‘Foodways’ Category

Megs and the Foodways Makeover

February 7th, 2010 by admin

So there have been some changes (and major improvements) to the Colonial Foodways kitchen and store room. I have installed a new floor in the store room which was desperately needed.. That painted particle board was just awful. I have also repainted the door (purple), trim (green), and one part of the ceiling in the kitchen to give the room a whole new cheerful and spunky feel (if I do say so). So I hope everyone will enjoy the new Colonial Foodways area. Here are some pictures from my progress over the past few weeks.

It's Not Just the Food, It's the Ways

It's Not Just the Food, It's the Ways

Sky's the Limit!

Sky's the Limit!

foodways floor
New Storeroom Floor

Yours Truly,
Megan Stanley
Foodways Apprentice


December 15th, 2009 by admin


Since I didn’t ask for food pictures at the Embroidered Jacket event, there really aren’t any. People are gathered around what I know is the food, but the food itself isn’t really showcased. And it was really good. Kenny and the Creative crew did a fantastic job.
It looks like we’ll have to cook everything again for a photo shoot. Yep, somebody’s got to do it. Oh, the life of a Foodways Culinarian.
But on to mussels

To seeth Muscles.
Take butter and vinegar a good deale, parsley chopt small and pepper, then set it on the fire, and let it boile a while, the see the Muscles be cleane washee, and put them in the broth shelles and all, and when they be boyled a while, serve them shelles and all.
Thomas Dawson. The Second part of the Good Hus-wifes Jewell. 1597.
Mussels are easy. And this recipe is almost all you need to know.
To seethe mussels
Wash and pick over you mussels. Make sure the shells fit together tightly – no mud mussels or dearly departed for the pot. Scrub/tug the little beards off.
In a pot with a lid big enough to hold the mussels, put 1/2 cup butter (one stick) and 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar. Add 1/2 a bunch chopped fresh parsley. Bring to a boil. Add the mussels, shells and all. Put the lid on tight. After 5 minutes, carefully toss them withing the pan.It should take under 10 minutes for them to cook. You’ll know they’re done when they’re open. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with the rest of the chopped parsley and enjoy.

Somethings never change. It’s not just the food, it’s the ways.

Colonial Foodways Culinarian

Pears in Broth

December 14th, 2009 by admin


To make Peares to be boiled in meate.
Take a peece of a legge of Mutton or Veale raw, being mixed with a little Sheepes sewet, and half a manchet grated fione, taking four rawe egges yolkes and al. The take a little Time, & parsley chopped smal, then take a few gooseberries or barberries, or green grapes being whole. Put all these together, being seasoned with Salte, saffron and cloves, beaten and wrought together, then make Rowles or Balles like to a peare, and when you have so done, take the stalke of sage, and put it into the ends of your peares or balles, then take the freshe broth of beefe, Mutton or veale, being put into an earthen pot, putting the peares or balles in the same broth with Salt, cloves, mace, and Saffron, and when you be ready to serve him, put two or three yolkes of egs into the broth. Let them boile no more after that but serve it forth upon soppes. You may make balles after the same sort.
Thomas Dawson. The Second part of the Good Hus-wifes Jewell. 1597.

Francine Sagen wrote Shakespeare’s Kitchen and came here for a book signing that included a dinner based on her versions of 17th century recipes. That was the first time that Kenny, our wonderful chef in Creative Gourmet used this recipe, which you can see at Francine Segan
Pretty much these little meatballs are a little conceit, a joke. By making them pear shaped (with the detail of the the sage leaf – you’ll want tiny sage leaves for the best effect) is the first joke, And if you shape the meat around a grape….you have a little surprise within your surprise.
If this link doesn’t work, I’ll be back with a translation. I’m also working on getting some photos, and I suppose a recap of the Embroidered Jacket event will eventually be necessary, too.

It seems I’ve turned everything after the link into a link…..L is for Luddite…..
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

edit-I fixed it.

Peasecods – from Jacket to Plate

December 11th, 2009 by admin

Here’s a recipe for a lovely little 17th century treat.
To Make Peascods in Lent

Take figs, Raisons, and a few Dates, and beate them
very fine, and season it with Cloves, Mace, Cinamon
and Ginger, and for your paste seeth faire water and oyle
in a dish uppon coales, put therein saffron and salt and
a little flower, fashion them then like peasecods, and
when ye will serve them, frye them in Oyle in a frying
panne, but let the Oyle bee verie hotte, and the fire soft
for burning of them, and when yee make them for fleshe
dayes, take a fillet of veale and mince it fine, and put the
yolkes of two or three rawe egges to it, and season it
with pepper, salt, cloves, mace, honie, suger, cinamon,
ginger, small raisons, or great minced, and for your paste
butter, the yolke of an egge, and season them, and fry
them in butter as yee did the other in oyle.
Thomas Dawson, The Good Huswifes Jewell, 1596

Redaction for flesh days version:
Flour, butter, 1 egg and salt


Minced veal (we use chicken); season with salt, pepper, cloves, mace (or nutmeg), honey, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, raisins, butter and one egg yolk.
Make into little pies, shaping them like peasecods, and fry them in yet more butter or bake them in a 375 oven until they’re golden brown. If you bake them, brush them with another egg yolk, beaten, to give them a richer golden color.

