Tagged ‘sugar’

Sweet! Potato Pie

November 24th, 2013 by KM Wall
Potato illustration from John Gerard The Herbal

Potato illustration from John Gerard The Herbal

To make a Potato Pie.
Boyl your Spanish Potaoes (not overmuch) cut them forth in slices as thick as your thumb, season them with Nutmeg, Cinamon, Ginger, and Sugar; your Coffin being ready, put them in, over the bottom, add to them the Marrow of about three Marrow-bones, seasoned as aforesaid, a handful of stoned Raisons of the Sun, some quartred Dates, Orangado, Cittern, with Ringo-root sliced, put butter over it, and bake them: let their lear be a little Vinegar, Sack and Sugar, beaten up with the yolk of an Egg, and a little drawn Butter; when your Pie is enough, pour in, shake it together, scrape on Sugar, garnish it, and serve it up.
- 1661. William Rabisha. The Whole Body of Cookery, Dissected. London.

John Gerard with potato flowers in the frontispiece of The Herbal

John Gerard with potato flowers in the frontispiece of The Herbal

Now, about this pie……

Although sweet potato pie is much more of a mainstay in the South, but pies made from potatoes go back to the 17th century in England.

And not a marshmallow to be found.

  1. Boil the potatoes. Last winter, in the Hardcore Hearth Cooking Workshop, we boiled five pounds of sweet potatoes. Boil them whole so that they don’t get waterlogged. Drain, cool, and peel.
  2. Slice them as thick as tour thumb…I took this to mean in one inch slices – larger chunks versus smaller bits. There’s still some cooking to come, and you don’t want paste.
  3. Powder your spices – nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, sugar – sounds an awful lot like pumpkin pie spice……
  4. Put the spices and sugared potato slices in a pastry lined dish, like this:
  5. Sweet potato, spices in pastry lined dish for pie - Debra Samuels  photo credit

    Sweet potato, spices in pastry lined dish for pie – Debra Samuels photo credit

  6. If you have marrow from marrow bones, add it now. If you do not have marrow, do not panic – add some generous dollops of butter.
  7. Add raisins of the sun without there stones (thank you seedless grapes that make seedless raisin!); quartered dates – it’s 5 pounds of potatoes, be generous.
  8. Orangeo, cittern and eringo root are probably not on your shelf…leave them out – a little grated orange rind or candied orange peel would not be amiss. Add a little more butter on the top to melt down   on the whole thing, put on the top crust and cut a vent in the center.
  9. Bake. Start at 450 and turn the oven down to 375 after 10 or 15 minutes (you know your oven better then I do). The top should be golden brown and the insides should smell GLORIOUS….but wait, we’re not done yet….this is the part that puts it over the top
  10. When the pie pan is cool enough to lift, beat and egg yolk with some sack wine, sugar, a little vinegar and drawn butter . Pour this lear into the vent hole, and shake it up . Another word for this is to shog it – sprinkle some sugar on the top, and serve.


Modern Sweet Potato Pie seems a little plain after the 17th century version...

Modern Sweet Potato Pie seems a little plain after the 17th century version…

Sweet Potato Pie - music to cook by?

Sweet Potato Pie – music to cook by?

Another group with an album Sweet Potato Pie

Another group with an album Sweet Potato Pie








Sweet Potato Pie - Brand New Day

Sweet Potato Pie – Brand New Day

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

Salletday – Carrots

October 19th, 2013 by KM Wall

“ In the two months of October and November, when you have leisure in drie weather, then provide a vessel or wine caske, or some other:  then lay on course of sand on the bottome of the vessel two inches thicke, then a course of carret rootes, so that  the rootes do not touch one another:  then  another course of sand to cover those rootes, and then another course of sand, and in this manner untill the vessell bee full to the top, and if you have a ground seller, you may packe them in some corner in this manner, you must cut away all the branches of the carrets close by the roote, and somewhat of the small endes of the Carrets, and they must be so packed in sand unwashed and about the last of December:  sometime when there is no frost, you must then unpacke them againe, and then the carret rootes will begin to spring in the top of the roote, then if you desire to keepe them untill a longer time, then you must pare off the upper ende of the roote, that they cannot spring any more in the top, and then packe them again in sande as aforesaid, so you may keepe them well till Lent or Easter.”

