October, 2012

Pilgrim Seasonings

October 31st, 2012 by KM Wall

And now a few words about seasons – and seasonings – from They Knew They were Pilgrims

The First Thanksgiving (not really - it's only the title)

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“Turkey, heresy, hops and Beer….

October 30th, 2012 by KM Wall


One hop

…all came into England in one year.”  said Rudyard Kipling. He was in a sense paraphrasing and older rhyme:

“I know not how it happened (as he merrily saith) that herisie and beere came hopping into England both in a yeere.”  1599 H. Buttes Diet’s Dry Dinner.

But by 1643 Turkeys are included in that list, too.

“About [1524] it happened that divers things were newly brought into England, whereupon this Rime was made: ‘Turkes, Carps, Hoppes, Piccarell and Beere, Came into England all in one yeere.”

Notice how pickerel (a kind of fish) and carp get lost and heresy become more prominent.And turkeys stay.










bunches of hops





Un homme fumant et une femme buvant dans une cour a Delft (which is translated as Man Smoking and Woman Drinking in a Courtyard in Delft). The original painting is in the Mauritshuis in the Hague.














and as for the ‘herisie’……. that would be, how can I say this?

Your friendly neighborhood Separatists: Embarkation of Pilgrims' by Robert Wallace Weir 1857



Turkey Recipes

October 27th, 2012 by KM Wall

Turkey trot - NOT 17th century

To make a sauce for capons or Turky Fowles.
Take Onions and slice them thin, and boyle them in faire water till they be boyled drye, and put some of the grauie unto them and pepper groce beaten.
-1591. A.W. A Booke of Cookrye with the serving in of the table. London. p. 3.

To bake Turky Fowles.
Cleue your Turkye foule on the backe, and bruse al the bones. Season it with Pepper groce beaten and salt, and put into it good store of Butter, he must have fiue houres baking.
-1591. A.W. A Booke of Cookrye with the serving in of the table. London. p.19.

The feathers are not the tastiest part...

To bake a Turkey, or a Capon.
Bone the Turkey, but not the Capon: parboyle them, & sticke cloues in their breasts: Lard them and season them well with Pepper and Salt, and put them in a deepe Coffin with the breast downward, and store of Butter. When it is bakte poure in more butter, and when it is colde stop the venthole with more Butter.
-1615. John Murrell. A New Booke of Cookerie. London. p. 27.

A 19th century turkey dinner

Of sauces, and first for a roast capon or turkey.
To make an excellent sauce for a roast capon, you shall take onions, and, having sliced and peeled them, boil them in fair water with pepper, salt, and a few bread crumbs: then put unto it a spoonful or two of claret wine, the juice of an orange, and three or four slices of a lemon peel; all these shred together, and so pour it upon the capon being broke up.
- 1623. Gervase Markham, The English Housewife. Michael Best, ed. McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montreal.1986. p. 89.

Sauce for a turkey.
Take fair water, and set it over the fire, then slice good store of onions and put into it, and also pepper and salt, and good store of the gravy that comes from the turkey, and boil them very well together: then put to it a few fine crumbs of grated bread to thicken it; a very little sugar and some vinegar, and so serve it up with the turkey: or otherwise, take grated white bread and boil a little white wine till it be thick as a galantine, and in boiling put in good store of sugar and cinnamon, and then with a little tursole make it of a high murrey colour , and so serve it in saucers with the turkey in the manner of a galantine.
- 1623. Gervase Markham, The English Housewife. Michael Best, ed. McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montreal.1986. p.92.

Still Life with Turkey Pie - Pieter Claesz, 1627

To cut up a Turkey or Bustard.

Raise up the leg very fair, and open the joynt with the point of your knife, but take not off the leg; then lace down the breast with your knife on both sides, & open the breast pinion with the knife, but take not the pinion off; then raise up the merry-thought betwixt the breast bone, and the top of the merry-thought, lace down the B3v flesh on both sides of the breast-bone, and raise up the flesh called the brawn, turn it outward upon both sides, but break it not, nor cut it not off; then cut off the wing pinion at the joynt next to the body, and stick on each side the pinion in the place where ye turned out the brawn, but cut off the sharp end of the Pinion, take the middle piece, and that will just fit the place.

