Tagged ‘cooking’

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!

Muster day Dude Food

October 27th, 2013 by KM Wall

On Friday, certain housewives were preparing….


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)


A Cheerrie Tart

Take the fairest Cherries you can get, and picke them cleane from leaves and stalkes; then spread out your coffin as for your Pippin-tart, (….then having rold out the coffin flat, and raysed up a small verdge of an inch, or more high...) and cover the bottome with Suger; then couer the Suger all over with Cherries, then cover those Cherries with Sugar, some sticks of Cinamon, and here and there a Cloue; then lay in more cherries, and so more Suger, Cinnamon and cloves, till the coffin be filled vp; then couvr it, and bake it in all points as the codling and pipping tart, and so serue it; and in the same manner you may make Tarts of Gooseberries, Strawberries, Rasberries, Bilberries, or any other Berrie whatsoever.

-         Markham, Gervase. Covntrey Contentments, or The English Huswife. London. 1623. p 106.

Cranberry tart

Cranberry tart

Cranberry tart, another

Cranberry tart, another

Cranberry tart, yet another

Cranberry tart, yet another



As well as beginning the roasting part of this…..

To make Fillets Gallentine

Take faire Pork, and take off the skin and roste it half ynough, then take it off the spit, and smite it in faire peeces, and caste it in a faire pot: then cut Onions, but not too small, and frie them in faire suet, and put them into the Porke, then take the broth of Beefe or Mutton, and put therto, and set them on the fyre, and put therto powder of Pepper, Saffron, Cloves and Mace, and let them boyle wel together.  Then take faire bread and Vinigar, & steep the bread with some of the same broth, straine it, and some bloud withall, or els Saunders, and colour it with that, and let all boyle together, then cast in a litle Saffron and salte, and then may you serve it in.-

Huswifes Handmaide.  f 43

Gallentine is a sauce made from sopped bread, spices and often blood.

Suet is fat, chiefly from beef, mutton

Saffron is an expensive (still!) spice that is warming and a distinctively yellow color.

Saunders was used to make things a red color.

Or, in other words:

Fillet galletine prep - the pork butt was half roasted and the skin removed; the onions are cut and ready to go

Fillet galletine prep, day 2  – the pork butt was half roasted and the skin removed; the onions are cut and ready to go


chine of pork pepper

bread                    clove

onions                  mace


Roast the chine until half done. Fry onions with a little pork fat.  Chop the pork into pieces and put in a pot with onions, some ground cloves, mace, pepper and salt. Put in enough water just to cover and bring all to a boil, cooking away much of the water.  Before serving, make the gallentine by take slices of bread and soaking them in vinegar with a little salt. Put in a pot or frying pan and add some of the cooking liquid to the bread and vinegar. Bring to a boil.  To serve place pork mixture in a bowl and pour over the gallentine..

 And then this morning…..

To Boyle a Rabbit with Hearbes on the French Fashion.

Fit your Rabbit for the boyling, and seeth it with a little Mutton broth, white Wine, and a peece of Mace: then take Lettuce, Spynage, Parsley, winter Savory, sweet Marioram : all these being pickt, and washt cleane, bruise them with the backe of a Ladle (for the bruising of the Herbes wil make the broth looke very pleasantly greene.) Thicken it with a crust of Manchet, being steeped in some of the broth, and a little sweet Butter therein. Seasono it with verges, and Pepper, and serve it to the Table upon Sippets. Garnish your Dish with Barberyes.

- Murrell, John. A Newe Booke of Cookerie. 1617. London: FW, p. 4.

Rabbit  boyled in the French Fashion

Rabbit boyled in the French Fashion


While someone else was….

To roast a Chine, Rib, Loin, Brisket, or Fillet of Beef.

Draw them with parsely, rosemary, tyme, sweet marjaoram, sage, winter savory, or lemon, or plain without any of them, fresh or salt, as you please; broach it, or spit it, roast it and baste it with butter; a good chine of beef will ask six hours roasting.

For the sauce take strait tops of rosemary, sage-leaves, picked parsley, tyme, and sweet marjoram; and strew them in wine vinegar, and the beef gravy; or otherways with gravy and juyce of oranges and lemons. Sometimes for change in saucers of vinegar and pepper.