- 1603. Richard Gardiner of Shrewsberie. Profitable Instructions for the Manuring , Sowing and  Planting of Kitchin Gardens. Folio D2.

Here’s what Pilgrim garden carrots  look like this week:

Yellow carrot from the Alden House Garden - thank you!

Yellow carrot from the Alden House Garden – thank you!

Englsih carrots in most of the 17th century were yellow carrots or red carrots or sometimes black or violet carrots, but they weren’t orange carrots. Orange carrots were far more popular in the Netherlands and France. No less  an authority then John Aubrey said of orange carrots:

  “Carrots were first sown at Beckington in Somersetshire. Some very old Man there [in 1668] did remember their first bringing hither.”

Oliver Lawson Dick, ed. Aubrey’s Brief Lives. Edited from the Original Manuscripts, 1949, p. xxxv.

John Aubrey (12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697)

John Aubrey
(12 March 1626 – 7 June 1697)

Many sallets in the 17th century are boiled….some into dishes that seem familiar now, but we just don’t call them salads, we just call them ‘vegetables’ or ‘side dishes’  or just ‘sides’.

Boyled Sallets.

Scrape boyld Carrets, being ready to eate, and they will be like the pulp of a roasted Apple, season them with a little Sinamon, Ginger, and Sugar, put in a handfull of Currans, a little Vinegar, a peece of sweet Butter, put them into a Dish, but first put in another peece of Butter, that they burne not to the bottome: then stew your rootes in the Dish a quarter of an houre: if they beginne to drie, put in more Butter: if they be too sweete, put in a little more Vinegar. The same way you may make a Sallet of Beetes, Spinnage, or Lettuce boyled: beate any of these tender, like the pulp of a roasted Apple, and use them as before shewed.”[1]

[1] Murrell, John. The Second Booke of Cookerie. 1638: London: fifth impression. Stuart Press (tran) 1993. pp.24-5.

Once again, the secret 17th century English ingredient is vinegar. The raisins and vinegar together give a nice sweet/sour taste boost.

To make a boiled salad of carrots:*

  • Boil carrots.  Peel them (if you peel them first and then boil them, that will work out in the end).
  • They should be as tender as the pulp of a roasted apple – forget this crispy or al dente or to the bite modern nonsense – these carrots need to be good and cooked!
  • Season them with cinnamon, ginger – these should be in powdered or ‘beaten’  form, just like they come from the  box or jar.
  • A typical American spice shelf - there's some cinnamon and ginger in there somewhere. Notice how the herbs are tucked in with the spices and the sugar is nowhere to be found.

    A typical American spice shelf – there’s some cinnamon and ginger in there somewhere. Notice how the herbs are tucked in with the spices and the sugar is nowhere to be found.

  • Add some currents or raisins. Put some butter in a a heavy bottomed saucepan. Put in the spiced carrots. Add a little vinegar and a little sugar. Let them soak up the butter. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Serve.

Carrots, not English ones


October 15th, 2013 by KM Wall

something a little extra re: Italian Puddings…..

Richard Sax

Richard Sax

All the while, while  dipping in Italian  Pudding I  kept  thinking I was smelling  chocolate. Serious chocolate.

There is no chocolate mentioned in ANY of the 17th century English cookbooks I was searching through  AT ALL …..and then I remembered.

In Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts – which is a totally great cookbook, with wonderful recipes, great photos and stories and histories – there is an Italian Bread Pudding.

It is baked (or bakte).

The bread is cut into cubes. (Are you getting chills yet?)

In with the eggs and cream, there is also  chocolate.

Taste and memory, working together again.

