Tagged ‘Thomas Morton’

Roast Turkey – Pilgrim style

November 20th, 2013 by KM Wall

First, you need a turkey.

1620 : (between September and 9 November)

“They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty.”        William Bradford, OPP, Morison ed. p 90.

“And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion, which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.”

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Morison ed. p.90.

Turkey tracks in the 1627 Englsih Village....silly turkeys!

Turkey tracks in the 1627 English Village….silly turkeys!


            “Here are eagles of many sorts, pigeons, innumerable turkeys, geese, swans, duck, teel, partridge divers sorts, and many other fowl, [so] that one man at six shoots hath killed 400.”

- Emmanuel Altham to Sir Edward Altham, September 1623. (in Three Visitors to Early Plymouth. Sydney V. James, Jr, ed. Plimoth Plantation, Inc. 1966. p. 28)




“ Turkeys there are, which diverse times in great flocks have sallied by our doors; and then a gun (being commonly in readiness) salutes them with such courtesy as makes them take a turn in the cook-room, they dance by our door so well.

“Of these there hath been killed that weighed forty-eight pound apiece.

“They are by many degrees sweeter than the tame Turkeys of England, feed them how you can.

Thomas Morton. New English Cannan. Jack Dempsey, ed. 1999. p. 64.

Looks more like a Turkey Trot then a Sally.....

Are they dancing? They’re certainly by our doors…Looks more like a Turkey Trot then a Sally…..

The feathers have to go….

Plucking or picking a turkey.

Plucking or picking a turkey.

There’s a post from last year on Turkey roasting…..

In the 17th century gravy is the drippings, and you use the drippings to make the sauce, which is the thing we now call gravy…..


Sauces for all manner of roast Land-Fowl, as

Turkey, Bustard, Peacock, Pheasant, Partridge, &c.

1. Slic’t onions being boil’d, stew them in some water, salt, pepper, some grated bread, and the gravy of the fowl.

2. Take slices of white-bread and boil them in fair water with two whole onions, some gravy, half a grated nutmeg, and a little salt; strain them together through a strainer, and boil it up as thick as water grewel; then add to it the yolks of two eggs dissolved with the juyce of two oranges, &c.

3. Take thin slices of manchet, a little of the fowl, some sweet butter, grated nutmeg, pepper, and salt; stew all together, and being stewed, put in a lemon minced with the peel.

4. Onions slic’t and boil’d in fair water, and a little salt, 152 a few bread crumbs beaten, pepper, nutmeg, three spoonful of white wine, and some lemon-peel finely minced, and boil’d all together: being almost boil’d put in the juyce of an orange, beaten butter, and the gravy of the fowl.

5. Stamp small nuts to a paste, with bread, nutmeg, pepper, saffron, cloves, juyce of orange, and strong broth, strain and boil them together pretty thick.

6. Quince, prunes, currans, and raisins, boil’d, muskefied bisket stamped and strained with white wine, rose vinegar, nutmeg, cinamon, cloves, juyce of oranges and sugar, and boil it not too thick.

7. Boil carrots and quinces, strain them with rose vinegar, and verjuyce, sugar, cinamon, pepper, and nutmeg, boil’d with a few whole cloves, and a little musk.

8. Take a manchet, pare off the crust and slice it, then boil it in fair water, and being boil’d some what thick put in some white wine, wine vinegar, rose, or elder vinegar, some sugar and butter, &c.

9. Almond-paste and crumbs of manchet, stamp them together with some sugar, ginger, and salt, strain them with grape-verjuyce, and juyce of oranges; boil it pretty thick.

Robert May. The Accomplist Cook.

To serve the turkey he must first be carved….

To cut up a Turkie or Bustard

You must raise up the Leg very faire, and open the joynt with the point of your Knife, but take not off the Legge: The lace down the breast with your Knife on both sides, and open the breast Pinion with your Knife, but take not the Pinion off, then raise up the Merry-thought betwixt the breast-bone and the toppe of the Berry-thought, then lace down the flesh on both sides of the breast-bone, then raise up the flesh called the brawne, and turne it outward upon both sides, but breake it not, nor cut it off not, then cut off the wing Pinion, at the joynt next to the body, and sticke on each side of the Pinion, in the place where ye turned out the brawne, but cut off the sharpe end of the Pinion and take the middle peece, and that will fit in the place.”