You may cut up a capon or pheasant the same way, but of your capon cut not off the pinion, but in the place where you put the pinion of the turkey, you must put the gizard of your capon on each side half.

- 1685. Robert May. The Accomplist Cook. London.

Turkey roasting

October 26th, 2012 by KM Wall

Today’s roasting lesson is excerpted from Gervase Markham’s English Housewife.

The Goodwife and the Turkey

Of roasting meats. Observations in roast meats.
To proceed then to roast meats, it is to be understood that the general knowledge thereof are to be observed these few rules. First, the cleanly keeping and scouring of spits and cob-irons; next the neat picking and washing of meat before it is spitted.

andirons – the hooks are where the spit goes

Spitting of roasted meats.
Then the spitting and broaching of meat, which must be done so strongly and firmly that the meat by no means either shrink from the spit, or else turn about the spit: and yet ever to observe that the spit do not go through any principal part of the meat, but such as is of least account and estimation: and if it be birds or fowl which you spit, then to let the spit go through the hollow of the body of the fowl, and so fasten it with picks or skewers under the wings, about the thighs of the fowl, and at the feet or rump, according to your manner of trussing and dressing them.



Temperature of fire.
Then to know the temperature of fires for every meat, and which must have a slow fire, yet a good one, taking leisure in roasting, as chines of beef, swans, turkeys, peacocks, bustards, and any great large fowl.

Dripping pan – to put under the roast to catch the ‘gravy’ and another skewer

The best bastings for meats.
Then to know the best bastings for meat, which is sweet butter, sweet oil, barreled butter, or fine rendered up seam. With cinnamon, cloves and mace. There be some that will baste only with water, and salt, and nothing else; yet it is but opinion, and that must be the world’s master always.

The best dredging.
The best dredging, which is either fine white bread crumbs well grated, or else a little fine white meal, and the crumbs very well mixed together.

To know when meat is enough.
Lastly, to know when meat is roasted enough; for as too much rareness is unwholesome, so too much dryness is not nourishing. Therefore to know when it is in the perfect height, and is neither too moist nor too dry, you shall observe these signs …..or if it be any kind of fowl you roast, when the thighs are tender, or the hinder parts of the pinions, at the setting on of the wings, are without blood, then be sure that your meat is fully enough roasted: yet for better and certain assuredness, you may thrust your knife into the thickest parts of the meat, and draw it out again, and if it bring out white gravy without any bloodiness, then assuredly it is enough , and may be drawn with all speed convenient, after it hath been well basted with butter not formerly melted, then dredged aforesaid, then basted over the dredging, and so suffered to take two or three turns, and so serve it forth. Thus you see the general form of roasting all kind of meat: therefore now will I return to some particular dishes, together with several sauces.

Wild turkey, ready for the spit – not nearly enough!

Old World Turkeys

October 25th, 2012 by KM Wall

Turkey (~Meleagris gallopavo~~). Bronze. Giambologna. Florence, Tuscany, Italy. ca. 1567.






























Here's one of the earliest European drawings of turkeys, from French naturalist Pierre Belon in 1555:



Conrad Gesner engraving - 1560



Conrad Gesner - color edition 1560


Joachim Beuckelaer - The Well Stocked Kitchen

I think that there’s a turkey in the last one – feathers flying everywhere! Nice plucking, though, and a great spit.



Turkey WHEAT

October 24th, 2012 by KM Wall

Turkeys (the bird) weren’t the only turkey thing in Old New England. There was also Turkey Wheat, which now, here in the US, we call corn or maize. There was a time when corn was whatever grain you grew the most of : Wheat-corn, rye-corn, Barley- corn….I’ll let them explain it.

