Tagged ‘vinegar’

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

To make a sallet of all kindes of hearbes

September 19th, 2013 by KM Wall

To make a sallet of all kindes of hearbes
from Thomas Dawson’s The Good Husewifes Jewell, 1597, p 25.

“Take your hearbes and picke them very fine onto faire water, and picke your flowers by themselves, and wash them al cleane, and swing them in a strainer, and when you put them into a dish, mingle them with Cowcumbers or Lemmons payred and sliced, and scrape suger, and put in vineger and Oyle, and throwe the flowers on the toppe of the sallet, and of every sorte of the aforesaide things and garnish the dish about with the foresaid things, and harde Egges boyled and laid about the dish and upon the sallet.”

And now for a modern translation –

A sallet is just another way to say salad.

Hearbes are herbs, which are also of things we now call vegetables – the sorts of things you’d expect to find in a salad. This recipe doesn’t specify any particular herbs, but from other period sources all leafy greens are mentioned: lettuces, spinach, endive, chicory, cabbage, violet leaves, strawberry leaves and borage leaves. Sorrel, salad burnet, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary and mint leaves could also be added.

Flowers are, well, flowers. Edible flowers include those of calendula (pot marigolds), violets, roses, borage, pinks, and the flowers from sweet herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage. Not sure if it’s edible? Don’t eat it unless you know it’s not toxic. Don’t guess – be safe!
NOTE: If you are gathering herbs and flowers outside of 1627 make sure that they haven’t been treated with herbicides, pesticides or car emissions.

Cowcumbers are cucumbers. Lemmons are lemons. Suger is sugar; vineger is vinegar (wine or cider) and Oyle is oil (olive).

Aforesaide things (which are mentioned several pages back, so no, you didn’t miss it) include raisins, olives, capers, almonds and currents, figs and dates.

harde Egges boyled are hard boiled eggs.

A version of this salad will be on the table for the Bridale for Jane Cooke and Experience Mitchell Saturday September 21, 2013.


Pompion Bread

September 12th, 2013 by KM Wall

in the 17th century is not your granny’s pumpkin bread .

This is  modern pumpkin bread - this is not a 17th century style bread.

This is modern pumpkin bread – this is not a 17th century style bread.

First, you need your pompion.

Great Green (as in un-ripe) pompion, Hopkins garden late august 2013

Great Green (as in un-ripe) pompion, Hopkins garden late august 2013

Great riper pompion, same garden, same day

Great riper pompion, same garden, same day

Acorn squash, a/k/a 'vine apple OR yet another sort of pompion, same day, different garden bed

Acorn squash, a/k/a ‘vine apple OR yet another sort of pompion, same day, different garden bed

Great green pompion,  a little bashful behind that leaf, but "ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille"

Great green pompion, a little bashful behind that leaf, but ” ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille”

Then you need a reference or a recipe.

Sometimes you can’t tell what’s going on in a recipe by the title…Otherways, a fairly common title only makes sense if you read the recipe before. And in the back of Robert May’s The Accomplist Cook there is a section, Section XX (that’s 20 to you non-roman numeral readers) To make all manner of Pottages for Fish Days, which also include caudles (an egg dish, not a pottage) and buttered beer (an egg and beer dish, actually BOWL, and much better tasting then it sounds, but also not a pottage) as well as sops, soops and butter things.

For long years, having not read this closely, I assumed the ‘soops‘ were early soups, hence the pottage section.

In my defense, for long years I was young and stupid, and not focused on only the  foodways end of things.

My first revelation was that soop was another variation of sop.

Yes, our old friend sop, the big brother to the sippet, perhaps even the supersize version of the sippet.

In other words, toast plus.

Untoast and Toast  - lacking topping to make the sop

Untoast and Toast – lacking topping to make the sop

Sometimes the sop isn’t apparent from the title. Buttered gourds are served on sippets…..and that’s the story of 17th century Pompion Bread.

To butter Gourds, Pumpions, Cucumbers or Muskmelons.

Cut them into pieces, and pare and cleanse them; then have a boiling pan of water, and when it boils put in the pumpions, &c. with some salt, being boil’d, drain them well from the water, butter them, and serve them on sippets with pepper.


Bake them in an oven, and take out the seed at the top, fill them with onions, slic’t apples, butter, and salt, butter them, and serve them on sippets.