- Murrell, John. A New Booke of Carving and Sewing.{London:1638.} Stuart Peachey, ed. Stuart Press: Bristol, UK. 1993. p.35.

Notes: On cutting up a turkey


  1.       Bustard is a large European bird, now thought extinct. [Otis tarda].]
  2.       Pinion is a wing of a bird, or the terminal segment.
  3.      Merry-thought is the forcula, the wishbone.
  4.       Brawne is the muscle or flesh of an animal for food.
  5.      Sewing is serving.

Say your prayers, and EAT!

Grace Moment

Grace Moment

Pheasant is pleasant

July 9th, 2013 by KM Wall

But are pheasant really in New England in the 17th century? And although they were in England, how English are they?

Even then, the jury was out….

Gerrit Dou. 1663: Woman at a Window with a Copper Bowl of Apples and a Cock Pheasant (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

Gerrit Dou. 1663: Woman at a Window with a Copper Bowl of Apples and a Cock Pheasant . I don’t know why they don’t mention the pot of sage, but there it is, big as life. And a towel.And a little bird cage. Etc. Or perhaps she can b called The Other Girl with a Pearl Earring.  The painting is now in England, but it was made in Holland. The English paintings with pheasants – and there are lots – and there are often dogs, not hawks, to flush out the game, are primarily from the 19th century, not the 17th.  (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

In researching pheasants, I kept coming across how they were not  English, that they are an introduced species. And they were. Introduced in the 1oth century. By the Romans. Which makes me wonder how long  does  something have to be somewhere before it can be be from there? Somethings blend right in, seamless parts of the foodways – like tomatoes in Italy -  but pheasants in England still have the unwelcome mat set before them.

Pheasant Fowling 14th century MS

Pheasant Fowling 14th century MS -be careful, birdie – it’s a trap!

Roolant Savery Landscape with Birds - 1628. Among the birds - pheasant (natch) ostrich, turkey, DODO, and just about every other feathered thing

Roolant Savery Landscape with Birds – 1628. Among the birds – pheasant (natch) ostrich, turkey, DODO, and just about every other feathered thing


 Pheasants in Old England:

1533 – Fesaun exceedeth all fowles in swetnesse and holsomnesse.” (OED)

“Fesauntes, Patriche and Rayle be euer good but beste when they be taken with a hauke.”   1545. The Boke of Cokerye. Stuart Press: p. 3

This is (what is now) a mysterious hawk reference that I alluded to earlier. Hunting often include dogs or hawks, and usually horses and horns. Standing around in blinds is just plain shooting, not a hunt. Back to Pheasants.



Sweet country life, to such unknown,
Whose lives are others’, not their own!
But serving courts and cities, be
Less happy, less enjoying thee.
Thou never plough’st the ocean’s foam
To seek and bring rough pepper home:
Nor to the Eastern Ind dost rove
To bring from thence the scorched clove:
Nor, with the loss of thy loved rest,
Bring’st home the ingot from the West.
No, thy ambition’s master-piece
Flies no thought higher than a fleece:
Or how to pay thy hinds, and clear
All scores: and so to end the year:
But walk’st about thine own dear bounds,
Not envying others’ larger grounds:
For well thou know’st, ’tis not th’ extent
Of land makes life, but sweet content.
When now the cock (the ploughman’s horn)
Calls forth the lily-wristed morn;
Then to thy corn-fields thou dost go,
Which though well soil’d, yet thou dost know
That the best compost for the lands
Is the wise master’s feet, and hands.
There at the plough thou find’st thy team,
With a hind whistling there to them:
And cheer’st them up, by singing how
The kingdom’s portion is the plough.
This done, then to th’ enamell’d meads
Thou go’st; and as thy foot there treads,
Thou seest a present God-like power
Imprinted in each herb and flower:
And smell’st the breath of great-eyed kine,
Sweet as the blossoms of the vine.
Here thou behold’st thy large sleek neat
Unto the dew-laps up in meat:
And, as thou look’st, the wanton steer,
The heifer, cow, and ox draw near,
To make a pleasing pastime there.
These seen, thou go’st to view thy flocks
Of sheep, safe from the wolf and fox,
And find’st their bellies there as full
Of short sweet grass, as backs with wool:
And leav’st them, as they feed and fill,
A shepherd piping on a hill.