-         May, Robert. The Accomplisht Cook. 1685 ed (Prospect Books), p. 113.

although it was porket ribs and not beef..



Ribs on spits

Ribs on spits

Mistress of the sauce for the roasting ribs

Mistress of the sauce for the roasting ribs


and yet another housewife was making….


The best Pancake.

To make the best Pancake, take two or three Egges, and breake them into a dish, and beate them well then adde unto them a pretty quantitie of faire running water, and beate all well together: then put in Cloves, Mace, Cinamon, and a Nutmeg, and season it with Salt: which done, make it thicke as you thinke good with fine Wheat flower: then frie the cakes as thin as may be with sweete Butter, or sweete Seame[1], and make them browne, and so serve them up with Sugar strowed upon them.  There be some which mix Pancakes with new Milke or Creame, but that makes them tough, cloying, and not so crispe, pleasant, and savorie as running water.

- 1618, Markham, Best ed. p. 66

[1] 1530    J. Palsgrave Lesclarcissement 269/1   Seme for to frye with, seyn de povrceau. 1691    J. Ray Coll. Eng. Words 131   Saime, which we pronounce sometimes Seame. It signifies not only Goose-grease, but in general any kind of Grease or Sewet or Oil, wherewith out Clothiers anoint‥their Wool.

 and then made pancakes even BETTER by….

To make Pancakes so crisp that you may set them upright.

Make a dozen or score of them in a little frying pan, no bigger then a Sawcer, & then boil them in Lard, and they will look as yellow as golde, beside the taste.

- 1615 Murrell, p. 30

There are no photos of the pancakes….but they were there, really!

A simple Salllet iof spinach (picked from Village Gardens!) also disappeared before it could be documented

A simple Salllet of spinach (picked from Village Gardens!) also disappeared before it could be documented




The Littlest Musketeer

The Littlest Musketeer




Sallet Days, Plain and Simple.

October 26th, 2013 by KM Wall

If it’s Saturday, it must be Sallet -day….

Of Sallets, simple and plain
First then to speak of Sallets, there be some simple, some compounded, some only to furnish out the Table, and some both for use and adornation: your simple Sallets are Chibols pilled, washt clean, and half of the green tops cut clean away, and so served on a fruit dish, or Chives, Scallions, Rhaddish roots, boyled Carrets, Skirrets and Turnips, with such like served up simply: Also, all young Lettuce, Cabbage-Lettuce, Purslane, and divers other herbs which may be served simply without any thing but a little Vinegar, Sallet Oyl and Sugar; Onions boyled; and stript from their rind, and served up with Vinegar, Oyl and Pepper, is a good simple Sallet; so is Camphire, Bean-cods, Sparagus, and Cucumbers, served in likewise with Oyl, Venegar and Pepper, with a world of others, too tedious to nominate.

The English Huswife
Containing the inward and outward Vertues which ought to be in a Compleat Woman…
A Work generally approved, and now the Ninth time much Augmented, Purged, and made most profitable and necessary for all men, and the general good of this NATION.
By G. Markham.
LONDON, Printed for Hannah Sawbridge, at the Sign of the Bible on Ludgate Hill, 1683

  • A simple salad is one main thing, with what we now call dressing. A compound  salad had several different elements. A tossed Garden Salad is a modern example of a compound salad construction. A modern Potato Salad is a simple salad, even if it has hard boiled eggs in it, maybe even especially so.
  • for use or adoration means  – they’re for eating or for looking at – we’re just concerned with the eating ones
  • Chibols are a green onion, scallions and chives, are oniony as well, and, like radishes, are often served right at hand

    Annibale Carracci - The Bean eater

    Annibale Carracci – The Bean eater – notice the green onions by his hand – no plate, not a dish – a spoonful of beans and a bite of oniony goodness.

