and November, when you have leisure in drie weather, then provide a vessel or wine caske, or some other:  then lay on course of sand on the bottome of the vessel two inches thicke, then a course of carret rootes, so that  the rootes do not touch one another:  then  another course of sand to cover those rootes, and then another course of sand, and in this manner untill the vessell bee full to the top, and if you have a ground seller, you may packe them in some corner in this manner, you must cut away all the branches of the carrets close by the roote, and somewhat of the small endes of the Carrets, and they must be so packed in sand unwashed and about the last of December:  sometime when there is no frost, you must then unpacke them againe, and then the carret rootes will begin to spring in the top of the roote, then if you desire to keepe them untill a longer time, then you must pare off the upper ende of the roote, that they cannot spring any more in the top, and then packe them again in sande as aforesaid, so you may keepe them well till Lent or Easter.”

- 1603. Richard Gardiner of Shrewsberie. Profitable Instructions for the Manuring , Sowing and  Planting of Kitchin Gardens. Folio D2.

Here’s what Pilgrim garden carrots  look like this week:

Yellow carrot from the Alden House Garden - thank you!

Yellow carrot from the Alden House Garden – thank you!

Englsih carrots in most of the 17th century were yellow carrots or red carrots or sometimes black or violet carrots, but they weren’t orange carrots. Orange carrots were far more popular in the Netherlands and France. No less  an authority then John Aubrey said of orange carrots:

  “Carrots were first sown at Beckington in Somersetshire. Some very old Man there [in 1668] did remember their first bringing hither.”

Oliver Lawson Dick, ed. Aubrey’s Brief Lives. Edited from the Original Manuscripts, 1949, p. xxxv.

John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697)

John Aubrey
(12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697)

Many sallets in the 17th century are boiled….some into dishes that seem familiar now, but we just don’t call them salads, we just call them ‘vegetables’ or ‘side dishes’  or just ‘sides’.

Boyled Sallets.

Scrape boyld Carrets, being ready to eate, and they will be like the pulp of a roasted Apple, season them with a little Sinamon, Ginger, and Sugar, put in a handfull of Currans, a little Vinegar, a peece of sweet Butter, put them into a Dish, but first put in another peece of Butter, that they burne not to the bottome: then stew your rootes in the Dish a quarter of an houre: if they beginne to drie, put in more Butter: if they be too sweete, put in a little more Vinegar. The same way you may make a Sallet of Beetes, Spinnage, or Lettuce boyled: beate any of these tender, like the pulp of a roasted Apple, and use them as before shewed.”[1]

[1] Murrell, John. The Second Booke of Cookerie. 1638: London: fifth impression. Stuart Press (tran) 1993. pp.24-5.

Once again, the secret 17th century English ingredient is vinegar. The raisins and vinegar together give a nice sweet/sour taste boost.

To make a boiled salad of carrots:*

  • Boil carrots.  Peel them (if you peel them first and then boil them, that will work out in the end).
  • They should be as tender as the pulp of a roasted apple – forget this crispy or al dente or to the bite modern nonsense – these carrots need to be good and cooked!
  • Season them with cinnamon, ginger – these should be in powdered or ‘beaten’  form, just like they come from the  box or jar.
  • A typical American spice shelf - there's some cinnamon and ginger in there somewhere. Notice how the herbs are tucked in with the spices and the sugar is nowhere to be found.

    A typical American spice shelf – there’s some cinnamon and ginger in there somewhere. Notice how the herbs are tucked in with the spices and the sugar is nowhere to be found.

  • Add some currents or raisins. Put some butter in a a heavy bottomed saucepan. Put in the spiced carrots. Add a little vinegar and a little sugar. Let them soak up the butter. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Serve.

Carrots, not English ones


October 15th, 2013 by KM Wall

something a little extra re: Italian Puddings…..

Richard Sax

Richard Sax

All the while, while  dipping in Italian  Pudding I  kept  thinking I was smelling  chocolate. Serious chocolate.

There is no chocolate mentioned in ANY of the 17th century English cookbooks I was searching through  AT ALL …..and then I remembered.

In Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts – which is a totally great cookbook, with wonderful recipes, great photos and stories and histories – there is an Italian Bread Pudding.

It is baked (or bakte).

