What was I thinking!!!

In my workshops I like to have a theme and use original receipts, from medieval times up to the 1820s. It takes some doing to rewrite them in modern language. Now this theme took me by surprise. Fall and pumpkins just sounded too good not to do. So off to the cookery books I go to put together a sensible meal to cook over the hearth. First stop Amelia Simons. On the title page she writes that it is the first cookery book “Adapted to this Country”. What I find is pompkin No1 &2, a pie. As I read on through the Historical Notes written in my copy of Simons 1796 edition, Karen Hess has much to say about pumpkin and other squashes and gourds. She mentions Hannah Woolley’s 1675 receipt for pie that is very different from Simons. And she goes on to say how the use of edible gourds go as far back as ancient Rome. Great, I should find lots of receipt for my Pumpkin Workshop!

NOOO! However what I do find is more interesting. Great information from the Food Time Lime, a description from the travels of Peter Kalm in 1750 to the colonies, A history on “Eating in America” by Root and De Rochemont and a great 1630 poem from Plymouth.

Stead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies. Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies, We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon, If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.

And I can go on and on. There is a lot of information on the use of pumpkin in America , but not many receipts.

However, I forged on and this class will be a bit different, some original old receipts, and some I’m making judgment calls on ways pumpkin might have been used in the 1700s.

I went to the local farmer and bought several types of pumpkins some for this workshop and some for the next one. On the wall dresser I put out the red kabocha squash and a Long Island cheese pumpkin.


Everyone arrived and started right in. We had two Heathers so we called them Heather 1 & 2


Heather 2 and her husband Ken wanted to work on the sausages. I used “To make Sausage” by John Nott for a receipt. No, we did not put pumpkin in the sausage, this sausage would top the Pumpkin sauce for the Vermicelli. It is always fun to see someone cleaning the guts and using a hand held sausage stuffer for the first time.


Pumpkin soup had to be on the menu. Paul and Heather 1 picked the red kabocha squash as they felt it looked like a pumpkin and had the right color. They chopped the pumpkin, a potato, leeks, onions and garlic and sautéed them in butter in the iron cauldron.


Brenda flew in from Pennsylvania for the workshop and to visit her daughter Heather 2. She is a delightful lady and unafraid in the kitchen. Here she soften up pumpkin over the fire to use in a Pumpkin and Maize bread as described by Peter Kalm. In the morning I made barm to be added to the bread. Brenda scalded the cornmeal first then added the pumpkin and a cup of wheat flour. When that cooled she put in the yeast and mixed it up.

Notice my new marble pastry board. Thanks to Niel Vincent De Marino for information on where to buy it. 6 copy

Ken and Heather looked over the receipt for Nott’s sausage and chopped the pork very fine. I had rendered some suet and added a bit of goose fat from the workshop beforehand; this was chopped and mixed in. The receipt also called for spinach and cloves . 4

Heather reads the soup receipt and gets the chicken stock out. Allan made the fresh chicken stock just for the workshop. Heather gathers the brandy, cloves coriander, nutmeg and cayenne to mix in with the sautéed mixture in the cauldron. Ken and Heather are still chopping and I’m adding a bit of water to Brenda’s bread. The day was very low in humidity and the cornmeal needed just needed a bit more liquid one teaspoon at a time. 9

With all the ingredients in the soup, Paul hangs it from an S-hook on the crane. After much attention, it was taken off and put to the side to keep warm. The cauldron was turned now and again to make sure one side did not get too hot and burn.


17th  Century Cheese Cake by Robert May was next to be made. The dough is made of wheat flour with cold butter,  just pinch of salt and sugar and a three egg whites. It is very stiff. After Brenda mixed it together it went into the refrigerator for a hour. Brenda rolled out one disk and I showed her how to make a round into a triangle for the base.


Ken and Heather take turns with the hand sausage stuffer. Ken said next time he makes sausages he’ll really appreciate an electric grinder.


Being that this is a pumpkin workshop and we have Robert Mays cold butter crust, it needs a pumpkin filling. I picked a filling form Plymouth Plantation and we added pumpkin. Paul softened the pumpkin over the fire and drained it. Heather and Paul mixed up a filling with a good amount of ground almonds, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, butter, sugar, salt, eggs, mace, a hint of rose water and the pumpkin.

The triangle paste held its shape wonderfully and Heather filled it up. 7

With the sausages made, Ken and Heather fry them up in a pan. They were then taken out and set aside to keep warm. The drippings would be used in the pumpkin sauce.  14

Our two Heathers put in the cheese cake and the risen pumpkin maize bread into the bake oven. 1 copy

Hannah Glasse’s receipt “To Make Vermicelli” was made by Paul with help from Heather.  12 copy

Paul tried the roll and slice technique and the dough was a bit too sticky to unroll the strains of vermicelli. Paul unrolled what was left and cut the vermicelli, that worked better. Every day is different in the kitchen. 15

I found two receipts and I decided to combined them. One is “The Vse Of Pompkins,” by John Parkinson, 1629; and “Fried Sausage” by Hannah Glasse where she puts stewed apples and cabbage around sausage.