Classic Home Dessert - Richard Sax

Classic Home Desserts – Richard Sax

Budino Nero (Italian Chocolate Bread Pudding)

First published in 1994, the book is still in print, so to avoid copyright issues, let me tell you that basically it’s the same Italian Pudding that John Murrell and W.I make, with equal amounts of semi-sweet chocolate and cubed bread by weight. That is, 3 ounces of bread (which is about 4 cups cubed) should have 3 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate . Melt the chocolate in the cream or milk, before beating in the eggs (let it cool a little, don’t be impatient) and then gently add the cubed bread. Put it into a greased dish, bake  – not too hot, at 350° for about 1/2 an hour – don’t bake it too long – it should be a little wobbly, but it will firm up as it cools. You can add some sugar in, or wait to scrape – or sprinkle  -some on top.

Cacao - from John Gerard, The Herbal

Cacao – and other odd bobs of things – from Johnson on Gerard,The Herbal, 1633.

Chocolate in early 17th century had some PR issues. The name – Cacao -say it aloud, you know what it means, – means, well, sh_t in Spanish, and the same for Englishmen. I believe it was the Dutch who changed it to “Cocao”. What a difference one little letter makes. The rest is, as we say, HISTORY.

A giant Budina Nero – made in the large size Pyrex bowl was

The big one - and it was also a green one

The big one – and it was also a green one

 the BEST Birthday Cake EVER.

For the life of me I can’t remember which birthday, but it probably ended with a zero or a five….and the pudding was made by assorted Foodways deities  was a surprise and a delight. And a taste memory extraordinaire.


Italian Pudding bakte

October 14th, 2013 by KM Wall

It IS Columbus Day, after all. And although there is Italian bisket to consider, and how or how not, it is different from Naples bisket…..

Coat of Arms the House of Colon (that would be Christopher Columbus)

Coat of Arms the House of Colon (that would be Christopher Columbus, his house)

As I was looking at baked goods, and baked pudding in particular, I found not one, not two, but  THREE Italian puddings.

  1. They are all baked (or bakte – say it as it is spelled….now you’re talking like Shakespeare!)
  2. They all have bread cut into a dice, like a die, the little thing you toss in games of chance.
  3. Two of the three are from the same author – John Murrell – in different cookbooks  BUT they’re not exactly the  same. No cut and paste from John Murrell. I thought there were three from John Murrell, but the New Book of Cookerie and Book 1 of Two Books of Cookerie and Carving are the same book.  Three citations, two recipes.

All three, in chronological order:

To make an Italian Pudding

Take a Penny white Loafe, pare off the crust, and cut it in square pieces like unto great Dyes, mince a pound of Beefe Suite small: take halfe a pound of Razins of the Sunne, stone them and mingle them together with, and season them with Sugar, Rosewater, and Nutmegge, wet these things in foure Egges, and stirre them very tenderly for breaking the Bread: then put it into a Dish, and pricke three or foure pieces of  Marrow, and some sliced Dates: put it into an Oven hot enough for a Chewet: if your Oven be too hot, it will burne: if too colde, it will be heavy: when it is bakte scrape on Sugar, and serve it hot at Dinner, but not at Supper.

1615. John Murrell. A Newe Booke of Cookerie. Falconwood Press: 1989. p. 22.

This is the one you’ve seen before here  in If your Oven be too hot….(Sept 15, 2013)

And now John Murrell’s second Italian Pudding:

A bakte Pudding after the Italian fashion.

Pare off the crusts from a penny white loafe, cut it in square peeces like dice, put to it halfe a pounds of dubbing suet minct small, halfe a pound of Raisins of the Sunne, the stones taken out, two ounces of Suger, five or sixe sliced Dates, a graine of Muske, five or sixe lumps of Marrow : season these with Cloves, Mace, Nutmeg, and Salt, but a very little Salt is sufficient, beate a couple of Egges, with foure or five spoonefuls of Creame, power it upon your seasoned bread, and stirre very  gentley for breaking, so as the peeces may be wet, but not so wet that you can see any moisture in them: lay a Pomewater in the bottome of the Dish, or some sort of soft Apple pared, and sliced thinne, put your Pudding also upon the Apple, and so set the Dish into an Oven, as hot as for Manchet, or small Pies, when you see it rise yellow take downe your Oven lidde to coole your Oven, it will be bakte in half an houre: if the Oven be too hot, it will be burnt, if it be too cold, it will be too heavy, when it is bakte draw it forth, and scrape on Sugar, and serve it hot to the Table.