The bread is cut into cubes. (Are you getting chills yet?)

In with the eggs and cream, there is also  chocolate.

Taste and memory, working together again.

Classic Home Dessert - Richard Sax

Classic Home Desserts – Richard Sax

Budino Nero (Italian Chocolate Bread Pudding)

First published in 1994, the book is still in print, so to avoid copyright issues, let me tell you that basically it’s the same Italian Pudding that John Murrell and W.I make, with equal amounts of semi-sweet chocolate and cubed bread by weight. That is, 3 ounces of bread (which is about 4 cups cubed) should have 3 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate . Melt the chocolate in the cream or milk, before beating in the eggs (let it cool a little, don’t be impatient) and then gently add the cubed bread. Put it into a greased dish, bake  – not too hot, at 350° for about 1/2 an hour – don’t bake it too long – it should be a little wobbly, but it will firm up as it cools. You can add some sugar in, or wait to scrape – or sprinkle  -some on top.

Cacao - from John Gerard, The Herbal

Cacao – and other odd bobs of things – from Johnson on Gerard,The Herbal, 1633.

Chocolate in early 17th century had some PR issues. The name – Cacao -say it aloud, you know what it means, – means, well, sh_t in Spanish, and the same for Englishmen. I believe it was the Dutch who changed it to “Cocao”. What a difference one little letter makes. The rest is, as we say, HISTORY.

A giant Budina Nero – made in the large size Pyrex bowl was

The big one - and it was also a green one

The big one – and it was also a green one

 the BEST Birthday Cake EVER.

For the life of me I can’t remember which birthday, but it probably ended with a zero or a five….and the pudding was made by assorted Foodways deities  was a surprise and a delight. And a taste memory extraordinaire.


Pilgrim-style Squash on Sippets

September 26th, 2013 by KM Wall

This is a redaction of Robert May’s recipe  – come see me at the Plymouth Farmers Market this afternoon at 4 for the live, in person, interactive version

First, the 17th century version

To butter Gourds, Pumpions, Cucumbers or Muskmelons.

Cut them into pieces, and pare and cleanse them; then have a boiling pan of water, and when it boils put in the pumpions, &c. with some salt, being boil’d, drain them well from the water, butter them, and serve them on sippets with pepper.

We’re going to stick with the pompions – or pumpkins or squash as we call them now. Boiling cucumbers or muskmelons just doesn’t sound like a happy ending.

Nice pompion

Nice pompion


Acorn squash is an alias for a  vine apple

Acorn squash is an alias for a vine apple

Harvest or buy a squash/pompion/punkin.

  1. Cut them into pieces, and pare and cleanse them;
  2. 127_0951

    Cut in half to remove the seeds

  3. 127_0955

    I use a spoon to scrape them out

  4. 127_0956

    I cut them into strips before trying to pare the peels off them

  5. 127_0958

    I find it easier to pare and clean out the seeds first and chop into pieces after. These pieces are about the size of a dice, the kind you toss and roll…..

  6. then have a boiling pan of water, and when it boils put in the pumpions, &c.
  7. In a pan of boiling water - don't forget to salt the water BEFORE you toss the squash in. It makes me think of macaroni.....

    He means a pan of boiling water. In a pan of boiling water – don’t forget to salt the water BEFORE you toss the squash in. It makes me think of macaroni…..


  8. with some salt,
  9. being boil’d, drain them well from the water,
  10. Scoop them up with a slotted spoon or drain through a colander - they should be al dented to tender, not crispy or mushy

    Scoop them up with a slotted spoon or drain through a colander – they should be al dente to tender, not crunchy  or mushy

    Drained, in a bowl, steaming hot - they can be used right away or put aside to be buttered later

    Drained, in a bowl, steaming hot – they can be used right away or put aside to be buttered later


  11. butter them,
  12. Melt some butter in a pan - I used about a tablespoon of butter for each cup of squash . Add the drained squash. spread it out and leav it alone for 2 minutes - let the bottom layer get a nice crispy coat.

    Melt some butter in a pan – I used about a tablespoon of butter for each cup of squash . Add the drained squash. spread it out and leav it alone for 2 minutes – let the bottom layer get a nice crispy coat.