Hannah’s receipt will be the base for our pumpkin sauce. Heather uses the kabocha again cutting the chunks into bite size pieces. Brenda cut onions, apples and half a cabbage. Ken put the butter in a the pan that had the sausage drippings, added the cabbage, apple, pumpkin, garlic, chicken broth salt and pepper. This would be put on the vermicelli and topped with sausages and parmesan.


Then my 21st century sensibility kicked in. I wanted something green on the table and I needed it to be done just before we served our lunch. I decided on braised greens. My favorite green is Swiss Chard which has nothing to do with Switzerland but with someone who coined the name, as he was from there. With a bit of research, I found that Chard is a cousin to spinach and the beet greens. Back in the fourth century B.C. Greek philosopher, Aristotle, wrote about chard, as the Greeks and Romans used it for its medicinal properties. Then things get very confusing as the French called cardoon and chard “carde”. The English had many names for it as well, white beet, strawberry spinach, seakale beet, Spinach beet and Roman Kale among others. Well I know it existed and I have no reason to think it was not braised somewhere, sometime, perhaps with meat in a stew . So my batting average on Pumpkin receipts “Soup to nuts” was taking a dip here.

The receipt I chose had bacon, chard, garlic, anchovies and fresh peeled tomatoes. No pumpkin in this although you certainly could. I thought better of it though, with all the pumpkin we did put in other things, I thought  a fresh braised green on the side would be better. Heather and Paul put this together and it looked great.


Everything was coming together as Paul put the vermicelli in the boiling water and Ken took out the bread and cheese cake.


The pumpkin sauce was scooped out and the soup put in bowls.19

The Pumpkin Maize bread and Robert May/ Plymouth Plantation/Pumpkin cheese cake were cooling. Brenda and Heather cut the sausages in pieces for the top of the vermicelli and pumpkin sauce.20

The table was set and everything plated. 18

This workshop really stretched my brain and though it was different from the others it was an interesting learning curve. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. We had a great group and the food was outstanding.  1a

We feasted on a bowl of Pumpkin soup, a plates full of braised greens, pumpkin cheese cake, pumpkin maize bread, vermicelli topped with pumpkin sauce, sausage and parmesan cheese.



The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child

 So What the hell it had a lot of pumpkin!




 December 5, 2015 :

First Annual Fezziwig’s Ball

Fezziwig's Ball

Sponsored by the Newmarket Historical Society NH

Doors open at 6:30pm – The Grand March begins promptly at 7pm – Dancing untill 10pm

Music and Dance instruction by The Fiddling Thomsons

Dessert and Beverage intermission featuring 19th century delicacies Special edition 19th century cask-style Smuttynose Beer served only at this event

Period attire requested (1812-1870) or modern evening dress Prizes for the best period attire

Address: 55 Main Street, Newmarket, NH

Get tickets: $25/person  See our Web page for on-line purchase

Get tickets: $25/person



26 SEPT 2015

Well, it took a while to get this together. My computer was hacked and held for ransom. Thanks to Allan my Tech person all was put to right in this file that held the workshop in my computer. However, we are on a network and he is still debugging the rest of the mess.

So I begin again on this blog of the Harvest Dinner in September. Our feast consisted of a goose, root vegetables and tree and ground ripened fruit. As always, I have everything out and organized for the workshop, and made sure all the stations have what they needed for the first round of receipts. 1 copy

The knifes were sharpened by Allan, and spoons, cutting boards and bowls arranged to be close at hand.2 copy

The goose was pre-steamed the day before and the Long Grain Pepper and Grains of Paradise were ground ahead of time and put in this cute little crock.3

Heather wanted to work on Ann Peckham’s goose receipt. Heather lives in an old house in Massachusetts and wants to cook in her own fireplace, bake oven and her new shiny reflector oven. So this was a great time to experiment. The goose was stuffed with onions, sage, apples, butter and a bit of salt and pepper.4 copy

Judy and Karen traveled from Ohio to be at the workshop. They started on Ann Peckham’s Cranberry Tart. Karen is an old hand in front of the fireplace and Judy is new, so to begin with she followed Karen’s lead. Cooking the cranberries down was the first part of the receipt, sugar, butter and orange zest were added.5 copy

Cathy drove up from the shore in Connecticut with Natalie. They have been here many times. Cathy picked the Indian Pudding and started by scalding the milk and cream and stirring the corn meal in to soften the grains. Polenta anyone?6 copy