More recipes from the Embroidered Jacket Revel to follow.

Colonial Foodways Culinarian

It’s Not all Thanksgiving or Recipes for Pilgrims

November 24th, 2009 by admin

We haven’t been blogging (and by ‘we’ I mean those of us in costume), but we’ve been busy. Lots of people coming by to see us; lots of schoolchildren, too. That sounds like schoolchildren aren’t people, which isn’t what I mean, although there IS something fluky about critical mass and energy and the presence of chickens, no doubt a very interesting behavioral study waiting to happen.
And the press – have you seen us in the Globe? (boston.com) They covered us (and by us, I mean ME, along with some others) on November 13th, National Indian Pudding Day. You did celebrate National Indian Pudding Day, didn’t you? Here’s what I hope will be a link to the How2Heroes website, which is featuring a video on Indian Pudding starring – ME!
And then there was the Cape Cod Times …and the Boston Herald and the AP article and the radio station in San Fransisco, and the one in Vermont, and the one in Louisiana, and the one in…it’s not just the food, it’s the ways.
Such is the life in of a Colonial Foodways Culinarian in November in Plymouth.
You still have time for a quick visit –
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

Retrench… or What We Do Is An Ongoing Process {w/o mentioning Pilgrims or Thanksgiving Recipes)

October 24th, 2009 by admin

Or how blogging is like Intrepretation and how it’s not
So I looked trencher up in the Oxford English Dictioneary (OED) again, and discovered I somehow have managed to overlook and/or forget part of the definition for decades. Seems one of the definations of trencher is ‘a cutting or slicing instrument’ . Actually it’s the first defination…. How have I missed this? There are several recipes that use trenchers to cut, often spinach. So it seems in my copious free time I should be noting the trencher/spinach and/or leafy greens ratio. And since the OED only has references from 1330-1553, for the chopping trenchers and the ones I’ve seen are later then 1553, I might have something to send them for their on-line updates.
Now, about other trenchers. It seems where ever I read (and I can see the words in front of my eyes, so I’m pretty sure I read it SOMEWHERE) that trenchers and treen ware are related is NOT from the OED.
Fie! Fie and for shame! Creeping factiods taking the place of information. Fie and for double shame!
The word trencher comes from the Old French ‘to cut’, more closely related to digging trenches then bits o trees. The second defination of trencher is a flat piece of wood, square or circular, on which meat was served and cut up; a plate or platter of wood, metal, or earthenware. Trenchers show up in colonial probate inventories, in Eurpean inventories, in all sorts of records where people are eating, and show up in all sorts of paintings.
There’s also a third kind of trencher that has become it’s own sort of creeping factiod, which is a shame because it’s cool in it’s own right. This third trencher is a slice of bread that’s used for a plate. The references date between 1380-1513. The 1513 citation is a translation of Virgil, so I’m not sure how current they were even in the 16th century. But eating the plates is one of those curiosities that some people can’t let go of, and want to put all over in the past. Trenchers made of bread weren’t the plates that most people ate off of most of the time; they were a product of a very specific times and places.
In royal and noble households, there were the officers of the table. These were the servents who had very specific duties.We still know butlers, but how many of us have one? If you had a butler, chances are you also had a panter or a pantler. These were not the servants in charge of the pants – they were in charge of the bread or the pane (remember 1066? Normans everywhere?) Norman French was the language of royal and noble households, pane was the word for bread, hence the man in charge of the bread was the panter. And the bread was kept in the pantry. (Butlers were originally in charge of the buttery, which was were the butts (as in casks) were kept, not the butter or whatever.
Anyhow, the pantler was in charge of cutting the cheate bread into trenchers for his lord’s table. These bread dishes would be gathered up at the end of the meal to put out to feed the poor. Generally, the people who ate off the trenchers didn’t eat the trenchers – other people did. People who didn’t have anything to put on a trencher, just the bread with whatever sauce or other bits was clinging to it were the ones eating the ‘plates’, which were really dishes….
So how is blogging like interpretation? A casual, conversational tone. A dialogue. A sense that none of this is the last word, the only word, the complete and the absolute. That anyone passing by can put two cents worth in. That it’s OK to ask a question.
How is blogging not like intrepretation? It’s in writing. And in writing I want to quote the books, not paraphrase them. It’s really hard for me to write without footnotes and you might have noticed I often slip in source citations anyhow. It’s not really a dialogue because I can’t see if you’re nodding in agreement or looking bewildered and I get to do a big bunch of talking before you get to slip a word in edgewise. And since I can’t count on the tone of my voice or the smile on my lips to let you know when to take me with less then a grain of salt….but I get re-dos.
It’s not just the food, it’s the ways.
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

