Tagged ‘John Josslyn’

Green Cod

July 4th, 2013 by KM Wall

or Ling cod or by another name Coalfish, possibly the same as sablefish (at least by 17th century standards) or by yet another name Pollack.

and Oops – sorry about the false cod calling yesterday – I found a whole new way to publish before finishing (or even beginning).  Back to fish:

And then there’s the green cod that is salted in a brine versus the dried cod or bacaloa  (which spellchecker ALWAYS wants to make into baklava which is not the same thing at all, not in the very least, although it has also suggested balaclava in the past.Not interchangeable.)

Pollachius pollachius

Pollachius pollachius

This fish has quite a few aliases. There’s also lythe and saithe  and in French lieu jaune.

Pollack - 3 July 2013 - Colonial Foodways Kitchen

Pollack – 3 July 2013 – Colonial Foodways Kitchen

But he’s worth mentioning because he’s on the exhibit menu.

He’s mentioned by John Josselyn in New Englands rarities 1674  (p.28) between Perch or River Partridge and Piper or Gavefish – so why is the fish with so many names given only one? In Josselyn’s list of fish in his account of The Second Voyage (his second voyage in 1674) he lists Polluck between Plaice and Porgee.

We delight in pollock now because we can buy it as a  a whole fish, not just fillets. And because it still has an identity crisis, it’s affordable.

And in season.

pollock copy



April 21st, 2013 by KM Wall




“With rainbow colors, the frost fish and the smelt,

As good as ever Lady Gustus felt.”

-         1634. William Wood. New Englands Prospect. UMass Press:1977. p. 54.


“[Roxbury] …having a clear and fresh brook running through the town, up which there come no alewives yet there is great store of smelts, and therefore is called Smelt Brook.”

- 1634. William Wood. New Englands Prospect. UMass Press:1977. p. 58.



“Of Smelts there is such abundance, that the Salvages doe take them up in the rivers with baskets, like sives.”

-         1636. Thomas Morton, New English Canaan. p.89.


Catching fish in a basket - European style, 1555

Catching fish in a basket – European style, 1555

“ …Shrimps   Smelt   Spurlin….”

(1674) John Josslyn, Colonial Traveler . University Press of New England. 1988. p.82.


April 20th, 2013 by KM Wall




The cusk or tusk, or torske is Brosme brosme.


Francis Higginson refers to cusk (Brosme brosme) in 1630 (see New Englands Plantation, ). They can be used fresh or salted (like buckhorn). They are related to cod (just look at that little beard!) and tend to be found in deep, cold waters on both sides of the Atlantic.They particularly like the coast of New England and the coast of Norway….

Unlike cod, they don’t tend to school, so they’d be taken by the ones, not the masses. Their size ranges from 10-42 inches long.

In the 18th century they are sometimes referred to as Tusk or Tursk. In Dutch they are called Lom.

Cuske or small ling, Sharke, Mackarell.”

John Smith, 1624.


“Also here is aboundance of Herring, Turbot, Sturgion, Cuskes, Hadocks, Mullets, Eeles, Crabs, Muskles and Oysters.”

-         Higginson, Francis. New-Englands Plantation. 1630.


Brosme brosme

Brosme brosme

“ …Cunner  Cusk  Sea-Darts or Javelins….

-Josslyn, John. John Josslyn, Colonial Traveler. ed. Paul Lindholdt. from list page 81-2.

New England Beer

January 18th, 2013 by KM Wall

Tunning beer

“for in that part of the Country where I abode [Maine], we made our Beer of Molosses, Water, Bran, chips of Sassafras Root and a little Wormwood, well boiled”

- John Josselyn, New Englands rarities, p. 46. 1672

Ingredients for John Josslyn’s Down-East Brew:

  1. Molasses:


  2. Water:

    Spring water

  3. Bran:

    Bran (wheat)

  4. chips of Sassafras root:

    Sassafras (leaves) - and swallowtail butterflies that love sassafras

  5. Wormwood :

    Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

    a little wormwood – emphasize littlea little goes a long, long way


I think there might have been some corn as the grain base of this brew:



Cranberry Tart

November 14th, 2012 by KM Wall

“…as why are Strawberries sweet and Cranberries sowre, there is no reason but the wonderfull worke of God that made them so…(John Eliot, 1647)


Fen grapes, marish worts, mosse-berries, moore-berries, fenberries, bearberries, cramberries…..how can one little bouncing berry have so many aliases? Whatever they’ve been called, cranberries, especially in sauce form, have long been part of the traditional Thanksgiving table.

But sauce isn’t the only thing they’re good for. John Josslyn in 1672 suggests: “Some make Tarts with them as with Goose Berries.” So take your favorite gooseberry tart recipe…..right, we’re not making many gooseberry tarts these days. Since that’s the case, try this one:

To make Gooseberrie Tarts.