Natalie is the bread maker in the group. We were having rice bread made into rolls from the 1770 receipt book of Harriott Pinckney Horry. First the rice needed to be boiled and cooled. I had made a starter the night before with ale, a bit of yeast and flour. Then came the addition of cornmeal, flour, milk and butter. With Natalie masterful skills she produced a great rise on the batter.7 copyHeather and Natalie put the goose into the reflector oven, pushed the spit through it and placed the skewers in the holes and tied it on so the wings and legs would not flap around.11 copy

A boiled carrot pudding was next. We used small size cubes for this receipt instead of crumbs. The carrots were of a variety of colors that I found at our local farm, Apple Crest, along with my other vegetables. While Karen and Judy made the pudding, Heather grated the colorful carrots.8 copy

All the ingredients for the  pudding were mixed together and Judy and Karen buttered and floured the pudding cloth. Karen got a kick out of Judy’s tentative flouring . She may be a newbie to hearth cooking, however, she was doing just fine. We’ll say it was friendly ribbing between two very good friends. We all laughed with them. 16copy

Pudding cloth ready, the pudding was put inside, tied and hung into the boiling water. Great job, Judy!17 copy

Out came the cooked cornmeal and the rest of the ingredients for the Indian pudding were mixed in. Dark brown sugar, molasses, cream, raisins, butter, eggs and spices. The batter smelled great already.14 copy

Judy strained the cooked bog cranberries and saved the juice for later use, Karen made the tart paste.12 copy

With the pie plate buttered and the paste set in, the cranberries were scooped in and a lattice work top paste was applied by Karen. We decided to use the bake kettle for baking this, even though we had room in the bake oven. Judy and Heather wanted to see how a kettle would work.13 copy

Harriott Pickney Horry’s Rice Bread receipt had its second rise and cut into eight sections to make rolls. Natalie used the docker on the bottom of the rolls to help give them height when cooked. 15 copy

Hannah Glasse’s To Dress Cauliflower was in interesting receipt. You boiled the cauliflower in milk then took part of it and placed it in the middle of the dish and fried the rest cut in sections. I bought purple and golden cauliflower and Cathy chose the purple for the center and the gloden she cut. The cut flowerets were fired in a pan with a little water, butter and flour. 9 copy

Elizabeth Raffald has a receipt To Make Sauce for a Goose. It has apples, butter, water and sugar; very simple. Judy said she could make this. When it was done Natalie helped her put it in a bowl to keep warm by the fire.19 copy

Things were ready to put into the bake oven. The Indian pudding went first and the rolls followed .21 copyKaren peeled and sliced a small pumpkin and cut the slices into 1/2 inch cubes. A simple syrup was brushed on them and they went into the slack oven overnight. I will be using these for Fredrick Nutt’s  Millefruit Biscuits. Thanks to Karen for helping out. Colonial bakers often used the slack oven for drying foods. The next morning I filled a small jar with the semi-dry pumpkins.22 copy

Some squeezed orange juice was added to the leftover sauce from the cranberries and used to baste the goose.

Heather was so happy at how it was cooking. 23 copy

Judy had never used a bake kettle before, so we all cheered her on when she moved in and took a peek to see how the tart was doing. It looked wonderful. I loved the way the lattice browned.24 copy

Managing the space on the hearth is an important thing. Everyone can’t be there at the same time yet the items that need to be cooked can. This is a good illustration of this. The goose and purple cauliflower are being kept warm, same as the apple sauce behind; then there are the boiled and strained high bush cranberries. Hanging from the crane is the remainder of the cranberry drippings made into a sauce. The carrot pudding was continually boiling. Drippings from the goose were made into a gravy and reduced over the heat, and on the hearth, the golden cauliflower was frying. In the bake oven, the Indian pudding and rice rolls baked.26b copy

The moment of truth for the carrot pudding. If the water is not kept boiling, you end up with mush. The pudding was taken out of the water drained in a colander and then inverted onto a plate. The cloth removed and the pudding is revealed.26c copy

Everyone looked on as Heather and Judy removed the goose from the spit. 27 copy

One day when I was at the Moffatt Ladd House working, I spied some high bush cranberries in the garden. So I said, “Hmm, can these be eaten?” I checked with Liz, our horticulturist, and also checked some receipts online and the answerer was yes. I picked a nice size basket full, washed them and removed the stems. They looked so pretty.

Now here is where the story of the cranberries gets interesting. High bush cranberries are not true cranberries; they are a shrubby plant. The bush produces lovely cluster of bright red berries about the same time as the bog berries are ripening.

However, the high bush type are very acidic and smell like stinky socks when cooked. They also have a large flat oval seed in the middle that can only be removed by boiling and straining. They do have nutritional value that may offer protection from cavities, urinary tract infection, and inflammatory diseases, that is if you can eat them.18 copy

The berries were boiled, strained through a cheesecloth and put in a pot with two cups of sugar to boil. After a mouth-puckering taste test, more sugar was added and Isinglass to make it jellied.

