February, 2009

Pippin Hot!

February 19th, 2009 by admin

For February “Stay-cation’ Week, there are a whole range of family
workshops. These are the recipes for Pippin Hot workshop. Photos and notes
to follow.

As American as Apple Pie…but there was Apple Pie in England (and many
other places) long before there was Apple Pie here. There were no apples
growing in New England in 1620, so no apple pie at the First Thanksgiving.
But I wonder, how many apple pies were eaten at last year’s Thanksgivings?
Apple Pie is good alone (Apple Pie is GREAT alone), apple pie is good with
friends, apple pie is good with coffee, apple pie is good with ice cream or
whipped cream or sharp cheddar or…what do YOU like with apple pie?

“…yn take a quart of fine flower, & put ye rest of ye butter to it in little
bits, with 4 or 5 spoonfulls of faire water, make ye paste[pastry] of it &
when it is well mingled beat  it on a table & soe roule[roll] it out.”
- Martha Washington’s Book of Cookery. Karen Hess, ed.  pp130-1

Take pippins [ a variety apple] of the fairest, and pare them, and then
divide them just in the halves, and take out the cores clean: then, having
rolled out the coffin[the pastry case] flat, and raised up a small verge of
an inch or more high, lay in the pippins with the hollow side downward, as
close to one another as may be: then lay here and there a clove, and here
and there a whole stick of cinnamon, and a little bit of butter; then cover
all clean over with sugar, and so cover the coffin, and bake it according to
the manner of tarts; and, when it is baked, then draw it out, and, having
boiled butter and rose-water together, anoint all the lid over therewith,
and then scrape or strew on it a good store of sugar, and so set it in the
oven again, and after serve it up.
- Markham, Gervase. The English Housewife.(1615/1623) Michael Best, ed.
McGill-Queen’s Press: Montreal. 1986.


2 cups all purpose FLOUR
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) BUTTER
½ teaspoon SALT
1 teaspoons SUGAR
6 tablespoon cold WATER

Mix flour with salt and sugar. Work butter in until it’s crumbly. Add water
and mix and mash until it holds together. Add a little more it’s not holding
together, but not too much. When it forms into a great big ball, divide into
two parts, one larger then the other – one one-third and the other
two-thirds. Shape into 2 disks, cover with plastic wrap or put into a
plastic bag so it does’t dry out and let it sit in the fridge for at least
10 minutes and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, make up the filling:


1 POUND APPLES (about 3 medium size one)
1 tablespoon SUGAR
½ – 1 ½ teaspoon CINNAMON
1 teaspoon BUTTER
1 teaspoon butter, melted and 1 teaspoon sugar for the topping
Cut the apples into quarter, peel and core.
Sprinkle a dusting of flour on your work surface. Take the pastry out of the
fridge and remover the larger disk from it’s wrapping. This is going to be
the bottom of your pie. Put some flour on your hands to and dust your
rolling pin. Swack the pastry disk with your rolling pin a few times. Roll
it out to be and inch or two larger then your pie plate. Roll the pastry
unto your rolling pin and transfer it to the pie plate.

Put your cut apples in, round bumpy sided up. Sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar
and dot with the butter.
Remove from plastic, put on your floured surface and swack and roll some
more for the upper crust, or lid. Remember, the flour keeps things from
sticking, so you should only need a dusting! Cut slits in the pastry, roll
around your pin and transfer to the top of the apples.

Roll the edges of the bottom crust to meet the top crust and crimp and seal
all around. The edges can be resting inside the pan, right on top of the

Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes – it’ll smell great and be a lovely golden
color. Take out of the oven, brush on the melted butter, sprinkle with rest
of the sugar and put back into the oven. SHUT THE OVEN OFF. Leave the pie in
the warm oven for at least 10 minutes or through supper so you can eat it
warm for dessert.

OR make the pie up, pastry and apples and spice and wrap tightly in a foil
and then plastic. Freeze for up two months.


Heat your oven to 475.
Unwrap the pie. Put the frozen pie in the hot oven. Bake for 20 minutes and
then lower the heat to 350 for another thirty minutes. Again, don’t the
timer rule you – use your senses! Does it smell done, is the pastry golden
brown, not pale? (Of course, if your oven’s hotter, take it out sooner)
Then brush the top with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and put back into
the shut off but still warm oven… give it ten minutes or eat your supper
first and it’ll be waiting there for you.