A Boiled Salad, Second Lesson

September 25th, 2009 by admin


Diverse Salads Boiled. (so far, pretty easy, right)
Parboil spinach (cook until done. If using fresh, pick out anything buggy, too limp or slimy. Pull off the tough stems. Wash in several changes of water. Put the spinach in the water, swish it around and lift it out so that the dirt remains behind in the water. If you find a bug, there’s probably another, so add a little salt to the water and let it sit for a minute. I’d give the package stuff from the store another rinse; I don’t care how many times they say they wash it. Frozen? They give you directions…), and chop it fine, with the edges of two hard trenchers upon a board, or the backs of two chopping knives: (chop it fine – it you are using frozen, just buy the chopped…. A trencher is a dish, usually made of wood, hence the ‘treen ware’, sometimes made of pewter or silver, in earlier times (earlier the 1627) sometimes made of bread….OK, that’s a whole ‘nuther post, chopping knives are, I hope, self evident) then set it upon a chafing-dish of coals with butter and vinegar. (And you thought chafing-dishes were a throwback to the 1950’s? Surprise – they’re showing up in all the fashionable 17th kitchens, too. There was a 17th century one found in a downtown Plymouth archeological dig, and we have a replica in the 1627 English Village. Lacking a chafing-dish put the spinach in a heavy bottomed pot and place it over low heat on your stove.) . Season it with cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and a few parboiled currants. (This particular combination of spice is a little reminiscent of modern pumpkin or apple pie. Ginger was considered warming and good for digestions – actually, it is! Vegetables were thought to be a little troublesome to digest, so you’d season accordingly. Sugar was also considered somewhat warming and good for the digestion. Keep in mind that most people were between 1 and 2 pounds of sugar a year. Most of us now polish that much off in less than a week! Currants are dried currants, which are little raisins, so feel free to use raisins here. Modern dried fruit isn’t as dry as it used to be, thanks to plastics and the push to eat them as hand-fruit, so no parboiling necessary.) Then cut hard (boiled) eggs into quarters to garnish it withal, and serve it upon sippets. (Sippets are slices of bread that have been toasted or fried. Use something that won’t melt at first contact to the food, like a sliced, toasted baguette or a ciabatto . Think brushetta!) So may you serve borage, bugloss, endive, chicory, cauliflower, sorrel, marigold leaves (Calendula, or pot marigolds, not French marigolds; if you don’t know which you have DON’T EAT THEM), watercress, leeks boiled, onions, Sparragus (asparagus), Rocket (our old friend arugula), alexanders ( I can’t find these anywhere- if you have some, would you share? Call me. Parboil them, and season them all alike: whether it be with oil and vinegar, or butter and vinegar, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and butter: Eggs are necessary, or at least good for all boiled salads.” (That would be hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered and placed on top)
From John Murrell’s A Newe Booke of Cookerie, London: 1615, p. 34.

So, there you have it. You got this far. In simplest terms, boiled salads are boiled veggies seasoned with ginger, cinnamon and a little sugar, dressed with either oil and vinegar or melted butter and vinegar, served over toasted bread and topped with hard boiled eggs cut into quarters.

K.M. Wall
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

A Boiled Salad – First Lesson (Did Anyone Say Thanksgiving Recipes?)