The end result was that some liked it after a bit, and others, me included, said they made better plate decorations. I might try again next year but with a different receipt. 27

It was time to carve the goose. I helped hold it while Heather cut slices off and plated it. See how lovely the high bush cranberries look! Even Ann Peckham would have been impressed.28 copy

Ann Peckham cranberry tart was done and Hannah Glasse’s cauliflower plated with the boiled purple one in the center and the fried golden ones around it.29 copy

Hannah Glasse stars again with the carrot pudding that came out fantastic with all the multi-color carrots in it. And there was a wonderful caramel-like sauce for it. The goose’s drippings were made into a wonderful gravy, with help from the fried and boiled wing clippings and neck.31 copy

Elizabeth Raffald applesauce for the goose and Harriott Pinckney Horry’s rice rolls both smelled splendid.32 copy

All of these wonderful receipts were accompanied by the bog berry sauce, and a lot of good humored discussion on using local sourced,  meat, garden fresh produce and HIGH BUSH CRANBERRIES.

Every dish was tasty, with the exception of the High Bush Cranberries. Judy wants to do the rice rolls at home. Karen said she learned a few new things. Cathy sent a quick note later thanking us for yet again a wonderful day and continued good learning.

And I’m always grateful to Allan for his help and for having such wonderful people come to at workshops. I, too, learn from them.33 copy


“This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain’t normal.”

– Joel Salatin, farmer and author of Folks, This Ain’t NormalYou Can Farm



door knocker

  Friday night it poured buckets and there was thunder and lightning that worked me up as I lie sleeping on the rope bed. It was the only noise in the whole tavern and I loved it.

Saturday started off with more rain and thunder in the Berkshire Hills soon giving way to a sunny day. I got the fire going as Bob was at work this day and I needed to have breakfast. Of the cooks only three of us braved the village nights. Two went out early in the morning to town and I ate alone waiting for the group to come moseying in. And there are always a few leftover things to be washed in the sink so I was busy.

When everyone arrived Niel rang the bell and we all jumped right into the receipts he gave us. Whipped syllabub, chicken on a spit, vermicella pudding, celery in cream, mushroom ragout, rich cake. And a few things I may have forgotten.

Kim, Trudy and Dave stuffed the chicken with wonderful herbs, spices, onion and a lemon. This went on a spit and was placed before the fire to roast.chicken

Katy, Holly and Dave made “To Whipt Syllabub,” poured it into cups and put it on the bar to separate during the day and be ready for our evening meal.

I started on my Fritters Royal. I needed to boil milk and then curdle it with sack. Bring it to a boil again and then let it rest for 6 minutes and drain the curds. I ended up with superb curds. At the fire with me was Linda, making a sauce, perhaps for the carrot pudding. As you can see it was very hot in the kitchen and I’m covered in a shiny sheen. We needed to tie a towel on the clock Jack so we would not hit out head.

With the Fritter Royal resting until later, I started on the Westminster Fool. I cut bread that we used the crust from the day before. I slices about 8 pieces and put it in a low sided bowl and soaked it in sherry. Then I made a custard added rose water, nutmeg, mace and put it over a slow fire so it would not curdle. After it began to thicken I poured this on the bread and let it soak in. When it was cool I put it in the refrigerator, as the room and even out of doors was reaching an alarmingly hot temperature. I would not need to do anything else with it at that point, just let it set. curd linda

Niel gave Carl some instructions on the carrot pudding and the boiling process. It was time for us to take a break and Trudy and Kim brought a lovely spread of cheese, fruit , bread and jams. Dave brought a bowl of wonderful tomatoes from his garden in Pennsylvania. I ate several as they were my first fresh-off-the-vine summer tomatoes. Thanks Trudy, Kim and Dave. niel carl cheese

Lee, Katy, and John made vermicella noodles for the pudding and a short bread crust too.

ver cookedjpg

Karl had taken great care to make sure the water in the pot boiled all the time so the carrot pudding would not soak up water. After careful tending, the pudding was ready to be taken out. The pot is huge and so it was brought out of doors and the water dumped and the pudding saved in a bowl.

And of course everyone came out for a bit of air and to have a look. From left to right Niel, our fearless leader, John, Kim, Karla, Carl, Holly and Katy. In back on the steps is Lee and looking out the windows are Linda and Scott.out  carrot

The Vermicella Pudding and the carrot pudding ready for dinner.

vermic carrots

I started the ” To ragoo Mushrooms” receipt and as I read it I found a bit of a problem. I was to pour the mixture in a bladder and boil it. Humm NO BLADDER. So I cooked it in a pan over the fire with onions, nutmeg, mace, rosemary, salt and pepper and added a good deal of red wine, butter and a bit of flour. This simmered and came out splendid. When faced with a lack of something go to plan B. 