For sports, for pageantry, and plays,
Thou hast thy eves, and holydays:
On which the young men and maids meet,
To exercise their dancing feet:
Tripping the comely country Round,
With daffadils and daisies crown’d.
Thy wakes, thy quintels, here thou hast,
Thy May-poles too with garlands graced;
Thy Morris-dance; thy Whitsun-ale;
Thy shearing-feast, which never fail.
Thy harvest home; thy wassail bowl,
That’s toss’d up after Fox i’ th’ hole:
Thy mummeries; thy Twelve-tide kings
And queens; thy Christmas revellings:
Thy nut-brown mirth, thy russet wit,
And no man pays too dear for it.–
To these, thou hast thy times to go
And trace the hare i’ th’ treacherous snow:
Thy witty wiles to draw, and get
The lark into the trammel net:
Thou hast thy cockrood, and thy glade
To take the precious pheasant made:
Thy lime-twigs, snares, and pit-falls then
To catch the pilfering birds, not men.

–O happy life! if that their good
The husbandmen but understood!
Who all the day themselves do please,
And younglings, with such sports as these:
And lying down, have nought t’ affright
Sweet Sleep, that makes more short the night.
Robert Herrick

Pheasant in New England:


What about New England? Were there OR were there not pheasants in New England?

It depends….the sources disagree. Sigh

On the NOT side:

Now by what the Country hath not, you may ghes at what it hath; it hath no Nightengals, nor Larks, nor Bulfinches, nor Sparrows, nor Blackbirds, not Magpies, not Jackdaws, nor Popinjays, nor Rooks, nor Pheasants, nor Woodcocks, nor Quails, nor Robins, nor Cuckos, &c.

1674. John Josselyn. New-Englands rarities. pp. 12-3.

On the SORTA side:

“There are a kind of fowl which are commonly called Pheasants, but whether they be pheasants or no I will not take upon me to determine. They are in one form like our pheasant hen of England. Both the male and the female are alike, but they are rough footed and have staring-feathers about the head and necke. The body is as big as the pheasant hen of England and they are excellent white flesh, and delicate white meat. Yet we seldom bestow a shoot at them.”

- 1636. Thomas Morton. New English Canaan, Dempsey ed. pp. 64-5. Note: in the footnotes Dempsey identifies the bird as  the Ruffed Grouse.(Bonasa umbellius)

 Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse – Audubon’s


In any case – to cook and serve any of these birds:

To roast a Capon

You must roste a Capon with his head off, his wings and Legs on whole.

Roste a Phesant

As a Capon, and when you serue him in, stick one of his fethers upon his brest.

          Patridge as Pheasant , but with no Fether.


                   - 1591. A.W. A Book of Cookrye p.26.


What’s in Season for July

July 3rd, 2013 by KM Wall

Summer time, and the living is REALLY BUSY.

Hay has been cut and put away – those cows and goats have to eat even when there isn’t green grass.

Romanian Haystack

Romanian Haystack

Make Hay while the Sun Shines - 17th century woodcut (color added layer)

Make Hay while the Sun Shines – 17th century woodcut (color added layer)


Corn is growing. Beans, too. Except back in 1623, when because of the drought, they stood at a stay. Standing at stay is never good news to planters.

July 1623

“…; so that the stalk of that was first set began to send forth the ear, before it came to half growth, and that which was later not like to yield any at all, both blade and stalk hanging in the head, and changing color in such manner, as we judged it utterly dead. Our beans also ran not up according to their wonted manner, but stood at a stay, many being parched away, as though they had be scorched before the fire. Now were hopes overthrown, and we discouraged, our joy being turned into mourning.”