Leftover pie is great for breakfast, especially in New England in the cold
weather or probabley anywhere else for that matter. Anne Dimock’s  Humble
Pie: Musings on What Lies Beneath the Crust is a great book about making
pies in general.

Kathleen Wall ~ Colonial Foodways Culinarian

The Enormous Turnip

February 17th, 2009 by admin
It was such a lovely day, with the thaw and all, so Justin and I went down to the 1627 Village to see how the gardens were doing. It’s really interesting to see where the snow has and hasn’t melted, and to see what were such large pile of manure becoming much smaller piles of compost – just in time for spring top dressing.
Justin had left some plants for seed in the Howland garden.That’s when we saw it – the Enormous Turnip. There were several other, more turnip sized turnips, but this one…. I HAD to have it. Alrighty – I’m rather turnip mad, but when I went to weigh this one, I had to move to the baby scale because it was to big for the regular scale. I weighed in at THIRTEEN POUNDS. Almost thirteen pounds, one ounce. Yep, that’s one big turnip. The turnips we grow here are a variety know as Eastham turnips, which do have a tendency to grow big. Seeing  turnips this big, you can understand how before pumpkins were popular, that it was turnips that were carves out and had candles put in them for lanterns. Eastham turnips are local turnips – Eastham is on Cape Cod. I was first introduced to Eastham turnips by Carolyn Crowell of Crow Farm in Sandwich (MA). Carolyn grew up on Crow Farm, had a career as a home ec teacher, and then became a pilgrim. She probably knew more about farming then some of the original Mayflower passengers. Eastham turnips were the turnip she was raised on. She finally retired from the pilgrim life – to work in the farm department! Talking to people all day long wore her out more then tossing around bales of hay. She had her eightieth birthday a while back. Our potters made her a seventeenth century style pitcher – with a flowering turnip design motif.
Now, as proud as Eastham is of their turnips, Westport (MA) also has turnip bragging rights. I got some Westport turnips at the Farmer’s Market this summer, mistaking them at first for Easthams because they look that much alike. As far as I can tell the biggest difference is that Easthams have their festival and Westports have an historic marker.  But back to the enormous turnips……
At thirteen pounds, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d find when I cut it open.With the first cut, sure enough there are the tell-tale signs of A Very Hungry Caterpillar. But more cutting, and peeling, and a little trimming left me with six pounds of perfectly fine turnip. I dare say if I were hungrier or had a family to feed it could have been closer to eight pound of good turnip. I parboiled it in lightly salted water for about ten minutes, drained and then some went into a casserole dish with a little salt and pepper and a nice bath of light cream. Into a 350 oven. The rest went into a pan on top of the stove with a little water, white wine vinegar (about 2 ounces of each) and tablespoon of sugar, mixed it up and let it simmer. About twenty minutes later I took the casserole out of the oven, stirred it up and mashed down any bits that weren’t under cream, which was getting nice and thick and added a little butter on top, maybe 2 tablespoons. Stirred the pan in the stove and all was well with the world. Washed and chopped some fresh sage. Another twenty minutes (or was it twenty-five?) the casserole came out of the oven, got another stir and mash and it was ready to serve. Added the sage to the turnips on the stove, the vinegar mellowing nicely with the sugar. It smelled terrific. Took a taste and added a few more leaves of sage and it was ready to serve.This sage and turnip recipe is one we use in the 1627 English Village. The recipe calls for cooking the turnips in wine after their first boil – I use a 1627 English Village substitute of vinegar and water with a little sugar.
You would think a turnip that big and that old would be rank and/or woody, but it was sweet, fragrant, delicious, delectable – even people who don’t ordinarily like turnips liked these.
So, the lessons learned are: 1) you can keep turnips in the ground through February, even in New England IF you grow the right turnips in the first place; 2) changing the water takes away turnip rankness; 3) cream is a great improver of just about any food; 4) it’s harder to cook seventeenth century recipes in a twenty-first century kitchen if you’re used to cooking them over a wood fire in iron pots. I felt compelled to measure everything in modern kitchen. In the early modern kitchen I trust myself to know what’s enough.
And if it seems like I’ve strayed a bit into the realm of  younger audience, I’ve been working on the finishing touches of the Pippin Hot  – Apple Pie workshops for school vacation, or should I say, February Stay-cation, next week.
Foodways Culinarian
–Admin edit–
We are still waiting for the photo from Justin

Were They All Shorter Back Then?