Frumentum Indicum. Turky Wheat.
…Turky wheat doth nourish far lesse than either wheat, rie, barley, or otes. The bread which is made thereof is meanly white, without bran: it is hard and dry as Bisket is, and hath in it no clamminesse at all; for which cause it is of hard digestion, and yeeldeth to the body little or no nourishment… a more conuenient food for swine than for men.”

1597. John Gerard. The Herbal. pp81-2.

John Gerard. Not a fan of corn.

More convenient for swine then men???? Perhaps it is a little ironic just how much corn is used for animal feed now….but we eat our fair share directly, too. Polenta, grits, lohnnycakes, cornbread, all sorts of cornbread, cornbread with butter and cornbread with honey…..and that doesn’t include all the other, not so-food-ways that corn is part of our lives.

Turkey wheat images from John Gerard's The Herbal


Other aliases for Turkey wheat…..

“Passing up a River we saw certaine Cottages together, abandoned by the Sauages, and not farre off we beheld their gardens and one among the rest of an Acre of ground, and in the same was sowne Tobacco, Pompions, Cowcumbers and such like; and some of the people had Maiz or Indian Wheate among them.”

1603.  Martin Pring, Sailor’s Narratives. p.59 (Plymouth Harbor)

“The soil is variable, in some places mould, in some clay, others, a mixed sand &c. The Chiefest grain is the Indian Mays, or Guinea wheat. The seed time beginneth in midst of April, and continueth good till the midst of May. Our harvest beginneth with September. … mays, which our Indians call ewachim…”

1624. Edward Winslow, Good Newes from New England. Applewood ed. p. 68.


“ I have sent my sister Altham six ears of Indian corn and beans to sow in her garden. Also, I have sent you a tobacco pipe which I had of an Indians.”

1623. Emmanuel Altham to Sir Edward Altham September 1623. Three Visitors to Early Plymouth, James ed.1963.p.35.

“The Planters finding their corn (what they could spare from necessities) to be a commodity (for they sold it a 6s a bushel) used great diligence in planting the same.”

1626. Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation. Morison ed. p.181

“….corn, which is the staff of life, and without which they cannot long preserve health and strength.”

1623 (March). Good News. Applewood ed, p. 52.

Pieter Cornelisz van Rijck Market Scene - 1622

Time to get back to turkeys…….


Turkey Week

October 23rd, 2012 by KM Wall

Turkey - old school

It’s really hard – make that Mission: IMPOSSIBLE to have anything to do with the food of Plymouth Colony and to not have turkeys mentioned.  But because everyone else brings it up, and already knows from turkey sometimes I don’t feel the need to mention them. But here they are.

Turkey flying - or is this a sally?

“ Turkeys there are, which diverse times in great flocks have sallied by our doors; and then a gun (being commonly in readiness) salutes them with such courtesy as makes them take a turn in the cook-room, they dance by our door so well.

“Of these there hath been killed that weighed forty-eight pound apiece.

“They are by many degrees sweeter than the tame Turkeys of England, feed them how you can.

“I had a Salvage who hath taken out his boy in a morning, and they brought home their loads about noon.

“I have asked them what number they found in the woods, who have answered Neent Metawna, which is a thousand that day: the plenty of them is such in those parts. They are easily killed at roost because the one being killed, the other sit fast nevertheless, and this is no bad commodity.”

1637.  Thomas Morton. New English Cannan. Jack Dempsey, ed. 1999. p. 64.

Turkey boy in the spring

“The Turkey is a very large bird, of a black color yet white in flesh, much bigger than our English turkey. He hath the use of his long legs so ready that he can run as fast as a dog and fly as well as a goose. Of these sometimes there will be forty, threescore, and an hundred of a flock, sometimes more and sometimes less. Their feeding is acorns, haws and berries; some of them get a haunt to frequent our English corn. In winter when the snow covers the ground, they resort to the seashore to look for shrimps and such small fishes at low tide. Such as love turkey hunting must follow it in winter after a new fallen snow, when he may follow them by their tracks. Some have killed ten or a dozen in half a day. If they can be found towards an evening and watched where they perch, if one come about ten or eleven of the clock, he may shoot as often as he will; they will sit unless they be slenderly wounded. These turkey remain all the year long. The price of a good turkey cock is four shillings, and he is well worth it, for he may be in weight forty pound, a hen two shillings.”