Take a pint of Gooseberries, and put them into a quarter of a pound of Sugar, and two spoonfuls of water, and put them on the fire, and stir them as you did the former. ‘

- I., W. A True Gentlewomans Delight. London:1653. Falconwood Press, Albany NY: 1991. p. 19.


How many berries in a pint? A Pint’s a Pound the World Around. Cooking berries in a little water with an equal amount of sugar reminds me of the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag for cranberry sauce. It seems now we’re using cranberries like gooseberries!

Cranberry tarts and cranberry pies were a part of the New England  table  through the 20 th century. They are a very refreshing way to end a big turkey dinner. So this year, skip the sauce and make your cranberry TART.


Cranberry Tart



“…yn take a quart of fine flower, & put ye rest of ye butter to it in little bits, with 4 or 5 spoonfulls of faire water, make ye paste of it & when it is well mingled beat  it on a table & soe roule[2] it out.”

- Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery. Karen Hess, ed.  pp 130-1)

[1] pastry

[2] roll



2 cups all purpose FLOUR

6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) BUTTER

½ teaspoon SALT

1 teaspoons SUGAR

6 tablespoon cold WATER


Mix flour with salt and sugar. Work butter in until it’s crumbly. Add water and mix and mash until it holds together. Add a little more it it’s not holding together, but not too much. When it forms into a great big ball, divide into two parts, Shape into 2 disks, cover with plastic wrap or put into a plastic bag so it doesn’t dry out and let it sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and up to overnight. This makes enough for TWO pastry shells or a top AND bottom crust for a pie. If you’re making one tart, you can freeze the other half of the pastry for up to two months.  Let thaw overnight in the fridge before using.



12 oz CRANBERRIES (1 bag) – pick out sticks and leaves


1 or 2 Tablespoons WATER

Put water, sugar and picked over cranberries in saucepan. Put them on medium high heat. Stir frequently. When the berries are mostly popped and the sauce is thick remove from heat. (If this sounds almost exactly like the recipe for the sauce on the back of the cranberry bag, that’s because so far it is!) Let cool.


Roll out half the pastry to line a 9” pie pan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake in a 375 oven for 7-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly.

Scraped cranberry into baked pie shell and smooth over the top. Bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes or until firm. Cool completely before serving. Makes on 9” tart.

Pie Baker on the GO - c. 1465-75

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



October 7th, 2012 by KM Wall

17 Nov 1620 – on Cape Cod
“We also did spring three couple of Partridges; and as we came along by the creake, wee saw great flockes of wild Geese and Duckes, but they were very fearfull of vs.”

- A Relation or Iournall of the beginning and proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plimoth in New England, by certain English Aduenturers both Merchants and others. London: Printed for Iohn Bellamie, and are to be sold at his shop at the two Greyhounds in Cornhill at the Royall Exchange. 1622. (Mourt’s Relation, fascimile edition)  p. 8.

Canada goose in flight

“There are Geese of three sorts, viz.: Brant Geese, which are pied, and White Geese which are bigger; and Gray Geese, which are as big and bigger than the tame Geese of England; with black legs, black bills, heads, and necks black. The flesh is more excellent then the Geese of England, wild or tame, yet the purity of the air is such that the biggest is acompted but an indifferent meal for a couple of men. There is often of them great abundance. I have often 1000 before the mouth of my gun. I never saw any in England for my part so fat as I have killed there in those parts. The feathers of them make a bed softer than any down bed that I have lain on; and is there a very good commodity. The feathers of the Geese that I have killed in a short time have paid for all the powder and shot I have spent in a year, and I have fed my dogs with as fat Geese as I have ever fed upon myself in England.”

1637 Thomas Morton, New English Canaan, p. 62.

Snow Goose

Goose Proverbs

1542 UDALL Erasm. Apophth. 118 As wise as a gooce, or as wise as her mothers aperen string. – OED under apronstring

1659 I have a goose to pick with you ; viz I have something to complain of

1659 To steal a Goose, and give the giblets in almes.


Brant goose


To boil these [Sea] Fowls otherways.

Otherways boil the fowl and not roast them, boil them in strong mutton broth, and put the fowl in a pipkin, boil and scum them, put to it slic’t onions, a bunch of sweet herbs, some cloves, mace, whole pepper, and salt; then slash the breast from end to end 3 or four slashes, and being boil’d, dish it up on fine carved sippets, put some sugar to it, and prick a few cloves in the breast of the fowl, broth it and strow on fine sugar, and grated bread.”

-                     Robert May, The Accomplist Cook, 1685. p. 88-9.


Brent Goose - not liking the recipe....

and the birds they left behind


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