    If it needs more butter, add more butter - don't be afraid of butter! - and toss until coated. The squash will absorb the butter and get crispy bits.....

    If it needs more butter, add more butter – don’t be afraid of butter! – and toss until coated. The squash will absorb butter and get crispy bits…..


  13. and serve them on sippets
  14. Toast bread for the sippets - you can also fry bread for sippets... In the 17th century a sailor was rationed a pound of butter a day. You'll probably want a little less.

    Toast bread for the sippets – you can also fry bread for sippets… In the 17th century a sailor was rationed a pound of butter a day. You’ll probably want a little less.

  15. with pepper.
  16. Grind some black pepper on, pile it on the toasted bread

    Grind some black pepper on, pile it on the toasted bread


But wait, there’s MORE


Bake them in an oven, and take out the seed at the top, fill them with onions, slic’t apples, butter, and salt, butter them, and serve them on sippets.


Fry them in slices, being cleans’d & peel’d, either floured or in batter; being fried, serve them with beaten butter, and vinegar, or beaten butter and juyce of orange, or butter beaten with a little water, and served in a clean dish with fryed parsley, elliksanders, apples, slic’t onions fryed, or sweet herbs.


This is how they looked at the Bride-ale last week. That pumpkin cooked up very pale, and someone wondered if it were pineapple ....

This is how they looked at the Bride-ale last week. That pumpkin cooked up very pale, and someone wondered if it were pineapple ….


For most of the 17th century a pineapple was another name for a pine cone or clogg. The pine apple was where the pine nuts came from.

For most of the 17th century a pineapple was another name for a pine cone or clogg. The pine apple was where the pine nuts came from.



1675 - Charles II, King of England, with the first pineapple grown in England by his royal gardener  John Rose

1675 – Charles II, King of England, with the first pineapple grown in England by his royal gardener John Rose



June 9th, 2013 by KM Wall
David Tenniers the Younger Peasant eating Mussels

David Tenniers the Younger Peasant eating Mussels

June is busting out all over! From milking goats to cheesecurds to shellfish and then there are gooseberries and strawberries and my, oh, my the gardens….

“This bay [Plymouth] is a most hopeful place, innumerable store of fowl, and excellent good, and cannot but be of fish in their season; skote, cod, turbot, and herring, we have tasted of, abundance of mussels the greatest and best that ever we saw; crabs and lobsters in their time infinite.”

- Mourt’s Relation, Applewood ed. p. 39 16 December 1620


To stew Muscles.

Wash them clean, and boil them in water, or beer and salt, then take them out of the shells, and beard them from gravel and stones, fry them in clarified butter, and being fryed put away some of the butter, and put to them a sauce made of some of their own liquor, some sweet herbs chopped, a little white-wine, nutmeg, three or four yolkes of eggs dissolved in wine vinegar, salt, some sliced orange: give these materials a walm or two in the frying pan, make the sauce pretty thick, and dish them in the scallop shells.”

-1685. Robert May. The Accomplist Cook. Fifth ed. Prospect Books. p. 400

To stew mussels:

  1.  Bring either water or beer to a boil in a pot that is large enough to hold all the mussels and has a lid. You’ll want an inch or two of liquid at the bottom of the pot.
  2. Wash the mussels, removing any dead, mud-filled or open ones. If they don’t close when you tap them, toss them.
  3. If they’re mussels you’ve pulled yourself (now called WILD mussels – back in the day it was just about the only way to have mussels, but I digress…) take off the beards, the seaweed and  remove any gravel or stones. Robert May has you do this later in the process, which is a little too late for me.
  4. If they’re farmed raised (and most of the mussels you buy these days are) this sort of cleaning up will be minimal. Do it anyhow.
  5. Put the clean mussels in the boiling liquid, put the top on, and don’t peek for a few minutes. Check at 4 or 5 minutes – most of the shells should be open. Toss the ones that don’t open.
  6. Now you have options – you can take them from the shell and EAT THEM
  7. You can take them from the shell and fry them in butter (notice he says clarified butter- this is a very nice way to fry fish)
  8. You can make the sauce: some of the cooking liquor – ladle it up or put it through a cloth strainer to keep the grit out of your final dish.  Chopped herbs, white wine, nutmeg, egg yolk beaten in wine-vinegar and some sliced orange. Heat them in a small pan, stirring fairly constantly,  until they start to thicken.
  9. I’m not sure why the scallop shells – you’ve got heaps of perfectly fine MUSSEL shells all over your kitchen by this time – IF you’ve kept the mussels in their shells, remove them one by one and dip into the sauce as you eat. Otherwise serve the sauce beside the mussels and sauce the plates.
  10. It may go without saying, but I’ll say it anyhow -SOPS – bread to sop it all with with – DIVINE.
  11. Use the shells for decorative purposes or to send symbolic messages as you choose.
Peasants gaming and Eating Mussels - Barto

