Tagged ‘Josslyn’

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




October 4th, 2012 by KM Wall

female mallard


male mallard







March 16 Friday 1620/21
“…he [Samoset] asked some beer, but we gave him strong water and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard, all of which he liked well, and had been acquainted with such amongst the English.”
- Mourts, Applewood ed. p. 5.

There are many kinds of ducks. Mallard is one of the first mentioned in the Plymouth sources, and one that’s pretty common – think of Make Way for Ducklings.

female mallard and ducklings

Ducks Unlimited has a great site to identify -with pictures and sound- many of  the various sorts of ducks that John Josslyn mentions (there’s also hunting information on this site, but you can stay with the identification section) at Duck Identification

“There be four sorts of Ducks, a black Duck, a brown Duck like our wild Ducks, a grey Duck, and a great black and white Duck, these frequent Rivers and Ponds; but of Ducks there be many more sorts, as Hounds, old Wives, Murres, Doies,Shell-Drakes,Shoulers or Shoflers, Widgeons, Simps, Teal, Blew wing’d and green wing’d, Divers or Didapers, or Dipchicks,Fenduck, Duckers or Moorhens, Coots, Pochards, a water-fowl like a Duck, Plungeons, a kind of water –fowl with a long reddish Bill, Puets, Plovers, Smethes, Wilmotes, a kind of a Teal, Godwits, Humilities, Knotes, Red-Shankes, Wobbles, Loones, Gulls, White Gulls, or Sea-Cobbs, Caudemandies, Herons, grey Bitterns, Ox-eyes, Birds called Oxen and Keen, Petterels, Kings fishers, which breed in the spring in holes in the Sea-banks, being unapt to propagate in Summer, by reason of the driness of their bodies, which becomes more moist when their pores are closed by the cold. Most of these Fowls and Birds are eatable.”

- 1674 John Jossyln, Two Voyages to New-England, p. 72. Lindholdt ed.

And, of course, a recipe.

From Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History from Pilgrim to Pumpkin Pie. Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver and Plimoth Plantation. Clarkson Potter: New York.2005. pp. 96-7.:

To Boil A wilde Duck.

Trusse and parboyle it, and then halfe roast it, then carve it and save the gravey: take store of Onyons Parsley, sliced Ginger, and Pepper: put the gravie into a Pipkin with washt currins, large Mace, Barberryes, a quart of Claret Wine: let all boyle well together, scumme it cleane, put in Butter and Sugar.

- John Murrell, The Newe Booke of Cookery, 1615

For the Duck:

1 4 to 5 pound duck

2 ½ teaspoons salts

10 black peppercorns

1 medium onion, quartered

Handful of parsley leaves and stalks

3 medium onions, halved vertically, then thinly sliced

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the Sauce:

2 cups red wine

⅓   cup parsley leaves, minced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼  cup dried currants or roughly chopped raisins

2-4 blades of whole mace or ½ teaspoon ground

¼ cup cranberries, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

4 Tablespoons (½ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces


Rinse the duck inside and out and rinse any giblets included. Place the duck and giblets (except the liver, which can be reserved for another use) in a pot large enough to accommodate them, along with 2 teaspoons of the salt, the peppercorns, the onion quarters, and parsley leaves and stalks.  Cover with cold water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat so the broth comes to a very low simmer.  Skim off the forth, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Arrange the sliced onions in a 13×9-inch roasting pan. Carefully remove the duck from the broth and reserve the broth. Season the duck inside and out with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and the ground pepper and then place it on top of the onions. Roast the duck for 25 minutes, then place it on a carving board and cover loosely with foil.


Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Strain 1 cup of the reserved broth and place in a saucepan along with the onions from the roasting pan, the wine, parsley, ginger, currants, and mace. Boil over medium-high heat until the mixture is reduced by two thirds and attains a syrupy consistency.


When the duck has rested for at least 10 minutes, carve it into serving pieces.  Place the meat on a heated serving platter and cover loosely with foil.


Add any juices given off during carving to the sauce and stir in the cranberries and sugar. Simmer for another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.  Swirl in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is silky.  Serve the duck immediately, accompanied by the sauce.


Serves 4-6


NOTE: Simmer the leftover defatted duck broth until it is reduced to one quarter; this makes a very useful stock.  Store in the freezer until needed



The Pidgeon, of which there are millions of millions

October 3rd, 2012 by KM Wall

The Passenger Pigeon (Audubon)

The pigeon of that country is something different from our dove-house pigeons in England, being more like turtles, of the same color. They have long tails like a magpie. And they seem not so big, because they carry not many feathers on their backs as our English doves, yet they are as big in body.