  • Boil your carrots, turnips and skirrets before eating them (or not, maybe having some by the side of your plate to eat a spoonful of beans and then a crunch of carrot)…..but if you have skirrets, they really are better off cooked before eating

    Turnips lurking in a Pilgrim Village garden - ready for a salad

    Turnips lurking in a Pilgrim Village garden – ready for a salad

  • Assorted little leafy green things served with oil, vinegar and salt….Cabbage-lettuce is headed lettuce, as apposed to loose leaves.
  •   Olive oil, wine or cider vinegar and, well, salt. There’s also ‘sallet oil’ in the 17th century. It’s made from rapeseed; rapes being part of the turnip family. We now call that oil canola oil….
    Rapeseed flowers

    Rapeseed flowers

    Canola seeds

    Canola seeds




  • Onions, boiled, bean cods (what we call ‘green beans’ ) boild; Asparagus (not at this time of year, unless you’re living in Australia) and of, course, cucumbers, are all good with oil vinegar, salt and pepper. Perhaps a pinch of sugar. When in doubt, boil. These days, we’re more likely to try raw, but the 17th century thinking was that cooking improved things for mans body by making it more artificial. Artificial was GOOD, because the hand of man was there. Raw was how the horse and cows ate the garden, and they were looking for a little emotional distance from the barnyard animals.
  • Boil, oil; boil, oil; boil, oil.
  • Simple simple simple simple
A Gentleman buys a Turnip

A Gentleman Buys a Turnip – except they look like radishes and he’s a little skeevy. I think he’s looking for more then salad fixin’s…



Jean-Baptiste Chardin - The Turnip Cleaner - 1738 - it's a little later, and a little French, but I'm pretty sure she's about to make some turnip sallett

Jean-Baptiste Chardin – The Turnip Cleaner – 1738 – it’s a little later, and a little French, but I’m pretty sure she’s about to make some turnip sallet

The Feast of Crispian

October 25th, 2013 by KM Wall

If it weren’t for William Shakespeare would we remember the feast of Saint Crispian?

Henry V - from the First Folio of 1623

Henry V – from the First Quarto of 1600



What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.


Henry V

Kenneth Branagh as Henry V

Kenneth Branaugh as Henry V

Feast means celebration of the of the life of the saint, which isn’t necessarily stopping everything  to eat lots of food….but is often an excuse. Apprentices could and would expect to have the patron saint’s day free from work  and obligation. At one time they might have had a church service or a mass to attend, but in Early Modern England a saints day seemed more a reason to run riot.

Saints Crispian and Crispianian (there are actually 2 saints with similar names )  are the patron saints of shoemakers.

Saints Crispin Crispianian

Saints Crispin Crispianian

and I just so happen to have a recipe for


Not the Charlie Chaplin Gold Rush  eating shoes sort of thing

Charlie Chaplin  The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin
The Gold Rush 1925

To make Shoes.

Take a rumpe of beyfe and let it boyle an houre or two, and put therto a greate quantitye of cole wortes, and lette them boyle together thre houres, then putte to them a couple of ſtockedoues, or teales, feaſande, petriche, or ſuche other wylde foules, and let them boyle al together, then ceaſon them wyth ſalte, and ſerue them forthe.
c. 1557. The Proper Newe Booke of Cookerye .

  •  A rump of beef is – a piece of the back end of a cow

    Meat Guide - look at the back end to find a rump....

    Meat Guide – look at the back end to find a rump….

  • Coleworts are a 17th century way of saying ‘collards’, although cabbage could also be used. Yes, so far this is un-corned beef and cabbage……

    Coleworts from a Pilgrim garden

    Coleworts from a Pilgrim garden

  • Adding the wildfowl – stock dove, teal, pheasant or partridge (fesands or petriches – read them out loud and listen to the words) puts this over the top in terms of meaty goodness.
  • Season them with salt.
  • Serve them forth.
  • Wonder what is shoe-ish about this? Is it is because it made from beef and cows also give leather? (Probably NOT) Is it something else so far-fetched for the 21st century mind can’t begin to wrap around it? Is it something soooooo obvious that one of you is smacking your forehead like you coulda had a V-8 and you say,”………..”?
  • Speak up, and thus,  “Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;”

BTS – A Turkey Tale

October 18th, 2013 by KM Wall
Wild turkey in the English Village, 9:15 AM

Wild turkey in the English Village, 9:15 AM some morning, say Saturday – they’re around pretty much every morning….