- 1638. John Murrell. The Second Book of Cookerie. Fifth Impression. Stuart Press: 1993. p. 25.

Square pieces of bread – check. Dubbing suet?? – I’m coming up cold; Muske – this is taking it up a notch; Cream as well as eggs – makes this richer; taking down tour oven lidde to cool the oven – nice detail! This is how you control the heat in a woodfired oven. The same advice about too cold and too hot, making me think this is a real Goldilocks moment.

Once again, you are asked to stone the raisins. Thank you Sun Maid for drying seedless raisins, so we don’t have to do that anymore!

130px-Sun-Maid_1916The Pomewater is a type of apple – nice of him to mention that any soft apple will do.

A few of the many Apples in Gerard's Herbal

A few of the many apples in Gerard’s Herbal

The third Italian Pudding comes from someone else, a little later…..

To make an Italian Pudding.

Take a manchet, and cut it into square pieces like a Die, then put to it half a pound of beef suet minced small, Raisins of the Sun the stones picked out, Cloves, Mace, minced, Dates, Sugar, Marrow, Rose-water, Eggs, and Cream, mingle all these together, and put them into a dish fir for your stuffe, in less then an hour it will be baked, then scrape on Sugar, and serve it.

- 1653. W.I. A True Gentlewomans Delight. Falconwood Press: 1991. p. 45.




A little more french bisket

October 13th, 2013 by KM Wall

Are these more biskets or are these more french?

La Varrene

La Varrene – The (original) French Chef!

La Varenne  brought his cookbook out in 1651. By 1653 it had been ‘Englished”  and was for sale in London.

He also has a recipe for bisket. Two, in fact. If it’s in a French cookbook does that make it a French biscuit even if they don’t call it that?

How to make bisket.

Take eight eggs, one pound of sugar into powder, with three quarters of a pound of flowre. Mix all together and thus it will be neither too soft nor too hard.

- 1653. Francois Pierre La Varenne. Englished by L.D.G The French Cook.  intro by Philip and Mary Hyman. Southover Press: 2001. p.240.

These are more like the just plain bisket – or English bisket – then the french bisket. Notice how they don’t get boiled first. Note also that although La Varenne is considered THE man to talk about when talking about modernized (as opposed to medieval), codified French cuisine, there are still lovely vaguenesses as “thus it will be neither too soft nor too hard”. Maybe that’s just the translator talking.

The very last recipe in the book is another bisket.

How to make bisket of Savoy.

Take six yolks and eight whites [of] eggs, with one pound of sugar in powder, three quarters of a pound of good flower made of good wheat, and some aniseed, beaten all well together; and boile it. Make a paste neither too soft nor too hard, if it is too soft, you may mix with it some flowre of sugar for to harden it. When it is well proportioned , put it into moules of white tinne made for the purpose and then bake them half in the oven. When they are half baked, take them out, and moisten them at the top with the yolks of eggs ; after that, put them in the oven again for to make an end of baking. When they are so baked that they are not too much burned, nor too soft, take them out, and set them in a place which is neither too cool nor too dry.

1653. Francois Pierre La Varenne. Englished by L.D.G The French Cook.  intro by Philip and Mary Hyman. Southover Press: 2001. p. 246.

The little tin molds fascinate me, in part because it’s about 100 years earlier then I thought I’d ever see them. I should have been paying more attention to sweetmeats! The end-note of a place “neither too cool nor too dry”……is almost as good as “not too much burned, nor too soft”.

Savoy can be one of several things.

Savoy palace - drawing of 1650

Savoy palace – drawing of 1650

Savoy Record Company NOT the savoy of the 17th century bisket!