-1634. William Wood. New Englands Prospect. p. 50. Vaughn ed.

These turtles were the dove sort, not the Teen-aged Mutant Ninja type. All part of the pigeon/dove clan. The particular pigeon they were referring to in the 17th century were the  Ectopistes migratorius also known now as the Passenger Pigeon. The pigeons in the park are a different – and invasive – species. They are NOT good to eat.

These birds come in the country to go to the north parts in the beginning of our spring, at which time (if I may be counted to be worthy to be believed in a thing that is not so strange as true) I have seen them fly as if the airy regiment had been pigeons, seeing neither beginning nor ending, length or breadth of these millions of millions. The shouting of people, the rattling of guns, and pelting of small shot could not drive them out of their course, but so they continued for four or five hours together. Yet it must not be concluded that is thus often, for it is but the beginning of the spring, and at Michaelmas when they return back to the southward; yet are there some all year long, which are easily attained by suck as to look after them. Many of them build amongst the pine trees, thirty miles to the northeast of our plantations, joining nest to nest and tree to tree by their nests, so that the sun never sees the ground in that place, from whence the Indians fetch whole loads of them.

- 1634. William Wood. New Englands Prospect. p. 50. Vaughn ed.

Passenger Pigeons in flight (19th century engraving)

The Pidgeon, of which there are millions of millions, I have seen a flight of Pidgeons in the spring, and at Michaelmas when they return back to the Southward for four or five miles, that to my thinking had neither beginning nor ending, length nor breadth, and so thick that I could see no Sun, they joyn Nest to Nest, and Tree to Tree by their Nests many miles together in Pine-Trees. But of late they are much diminished, the English taking them with Nets. I have bought at Boston a dozen Pidgeons ready pull’d and garbidged for three pence.

-  1674. John Josslyn. Two Voyages to New-England. p.71. Lindholt ed.

Netting pigeons from 1826

John Josslyn was right to worry. The last passenger pigeon died in 1914. Her name was Martha (the penultimate passenger pigeon was a boy bird named George….) She’s been on display at the Smithsonian, and there’s a special mausoleum for her at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Martha the last Passenger Pigeon, while she was still alive

It seems more then a little heartless to offer a recipe here, but please note that this one is also good for woodcocks and partridges.

“In the Winter time I have seene Flockes of Pidgeons, and I have eaten of them…”

-         1630. Francis Higgonson.

To boyle Pigeons.

Parboyle your Pigeons with Parsley in their bellies, and Butter: put them in a Pipkin with strong broth, about a quart thereof, a ribbe of Mutton, large Mace, a little grosse Pepper, beaten Sinamon, a little Ginger and Sugar, a few Razins of the Sunne, a few Currens, Barberryes in bunches, halfe a pinte of white wine, boyle all together with a little Bread steeped in broath, to collour it: straine it with some of the broth, and put it into a Pipkin: let them boyle till they be enough, and so serve them in. This broth may serve to boyle Woodcockes, or Parridges in, with this difference, take some of the broth out of the Pigeon, and put in a minst Onyon. Let it boyl untill it be enough.

1615. John Murrell. A New Book of Cookerie. pp.28-9. Falconwood Press: 1989.


Martha - after death


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)

Two New England Bread Accounts

April 26th, 2012 by KM Wall

Wintrop, John. July 29, 1662. Letter to Robert Boyle. published Philosophical Transactions, 142 (1678), 1065-1069. reproduced in John Wintrop ,Jr. on Indian Corn. Fulmer Mood, The New England Quarterly. Vol. X, number 1. March, 1937.p.129.
“The English make very good Breade of Meale, or flower of it being Ground in Mills, as other Corne, but to make good bread of it there is a different way of ordering of it, from what it is used about the Bread of other Graine, for if it be mixed into stiff past, it will not be good as when it is made into a thinner mixture a little stiffer then the Battar for Pancakes, or puddings, and then baked in a very hott oven, standing all day or all Night therein, therefore some used to bake it in pans like puddings. But the most ordinary way is this, the Oven being very hott they may have a great Wooden dish fastened to a long staff, which may hold the quantity of a Pottle, and that being filled, they empty it on an heape in the Oven, upon the bare floore thereof cleane Swept, and so fill the Oven, and usually lay a second laying upon the top of the first, because the first will (p130) otherwise be too thinn for the proportion of a Loafe because it will spread in the oven at the first pouring of it in: if they make it not too thinn it will ly in distance like Loaves, onely in some parts where they touch one another will stick together but are easily parted but some will fill the whole floore of the Oven as one intire Body and must cut it out in greate pieces; In just such manner handled it wilbe (if baked enough) of a good darke yellow Colour, but otherwise white which is not so wholesome nor pleasant, as when well baked of a deeper Colour. There is also very good Bread made of it, by mixing half, or a third parte, more or less of Ry or Wheate-Meale, or Flower amongst it, and then they make it up into Loaves, adding Leaven or yeast to it to make it Rise, which may also be added to that other thinner sorte beforementioned.”