(Note – this would work very nicely with little punkins, juicy apples and onions sliced thin, baked and when all schlumpy, scooped up and served on toasted bread )


Fry them in slices, being cleans’d & peel’d, either floured or in batter; being fried, serve them with beaten butter, and vinegar, or beaten butter and juyce of orange, or butter beaten with a little water, and served in a clean dish with fryed parsley, elliksanders, apples, slic’t onions fryed, or sweet herbs.

For this last  Otherways, let us review the ways:

  1. Sliced and fried, either floured or battered (this sounds like pumkin fritters – why aren’t they serving this at Fairgrounds with the all the other fried things?)
  2. fried, served with beaten butter and a litle vinegar
  3. fried, served with beaten butter and orange juice
  4. fried with beaten butter
  5. fried, with fried parsley
  6. fried with fried alexanders
  7. fried with fried apples
  8. fried with fried onions
  9. fried with sweet herbs sage, or rosemary thyme….
alexanders, Smyrnium olustrum

alexanders, Smyrnium olustrum


Faux Pie

August 20th, 2013 by KM Wall

It’s not that the pie is a fake – it’s just pretending to be something that it’s not. And I’m not fully convinced that it’s purpose is to deceive as much as to recall, hearken, echo back to something that is otherwise unattainable, more like mock turtle soup.

The Mock Turtle form Alice in Wonderland - actual 19th century mock turtle was made form calves feet and heads...

The Mock Turtle form Alice in Wonderland – actual 19th century mock turtle was made form calves feet and heads…look closely, this illustration is very funny.

or Tofurky

Tofurky dinner - no turkey, just tofu

Tofurky dinner – no turkey, just tofu

To bake a Pig like a Fawne.

Fley him when he is in the haire, season it with pepper and salt, Cloves and mace, take Claret wine, Vergious, Rosewater, Sinamon, Ginger and Sugar, boyle them togither, laye your Pig flat like a Fawne or a Kidde, and put your sirup unto it and sweet butter, and so bake it leisurely.

1591. A.W. Book of Cookrye.

  • A pig is a young porker, a fawne is a baby deer.
  • fley him is to skin him (hence the hair – you do NOT  want to burn the hair on or off him, he will taste like burned hair smells. Really. You do not want this.
  • season with salt and pepper, cloves and mace.
  • Boil down a mixture of  claret wine, verjuice, rosewater, cinnamon, ginger and sugar.
  • lay your pig flat in the pastry, add the syrup and butter (you kinda know to just add butter, whenever, right?)
  • Bake in a moderate oven.

or you could just use the right sauce

Other meer Sauces to counterfeit Beef, or Muton to give it a Venison colour.

Take small beer and vinegar, and parboil your beef in it, let it steep all night, then put in some turnsole to it, and being baked, a good judgment shall not discern it from red or fallow deer.

Otherways to counterfeit Ram, Wether, or any Mutton for Venison.

Bloody it in sheeps, Lambs, or Pigs blood, or any good and new blood, season it as before, and bake it either for hot or cold. In this fashion you may bake mutton, lamb, or kid.

Robert May. The Accomplist Cook.


Chrozophora tinctoria or turnsole - a red coloring agent

Chrozophora tinctoria or turnsole – a red coloring agent



Neat Feet

August 17th, 2013 by KM Wall

Back to bits…..the feet of Neat become a pie…

Somehow it seems wrong to insert images of hairy hooves…..check out the blog roll – both of these cookbooks are now linked.

How to bake pyes of Calves feet.

Take Calves feet and wash them, boyle and blanch the haire of them, season them with cloves and mace, and a little pepper, vergious and sugar, dates, prunes, corance, and sweet butter, then make your paste of fine flower with yolkes of Egges, and raise the Coffin square, when it if halfe baked, then take it out and put in Vergious and sugar with the yolks of hard Egs strained.

1591 .A.W  Book of Cookrye.


coffin square

coffin square – Robert May

To bake Calues feet.

Take Calues feet and seeth them tender, pull off the haire, then slit them, and make your paste fine, and when you haue made your coffin, before you put in your feet take great Raisons and mince them small, and plucke out the kernels, and strawe them in the bottome of your pie: then season your feete with Pepper, Salt, cloues and Mace, then lay in the feet, and straw Corrans on them, and Sugar, and a good peece of Butter in it, and close it vp, and make a litle hole in the lid, and when it is almost baked ynough, put in a messe of Uergious, and so serue them.

1594, 1597. The good Huswifes handmaide for the Kitchin


To bake Calues feet after the French fashion.