Shift change - they' pretty much slip away as we're setting up

Shift change – they pretty much slip away as we’re setting up


Turkey in the Colonial Foodways Kitchen - NOT the same turkey, or even one of the flock; a Heritage breed from Westport

Turkey in the Colonial Foodways Kitchen Monday afternoon – NOT the same turkey, or even one of his flock; a Heritage breed from Westport. Notice a breast that’s more Twiggy then Dolly Parton.


7 AM Tuesday. Kathy plates and pack, plenty of Dunkies. How did the Pilgrims ever do it without coffee?

7 AM Tuesday.  Kathy plates and packs; plenty of Dunkies. How did the Pilgrims ever do it without coffee?

Bounty-ful Still Life -: a still life with paper towels. Prep fro a video shoot Tuesday AM

Bounty-ful Still Life -: a still life with paper towels. Prep for a video shoot Tuesday 8:30 AM

Props - the bird doesn't sit evenly, so onion shims go in under the oppisite camera side

Props – the bird doesn’t sit evenly, so onion shims go in under the opposite camera side


Grace Moment - the calm before the crew and cast

Grace Moment – the calm before the crew and cast storm in

Also Behind The Scenes – Martha getting all the stuff where it needed to be when it needed to be there and looking good.

On the table  – Duck with a cranberry onion sauce, quails boiled with carrots, sampe, roast turkey with onion sauce.




National Apple Dumpling Day

September 18th, 2013 by KM Wall

was September 17th, and apple dumpling were in my dreams. And dumplings in general.

In almost every internet blurb about dumplings or apple dumplings was

Apple dumplings are an ancient British food, described in print from the 17th Century. They were even more popular in the American colonies and Early American period because apples grew well here, dumplings can be made from dried apples as well, and vast boiling pots were the easiest form of cooking to tend and add to in the hearth cooking days.

This is a copy and paste sort of way of tossing some ‘history’ in without doing much heavy lifting. Sigh. and blah blah blah.

Now, since 17th food stuff in print is my bread and butter, as it were,  I know that dumpling recipes are few and far between. There are a few more  dumpling references, indicating that dumplings are the sort of thing that isn’t  likely to find it’s way into a book of cookery, like Capon in the French Fashion or Oxfordshire cakes , because dumplings  are, like their lowly sounding name, common and ordinary fare for the common and ordinary sort.  But there are some references and recipes…..

Very modern (and lovely) apple dumplings - worth having a their own day!

Very modern (and lovely) apple dumplings – worth having a their own day!

I would like to say right here, right now, that I haven’t properly researched dumplings – this is rather random information that a day of looking at apple dumpling images has led me to.

This is the earliest 17th century recipe for dumplings that I found (I haven’t referenced the earlier material). It was in the same section as paste for pies.

To make Paste for Dumplins.

Season your flower with Pepper, Salt, and Yest, let your water be more then warm, then make them up like Manchets, but them be somewhat little, then put them into your water when it boyleth, and let them boil an hour, then butter them.

1653. W. I.  A True Gentlewomans Delight. Falconwood Press: 1991. p. 43.

Essentially, it sounds like a plain dumplings that would be great with chicken….. . Easy, filling, and but no apples.

Chicken and dumplings - or dumplins.....

Chicken and dumplings – or dumplins…..

But, wait, there’s another dumpling recipe, and  it’s a little fancier…..


To make a Dumplin.

Take a pint of Cream and boyl it with a blade of Mace;  then take twelve spoonfuls of grated bread, five spoonfuls of flower;  then take six yolks of Eggs and five whites;  beat them very well with two spoonfuls of Rosewater and as much fair water, season it with sugar, Nutmeg and salt, mingle them altogether with the Cream, tye it in a cloth, and when your water boyles, put it in and boyl it one hour and half, and when it is enough, serve it in with Rosewater, butter and sugar.

1664. Hannah Wolley. The Cooks Guide. p. 34-5.

Still no apples, but this is richer, nicer, sweeter…..and it’s a dumplin in tied up in a cloth. Dumplin is a word we shouldn’t have shucked.

So what’s the difference between this dumplin and a bag pudding?


To boil a Pudding which is uncommonly good.

