September, 2012

Michaelmas Goose (and a little crow)

September 29th, 2012 by KM Wall



Geese and ducks from 1660

Several years ago I realized everything I had read about Michaelmas goose (the custom of eating goose on the feast of St. Michael, the 29th of September) were from 19th century sources that were all assured that such practices, if true once, were true always. I couldn’t recall – or find – a 17th century  source about the practice. Rents are due; it’s a quarter day; some contracts end while other begin; sheriffs are elected. ( St Michael is the patron saint of law enforcement officers in the 21st century US Catholic Church).

All well and good, but is it any reason to put a goose on the table?

So I said NO. Even this morning at our English Village morning meeting, I said  eat goose because it’s the season, not because of the day.

As wise as a gooce, or as wise as her mothers aperen string.

So I spent some time Googling ‘goose’ and ‘Michaelmas’ and  – here’s the eating crow part -

At the Agecroft Home site I found:

These days were mentioned  in a 1575 poem by George Gascoigne:

And when the tenantes come to paie their quarter’s rent,
They bring some fowls at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent;
At Christmasse a capon, at Michaelmasse a goose,
And somewhat else at New-yere’a tide, for feare their lease flie loose

George Gascoigne was a courtier, poet, artist, all round swell in and around the court of Queen Elizabeth. He’s also the one who gets the credit for writing/translating the story that William Shakespeare used as the basis for the Taming of The Shrew. Not bad work being the muse of the Bard. Now, I haven’t found exactly which of his poems this excerpt comes from….but I’m not waiting a year to make my retraction. As always, a work in progress.

A second theory as to the origins of the Michaelmas goose,  involves Queen Elizabeth, the Spanish Armada and – well, that still appears to be nonsense.

Queen Elizabeth succession allegory

But I won’t be one  To steal a Goose, and give the giblets in almes.

To farce a roasted Goose or Duck.

Take out all of the loose fat inside the Goose, take a Wheat-bread of 2 stuyvers, cut off the crusts, finely grate them, mix in a half pond Currants, one and a half loot Cinnamon, two heaping spoons of Sugar, a good piece of Butter with a little Rhenish wine, but as dry as possible just so it has been moistened.  It will be a good stuffing.  Geese and Ducks are filled also with Chestnuts from which the peels and membranes have been removed with Butter.

- Rose, Sensible Cook, p. 66.

stuyvers are coins worth 1/20 of a guilder; a pond equals a pound; a loot is 1/2 ounce

St Michael the Archangel saving souls





Speaking of angels, keeping co-worker Eva Lipton in our thoughts and prayers.

I is for Indian Pudding….

September 28th, 2012 by KM Wall

…in the A-Z Guide in the current issue of Yankee Magazine.

And where do they recommend the Indian Pudding Day? The Patuxet Cafe at Plimoth Plantation! Check it out in Yankee Magazine



A made dish of turnips

September 27th, 2012 by KM Wall

Everything to make a made dish of turnip

To make a made dish of Turneps.
Pare your Turnepes as you would pare a Pippin, then cut them in square pieces, an ynchs and a half long and as thick as a Butchers pricke or skewet put them in a pipkin with a pound of buter, and three or four spoonefuls of strong broath, and a quarter of a pint of Vinegar seasoned with Pepper, Ginger, Salt, and Sugar, and let them stue very easily vpon a soft fire, for the space of tow hours or more, now and then turning them with a spoone, as occasion shall serve, but by all meanes take heede that you breake them not, then dish them vp vpon Sippets, and serve them to the Table hot.”
- Murrell. John. A delightful exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen. London: 1621p. 34.

garden turnip

Harvest a turnip – this one weighed about 3 pounds……

Pare it like a pippin – that is, cut the peel off as if it were an apple – then cut it into matchstick pieces, as if they had matchsticks in the 17th century and that they were about a half inch wide and an inch and a half long.


Turnips stewing in butter in a pipkin

Add a little broth, vinegar, pepper, ginger, salt and sugar and let it cook slowly for 2 or more hours. Turn them several times very gently – you don’t want them to break and loose their shape.