September 23rd, 2009 by admin

A 17th century cooking lesson
I’m not sure that the Pilgrims used these particular recipes. There aren’t any cookbooks in their wills and inventories, and most of these people wouldn’t have known what to do with one if they had had one. They knew how to cook the things they were familar with in the way that was familar to them. That said, some things turn up over and over again, so they certainly cold have been familar. My history training make me want to hedge and qualify. My big sister background make want to say, “Try it, you’ll like it! And so easy!”
I keep meaning to put more recipes on this blog, but I realize that I teach cooking, not just recipes, and I teach the way of a 17th mother would have: I put out the ingredients and the various pots, and hover about ready to stir the onions, as it were. This is hard to translate into print, so please bear with me. Don’t forget to be sensible – really use all your senses: taste, sight, hearing, smell and judgment.
We’re going to start with a recipe for a salad. Salad, even a boiled one, doesn’t take much to figure out. And why boil a salad? It makes it more artificial, and artificial is good in the 17th century when they had a whole different standard of artificial, which means made by the hand of man. So, a boiled salad is the plants improved by cooking, as opposed to grazing on weeds like a cow or a hog…makes you look at that side salad a whole diffeent way, if you compare it to an animal feeding. A boiled salad will put some familiar things on your table in a way that isn’t too unfamiliar. You don’t need to be growing heirloom varieties, any old spinach will do, I mean any spinach, and it doesn’t have to be an old variety. If you have a garden, go harvest.
….So here’s how it’s gonna go –
First Lesson – Looking at a resource, in this case a period recipe, copied out of the period cookbook. It’s easier if you read it out loud, because spelling isn’t standardized, but pronunciations aren’t that far from now, or so I’ve lead myself to believe. Someday, this will be enough to start you on your way, but if you’re not there today, keep on to
Second Lesson– a version in modern spelling with parenthetical notes to explain some of what going on, define vocabulary. The second one will be the longest of the versions.
Third Lesson– a quick and easy totally 21st century translation.
Put on your aprons, wash your hands, and lets go to the kitchen.
“Diverse Sallets Boyled.
Parboyle Spinage, and chop it fine, with the edges of two hard Trenchers upon a boord, or the back of two chopping knives : then set them on a Chafingdish of coals with Butter and Vinegar. Season it with Sinamon, Ginger, Sugar, and a few parboiled Currins. Then cut hard Egges into quarter to garnish it withal, and serve it upon sippets. So may you serve Burrage, Buglosse, Endiffe, Suckory, Coleflowers, Sorrel, Marigold leaves, water-Cresses, Leekes boyled, Onions, Sparragus, Rocket, Alexanders. Parboyle them, and season them all alike: whether it be with Oyle and Vingar, or Butter and Vinegar, Sinamon, Ginger, Sugar, and Butter: Egges are necessary, or at least good for all boyled Sallets.”
From John Murrell’s A Newe Booke of Cookerie, London: 1615, p. 34.

Colonial Foodways Culinarian

September Gardenings (Thanksgiving Recipes To Follow)

September 18th, 2009 by admin


Set herbs some more,
For winter store.
Sowe seeds for pot,
For flowers sowe not.
- Thomas Tusser
A recent issue of some magazine announced it was time for everyone in these economic times to consider “The Autumnal Garden”. Guess what? Back in the 17th century, that is SO been there, done that. The traditional beginning of the agricultural year is September. And that’s true for gardens, too. Until fairly recently – beginning in the late 19th century, but really since the mid-20th century –gardens weren’t for putting up or putting by, but to provide a fresh bit for as long a season as possible. There is also an overlap between the end of one season and the beginning of the next. It’s the prep work you do in the Fall that determines the success of the Spring.
In The English Housewife (1617) Gervase Markham begins his chapter on cookery with several pages devoted to gardening, his most constant advice being lists of the names of herbs to plant and the phase of the moon to in which to plant. There is a certain presumption that the housewife would know what to do from there. This full moon coming up is the last time you’ll plant before snow. Except for years with an early heavy frost – and we get one of those about every 10 years – this generally works, even in New England. Or at least out little piece of coastal Plymouth, with a large palisade all around in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Not only are you planting (and weeding – ALWAYS WEEDING!) but also deciding what to leave fallow to ‘fatten’ for next year, and generally making the decisions about next year’s garden. This is actually a good time to get yourself out into your garden, while the memory is fresh and true. Where were you more ambitious then realistic? What did you miss because you waited too long? What do you wish – right now – that you had done? This is a good time to write yourself a note, because come January, when there’s snow on the ground, you’ll either order everything in the catalog or get discourage and overwhelmed just looking at all the pretty pictures.
Between now and the full moon later on 4 October we will be sowing seeds of lettuce, spinach, radish, carrots, rocket to enjoy in October and through November, depending on the frost. Like Tusser says, things that are good for the pot – and no flowers. Flowers are produced after the plant makes roots and leaves, and there isn’t enough sun to get past the root and leaf portions this time of year.
Last year Justin had success with onion seeds sown in September that gave the Howland garden onions about a month before the rest of the town this summer. OK – he didn’t gather the onions that had gone to seed quite quickly enough and the sowed themselves, as they are wont to do. Leek, cabbage and parsnip seeds will be added this year to the autumnal sowings to see how they’ll do. As anyone who gardens knows, the micro-climates, even between beds in the same garden, can make a huge difference, so we’re always experimenting with different combinations of seeds and settings and sowings.
Lettuce, turnips, carrots, spinach, radish, even parsnip and leeks are good to sow right now.
Although the pot that Tusser is referring to is a cooking pot, it is also a good time of year to dig up some seasoning herbs to keep in a pot on your windowsill. My new neighbor trimmed some overgrown trees and I have sunny kitchen windows,so I’ll be digging up mint, thyme, marjoram and winter savory for the winter. I might try some sorrel this winter, just to see how it does indoors. Icompletely lucked out and found parsley, basil, watercress, arugala (that’s right – Rocket!) and even salad burnet at the grocery store as potted plants.I’m re-potting them and giving them all a try.
This once again gets us out of the garden and into the kitchen.
K.M. Wall
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