I know Linda was involved with the celery and not sure who else helped out. The celery was boiled tender drained and an egg and cream sauce with nutmeg and a little salt poured over it after it was thickened. We were all surprised at how enjoyable it tasted. It’s a dish we should all make more often.

mushroom celery

Dave and John made a Rich Cake with tons of candied fruit , brandy and spices. It had a pleasant taste. There was bread made in loaves and in small manchets. The Fritters Royal were fried and the Westminster Fool put on the table.dinner 2

No one had ever made the Westminster Fool or the Fritters Royal and we were all delighted with how they came out. Particularly the Fools custard that was poured on anything we could eat the next two days. The Vermicella Pudding was good and the crust even better. The carrot pudding came out well, and the roasted chicken was excellent.

The table was set and the afternoon was getting late, so candles were lit , manchets were rolled in a classy napkins (paper towel). And we all sat down to another wonderful meal. We started with the Syllabub and then filled our plates for another, Hannah Glass inspired, hearth-cooked meal at the Village. tableLeftovers were again put on the table for the tin-smithing class who all appreciated a bite of food as this was their last evening there and most headed home. On the far left in the middle you can see the Westminster Fool, what’s left of it. westermister fool


We are all tired, sore and hot, so we decided to make it an easy day of cooking and give everyone an early start home. Our receipts for the day were bacon and sausage, pan perdue, Nuns cake, curd fritters of a different kind, transparent pudding and jumbles. I started on a crust for the transparent pudding while Carl and Katy made the filling of eggs butter sugar  Carl katy jpg

 Bob, as always, was at the fire, making sure we had coals. Trudy made the pan perdue to go with the bacon and sausage. We ate this early in the day. It was a great brunch and we brought out the Westminster Fool again to put on top. Yummy.fr toast

Linda and Lee made the jumbles. Buy this time the Tavern was so hot and muggy the butter was melting fast and the flour reacting strangely. Alterations were made for completing the jumbles.  Several styles were made and some were baked and some fried. I did get to taste a fried one before I left and it was nice and crunchy.jumb

The Nuns cake and Transparent Pudding came out of the oven and the day began to wind down.t pudding

It was time for me to leave the Village and its wonderful rustic way of life. I met many wonderful people and learned a few new receipts. I wish I had taken more pictures, however, we were all like whirling dervishes, darting from room to room making various receipts and vying for room at the hearth. I know I’ve missed a few receipts here so let’s just say there were many dishes made by everyone in the three days of the workshop and they were all good.

So I took a last look around.

last look copy

Visited the 1805 necessary one more time,


and said goodbye to a weekend experience at Eastfield Village, something I always wanted to do.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

Laurie Colwin

And with that said, we can thank Hannah Glasse for leaving us with a book full of worthy receipts and advice that we can still use today and Niel for providing us the opportunity to use some of them that we have not used before.


Have a look at Facebook for Eastfield village:   http://www.historiceastfield.org/


Our first two workshops have been filled and there is a waiting list.

So you won’t feel left out I have decided to change workshop three

Nov- 14th

into a  combination of the first two workshops.

We will use a lot of pumpkin and have a fall harvest meal also. 

If you are interested let me know at sandie@colonialtable.com




The mission of the foundation,

Eastfield Village was painstakingly assembled by one of the foremost preservation arts experts, Don Carpentier. It is the campus for the Annual Series of Early American Trades and Historic Preservation Workshops, a nationally renowned program of lectures, symposia and hands-on classes.

I attended the workshop “DINNER WITH MRS. GLASSE,” given by Niel De Marino,

I arrived on Thursday evening with the sun low in the sky. My first mission was to take pictures of the village. Below you see the William Briggs Tavern 1793 and the Blacksmith shop 1830.


The fireplace in the back ell of the tavern would be where we would do our cooking. I would be spending my nights staying in the King’s bedroom. Now the tavern has limited electricity, you light your way with candles, it has a sink with running cold water for doing dishes and a necessary out back.

good bed

The classes started on Friday and after an introduction from Niel we began cooking around 12:00. There were 12 people attending the class and we worked in three rooms all vying for a chance to use the one fireplace and bake oven in the kitchen.

Lee, Holly and I began with Beef Alamode. Holly and Lee larded the beef butts with bacon while I gathered all the rest of the ingredients we needed. Once it was larded we fried the butts brown, added onions, mushrooms, both sweet and savory herbs and covered it with broth and red wine. This was placed over the fire on a trammel and simmered for the remainder of the day.


The next receipt was Soup Meager. Dave washed off all the celery and four different kinds of lettuce. These were chopped and put in the bowl with two bags of spinach. I fried green onions in the kettle with butter, and gently sautéed them. Next went all the greens to be softened a bit. When this cooked for about 15 minutes we added flour and stirred it in, then added broth and water. Bread crumbs were grated and added, and the soup slowly cooked for half an hour.


Linda and a few others made Chelsea Buns while Trudy sautéed some onion for the string beans.