Take the feete, pull off the hair, and make them cleane, and boyle them a litle till they be somewhat tender, then make your paste, and season your Calues feet with pepper, Salt, and Synamon, and put them in your paste, with a quantitie of sweet Butter, Parsley and Onions among them, so close it vp, and set it into the Ouen til they be halfe baken. Then take them foorth, and open the crowne, and put in more butter & some Uinegar, so let them stand in the Ouen til they be thoroughlie baken.

1594, 1597. The good Huswifes handmaide for the Kitchin

Pie with a vent hole

Pie with a vent hole – illustration from Robert May

More bits in pie – Neat!

August 15th, 2013 by KM Wall

There are a whole category of 17th pie recipes that are increasing underrepresented in modern life.


Some, like Steak and Kidney Pie, morphed and re-invented themselves through the centuries and are now in form that is pretty standard pub grub in England. Not so much in New England.

Steak and Kidney Pie

Steak and Kidney Pie

This one is labeled Round Steak and Kidney Pie

This one is labeled Round Steak and Kidney Pie

Bits – sometimes called offal because they were the bits that fell off while the butcher was butchering (I’m not sure if I’m buying this, but it’s got a too weird to be anything but true vibe. ‘Sensing vibe’ not being part of  historical methodology, I’m in a double bind.)


This is a NEAT

This is a NEAT


This is a Neat tongue - or tong

This is a Neat tongue – or tong


To bake a Neates tongue.

First pouder the tongue three or foure dayes, and then seeth it in faire water, then blanche it and Larde it and season it with a little pepper and Salt, then bake it on Rie paste, and before you cloase vp your pie, strowe vppon the tongue a good quantitie of Cloues and Mace beaten in powder, and vppon that halfe a pounde of Butter, then close vp your pye verye close but make a rounde hole in the toppe of the pie. Then when it hath stoode more then foure houres in the Ouen, you must put in halfe a pint of Vineger or more, as the Vineger is sharpe, then close vp the hole very close with a peece of past and set it in the ouen  againe.

Thomas Dawson. The Good huswifes Jewell

Other sorts of bits that don’t show up in 17th century cookery:

8 bit color

8 bit color


drill bits

drill bits



Bit O Honey

Bit O Honey

Lettuse stand half amazed…

August 14th, 2013 by KM Wall

…at these poor peoples humble condition….to paraphrase Governor William Bradford as he contemplates the condition of the colony in early 1621.  ‘Lettuse’ is part of the  paraphrase, which brings us to


Lettuce seeds - the first step of the plant - and the last step of the plant...all the tasy goodness is between these two points.

Lettuce seeds – the first step of the plant – and the last step of the plant…all the tasty goodness is between these two points.


To make a Lettuse Pye.

Take the best leaved Lettuse you can gett, perboyle and quarter them, then tak the yelkes of 3 hard egges mince them smale, and Reasons of the sunne, Currans Nutmege, sinamonde, suger and a little pepper, season your Lettuse with this and put them in the pye with a good peece of sweete butter, when the pye is baked make a sirrope of clarrette wine, suger, and vinegar with the yealke of an ege, beate it all together and put it into the pye and so sarve him to the boarde.

- The Complete Reciept Book of Elinor Fettiplace. Vol. 3, p. 6. Stuart Peachy

If you ignore the bread and cheese bookends, this sort of loose leaf mix could be right at home in a 17th  century lettuce salad

If you ignore the bread and cheese bookends, this sort of loose leaf mix could be right at home in a 17th century lettuce salad. It was harder then you would think to find an image of lettuce that wasn’t iceberg.

Continuation of the wedding feast of William and Alice Bradford….

If you’ve got deer, you’ve got to get humble……the humbles, or umbels or the numbels are the inward bits.

And a great name for a Rock Band.



To bake the Humbles of a Deere.

Mince them verie small, and season them with pepper, Cinamon and Ginger, and suger if you will, and Cloues and mace, and dates and currants, and if you will, mince Almondes and put vnto them, and when it is baked, you must put in fine fat, and put in suger, cinamon and Ginger, and let it boile, and when it is minced, put them together.

1596. Thomas Dawson. The good Huswifes Iewell.  p. 20.

Happy First Thanksgiving !

August 6th, 2013 by KM Wall

August sixth is the anniversary of the First Thanksgiving.  No, not THAT First Thanksgiving, what with 1621 being a little more then 150 years in our past, but the first declaration of a National Thanksgiving. In these United States.