Take a pond and [a] half of Wheat-flour, three-quarter pond of Currants washed clean, a half pond Kidney-suet, cut it very small, 3 Eggs, on and half Nutmegs, grated fine, a little Salt, mix it with a little sweet Milk so dry that one kneads it like a Bread and tie it in a clean cloth rather close and throw it into a pot with boiling water and let it boil for two hours, then it is done.

Peter Rose, trans. The Sensible Cook. p.79.

This pudding IS uncommonly good. Because The Sensible Cook is a translation of a Dutch cookbook, among our Pilgrim selves we sometimes refer to this a a Dutch Pudding.  But the difference between the dumplin and the bag pudding……too close to call.

If you’d like to see this pudding up close and in person, join us this Saturday afternoon. This pudding is one of the dishes scheduled to be on the table for the Bride-ale feasting.  I should have photos after that to share.

But apples, where are the apples?


Another apple dumpling

Another apple dumpling


To make Apple pufs.

Take a Pomewater or any other Apple that is not hard, or harsh in taste: mince it small with a dozen or twenty Razins of the Sunne: wet the Apples in two Egges, beat them all together with the back of a Knife or Spoone. Season them with Nutmeg, Rosewater, Sugar, and Ginger: drop them into a Frying-pan with a Spoone, fry them like Egges, wring iuyce of an Orenge, or Lemmon, and serve them.

1615. John Murrell. A New Booke of Cookerie. Falconwood press: 1989. p. 21.

Not a dumpling, but very good and easy…..rosewater is a great enhancer of apple flavor, and the squeeze of lemon or orange juice (iuyce)  – genius.


Apple Dumplng Gang- the Movie

Apple Dumpling Gang- the Movie – looking for apple dumplings throughout history????



Apple of thine (p)eye

August 12th, 2013 by KM Wall

Proverbs 7:2   Keep my commandments, and thou shalt live, and mine instruction, as the apple of thine eyes.

Apples. Apple pies. Pippin Pies. Codling pies. Tarts likewise. Hard to talk about English pies without apples.

Hard to imagine New England without them. And yet, that is exactly the landscape the Pilgrims entered in 1620. Within 20 years English colonist changed that landscapes. Consider that apples grow on trees which don’t quite  grow as easily as radishes…..

Apple trees so plentiful that a few generations down the road, a local born lad puts a mushpot on his head and goes west to plant more apples.

Johnny Appleseed 1862

Johnny Appleseed 1862

And has a song about apples and apple trees…

Jesus Christ and the Apple Tree

Jesus Christ and the Apple Tree

Back in England, a couple of generations later, Four Fab lads from Myles Standish’s old stomping grounds get together, sing a little, shake it up, baby,  all together now with Apple….

Apple Corps logo

Apple Corps logo


And yet, didn’t all the trouble in the world start because of an apple?

Duer (1507) Adam and Eve

Duer (1507) Adam and Eve


To fry Applepies.

Take Apples and pare them, and chop them very small, beat in a little Cinnamon, a little Ginger, and some Sugar, a little Rosewater, take your paste, roul it thin, and make them up as big Pasties as you please, to hold a spoonful or a little lesse of your Apples; and so stir them with Butter not to hastily least they be burned.

- 1653. W. I. A True Gentlewomans Delight.

Fried apple pies from North Carolina -the more things change.....

Fried apple pies from North Carolina -the more things change…..

Dunghill fowl

July 12th, 2013 by KM Wall

Dunghill fowl doesn’t sound like the most appetizing thing to eat – until you realize it’s free-range, local, organically fed heirloom breed chicken. Then you might be willing to pay a pretty penny for it.  Language is SO important!

Dung hill fowl

Dung hill fowl

This boy (in a photo taken last summer) is not a chicken – he’s too old – and he’s not a capon – to many boy bits. So he’s safe for now. His job is to keep his hens and chicks safe. And make more chicks with his hens. Hens will lay eggs even without a rooster (more properly called a Cock in the 17th century), they just can’t hatch any chicks out of them. The eggs from your supermarket will never hatch, no matter how nice and warm a nest you put them in. They will turn in to rotten eggs, given some time and warmth, though. What was the name of the rat in Charlotte’s Web that was stashing some eggs that turned?