Josslyn, John. New Englands Rarities. 1672. Mass. Historical Society, 1972, p. 52.

“It [maize] is light of digestion, and the English make a kind of Loblolly of it, to eat with Milk, which they call Sampe ; they beat it in a Morter, and sift the flower out of it; the remainder they call Homminey, which they put in a Pot of two or three Gallons, with Water, and boyl it upon a gentle Fire till it be like Hasty Pudden; they put of this into Milk, and so eat it. Their Bread also they make of the Homminey so boiled, and mix their Flower with it, cast it into a deep Bason in which they form the loaf, and then turn it out upon the Peel, and presently put it into the Oven before it spreads abroad; the Flower makes excellent Puddens.”



Multi-colored Indian corn - amazing maize

Hasty pudding......









add the flour......











well baked of a deeper color.....


Eat Like A Pilgrim: Stewed Pompion

April 17th, 2012 by KM Wall

Stewed Pompion
The Ancient New England standing dish
But the Housewives manner is to slice them when ripe, and cut them into dice, and so fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons, and stew them upon a gentle fire a whole day, and as they sink, they fill again with fresh Pompions, not putting any liquor to them; and when it is stew’d enough, it will look like bak’d Apples; this they Dish, putting Butter to it, and a little Vinegar, (with some Spice, as Ginger, &c.) which makes it tart like an Apple, and so serve it up to be eaten with Fish or Flesh:…

- Jossyln, John.New Englands Rareties.1672.
To make this at home:
4 cups of cooked squash, roughly mashed
3 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 or 2 teaspoons ground ginger (or nutmeg, cloves, or pepper, to taste, if preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir and heat all the ingredients together. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve hot.

Cooks with a bumper crop of pumpkins and a large pot may want to try the housewives’ technique described by Josselyn. For the rest of us, it is practical to begin with pared, seeded, and steamed or baked squash.
Pompion is a pumpkin. Squashes can also be used.
An ancient is another way to say banner, or standard.
A standing dish is one that is very common, seen on table perhaps daily.
An ancient standing dish would be the food that all but shouts out, “Hello! We’re in NEW England; we’re not in England anymore.”
Baked apples are a good visual clue as to what the final dish should look like, and the little bit of vinegar is a taste clue.
Serve it up to be eaten with Fish or Flesh means it’s good with everything.


Eat Like A Pilgrim: Indian Pudding

April 17th, 2012 by KM Wall

(recipe from The Plimoth Plantation New England Cookery Book by Malabar Hornblower, The Harvard Common Press, 1990)

This is a true regional New England dish. The first written version of this recipe does not appear until 1796 in the first American cookbook, but there were references to it as a common dish years earlier. John Jossyln refers to the corn meal and milk portion as hasty pudding in 1672, and the addition of molasses as a sweetener isn’t far behind.
BTW, the ‘Indian’ in the Indian Pudding identifies the grain used – cornmeal or Indian meal.

4 cups milk
2/3 cup molasses
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

optional — cream, whipped cream or ice cream when serving

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously butter a 2-quart baking dish.

In a large saucepan, heat the milk molasses and butter, stirring to blend them. Over moderate heat, bring them slowly to just under a boil, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt and sift them into a bowl. When the milk and molasses are close to– but not quite—boiling, gradually stir in the cornmeal mixture. Cook mixing constantly so that no lumps form, until the pudding thickens enough to hold its shape when stirred.
With a rubber spatula, scrape the pudding into the buttered baking. Add the 2 cups milk, but do not mix it in; let it float on the top. Bake the pudding 1 hour without stirring. Then stir in the milk and bake two hours longer,

Serve the pudding with cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.



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