Good Newes, Applewood ed., 1624, p. 54.

The good news here was that there was some last minute rain, so in the end all was not lost. But you rather suspected as much.

Beans growing just fine, not standing, no staying

Beans growing just fine, no standing, no staying.The only beans in drought images I could find were soybeans, and they’re a whole ‘nother bean altogether

Fishing. There’s lots of fishing being done in 1627 Plimoth Colony.

“The mackerels be of two sorts. In the beginning of the year are great ones, which be upon the coast; some are eighteen inches long. In summer – as in May, June, July, and August – come in a smaller kind of them. These mackerels are taken with drails which is a long small line with a lead and a hook at the end of it, being baited with a piece of red cloth. This kind of fish is counted as a lean fish in England, but there it is so fat that it can scarce be saved against winter without reisting.”

1634. William Wood, New Englands Prospect, Vaughn ed.  p. 56.

The first reference to a drail or drayle in the Oxford English Dictionary is this from William Wood.

‘Reisting’ is reasting or rusty, which means it doesn’t take salt very well, but it’s really good fresh. And it is really good fresh.

Scomber scombrus - Mackeral

Scomber scombrus – Mackeral

Thomas Morton has a few more mackerel details.

“The Mackerels are the bait for the Bass, and these have been chased into shallow waters, where so many thousands have shot themselves ashore with the surf that whole hogsheads have been taken up on the sands; and for length they excel any of other parts. They have been measured 18 and 19 inches in length and seven in breadth; and are taken with a drayle (as boats use to pass to and fro at seas on business) in very great quantities all along the Coast.

The Fish is good salted for store against the winter as well as fresh, and to be accounted a good commodity.”

-         Morton, Thomas. New English Canaan. Dempsey ed.2000. p. 84.

Good to salt or not good to salt? It could be the time of year you take them  – fatty fishes are more likely to go reisty in hotter weather. But the market for salt mackerel was never huge (like that of saltcod) or profitable (like that of saltcod) and canning seems to have taken them out of the salt fish market altogether.


school of mackerel

school of mackerel

To Broyle Mackrell on the Dutch Fashion

 Lay your  Mackrells in Hyssope and Mints, bind them close with a thred that will not come off, then parboyle them in water and salt, and a little vinegar, then broyle them while they are very browne and crispe, then dish them up and take off the threds, then put vinegar and butter upon them and serve them to the table hot, throwing salt upon them.

-1621. Murrell, J. A Delightful Daily Exercise. London. Stuart Press: 1999, p. 42.

Mint and mackerel go together like bread and cheese, like beans and bacon,  like Beaumont and Fletcher.

A gannet enjoying mackerel (no mint) off the coast of England

A gannet enjoying mackerel (no mint) off the coast of England

There’s even MORE busyness in this season

To be continued….



More meat, more medicine, berry interesting….

June 27th, 2013 by KM Wall

William Wood publishes what seems to be a very fine account of New England called  New Englands Prospect in 1634, and is somewhat slammed, and not in a shellfish sort of way, by Thomas Morton in his 1637 New English Canaan. It wasn’t until a group of us were reading New English Canaan aloud (yes, that’s how we spend our copious free time – SOME of the time) that the repeated phrase “Wooden Propect” jumped out and had meaning.

But since William Wood mentions hearbes both for meat and medicine AND strawberries in nearly the  same sentence, and that combination seems to be a 17th century pattern


Giant strawberry

Giant strawberry


Chap. V.
Of the Hearbes & Fruites, Woods, Waters and Mineralls.

THe ground afFoards very good kitchin Gardens, for’
Turneps, Parfnips, Carrots, Radifhes, and Pumpions,
Muskmillions, Isquouterqualhes, Coucumbers, Onyons, and
whatfoever growes well in England^ growes as well there,
many things being better and larger: there is likewife
growing all manner of Hearbes for meate, and medicine,
and that not onely in planted Gardens, but in the Woods,
without eyther the art or the helpe of man, as fweet Mar-
joran, Purfelane, Sorrell, Peneriall, Yarrow, Mirtle, Saxi-
farilla, Bayes, &c. There is likewife Strawberries in
abundance, very large ones, fome being two inches about;
one may gather halfe a bufhell in a forenoone : In other
feafons there bee Goofeberries, Bilberies, Resberies, Trea-
ckleberies, Hurtleberries, Currants ; which being dryed in
the Sunne are little inferiour to thofe that our Grocers fell
in England

1634. William Wood. New Englands Prospect.

More strawberries

More strawberries

Conserves were traditionally for medicine, but they’re often good on toast.