Savoy Record Company NOT the savoy of the 17th century bisket!



Arnotts Biscuit  - they carry a Savoy biscuit in the 20th century

Arnotts Biscuit – they carry a Savoy biscuit in the 20th century

The modern day Savoy biscuit is a cracker sold in parts of Australia. It’s by the same company that makes Tim-Tams. Among others.



There’s still Prince bisket and Italian bisket, and a more careful look at bisket bread ahead in the bisket trail.

Why did we change the spelling of bisket? Why don’t we change it back?





french Biskets

October 12th, 2013 by KM Wall

To continue with biskets…..no less an authority then the late Alan Davidson in The Oxford Companion to Food states that biscuit  means  different things to  different people, in the past as well as the present,  from the UK/USA what means biscuit now (the one to dunk in your tea, the other to put under your gravy) and then the whole sea bisket/ship’s biscuit/hardtack sidebar…..and of course, there’s MORE

The Oxford Companion to Food - the update paperback version is called the Penguin Companion to Food - if you're serious about food history, you need one of these nearby.

The Oxford Companion to Food – the updated paperback version is called the Penguin Companion to Food – if you’re serious about food history, you need one of these nearby.And there are beets on this cover….you know how much beets mean to me….

Back to England, back to some 17th century recipes……

I’ve found only one bisket recipe that’s named English bisket. More common are French bisket recipes , and also those for bisket bread, bisket bread which is sometimes also called French bisket. But not always.

But of course.

French Bakers banner

Probably loaves of bread on these peels, but it’s the right shape so it could be French biscuit.


To make French Biskets.

Take two pounds of fine flower, being baked in an Ouen, take eight ounces of Suger baten and cersed, Coliander-seed, sweet Fennell-seede, and Caraway-seede, of these, each an ounce, worke all these up into a lythe paste with eight new layd egges and a little Rose-water, then roule it vp in a faire cloath like a pudding, as big as your Legge, and put it vp close and tye it fast at both ends, that no water get in, then put it into a Kettle of boyling water, letting it boyle two houres stirring it now and then that it burne not too, then take it vp and cut it in thicknesse of an ordinary trencher in round pieces, then lay it vpon a wyar lattice and sette it in a warme Ouen, and when it is drye that you may beat to a powder, then take a pound of double refined Sugar, and boyle it to a Candie height with as much Rose-water as will desolve it, then take your foresaid dry bisket and dip it in your hot Sugar, & lay it vpon your wyars againe, and set it in a warme ouen three or foure houres after the bread is drawn out, and within an houre turn it and when it is dry it will bee like candied all over, so box it and it will keepe all the yeare.

- 1621.John Murrell. A Delightful daily exercise for Ladies and Gentlewoman. Falconwood Press: 1990. p. 4.  

All that seedy goodness makes this seem an awful lot like English bisket, as well the insistence for new layd eggs and beaten  – I mean – baten  – and cersed sugar. Cersed is sifted.

The other Elizabeth Sieve Portrait - I'm assuming this isn't to show us her domestic side....but these are the sorts of sieves that you'd sift the beaten sugar through, the finest sieves being made of silk cloth, the courser one of horsehair.

The Elizabeth Sieve Portrait – I’m assuming this isn’t to show us her domestic side….but these are the sorts of sieves that you’d sift the beaten sugar through, the finest sieves being made of silk cloth, the courser ones of horsehair. This is most definitely NOT horsehair.

The tying up the batter in a cloth and boiling it in a kettle – shaped like a leg, which make me think of roly poly puddings, or at least the one in The Thornbirds, which is boiled in mother’s cotton stocking….

Novel and min-series...great food....

Novel and min-series…great food….

But I digress….

The two step boiled and then baked technique puts this French bisket in the same catagory as  some of the jumbles, simmels  and cracknels.  Pretzels also fall into this catagory.

An ordinary trencher....