Peasants gaming and Eating Mussels – Bartolomeus Molenaer





A Good Friday Pudding

March 29th, 2013 by KM Wall


A ‘good Friday’ pudding


‘Also of these grits [oats] are made the Good Friday pudding, which is mixed with eggs, milk, suet[1], pennyroyal[2], and boiled first in linen bag, and then stripped and buttered with sweet butter.’

- Markham, Gervase. Best ed. The English Housewife, p. 203.

[1] suet is the fat from neat or sheep (neat are bovines)

[2] pennyroyal- a/k/a ‘pudding grass’ -  is an herb in English gardens. It also has a purging quality…..it’s a member of the mint family (Mentha pulegium); there are other mints that aren’t purging, just refreshing…..

pennyroyal - it gets this bloomy late May/early June

pennyroyal – it gets this bloomy late May/early June


What’s so ‘Good Friday’ about this pudding? It never really says…it could be the pennyroyal, which could be part of a seasonal purging….this recipe is in the Oats chapter of The English Housewife, and not in with the other recipes in the Cookery section.

Yes, Oats have their own chapter.

Bag Pudding (OED)   [f. BAG n.1 + PUDDING.]

1. A pudding boiled in a bag.
1598 in FLORIO. 1600 HEYWOOD 1 Edw. IV, Wks. 1874 I 47 Thou shalt be welcome to beef and bacon, and perhaps a bag-pudding.

1641 W. CARTWRIGHT Ordinary II. i, A solemn son of Bagpudding and Pottage.

2. fig. ? Clown. Obs. (Cf. jackpudding.)

1608 DAY Hum. out of Br. II. i. (1881) 25 Farewell, sweet heart.God a mercy, bagpudding

Jack pudding is also a song and a dance.

Pudding Bag (OED)

A bag in which a pudding is boiled. Also transf. and fig.

c1597 T. DELONEY Jack of Newberie (1619) iv. sig. G3, The other maide..with the perfume in the pudding-bagge, flapt him about the face. 1626 in NARES (Halliw.), [A piece of Sail-cloth] about half a yard long, of the breadth of a pudding-bag. (first reference to ‘pudding cloth’  – 1853.)


Bag Pudding (redacted)

soaked  oats

½ C milk

3 eggs

4 T butter (If you can find human food grade suet, by all means use that. Chop it fine first.If you can just find the mouldy, nasty bits they set out for bird feeders, use butter as the alternative grease. Grease is good!) )

pennyroyal (or better yet, some  other herbs)*


Boil the oats  until soft. Add the milk, 1/3 of butter. When cool enough add the eggs. If you choose herbs, add a sprig or two of that.

Tie it up in a buttered cloth (the ‘floursack’ towels make great pudding clothes. You’ll want something maybe 15′ all around, hemmed and washable.)  Put the pudding in a pot of boiling water – arrange it so that it doesn’t touch the sides or bottom. Think pasta pot – you want plenty of water boiling all around the pudding. Tuck the ends of the cloth in the water so they don’t burn.

Boil until firm – ½ – 1 hour. Add more water to keep covered if necessary during boiling. Keep the water boiling and move it from time to time to keep it from sticking.

Remove from water, drain. Place on serving plate and take cloth off. Butter the top and serve.

* Pennyroyal notes: Pennyroyal is now considered to contain ” a highly toxic volatile organic compound affecting liver and uterine function. “  Use some other member of the mint family to flavor your pudding! Yes, people used to eat it – they also died young pretty frequently.

Creative Cheate I

February 27th, 2013 by KM Wall

Bramer - sacks to the mill

Before bread there is flour; before flour there is the mill; before the mill there is grain.