This was a busy place with 13 people running helter-skelter here and there, plus Bob. Bob by the way is the wood man and does the wonderful job of splitting the wood, tending the fire, and making sure the bake oven is going. Just like Allan does for me when I have a workshop at home. Both of them are a blessing to have in the kitchen.

Kim and Trudy were making Curried Chicken and I think it was Dave and John making Curried Rice. Norfolk dumplings made by Linda and ginger cakes by Lee and Holly and raspberry dumplings by Dave and Kim were made being made here and there. And Carl was in there somewhere busy with some receipt. It was hard to keep track of who was doing what, as we all had several items we were responsible for.


Dave helps to finish off the Soup Meager with egg yolks whisked with vinegar.  Karla digs in. I was doubtful about how this soup would taste, and was pleasantly surprised at just how good it was. It got rave reviews.


The table was set and the chicken and rice placed on it . The side table held the rest of the evening’s meal.DINNER

Someone filled vases with flowers and everyone dug in. From left to right. John, Carla, Kim, Holly, Dave and Lee.  Day one was finished and we ate heartly.


At the same time there was a tin-smithing workshop going on and we had so many leftovers, we also fed them when they were done. One of the participants is a friend, Amy McCoy and it was her birthday so a tin crown was made for her. Happy Birthday, again, Amy.


 “For people who aren’t doing it already, take classes – they’re worthwhile.  Workshops or classes – a workshop is where you do, actually get feedback on your work, not just something where you go and sit for a day.”    

Octavis Bulter

 Believe me when I say we did not sit in this workshop.

 Workshop II coming soon






Goose, Root Vegetables and Tree Ripened Fruit will be on the menu.

 OCT 17th –          PUMPKIN – SOUP TO NUTS

We will cook Pumpkin on the hearth, in the kettle, in the soup pot and the bake oven. Pared with a seasonal offerings and a Tasty Roast


We will make and compare 16th, 17th, & 18th century Cheese Cakes, & we will have a plow mans lunch

 $65 PER WORKSHOP – 10 – 3:00ish PM

For more detailed information or to reserve a spot in the workshop contact Sandra Tarbox at sandie@colonialtable.com

Book Review

 A Book of Cookery, by a Lady

Kimberly Walters asked me to have a look at her new book A Book of Cookery, by a Lady. I felt honored to be asked. Who wouldn’t love it when an author of an new cookery book sends you a free copy to review.   Kim is an amateur  historian and started hearth cooking at Washington headquarters, as Mr. Elizabeth Thompson, the housekeeper.

Her writing style is very similar to what you would find in the 18th century, and can be a bit difficult to comprehend in the beginning, however, like the narrative as with the early cookery books, one gets the hang of it after a while. 

In the foreword, Kimberly states that the main purpose of the book is to bring together many early 18th century receipts, techniques, measurements, etiquette, and equipment that have been printed elsewhere and compile them into one source for ease of use, and this she does.

However, this book also has historical commentary, and she strays a bit by having documents regarding George Washington scattered throughout the book. Mostly about his traveling war family and what they were eating at various times, as well as the equipage he ordered for serving food. Where this is interesting it does not follow what she proposed to do, and the book is a heavy 346 pages.

Yet for all that, this one’s worth a look. The recipes are drawn from a wide variety of historical cookbooks and other historical sources. And what George and Martha served while away at war are fun anecdotes to read.

In my library, I have three shelves of early cookery book, all reprints, of course; also, here are all my Past Masters News and articles written by every hearth cook I could get my hands on, in my file cabinet.  It is nice to find one book that has many of these small publications, by present cooking historians in one place.

She has also compiled many receipts of all sorts, from early  books, English and American both north and south. So many of which include cooking , lungs, brains, hearts and such, for her book she has chosen receipts that are, what I would call, more pleasing to our modern palate.  I’m going to try Apoquinimic Cake, by Mary Randolph, “The Virginia Housewife” even though it is a southern receipt. With a bit of research I’m sure I can find a northern receipt very similar that I can use here in New England.

So if you have a limited cookery book collection ” A Book of Cookery” might do you well.  It has over 168 pages of receipts nicely groups in a comprehensible way.  And index it the front of the book.

Kimberly offered a valuable service by combining what is in season with definitions of food and equipment, and she has captures the grandeur of the sweet table for tea. She provides her web sources and the book is well footnoted.  If you’re looking for a cookery book that has brought together information from many sources, “A Book of Cookery” by A Lady  is a fine book for your shelf.



Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good.




I say “finally” as this is the fourth time we have rescheduled the workshop for the girls at Moffatt Ladd. This winter has been brutal, as you all know, and as much as we all like to be at the hearth on a snowy day, we like to do it in the safety of our own homes. So we waited, and the day of sun arrived.

The ladies of the museum had a few requests for our meal,  LAMB AND A COFFIN, so we have combined them. Now being that this was April and spring has arrived, I thought we should include a GRAND SALAD.