An ordinary trencher….cut the pieces about this thick

The George Gower Elizabeth Sieve portrait

The George Gower Elizabeth Sieve portrait





English Bisket

October 11th, 2013 by KM Wall

All good things start at home, so let’s take a look at the international biskets of 17th century England, by looking at the one that is called


btw, ‘BISKET” is by far and by large the most common spelling of the biscuit in the 17th century. In England. Results may vary by country.



To make English Bisket.

Take eight new layd egges, taking away the whites of foure of them, beate the eight yoalks and the other foure whites in a faire bowle the fourth parte of an houre, then take a pound of fine flower being dryed in an earthen pot closed covered : then take eight ounces of hard sugar beaten fine, and beat them into your egges with the end of a rowling pin, and beat it so very hard for the space of an houre, but by no meanes let it stand still, always beating it, then haue an Ouen as hot as for manchet ready cleane, hauing some saucers of flate plates, or little tine Coffins buttered over with a feather as thinne as you can strike it over, then put into yoru forsaid paste Coliander-seed, sweet Fennel seede, and Caroway seed, of each the fourth part of an ounce, when you have beaten these into your paste, put it into your saucers, and set them presently into the Ouen, and when you see it rise vp and look white, you may take down your lid, and in a quarter of an houre they will be made, then box it vp and keep it all the yeare.

1621. John Murrell. The Delightful daily exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen. Falconwood Press: 1990. p. 3.

A whole lot of beating going on - these need to be light and frothy. If only they had a Kitchen-Aid.

A whole lot of beating going on – these need to be light and frothy. If only they had a Kitchen-Aid.

Coriander seed - we call the leafy part cilantro or even Chinese parsley

Coriander seed – we call the leafy part cilantro or even Chinese parsley



Fennel seed - all together this is going to have a very liquorice taste

Fennel seed – all together this is going to have a very liquorice taste


Our old friend caraway, up close,. You might remember him as Kimmel....

Our old friend caraway, up close. You might remember him as Kimmel….

On the Culture, and Use of Maize Continues

October 7th, 2013 by KM Wall

Another post that’s very readies,( that is, there’s rather a lot to read)  but you’ll be coming back to dip in this pool again and again…..


Maize – the rubber band is so not 17th century….

The stalks of this corn, cut up before too much dried, and so laid up, are good winter-fodder for cattle. But they usually leave them on the ground for the cattle to feed on. The husks about the ear are good fodder, given for change sometimes after hay. The Indian women slit them into narrow parts, and so weave them artificially into baskets of several fashions. This corn the Indians dressed several ways for their food. Sometimes boiling it whole till it swelled and became tender, and so either eating it alone, or with their fish or venison instead of bread. Sometimes bruising in mortars, and so boiling it. But commonly this way, viz. by parching it in ashes, or embers, so artificially stirring it, as without burning, to be very tender, and turned almost inside outward, and also white and floury. This they sift very well from the ashes, and beat it in their wooden mortars, with a long stone for a pestle, into fine meal. This is a constant food at home, and especially when they travel, being put up in a bag, and so at all times ready for eating, either dry or mixed with water. They find it very wholesome diet, and is that their soldiers carry with them in time of war. The Indians have another sort of provision out of this corn, which they call sweet-corn. When the corn in the ear is full, while it is yet green, it has a very sweet taste. This they gather, boil, and then dry, and so put it up into bags or baskets, for their use: boiling it again, either whole or grossly beaten, when they eat it, either by itself, or among their fish or venison, or beavers, or other flesh, accounting it a principal dish, These green and sweet ears they sometimes roast before the fire or in the embers, and so eat the corn; by which means, they have sufficient supply of food, though their old store be done. The English, of the full ripe corn ground make very good bread. But it is not ordered as other corn; for if it be mixed into stiff paste, it will not be so good, as if made only a little stiffer than for puddings; and so baked in a very hot oven, standing therein all day or all night. Because on the first pouring of it on the oven floor, it spreads abroad; they pour a second layer or heap upon every first, and thereby make so many loaves. It is also sometimes mixed with half or a third part of rye or wheat meal, and so with leaven or yest made into loaves of very good bread.