Sacks to the Mill!

Markham’s  cheat bread, redacted

1 # leaven in salt

Soooo – how do you get leaven (which is another name for a starter) if you don’t have some left from the last batch because, just maybe, this is your FIRST batch?

Punt. Hence, Creative Cheate.

I’ve tried lots of different things. Essentially you want a mixture of water and flour and yeast that will help your bread rise give it good  sourdough qualities – it’s not just for flavor, but alterations in the pH that improve keeping time, etc.

My latest?  1 bottle of beer (any kind); 1 Tablespoon of yeast or a packet (I buy it by the pound, so I’m not sure how many teaspoons are in the packet, but close enough for this)

2 Q H2O
flour for dough:
2# each corn, rye, wheat
OR 3# corn, 3# wheat

1TBL yeast

Dissolve starter in 3 Q H20 ; Add 3# flour (I like to start with corn – the longer it soaks, the better it is)
Cover and fridge overnight
Next morning
Add salt to taste (1 tsp/# – the starter adds some)
The yeast
The rest of the flour
Form into rough dough
Let sit at least 10 minutes and then knead until as smooth as a babies bottom
Let rise in clean greased bowl (with cover – flour and towel – to keep crust from forming on top)
Knock down and cut into 8 – 2# loaves and 1# new starter
Mould loaves, let rise
Bake 500° convection oven 1/2  hour ; put oven to 350 and keep in for another half hour. It will sound hollow when knocked on bottom. It smells different, too, but I’m not in your kitchen to tell you when.
Cool on racks
Cover with towel or freeze.

And what if you don’t need this much bread? The saga continues……

Idolatry in a crust

December 20th, 2012 by KM Wall

A modern mince pie

Mincemeat, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, was in fact, minced meat. Usually beef, sometime mutton, occasionally veal. Not just the meaty bits we now buy – sometimes tongue as well. But meat alone isn’t mincemeat. It also had copious amounts of raisins (a/k/a ‘raisins of the sunne’) and currents and sometimes dates and prunes, as well as generous amounts of spices and sugar. The weight of the dried fruit might equal or exceed the weight of the meat, and in the 1620 the raisins were much more expensive per ounce then the meat was.
Suet isn’t something we cook much with any more, but fat is another component of the mince pie. The fat is what makes it rich. During the 1700′s butter starts to come in as the fat of choice, and by the 20th century seems to be more common.
If I were making this mincemeat at home (and I have) I would take three pounds of beef, one to one and a half pounds of butter, three pounds of dried fruit, all cut small and well mixed (and be grateful that I don’t have to pick stems off the raisins and take the stones out of them) with some orange peel (two or three oranges worth – well washed, preferably organically grown oranges). Salt, pepper, cloves (this can be strong – not too much) and mace (or nutmeg if you have that – they have a very similar flavor profile). Put it into pastry – you can use pie pans if you want, sprinkle more sugar on top and bake them in your oven.
If you want to risk idolatry, make little rectangle pies and have them symbolize the manger where the Christ child was born. If you don’t want to fall into idolatry, make little rectangle pies just because they’re fun. You could even use frozen puff pastry and ‘let your soul delight in fatness’. And if you want to be thoroughly superstitious, go out on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas to a different house and eat a mince pie in each one to have good luck for each of the twelve months in the year ahead.

Secret Life of Beets:Lumdardy Tarts Revisited

December 10th, 2012 by KM Wall

So, back to Lumdardy tarts…..

If beets are as likely the leafy green, what is a lumdardy? Years later, even after an update and revision and going on-line, the closest the OED gets to Lumdardy is Lumbard – is this a case of close enough?


4.Cookery. [ellipt.: see B. 2.] Some kind of dish or culinary preparation. Obs.

1657REEVEGod’s Plea 130 The Hoga’s, and Olies, and Lumbards of these times.

Not terribly descriptive….but there’s more:

2.Cookery. In certain AF. names of dishes as leche lumbard (see LEACHn.1 2); frutour lumbard [frutour = FRITTER]; rys lumbard [F. ris sweetbread]. Also in lombard pie (see LUMBER-PIE).