Serve them on sippets – and quick to the table – serve them hot!

Cranberry Timeline

September 26th, 2012 by KM Wall



1. In England

  • a. (1588) Thomas Muffett, Health’s Improvement: “Vacinia palustria. Fen-berries grow not only in Holland in low and moist places, but also (if I have not forgotten it) in the Isle of Eli. They are of like temper and faculty with our whortles, but somewhat more astringent. Being eaten raw or stewed with sugar, they are wholesome meat in hot burning fevers, unto which either fluxes of humors or spending of spirits are annexed. Likewise they quench thirst no less then Ribes, and the red or outlandish Gooseberrie.(119-20)
  • b. 1597, John Gerard, The Herbal.:
  1. Fen-grapes;
  2. Fen-berries,
  3. Marish-Berries,
  4. Marish-worts,
  5. Marish –whortleberries;
  6. Mosse-berries,
  7. Moore-berries
  • c. In High Dutch (German) –Moszbeeren, Veenbesien (V are pronounced like F, hence fenbesien….)
  • d. In Dutch: kranebeere (sound familiar?)

2. In New England:

  • a. 1621 – no mention
  • b. 1643 – Roger Williams describes the Narragansett sasenineash as ‘ a kind of a sharp Fruit like a Barbury in taste.”
  • c. 1647 – John Eliot  “as why are Strawberries sweet and Cranberries sowre, there is no reason but the wonderfull worke of God that made them so. (A Berry which is ripe in the winter and very sowre, they are here called Bearberries.)”
  • d. 1650 – February 25 – Taunton (MA) – John Slocume, age nine. Had been gathering ‘cramberries’ with about twenty other people before he got lost in the woods, the cranberries being wholly incidental to the Court Proceedings Inquest about his disappearance, BUT – what are 20 people doing out in the woods gathering cranberries and what the heck are they doing with them once they take them home? And why don’t they tell us???
  • e. 1672 – John Josslyn “Cran Berry or Bear Berry…a small trayling plant that grows in Salt Marshes, that are over-grown with moss;…the Berries …red, and as big as a Cherry; some perfectly round, others Oval, all of them hollow, of a sower astringent taste; they are ripe in August and September…They are excellent against the Scurvy…They are also good to allay the fervour of hot Diseases. The Indians and English use them much, boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat; and it is a delicate Sauce, especially for roasted Mutton: Some make Tarts with them as with Goose Berries.” (65-6)

Venison,… which is the most excellentest of all Carbonadoes

September 23rd, 2012 by KM Wall

a Grid-yron...

OF Carbonadoes.
Charbonadoes, or carbonadoes, which is meate broiled vpon the Coales (and the inuention thereof first brought out of France, as appeares by the name) are of divers kinds according to mens pleasures: for there is no meate either boiled or roasted whatsoever, but may afterwards bee broiled, if the Master thereof be disposed; yet the generall dishes for the most part which are used to be Carbonadoes, are a Breast of Mutton halfe boyled, a Shoulder of Mutton halfe roasted, the Leggs, Wings, and Carkases of Capon, Turkie, Goose, or any other Fowle whatsoever, expecially Land-Fowle. And lastly the uppermost thick skinne which covereth the ribbes of Beefe, and is called (being broyled) the skin of Court Goose, and is indeed a dish used most for wantonnesse, sometimes to please appetite: to which may also be added the broyling of Pigs heads, or the braines of any Fowle whatsoever after it is roasted and drest.
Now for the manner of Carbonadoing, it is in this sort; you shall first take the meate you must Carbonadoe, and scorch it both above and below, then sprinkle good store of Salt upon it, and baste it all over with sweet Butter melted, which done, take your broiling-yron, I doe not meane a Grid-yron (though it be much vsed for this purpose) because the smoake of the coales, occasioned by the dropping of the meate, will ascend about it, and make it stinke; but a plate Iron made with hookes and pricks, on which you may hang the meate, and set it close before the fire, and so the Plate heating the meate behind, as the fire doth before, it will both the sooner, with more neatnesse bee readie: then having turned it, and basted it till it be very browne, dredge it, and serve it vp with Vinegar and Butter.
Touching on the toasting of Mutton, Venison, or any other Ioynt of meate, which is the most excellentest of all Carbonadoes, you shal take the fattest and largest that can possibly be got (for leane meate is losse of labour, and little meate not worth your time,) and hauing scrocht it, and cast salt vpon it, you shall set it on a strong forke, with a dripping pan vnderneath it, before the face of a quick fire, yet so farre off, that it may by no means scorch, but toast at leasure; then with that which falles from it, and no other basting, see that you baste it continually, turning it euer and anon many times, and so oft, that it may soake and browne at greate leasure. And as oft as you baste it, so oft sprinkle Salt vpon it, and as you see it toast so scorch it deeper and deeper, especially in the thickest and most fleshy parts where the blood most resteth: and when you see that no more blood droppeth from it, but the grauy is cleere and white; then shal you serue it vp either with Venison sauce, or with Vinegar, Pepper and Sugar , Cinamon, and the iuyce of an Orenge mixt together, and warmed with some of the grauie.