The first mention of salad that I know of is in the book, The Form of Cury, 1390. It is a tiny salad with many fresh herbs and dressed with oil and vinegar. The word salad meant many things to the English and included vegetables both raw, boiled and pickled. Many Grand Salads were works of art and presented as such. Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife, 1615, instructed “housewife’s to pay attention to the presentation of her compound sallets.” She was making an edible centerpiece.

Springtime salads were greeted with enthusiasm. The first shoots of asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, strawberry leaves, wild onions and violets found their way into a salad. These fresh greens were long awaited after the boredom of pickled and dried foods. So, should you read that the English did not eat vegetables, look further into the source.

Our meal has a centerpiece of a coffin, surrounded with the Grand Sallet. A coffin, or coffyn as it was spelled during the medieval time and earlier, meant basket or box. It was made of a tough dough that made a container. It holds food to be eaten right away, when cooked, and it also helps baked foods last longer when stored by excluding air from its host. It help preserve the fillings of meat or vegetables. The coffin was also used as an entertainment. In the 16th century translation of the Italian Epulario 1598 we find the following:

 “To Make Pie That the Birds May Be Alive In them and Flie Out When It Is Cut UpMake the coffin of a great pie or pastry, in the bottome thereof make a hole as big as your fist, or bigger if you will, let the sides of the coffin bee somwhat higher then ordinary pies, which done put it full of flouer and bake it, and being baked, open the hole in the bottome, and take out the flouer. Then having a pie of the bigness of the hole in the bottome of the coffin aforesaid, you shal put it into the coffin, withall put into the said coffin round about the aforesaid pie as many small live birds as the empty coffin will hold, besides the pie aforesaid. And this is to be at such time as you send the pie to the table, and set before the guests: where uncovering or cutting up the lid of the great pie, all the birds will flie out, which is to delight and pleasure shew to the company.

 Four and twenty blackbirds anyone? Our centerpiece was definitely not going to be filled with birds however, it did hold a lamb; however, the lamb was cooked.

Sherry started off right away on the hot paste for the standing crust of the coffin. She is hoping that this experience will help her make a fake one for the museum.

Sherry cof

We also needed a regular crust for the decorations and top. Marsha was in charge of that. The receipt for basic pie crust has not changed since mankind began to make flour into dough, to bake into a crust and put stuff inside it. We are using our crust for decorations on the coffin.

The English Art of Cookery, According to the Present Practice…. Richard Briggs, 1788 tart paste

Paste Marsha copy

With the coffin standing tall, Marsha whipped up the egg wash and I helped to apply the decorative side to the coffin.

wrap side copy

Lisa and Linda began the receipt for the coffin filling. Mushroom, carrots, garlic, shallots and scallions were washed, cut, and sliced ready for the filling.

The meat needed to be cut into bite-sized pieces, salted and floured. Pieces of bacon were put into a bit of olive oil to render, then taken out. The floured lamb was browned on all sides. Carrots, garlic, scallions, shallots, mushrooms and the rendered bacon were then added. A dash of sherry, a sprig of rosemary and some beef broth went in to simmer for a while. The rosemary was removed later, and a piece of floured butter, heavy cream, parsley, tarragon, and peas were then mixed in.


With the coffin decorated, and the lamb mixture ready, the lamb was removed from the pan with a slotted spoon, and Linda filled the coffin.


Marsha placed her decorated top on the coffin and crimped the edges.


I was not sure if anyone would be brave enough to eat the coffin dough, so I decided it would be a good idea to have some rolls made. Nothing smells better than hot rolls out of the bake oven and they do go so well with a salad. I picked my favorite cheese loaf receipt from –   W.M. The Compleat Cook,  1658,  with the addition of King Arthur’s 7 Grains. After the first rise, Linda reformed the dough into the rolls and gave it one more rise.

Linda bread copy

Rolls have a surprisingly long history, having been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods. We know of the English manchet, a yeast roll popular with the Tudor Court, of which there are many variations. I did a bit of research to see when I could find the word roll being used in association with bread. I found this interesting information. In 1542 – Andrew Boorde, an English monk and physician, wrote a book called, Compendyous Regyment, or a Dyetary of Health. He discusses food he felt appropriate for Lords and good Englishman. When he expounded on BREAD he said,

“But the bread of rolls made for the Romans, I praise it not.”

I’m sure the word was used earlier I just have not come across an earlier reference as yet.

For our dessert we  had a receipt for Portugal Cakes, or as we often call them, Madeleines. The history of this little sponge cake is that it may have been named for the use of orange flower water or sack that came from Portugal Madeleines, which was made of a similar ingredients and has its origin in France. When, is the question. Some say Louis XV of France first tasted them in 1755. Others say a baker made them for his love Madeleine Paulmier in the 18th century while working for the Duke of Lorraine. When they came to England is a total mystery. However, we all think of them as being served on the English tea table. Hannah Glasse knew of them and we used her receipt. Whatever their history, they are tasty, and ours will be anointed with chocolate and spring mint.