Just saying.

To make Conserve of Strawberries.

Seeth them in water, then strain them, casting away the water; boyl them again in white-Wine,(keep them stirring) to a good stiffness; when they are almost boyled, add to them a convenient quantity of sugar, stirring them all well together, then put them up in your pots for your use.

-1682. William Rabisha. The Whole Body of Cookery dissected. Prospect Books, 2003 p. 319.

Adraien Coorte - 1698 - Still life with asparagus, gooseberries and strawberries

Adraien Coorte – 1698 – Still life with asparagus, gooseberries and strawberries

To quote John Forti, quoting his grandmother, “It’s better to pay the grocer then the doctor.” To paraphrase Marie Antoinette(not): “Let them eat toast.”

But toast is a different post.


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.

Turkey Week

October 23rd, 2012 by KM Wall

Turkey - old school

It’s really hard – make that Mission: IMPOSSIBLE to have anything to do with the food of Plymouth Colony and to not have turkeys mentioned.  But because everyone else brings it up, and already knows from turkey sometimes I don’t feel the need to mention them. But here they are.

Turkey flying - or is this a sally?

“ Turkeys there are, which diverse times in great flocks have sallied by our doors; and then a gun (being commonly in readiness) salutes them with such courtesy as makes them take a turn in the cook-room, they dance by our door so well.

“Of these there hath been killed that weighed forty-eight pound apiece.

“They are by many degrees sweeter than the tame Turkeys of England, feed them how you can.

“I had a Salvage who hath taken out his boy in a morning, and they brought home their loads about noon.

“I have asked them what number they found in the woods, who have answered Neent Metawna, which is a thousand that day: the plenty of them is such in those parts. They are easily killed at roost because the one being killed, the other sit fast nevertheless, and this is no bad commodity.”

1637.  Thomas Morton. New English Cannan. Jack Dempsey, ed. 1999. p. 64.

Turkey boy in the spring

“The Turkey is a very large bird, of a black color yet white in flesh, much bigger than our English turkey. He hath the use of his long legs so ready that he can run as fast as a dog and fly as well as a goose. Of these sometimes there will be forty, threescore, and an hundred of a flock, sometimes more and sometimes less. Their feeding is acorns, haws and berries; some of them get a haunt to frequent our English corn. In winter when the snow covers the ground, they resort to the seashore to look for shrimps and such small fishes at low tide. Such as love turkey hunting must follow it in winter after a new fallen snow, when he may follow them by their tracks. Some have killed ten or a dozen in half a day. If they can be found towards an evening and watched where they perch, if one come about ten or eleven of the clock, he may shoot as often as he will; they will sit unless they be slenderly wounded. These turkey remain all the year long. The price of a good turkey cock is four shillings, and he is well worth it, for he may be in weight forty pound, a hen two shillings.”

1634. William Wood. New England’s Prospect ( Alden Vaughan, ed. University of Mass. Press: 1977.pp. 50-1.)


and if you’ve never heard a turkey call.…here’s the link. More turkeys and recipes coming up.

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


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



Autumn in New England: It’s for the BIRDS

October 2nd, 2012 by KM Wall


Of the Birds and Fowls Both of the Land and Water.