- Markham, Gervase. Covntry Contentments, or The English Housewife.London: I. B. for R. Jackson. 1623. pp. 90-1.

Back in Time for Thanksgiving

September 20th, 2012 by KM Wall

The Cooking Channel has posted a teaser on their web site for the Back in Time for Thanksgiving segment filmed at Plimoth, to air November 4 at 8 pm:


Venison on the gridiron

Venison haunch studded with cloves - ready to roast

Venison stewing in the earthenware pot

Trace of onions

Lobster, mussels, hasty pudding

Ducks with turnips - cranberries lurking.....


Sallet of cucumbers – recipe

September 4th, 2012 by KM Wall

The Use of Cowcumbers
Some use to cast a little salt on their sliced Cowcumbers. And let them stand halfe an houre or more in a dish, and then poure away the water that commeth from them by the salt, and after put vinegar, oyle, &c. thereon, as every one liketh: this is done, to take away the overmuch waterishness and coldness of the Cowcumbers.
In many countries they use to eate Cowcumbers as wee doe Apples or Peares: paring and giving slices of them, as we would our friends of some dainty Apple or Peare.
- Parkinson, J. Paradisi in Sole.1629, p. 524.

Drain the water, then add pepper, vinegar, oil, and a little sugar…and that’s the salad.


Eat with onions, Dragonwort, mint, rue, pepper, and other hot things.

- Butte, H. Dyets Dry Dinner, 1599.

1. The plant Dracunculus vulgaris; = dragons n.

1565–73    T. Cooper Thesaurus,   Dracontium‥Dragonwort, or dragens.

1578    H. Lyte tr. R. Dodoens Niewe Herball iii. vi. 322   It is thought‥that those which carrie about them the leaues or rootes of great Dragonwurtes, cannot be hurt nor stong of Vipers and Serpentes.

1608    E. Topsell Hist. Serpents 4   A certaine experimentall vnguent‥made of‥the rootes of Dragonwort.

Cucumber salad is one of the most requested recipes from the theme dining programs. But the very simplicity of the preparation makes it one of the most difficult to write out as a ‘recipe’.

Long years ago, when the theme dining programs were new to Plimoth Plantation, there were several menus, based on the seasons for each program. The problem was, people wanted the same food each time they booked the same program…, how the world has changed. But that’s how cucumbers got to be on the menu year round.

In the Pilgrim world, the season for cucumbers is about to end….a cold night or two in September kills off the vine (although this year the woodchucks and cutworm have taken a pretty good toll already).

In Thomas Tusser’s 500 Points of Husbandry (1582 edition) September is the beginning of the agricultural year. Many leases in England begin – and end – at Michaelmas, the 29th of September, so…..

Now enter Jon

Old fermer gone.

New new agricultural, new school year – what are you interested in seasoning this Autumn, this Fall of the Leaf? This is definitely the beginning of the Pilgrim time of year…..

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