?c1390 [see LEACHn.1 2]. c1430Two Cookery-bks. 35 Leche lumbarde. 1452Reliq. Ant. I. 88 Frutour lumbert..Lesshe lumbert. 1466-7Durh. Acct. Rolls (Surtees) 91 Et in 2 lib. dell powderlomberd empt. de eodem, 3s. 3d. 14..Anc. Cookery in Househ. Ord. (1790) 438 Rys Lumbarde.Leche Lumbarde.

So on to Lumber-pie…


Also lumbar-pie. [See LOMBARDa. 2.]

A savoury pie made of meat or fish and eggs.

1656 MARNETTÈ Perf. Cook II. 1 To make a Lumbar Pye. Take three pound of Mutton [etc.]. 1663 in Jupp Acc. Carpenters’ Comp. (1848) 206 It is..ordered..that the provision be as followeth; vizt..Roast Turkey, Lumberpie, Capon, Custurd, and codling tart. 1688R. HOLMEArmoury III. 83/1 Lumber pie, made of Flesh or Fish minced and made in Balls..with Eggs..and so Baked in a Pye with Butter. 1694MOTTEUXRabelais (1737) IV. lix. 243 Lumber-Pyes, with hot Sauce. 17..E. SMITHCompl. House wife (1750) 150 To make a Lumber pye. Take a pound and a half of veal, &c. 1849W. H. AINSWORTHLanc. Witches III. ix, There were lumbar pies, marrow pies, quince pies [etc.].

Still unclear, but….one never knows what causes light to dawn over Marblehead….

Hit the books – check. Now it’s time to get back into the kitchen.

So, beets as a leafy green – check . Grated bread still seems to be breadcrumbs – check.

Cheese – what would cheese be????

One named cheese that comes up from time to time is variations of ‘Parmysent‘ – Parmesan? The same cheese I would shake over my spaghetti and meatballs at school lunch? The same cheese I now buy in wedges and save the rinds to add to my pasta fazoole? It would fit the pattern of the so-called ‘Old Cheese‘ that is also sometimes mentioned.

This combination of Swiss Chard, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese sounds vague familiar…what does it remind me of?

Lets cut some beets and go back to the kitchen…..

Beets, cut November 30th...


How to make Lumbardy Tarts

Take beets, chop them small, and to them put grated bread and cheese, and mingle them wel in the chopping.  Take a few corrans, and a dishe of sweet butter, and melt it.  Then stir al these in the butter, together with three yolkes of egges, sinamon, ginger, and sugar, and make your tart as large as you will, and fill it with the stuffe, bake it, and serve it in.

1588. The Good Huswifes Handemaide


And now my translation:


One bunch swiss chard

Breadcrumbs (plain)

Grated Parmesan cheese

Currants or raisins


3 egg yolks





Pastry for a top and bottom for a 9 or 10 inch pie.

Wash and dry the Swiss chard carefully. Pull of any sad or buggy bits. Cut off the stems and save for a side dish. Chop the leafy parts very small, nothing larger then ½ square.

Melt 2 – 4 tablespoons of butter; when somewhat cool beat the 3 egg yolks. Toss the butter/egg yolk mix with the chopped Swiss chard. Add enough breadcrumbs so sop up all the liquid (two or three handfuls – it depends on the size of your eggs and the how juicy the Swiss chard). Add enough grated cheese to make it smell good (it depends on how strong your cheese and how much you like it). Add a handful of raisins. If you like things sweet add one or two more handfuls. Mix together ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ginger and ½ teaspoon sugar. Mix everything all together. Smell it and decide – more cinnamon? More ginger? Make it good!

Put this lovely stuff in a pastry lined pie pan and cover with a top crust. Cut some vents for the steam to escape. Bake in a 375 oven for ½ hour. Turn down the heat to 350 until it is done – the pastry should be golden brown-tan and the filling should be a darker, denser green and it should smell wonderful.

Cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature.


Jan Steen - The Fat Kitchen (notice the woman eating the pie with her fingers!)

The minute the cheese and the Swiss Chard were mixed together it hit me – tortellini. It smelled like tortellini. If the cinnamon and ginger  were nutmeg….Could Lumdary Tart be a giant early modern English tortellini? Oh, the mysteries of of food. Oh, the power of smell to invoke memory.

Here in Plymouth now, talk  of tortellini  means  it must be getting close to Christmas…..and so it is.

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