1634. William Wood. New England’s Prospect ( Alden Vaughan, ed. University of Mass. Press: 1977.pp. 50-1.)


and if you’ve never heard a turkey call.…here’s the link. More turkeys and recipes coming up.

EEL – fat and sweet

October 18th, 2012 by KM Wall





“Fryday [23 March 1620/21] was a very faire day, Samoset and Squanto still remained with vs, Squanto went at noone to fish for Eeles, at night he came home with as many as he could well lift in one hand, which our people were glad of, they were fat & sweete, he trod them out with his feete, and so caught them with his hands without any other Instrument, ”

1622 Mourt’s Relation – fasc. ed. p. 39.

Eel fork or eel spear, Dutch, 17th century

“ In March the eels come forth out of places where they lie bedded all winter, into the fresh streams, and there into the sea, and in their passages are taken in pots. In September they run out of the sea into the fresh streams, to bed themselves in the ground all winter, and are taken again in pots as they return homewards. In the winter the inhabitants dig them up, being bedded in gravel not above two or three foot deep, and all the rest of the year they may take them in pots in the salt water of the bay. They are passing sweet, fat and wholesome, having no taste of mud, and are as great as ever I saw any.”

1622/23. Three Visitors (John Pory), p.7.

“ Of Eels there is abundance, both in the Salt-waters and in the fresh; and freshwater Eel there (if I may take the judgment of a London fishmonger) is the best he hath found in his lifetime. I have with ji eele pots fed my household (being nine persons, besides dogs) with them, taking them every tide for 4 months space and preserving of them for winter store; and these may prove a good commodity.” 1

1637. New English Cannan. P.8.

Medieval eel trap from the Tower of London moat, on display in the Museum of London

“There are several wayes of cooking them [eels], some love them roasted, others baked, and many will have them fryed; but they please my palate best when they are boiled, a common way to boil them in half water, half wine with the bottom of a machet, a fagot of Parsley, and a little winter savory, when they are boiled take them out and break the bread in the broth, and put to it three or four spoonfuls of yeast, and a piece of sweet butter, this they pour to their Eals laid upon sippets and so serve up. I fancie my way better which is this, after the Eals are fley’d and washt I fill their bellies with Nutmeg grated and Cloves a little bruised, and sow them up with a needle and thred, then I stick a Clove here and there in their sides about an inch asunder, making holes for them with a bodkin, this done I wind them up in a wreath and put them in a kettle with half water and half white wine –vinegar, so much as will rise four fingers above the Eals; in the midst of the Eals I put the bottom of a penny white loaf, a fagot of these herbs following, Parsley one handful, a little sweet Marjoram, Peniroyal and Savory, a branch of Rosemary, bind them up with a tred, and when they are boiled enough take out the Eals and pull out the treds that their bellies were sowed up with, turn out the Nutmeg and Cloves, put the Eals in a dish with butter and vinegar upon a chafing-dish with coals to keep warm, then put into the broth three or four spoonfuls of good Ale-yeast with the juice of half a Lemmon; but before you put in your yeast beat it in a porringer with some of the broth, then break the crust of bread very small and mingle it well with the other half of the Lemmon, and so serve them up to the Table in two dishes.”