We now think of chicken as a staple, a standby, something always on hand and easy to prepare. We use it in bits – chicken fingers, anyone?- for children and fussy eaters. We raise poultry to eat poultry. But Our 17th Century English Housewife would look at these hens as feathery little egg machines.

The real profit in poultry is EGGS.

Chicken is the occasional dish, something that is on-hand, as it were, but not every day or every week. Occasion. For nice. Sunday chicken dinner is the  last remains of this attitude. Chicken is often mentioned in the plural in early modern recipes, because one would not be enough. Young birds are small birds in the past.

We don’t tend to boil a chicken now, unless we’re making soup. Boiled chicken has the advantage of not needing a terribly watchful eye, and you get the bonus of broth. It also doesn’t dry out. The huge downside – pale and flabby skin, not at all pretty. But if you pull the skin off, make a fantastic sauce and serve it on sippets….by candle light…you now have an occasion!


Jacob Gerritsz

Jacob Gerritsz – don’t make pets of dinner

10. To boyle Chekins or Capons with Peascods.

Take greene sugar Pease when the pods bee but young, and pull out the string in the backe of the podde, and picke the huske of the stalkes ende, and as many as you can take up in your hand at three severall times, put them into a pipkin, with halfe a pound of sweete Butter, a quarter of a pint of faire water, a little grose Pepper, Salt, and Oyle and Mace, and let them stue very softly till they bee very tender, then put in the yolkes of two or three rawe egges strained with sixe spoonfuls of Sacke, and as much Vinegar, put it into your Peascods and brewe them with a ladle, then dish vp your Capon or Chickins vpon sippets, then poure your Pascods and broath vpon them, then strewe on salt and serve it to the table hott.

- 1621. John Murrell. A Delightful daily exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen. Falconwood Press: 1990.p. 35

peascods - Fuller garden

peascods – Fuller garden

More pease in pods

More pease in pods or cods

another view of pease

another view of pease



Too cool

July 11th, 2013 by KM Wall

When it’s hot out, not to mention humid, a salad can be a cooling delight. But in the 1627 Village,  these intrepid  Pilgrims would worry more that something might be TOO cooling, especially where their digestion was concerned. A certain amount of heat in the stomach is good for digestion – or rather – decoction. Certain herbs are cooling – refreshing – without being dangerous.

Remember, a cold body is a dead body.

Burnett - Salad, that is.

Burnett – Salad, that is. Hopkins Garden

Salad Burnett – also known as garden burnet or Sanguisorba minor came from Europe  with early English settlers. John Josselyn, in  chapter 5. Of such Garden Herbs (amongst us) as do thrive here, and of such as do not.  lists it as in between Cherval and Winter Savory. Generally it is used in salads – it tastes like cucumbers – and sometimes in wine. It should not be confused with:

Carol Burnett

Carol Burnett

Who would probably be great to have for dinner, and is all kinds of cool – between the Tarzan yell and the Scarlett O’Hara curtains dress, but she’s not salad cool.

Then there’s this recipe:

To souce a Carp or Burnet

Take fair Water, and Vinegar, so that it may be sharp, then take Parsly, Thyme, Fennel, and boyle them in the broth a good while, then put in a good quantity of Salt, and then put in your Fish, and when it is well boyled put the broth into a vessel, and let it stand.

-1653. W. I. A True Gentlewomans Delight. Falconwood Press, 1991. p. 32.

So what is the FISH Burnet??

In John Josselyns list of fish in 1672′s New Englands rarities  Burret is after ‘Burfish’ and before ‘Cackeral or Laxe’ BUT when searching for an image:


Burette – not a fish nor a salad herb


Unless Burnet is some sort of typo….for gurnet.

Falstaff, in “1 Henry IV.” (iv. 2), says, “If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused gurnet.

To bring Shakespeare back to Plymouth:

Gurnet Light

Gurnet Light

The land that the lighthouse is built on has been called Gurnet’s Nose or the Gurnet  since at least 1630. Speculation is that it resembles the fish or a similarly named jut of land back in England.

Garden Burnet

Garden Burnet

Any way you look at it : burnet or  Burnett, gurnet or Gurnett – are all kinds of cool.



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





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