Tagged ‘frying pan’

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!

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????



Blauncht Maunchet

September 8th, 2013 by KM Wall

isn’t just any manchet. And  To make blancht Manchet in a Frying-pan sounds like an Indie mumble-core film that should be playing at Plimoth Cinema.

And Blancht Manchet could be a movie star…..

Vali Vali - she could have been Blaunchet Maunchet

Vali Vali – she could have been a Blauncht Maunchet


Manchet – or Maunchet  – is the very nice, white bread of early modern England. This is back when white bread was very nice – and uncommon. The bread would have been very nice.

To make a blauncht Maunchet in a Frying-pan.

Take a halfe a dozen Egs, halfe a pint of sweet Creame, a penny manchet grated, a Nutmeg grated, two spoonefuls of Rosewater, two ounces of Sugar: worke all stiff like a Pudding: then fry it like a Tansey in a very litle  frying Pan, that it might be thicke: fry it browne, and turne it out upon a plate. Cut it in quarters, and serve it like a Pudding: scrape on Sugar.

1615. John Murrell. A New Booke of Cookerie. Falconwood Press: 1989. p. 16.


  • a penny manchet could be somewhere between 4 ounces and a pound. I’m thinking this particular one would have been closer to a pound, with the liquid of 6 eggs and 8 ounces of cream and some rosewater.
  • It’s interesting to me that the first sugar ref is for 2 ounces, and the second ref has you scraping it (off of a sugar loaf )
  • work it stiff like a pudding is a great pudding detail – and if this isn’t a pudding, what is this????????
  • The pudding that you make in a frying pan is from this same cookbook
  • a Tansey is a dish of eggs…have we done tansies? – anyhow, fried quickly in a pan with butter and flipped over to brown on both sides – and how come they aren’t compared to pancakes?
  • A litle frying pan – you want this thicker, not thinner
  • Again with the pudding comparison – serve it like a pudding, fine – how does one serve puddings?
17th century frying-pan from the Museum of London

17th century frying-pan from the Museum of London

Staff of Life

September 6th, 2013 by KM Wall

Bread – four ingredients, infinite variations.

Bread – it should be easy, because it’s so common. It should be basic, because it is a basic fact of 17th century life.

It should be.

Maybe the problem is the closer you look at something the larger it appears.

Or maybe the problem is the more common something is, the more it’s taken for granted, and not spoken of – much less written about.

Or maybe it really is HUGE.

Bread - 1971

Bread – 1971

Bread – and it’s a great name for a rock band.


Bread - Taccuino Sanitatis

Bread – Taccuino Sanitatis


According to Gervase Markham in The English Housewife in the baking section, there are three basic Englsih breads:

  • Manchet, or white bread for the well to do or special occasions
  • Cheate, or ordinary or household bread for ordinary people on ordinary days
  • and Brown Bread, which is not the tasty cornmeal, rye and molasses bread that comes in a can
    Brown Bread in a can

    Brown Bread in a can

    but a course, throw every cheap grain/grain substitute in to bulk it up bread for the poor and hard working.

But even in these categories there are divisions and sub categories.

And then there is cake….which is a sort of bread.

And then there are the ways in which bread is used.

Sops and sippets.

Bread crumbs for thickening, for puddings, for dredging.

To make a Pudding in a Frying-panne.

Take foure Egges, two spoonefuls of Rosewater, Nutmeg grated, Sugar, grated Bread, the quantities of a penny Loafe , halfe a pound of Beefe Suit minst fine: worke them as stiffe as a Pudding with your hand, and put it in a Frying-pan with sweet Butter, frye it browne, cut it in quarters, and serve it hot, either at Dinner or Supper. If it be on a fasting day leave out the Suit, and the Currens, and put in two or three Pomewaters minst small, or any other soft Apples that hath a good relish.

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


  • pennyloafe could be a whole wheat ‘householde’ loaf that weighs about 2 pounds; a pound of breadcrumbs to 1/2 pound of suet is one rich pudding
  • Leaving out the Currens came as a little surprise to me, too, because their inclusion isn’t actually written in. So by all means add some (and thank you Anna Mo for pointing out that in a modern kitchen, mini chocolate chips  are a nifty sub for currents) or use apples – a soft apple with good relish  – maybe a Macintosh or Macoun  or a Paula Red ….


small Dutch frying pan - see the ALMA site for more, more, more!

small Dutch frying pan – see the ALMA site for more, more, more!




October 5th, 2012 by KM Wall

Green winged teal


blue winged teals



Black duck and male mallard


To boile teales, Mallards, pigeons, chines of porke, or Neates tunges all after one sort.

Let them be half rosted, sticke a few cloves in their brests, then two or three tosts of bread being burned black, then put them into a little faire water immediately take them out again, and strain them with a little wine and vinegar to the quantity of a pinte, put it into an earthen potte, and take eight or ten onions slyced small, being fryed in a frying pan with a dish of butter, and when they be fried, put them into the same broth, and so let them boyle together for a little time seasoning with salt and pepper.

1597. Thomas Dawson. The Second part of the Good Hus-wives Jewell. p. 2. Falconewood Press: 1988.

The burnt bread sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s really a great sauce. You’ll probably want to burn the bread outside on your grill or you’ll set your smoke detectors off. Save your burnt toast from now on to make versions of gallentine sauces!

A chine is a cut rather like the tenderloin – from the back and near the spine. A Neates  tunge is a cow or steer’s tongue. Or you could half roast a duck and then stew him up in a gallentine sauce to finish.

1620 (Cape Cod)

“As it fell out, we got three fat geese and six ducks to our supper, which we ate with soldiers’ stomachs, for we had eaten little all that day.”

-         Mourts, Applewood, p. 25.


Duck, Duck, Goose - from 1660

Smored chickin

July 14th, 2012 by KM Wall

De Hoenderhof - Jan Steen - 1660

To smoore a Chichin.

Cut it in small pieces, and frye it with sweet Batter: take Sacke, or white Wine, Parsley, an Onyon chopt small, a piece of whole Mace, and a little grosse Pepper: put in a little Sugar, Vergis, and Butter. Then take a good handful of Clary, and picke off the stalkes, then make a fine batter with the yolkes of two or three new layd Egges, and fine flowre, two or three spoonfuls of sweet Creame, and a little Nutmeg, and so frye it in a Frying-panne, with sweet Butter: serve in your Chickins with the fryed Clary on them. Garnish your dish with Barberyes.

-                     1615, John Murrell. A New Booke of Cookerie. p.30.


This dish will also be on the wedding table….marriage at 2 today – feasting to follow……

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