The princely eagle, and soaring hawk,
Whom in their unknown ways there’s none can chalk:
The humbird for some queen’s rich cage more fit,
Than in the vacant wilderness to sit.
The swift-winged swallow sweeping to and fro,
As swift as arrow from Tartarian bow.
When as Aurora’s infant day new springs,
There the morning mounting lark her sweet lays sings.
The harmonious thrush, swift pigeon, turtledove,
Who to her mate doth ever the constant prove.
The turkey-pheasant, heathcock, partridge rare,
The carrion-tearing crow, and hurtful stare,
The long-lived raven, the ominous screech-owl,
Who tells, as old wives say, diasters foul.
The drowsy madge that leaves her day day-loved nest,
And loves to rove when day-birds be at rest;
The eel-murthering hearn, and greedy cormorant,
That near the creeks in Moorish marshes haunt.
The bellowing bittern, the long-legged crane,
Presaging winters hard, and dearth of grain.
The silver swan that tunes her mournful breath,
To sing the dirge of her approaching death.
The tatling oldwives, and the cackling geese,
The fearfull gull that shuns the murthering piece.
The strong winged mallard, with the nible teal,
And ill-shaped loon who his harsh notes doth squeal.
There widgins, sheldrakes, and humilities,
Snites, doppers, sea-larks, in whole millions flee.
- 1634. William Wood. New Englands Prospect. p. 48-9, Vaughn ed.


“…I will show you a description of the fowls of the air, as most proper in the ordinary course. And first of the Swan, because she is the biggest of all the fowls of that country. There are of them in Merrimac River and other parts of the country, great store of them at the seasons of the year.

“The flesh is not much desired of the inhabitants, but the skins may be accompted a commodity, fit for diverse uses, both for feathers and quills.”

- 1637 Morton, T.  New English Canaan, Dempsey ed.p.62.


“There be likewise many swans which frequent the fresh ponds and rivers, seldom consorting themselves with ducks and geese. These be very good meat: the price of one is six shillings.”

- Wood, W.  New Englands Prospect.. 52


Swimming swan


The native swan (now known as the whistling swan or the Tundra swan: Cygnus columbianus) should not to be confused with more newly introduced Mute Swan – that the one with the little ball on their orange beak:

Mute Swan - orange beak -not native in New England


Although, when they’re feeding, it’s hard to tell them apart.


To Bake all manner of Sea-Fowl, as Swan, Whopper, to be eaten cold.

Take a swan, bone, parboil, and lard it with great lard, two ounces of pepper, three of nutmeg, and four of salt, season the fowl, and lay it in the pye, with a good store of butter, strew a few whole cloves on the rest of the seasoning, lay on large sheets of lard over it, and good store of butter: then close it up in a rye-paste or meal course boulted, and make up with boiling liquor, and make it up stiff: or you may bake them to eat hot, only give them half the seasoning.

In place of baking any of these fowls in pyes, you may bake them in earthen pans or pots, for to be preserved cold, they will keep the longer.

In the same manner you may bake all sorts of wild geese, tame geese, bran-geese, muscovia ducks, gulls, shovellers, herns, bitterns, curlews, heath-cocks, teals, ollines, ruffes, brewes, pewits, mews, sea-pies, dap-chickens, strents, dotterils, knots, gravelins, ox-eyes, red shanks, & c.

-            1678(4th ed) Robert May. The Accomplist Cook. p. 124. Falconwood Press ed.:1992.

Swan pie - all dressed up

And the answer is…..

July 9th, 2012 by Carolyn





“The leaves or the blades of the Leek be long, somewhat broad, and very many, having a keel or crest in the backside, in smell and taste like to the onion. The stalks, if the blades be not often cut, do in the second or third year grow up round, bringing forth on the top flowers made up in a round head or ball as doth the Onion.”  (Gerard, John “The Herbal” 1633)

Onions and leeks look very similar when they flower. They way to tell them apart is that the leaves of the leeks are board and flat, while those of the onion are round and hollow. Here is a full length view:



Leeks were used in cookery, but beware they are very “hot” in temperature and may offset your humors as this passage warns:


“The Hurts

It heateth the body, ingendreth naughty bloud, causeth troublesome and terrible dreams, offendeth the eyes, dulleth the sight, hurteth those that are by nature hot and choleric, and is noysome to the stomach, and breadth windiness.” (Johnson, Thomas ed. Gerard, John “The Herbal” 1633, pg. 174-175)


So go ahead enjoy your leeks, but beware of impending windiness.


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