We can thank old Honest Abe for this, and for his repeating the whole Thanksgiving thing again in November of 1863, beginning the holiday that we all know and love and cook too much and eat our fill and more on.

Abraham Lincoln in 1863

Abraham Lincoln in 1863

The confusion lies in that thanksgiving is a concept as well as a holiday. So, giving thanks is something that goes back long before 1621 and is practiced by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons. Secular holidays are really a product of the modern era, and get their start in the early modern era. For Europeans – and Englishmen are European regardless of the whole island thing -  holidays – that is Holy Days - go back to the medieval (make that Roman Catholic) Church. The quarter days and cross quarter days that divide up the calendar are holidays, every one, starting with the start of the year March 25 which is Ladymas, through Christmas and onto Candlemas.

So, what happens when people protest the form of the Church, and try to reform it, to purify it? They start to ditch the holidays….but when do they get to get together and celebrate, rejoice, let off some steam?

Oops. Major Glitch.

In England, some start to celebrate Elizabeth’s Coronation – her Crownaton Day (November 17) on a regular basis after her coronation. A state holiday is born! Under James I there is his (and Parliaments) salvation from certain death and destruction by gunpowder with November 5th being a day of thanksgiving.

Gunpowder Plot conspirators - burn the Guy!

Gunpowder Plot conspirators – burn the Guy!

Gunpowder Plot Day being celebrated in England 2010

Gunpowder Plot Day being celebrated in England 2010

And because August is all things piewise….well, Thanksgiving and pie isn’t much of a leap. There are the usual suspects  – apple, pumpkin, cranberry, mince – but today it’s about

Chicken Pie.

Chicken Pie shows up in 19th century Thanksgiving tables, and chicken pie show up on 17th century tables…..


 To bake a chicken pie.

To bake a chicken pie: after you have trussed your chickens, broken their legs and breast bones, and raised your crust of the best paste,  you shall lay them in the coffin close together with their bodies full of butter. Then lay upon them, and underneath them, currants, great raisins, prunes, cinnamon, sugar, whole mace, and salt: then cover all with great store of butter, and so bake it; after, pour into it the same liquor as you did your marrow bone pie, with the yolks of two or three eggs beaten amongst it, and so serve it forth.

-1631. Gervase Markham. The English Housewife , Best ed. p. 100.

Note: marrow bone pie liquor: ….white wine, rose-water, sugar, cinnamon, and vinegar mixed together….

Chickens – plural – once again indicates tiny birds. Truss is to tie them up. Breaking the bones release the marrow which makes a richer pie. It also makes it messier by 21st century standards, what with jagged bone bits and all. There is also something that is both primitive and goofy about beating a dead chicken in the kitchen.  Make raised coffins – and don’t forget a vent hole in the lid on it. Fill their bodies with butter (use your judgement – a good housewife should not be butter fingered – HA ) and surround them with raisins, currents (the dried ones, not the fresh ones) and prunes (now labeled dried plums, which they are, but still…) and cinnamon and sugar and salt and whole mace – if you don’t have a blade or two of mace to drop in, a little ground nutmeg will sub. More Butter! Put a lid on it (don’t forget the vent hole) and bake  long enough for the chicken to be done. Mix up the liquor – 2 or 3 beaten egg  yolk, some white wine, some rosewater, sugar cinnamon and vinegar. This is going to mix and mingle with the fruit, spice and BUTTER that’s already in the pie. Pour it into the pie.

Let cool enough before serving for the the sauce to settle (those egg yolks will cook in the hot butter and chicken juices) and not squirt hot butter all over the place – and you. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Serve it forth and be thankful.


Chicken Pie

Chicken Pie – thoroughly modern


Proclamation 103 – Day of Thanksgiving, Praise, and Prayer, August 6, 1863
July 15, 1863

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people and to vouchsafe to the Army and the Navy of the United States victories on land and on the sea so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored. But these victories have been accorded not without sacrifices of life, limb, health, and liberty, incurred by brave, loyal, and patriotic citizens. Domestic affliction in every part of the country follows in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father and the power of His hand equally in these triumphs and in these sorrows:

Now, therefore, be it known that I do set apart Thursday, the 6th day of August next, to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise, and prayer, and I invite the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship and in the forms approved by their own consciences render the homage due to the Divine Majesty for the wonderful things He has done in the nation’s behalf and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the length and breadth of our land all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation through the paths of repentance and submission to the divine will back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 15th day of July, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State .



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