February 10th, 2009 by admin

When visitors come in to our character’s houses and see the beds, invariably they make assumptions about people’s heights. This is natural as we all make assumptions based on our own 21st century (and various ethnic, cultural, gender-based…you get the picture) mindsets. Obviously our characters can’t give much insight about this as they are just living their normal lives.

But a former colleague of ours, Caroline Freeman Travers, wrote an excellent essay, “Were They All Shorter Back Then” that discusses this very topic. In that this blog wants to be more conversational in its tone, and Caroline’s essay is quite scholarly, I’ll just post a link to it. Our website can sometimes be a bit unwieldy and I don’t want  you to miss some of the great stuff on it, so I will linking to various parts of it that I think might be of interest to some of you.

Check out Caoline’s work by clicking HERE.


Make Haste – Hasty Pudding, that is!

February 10th, 2009 by admin

Hasty Pudding isn’t just an award that Harvard’s drama club drags out this
time every year, all congratulations to this years Woman of the Year Renee
Zellweger. Hasty Pudding was good eating, as well as  good times, enjoyed in
the seventeenth century and it’s descendant dish – Indian Pudding – is still
being enjoyed in Plymouth. Hasty Pudding is referenced long before there is
a recipe for it. ”Fij, I can thinke of no fitter name than a hasty pudding.
For I protest in so great haste I composed it,…”(1599). But it’s another
fifty years before it shows up in a recipe form by William Rabisha, in a
very elegant form that includes a finishing touch of:
with a handful of Sugar, and a little Rose-water, stir them together again
till they begin to boyl and thicken, then put it out into your dish you
serve it up in, set it on a heap of coals, put a fire-shovell to be red hot
in the fire, then hold it close to you Pudding untill it is brown on the
top, so scrape on Sugar and send it up.

Doesn’t that sound like the sort of thing that ought to have replaced crème
brulee as the dress desert of tres chic trend? But most hasty puddings were
far simpler fare – flour or fine meal, boiled in water or milk, and then
served up in a hurry  – “Like a hastie-Pudding, longer in the eating, then
it was in making.”

When John Jossylyn writes about the use of maize meal in New Englands
Rarities (1672), it is a version of this simpler pudding he
recounts: ….Homminey, which they put in  a Pot of two or three Gallons, with
Water, and boyl it upon a gentle Fire till it be like Hasty Pudden; they
put of this into Milk, and so eat it.”

I hope you were paying attention because here’s the subtle shift between old
England’s Hasty Pudden (Okay – I LOVE that spelling; it’s how I hear it in
my mind’s ear) and New England’s Indian Pudding. Amelia Simmons in 1796,
first American Cook Book and all – she’s the first to record a recipe for
Indian Pudding – three, actually. They’re called ‘Indian’ because they’re
made with Indian corn meal – to differentiate it from rye and wheat, which
were English flours. And then, too, corn meant any grain that you grew, not
like now when it’s Zea mais. And they each include meal that is boiled,
although the haste is gone. One needs to cook for twelve hours. That’s
right – twelve hours. By the time the Boston Cooking School Cook Book comes
along in 1884, Mrs. Lincoln (who was Fannie Farmer’s predecessor) manages to
shave four hours off the process in the Plymouth Indian Indian-Meal Pudding,
contributed by Mrs. Faunce. It’s a version of this Indian Pudding that I’ve
been making for the Plimoth Cinema. In my version I use a slow cooker
instead of a slow oven. And I have to triple the quantities  – there are a
lot of Indian pudding lovers in Plymouth!