It’s Not Rocket Sallet (More On Pilgrim Gardens and Pilgrim Food)

September 12th, 2009 by admin


… until it is….
Vegetables and organ meats share a split personality in the 17th century. On the one hand, they’re dainty morsels, served with verve and flair on the noblest of tables; on the other hand, they’re the bits that are left to serve the poorest of the poor. Let’s save offal for another day – there’s a great haggis controversy bubbling up in food history circles…I’ll keep you posted. But back to vegetables.
I’m sure you all remember back to the third grade when you learned that the natural world is dividedinto animal, mineral and vegetable. And that’s exactly what a vegetable is in the 17th century – that whole large category of trees and vines and shrubs and grains and shrubs and reeds and cetera – not just the plants you grow for your plate.
If you grow it in your garden, particularly your kitchen garden, then it’s an herb. Cabbage is an herb. Carrot is an herb. Rosemary and rue are herbs. Parsley, sage, thyme – herbs. Turnip, asparagus, skirret – also herbs. There are sun-categories of herbs, often overlapping: pot herbs, sweet herbs, physic herbs, herbs for strewing, and of course, salad herbs.
Salads are made of herbs. Like so much else in the 17th century, there is a hierarchy of herbs, too. Cabbages, kales and coleworts (we know then as collards) – common, definitely food of the poor. Easy to grow, easy to keep, good for a long time in the garden, keep well after they harvested. Cabbages are also considered to be ‘windy’ – Nickolas Culpepper compares them to bagpipes and bellows…not dainty, even then! Garlic is considered to be ‘poor man’s treacle’ – good for whatever ails the poor. It’s also generally assumed that the poorer sorts are doing more physical labor, and therefore have more heat, hotter digestion, or decoction of their food. (That’s Doctrine of Humours in 25 words or less!)
Asparagus, artichokes, broom buds, sapphire, purslane (not the nasty garden weed – proper garden purslane), cowslips, gillyflowers are all dainties. Beancods – plain ole green beans to us now – dainty. Potatoes are a dainty – that’s gonna change, but not until the 18th century.
Lettuce is a salad herb, too, just not necessarily the first thing you think of for salad. It seems to travel back and forth between the dainty and the common. Just like now. Think of the difference between iceberg lettuce and baby Bibb. There are other leafy greens betwixt and between dainty and common. Arugula, known as rocket to 17th century Englishmen (and hence, rocket salad), spinach, endive, beets… If the technology is working for me today, (Buddy, I’m counting on you for backup!) there is a lovely image of a second year beet. But, wait a minute, aren’t beets red things that grow underground – this are large and green and waving in the breeze – and what’s with this second year business?
Side-bar on beets: what we now call Swiss chard is the beet of the 17th. What we now call beets is the beet root, or Red Roman beetroot of the 17th century. How did it become Swiss? I haven’t a clue, but it doesn’t happen until the 19th century. As for the chard part – that comes from the rib in the center of the leaf, which harkens back to the card in the cardoon….Why hasn’t anyone written the Secret Life of Beets? Perhaps in my copious free time….Beets form seed in their second year, so you have to hold a few through the winter to get more beet seeds.
Salads are usually boiled. Eating raw plants was sometimes fashionable, was sometimes distained. Generally, cooking food made it more artificial, which is a good thing in the 17th century because then it is improved by the hand of man. Cooked food was also supposed to better for your digestion.
So if boiled green beans or spinach or endive or Swiss chard have ever turned up on your table, then you have been making boiled salads unawares. In the 17th century Dutch cookbook The Sensible Cook there are recipes for boiled salads, and then there are recipes for various herbs, like boiled cabbage and boiled cauliflower that are not called salads, just a dish of….
So much for theory. Soon – recipes.
K.M. Wall
Colonial Foodways Culinarian

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