- 1674. Josslyn, Two Voyages. p. 79-80


Judith Leyster, A Boy and a Girl with a Cat and an Eel


Cabbage Pottage

October 15th, 2012 by KM Wall

Cabbage, Quince and Melon - Fra Juan Sanchez Cotan

Caboches in Potage.
Take Caboches and quarter hem and seeth hem in gode broth with Oynons y-mynced and the whyte of Lekes y-slit and corue smale, and do yer-to safron and salt, and force it with powder douce.
-Pleyn Delight, #14. (from Form of Cury, c. 1390)

Caboche – cabbages
potage – pottage – (see also poddish and porridge) – a dish of vegetables alone or with meat, boiled to softness in water and appropriately seasoned.
corue – to cut
safron – saffron
force – ie. farce – to season with spice
powder douce – a powder to sweeten; sweet spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg) mixed with sugar




onions, peeled, chopped small

leeks, white parts, rinsed and cut small


cinnamon, ginger, cloves or nutmeg and /or mace (if this sounds like apple pie spice, you may already have it on your shelf)


saffron (optional)

Quarter cabbage, paring away the core and any wormy or buggy or droopy leaves.
Put in salted water to clean. Drain and seethe cabbages in broth with chopped onions and/or leeks cut small. Cook until soft. Season with salt. Add saffron – just a little will fragrance the whole dish and turn it golden.  Add ground spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, mace – to your taste. Add a pinch or two of sugar to highlight the spice.
Serve over toasted or fried bread.

Rabbit Season

October 13th, 2012 by KM Wall

European Hare

American Hare








“The Hare in New-England is no bigger than our English Rabbets, of the same colour, but withal having yellow and black strokes down the ribs; in Winter they are milk white, and as the Spring approacheth they come to their colour; when the Snow lies upon the ground they are very bitter with feeding upon the bark of Spruce, and the like.”

-  1672.John Josselyn, New-Englands Rarities Discovered. Mass. Hist.ed. p.22.

“Here are great store of Coneys* in these parts, of diverse colors: some white, some black, and some gray. Those towards the southern parts are very small, but those to the north are as big as the English Cony: their ears are very short. For the meat the small rabbit is as good as any that I have eaten of elsewhere.”

*(Rhymes with ‘money’ and ‘honey’. A rabbit is a young coney (like a puppy is a young dog…) no bunnies please, unless you mean bunions.)

1637Thomas Morton, New English Canaan, Dempsey ed. p.76


Rabbit season starts the Saturday after Columbus Day – which means in 2012 Duck Season and Rabbit Season start on the same day – today! Rabbits (conies) and hares are not the same animal, although they are often cooked in a  similar fashion.

European rabbit

American rabbit








A Mallard smoard, or a Hare, or old Cony

Take a Mallard when it is cleane dressed, washed and trust, and parboyle it in water till it be skumd and purified; then take it up, and put it into a Pipkin with the neck down-ward, and the tayle upward, standing as it were upright; then fill the Pipkin halfe full with that water, in which the Mallard parboyled, and fill up the other halfe with White Wine; then pill and slice thin a good quantitie of Onyons, and put them in with whole fine Hearbs, according to the time of the yeare, as Lettice, Strawberry leaves, Violet leaves, Vines leaves, Spinage, Endive, Succorie, and such like, which have no bitter or hard taste, and a pretty quantitie of Currants and ates sliced; then cover it close, and set it on a gentle fire, and let it stew, and smoare (to smother, to cook in a closed vessel) till the Hearbs and Onyons be soft, and the Mallard enough; then take out the Mallard, and carve it as it were to goe to the Table; then to the Broath put a good lumpe of Butter, Sugar, Cianmon; and if it be in some, so many Goose-berries as will give it a sharpe taste, but in the Winter as much Wine Vinegar; then heate it on the fire, and stirre all well together; then lay the Mallard in a dish with Sippets, and powre all this broth upon it; then trim the Egges of the dish with Sugar, and so serve it up. And in this manner you may also smoare the hinder parts of a Hare, or a whole old Conie, being trust up close together.

- Gervase Markham, The English Housewife p. 78.


Eastern Cottontail- run quick, like a bunny!




Albrect Durer - A Young Hare



Two Rabbits in a Landscape



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