I’ve also discovered the Great Fruit Divide – the people who tolerate, or
even love raisins or dates or other add-ins, and those who broach no
sullying of the corn/milk/molasses that is Indian pudding. As soon as I
finish this I’m going to try a small batch of what may be Plimoth Cinema
Indian Pudding – one with cornmeal, milk and molasses, to be sure, but with
some cranberries – dried, like the addition of raisins, or fresh (fresh
being the ones I froze during the harvest) to make a something completely
different? Will the fresh ones burst and make the muddy color murkier or
perk it up? Hmmmm…never a dull moment in the life of a Foodways Culinarian!

Coming soon – Pilgrim Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday (maybe you know the day as
Mardi Gras?) and Pippin Hot – Seventeenth Century Apple Pies

Kathleen Wall ~ Colonial Foodways Culinarian

Pilgrims, Google, and Page Rank

February 5th, 2009 by admin

As many of you know I do online marketing on the side. Because of that I understand a tiny bit about the way Google works. This blog has only been around for six months and it already has a Page Rank of 3 out of ten. Now, while that doesn’t always affect where me might appear in an organic search (like when you type in “pilgrim” into the Google search bar, we don’t appear anywhere on the first 5 pages), it IS pretty good for a brand new blog.

And it’s all because all of you. Google loves fresh content and you all keep providing it. In the coming season I’m going to hit a number of you up to do some posting for the benefit of our readers. And those of you lurking behind your keyboards…if you’ve commented, thank you and keep it up. If you haven’t, come out from behind the weeds and give us a shout.


What Happens Next?

February 3rd, 2009 by admin

On occasion we get visitors whose curiosity has been peaked by the excellence of our interpretive staff and want to find out more information about the lives and goings on of the people we portray. Often they want to be able to “look into the future” of Plimoth Colony and understand a more holistic view of the colonies history (it’s a financial disaster, a fascinating story of the collapse of a corporation that is not unlike events we are experiencing today).

Here I am linking to a timeline provided by our Education Department (of which I am currently a member):

Timeline of Plymouth Colony

It’s only an outline and I encourage anyone seeking further knowlege about this period to check the literature available in our online shop.


But They Knew They Were Pirates

February 2nd, 2009 by admin

In 1623 the ship called Little James arrived in New Plimoth carrying a number of passengers for the colony and a letter of Mark.  The men on the ship seemed to be in some dispute with their captain about whether or not they should have taken a French fishing ship that they had encountered on the way.  William Bradford told these men that they were fishermen but they knew they were Pirates.  A ” Letter of Mark” ( spellings vary) was essentially a license for taking other peoples ships, people and stuff because they were enemies or competitors with your King and Country.  As long as you stayed within the conditions of your letter of mark you would be considered as if you were working for the Royal Navy and had captured an enemy vessel.  Of course to their victims, regardless of their legal status they would still be pirates.  Therefore for purposes of this post I will be referring to all “takers”  ( Bradford uses this in his letter from March, 1623)  as pirates.

Pirates and Pinnaces and Pilgrims, Oh my!

You may be wondering what pirates pilgrims and pinnaces have to do with one another or how they relate to the history of Plimoth Colony.  Firstly, the Little James was a pinnace of about 44 tuns burden.  A pinnace in the 17th C. was a small ship. Interestingly enough the Little James was both a pirate and was the victim of ‘Turkish’ pirates off of England in 1625.  The loss of the Little James and the Fortune four years earlier had serious economic consequences for Plimoth Colony.  As can be seen with recent headlines regarding the piracy of an oil tanker off of Somalia, piracy is still a serious and contemporary problem.  Also, the rich body of both printed and audio-visual literature regarding pirates from Long John Silver to Captain Jack Sparrow provides a wealth of mythology, interesting tales, and really interesting contrasts and comparisons between the pirates of myth and literature versus the rather gritty reality of European pirates of the North Atlantic.  It is my intention to incorporate further research toward the goal of an eventual dock-side exhibit about 17th C. piracy.  Combining myth and reality that would both educate and entertain our guests, particularly the younger ones, we can continue to compare and contrast the lives of people in both the 17th and 21st Centuries.

As the printed word is such a one way means of communication please let me invite you to continue to discuss pirates and piracy with a man personally concerned about the subject.  I have once again been cast in the role of Christopher Jones, Ship’s Master on Mayflower II and you might find his take on this subject interesting.

Christopher Messier

Program Interpreter/Museum Teacher

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