So you say tomato and I say tomaato, but let’s not call the whole thing off, I want little cakes.

Lisa creamed the butter and sugar then added the rest of the ingredients for the batter, and spooned it into the French Madeleine tins.


Into the bake oven goes the coffin and Portugal cakes. The rolls were baked in the kettle on the hearth.


Time to prepare all the pieces for our Grand Salad.

To Make a Grand Sallet 

John Murrell, The Second Booke of Cookery and Carving, 1638 

Take the buds of all kind of good Hearbes and a hanfull of French Capers, seven or eight Dates cut in long slices, a hanfull of Raisins of the Sun, the stones being pickt out, a handfull of Almonds blancht, a handfull of Curans, five or six Figs sliced, a preserved orenge cut in slices; mingle all these together with a handful of Sugar, then take a faire Dish fit for a shoulder of Mutton, set a standard of paste in the midst of it, put your aforesaid sallet about this standard, set upon your sallet four half Lemmons, with the flat ends downward, right over against one another, halfs way betwixt your standard and the dishes side, pricke in every one of these Lemmons a branch of Rosemary and hang upon the Rosemary preserued cherries, or cherries fresh from the tree; set foure halfe Egges, being roasted hard, betwaene your Lemons, the flat ends downward, prick upon your Egges sliced Dates and Almonds: then you may lay another garnish betweene the brim of the Dish and the Sallet, of quarters of hard Egges and round slices of Lemmons: then you may garnish up the brim of the Dish with a preserued Orenge, in long slices and betwixt every slice of orenge, a little heap of French Capers. If you have not a standard to serue it in, then take halfe a Lemmon, and a faire branch of Rosemary. 

The eggs were put in a pot to boil and the asparagus blanched. Both were put in cool water to stop the cooking. Leaves of tarragon, marjoram, parsley, and mint were prepared. Figs and dates were julienned, while the slivered almonds were toasted. Capers were drained and lemons sliced. All of these ingredients would be used in the Grand Salad.

eggs aspar

Lisa cut the lemons in half and speared a grape onto the top of the rosemary and stuck the spear into a lemon. Linda took the sliced dates and almonds and stuck them into the eggs. We love the look of these and they were just a part of our garnishes for the grand salad.


Sherry cut oranges, with the peel, into slices early in the morning and then cut them into triangle, blanched them, patted them dry and sprinkled Darmara sugar on them. They were then put in the electric oven for three hours to dry. This was just the beginning of all the ingredients used for the Grand Salad.

Other items for the salad included, pickled cornichons, pickled beets, pea pod leaves, mint, dates, figs, sunflower seeds, raisin of the sun, various herbs and spices.

parts copy

With the coffin and rolls ready, it was time to assemble our centerpiece.


The Portugal cakes were the first item to come out of the bake oven. When they were cooled, melted chocolate helped finish the dessert, and Lisa chopped fresh mint for the tips.


The coffin was placed on the plate and the grand salad was begun. Some of the items were put in a bowl and sprinkled with the Demerara sugar. A handful of mixed spring greens and the wonderful pea pod greens went around the coffin. The lemons with rosemary, the eggs with almonds and dates, asparagus, and other items were all artfully arranged on this. This was the fun part, making it a work of art, fit for a king or queen.

eveything copy

Gervase Markham, The English House- wife, 1683, suggests you serve your sallet up to the table with oyl, vinegar, pepper and sugar. We all decided that the dressing was way too oily for such a delicate spring salad so we substituted good old Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette. Not 18th century but really good. The table was set and we were all ready to sit down after a busy morning and noon assembling all the parts for what looks like a simple meal. We “housewife’s paid attention to the presentation of our compound sallet,” as Markham suggested.

 The Grand Salad with a standard of a Lamb Coffin and Cheese Rolls with Grains


Linda and Lisa did the honors and took the top off the coffin



In this picture we are missing Sherry. Unfortunately, she was feeling a bit unwell and left early. We shared a toast to a job well done, and we also toasted Sherry, for her wonderful coffin case and candied oranges for the Grand Salad. We packed up a doggie bag for her and Marsha will make sure she gets it.


With the meal over and the Portugal Cakes eaten, we cleaned up, and everyone packed a goodie bag to take home for dinner.

So the season comes to an end, and all that is left is to put away all the washed dishes, and utensils we used, and season all the iron that might go into storage for the coming months. And I will think of the wonderful meals cooked, and of meeting so many interesting friends with whom I have been lucky enough to share my hearth. I’m looking forward to next fall and having several workshops. Stay tuned for the notices.


Enjoy the Summer!


Eating is not merely a material pleasure. Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is a great importance to the morale.

Elsa Schiparelli