Before they had mills, having first watered and husked the corn, and then beaten it in wooden mortars, the coarser part sifted from the meal, and separated from the loose hulls by the wind, they boiled to a thick batter: to which being cold, they added so much of the fine meal, as would serve to stiffen it into paste, whereof they made very good bread. But the best sort of food which the English make of this corn, is that they call samp. Having first watered it about half an hour, and then beaten it in a mortar, or else ground it in a hand or other mill, into the size of rice, they next sift the flour, and winnow the hulls from it. Then they boil it gently till it be tender, and so with milk or butter and sugar, make it into a very pleasant and wholesome dish. This was the most usual diet of the first planters in these parts, and is still in use amongst them, as well in fevers, as in health: and was often prescribed by the learned Dr. Wilson to his patients in London. And of the Indians that live much upon this corn, the English have been informed by them, that the disease of the stone is very seldom known among them. The English have also found out a way to make very good beer of grain: that is, either of bread made hereof, or else by malting it. The way of making beer of bread, is by breaking or cutting it into great lumps, about as large as a man’s fist, to be mashed, and so proceeded with as malt, and the impregnated liquor, as wort, either adding or omitting hops, as is desired.

To make good malt of this corn, a particular way must be taken. The barley, malt-masters have used all their skill to make good malt of it the ordinary way,, but cannot effect it; that is, that the whole grain be malted, and tender and floury, as in other malt. For it is found by experience, that this corn, before it be fully malted, must sprout out both ways, i. e. both root and blade, to a great length, of a finger at least: if more, the better; for which it must be laid on a heap a convenient time.

To avoid all difficulties, this way was tried and found effectual. Take away the top of the earth in a garden or field 2 or 3 inches, throwing it up half one way and half the other. Then lay the corn for malt all over the ground, so as to cover it. Then cover the corn with the earth that was pared off, and there is no more to do, till you see all the plot of ground like a green field covered over with the sprouts of the corn, which will be within 10 or 14 days, according to the time of the year. Then take it up, and shake the earth from it and dry it. This way every grain that is good will grow, and be mellow, floury, and very sweet; and the beer made of it be wholesome, pleasant, and of a good brown colour. Yet beer made of the bread, as aforesaid, being as well coloured, wholesome, pleasant, and more durable, is most in use; because the way of malting this corn, last described, is as yet but little known among them.

Corn in traces in an English House

Corn in traces in an English House


September 22nd, 2013 by KM Wall

Ever since I asked a group if they knew how to make toast – and they all did – and then I asked if they had learned to make toast from a recipe – and none had – I felt I had made my point of how people learned to cook without cookbooks. Great example.
And then I started finding recipes for toast.
LOTS of toast recipes.

Which doesn’t even include the places where toast shows up as an ingredient – sometimes sops, sometimes sippets, sometimes toast….

A Marrow Toast

Mince colde parboiled Veale, and Suit very fine, and sweet Hearbes each by themselves, and then mingle them together with Sugar, Nutmeg, Sinamon, Rosewater, grated bread, the yolkes of two or three new layd Egges: open the minst meat, and cover it with the marrow. Then put your toast into a Pipkin with the uppermost of some strong broth: let it boyle with large Mace, a Fagot of sweer hearbs, scum them passing cleane, and let them boyle almost drye. Then take Potato-rootes boyld, or Chestnuts, Skirrootes, or Almonds, boyld in white Wine, and for want of Wine you may take Vergis and Sugar.

1615. John Murrell. A New Booke of Cookerie. Falconwood Press: 1989. p. 19.


marrow bones on toast - not quite the 17th century version

Marrow bones on toast – not quite the 17th century version of Marrow Toasts- it’s the centers of the bones that can be taken out and used in the recipe, that’s the marrow


Marrow the vegetable, which is a member of he squash family - also known as a pompion

Marrow the vegetable, which is a member of he squash family – also known as a pompion


Pipkins from Hamberg

Pipkins from Hamberg

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