A Crookneck, or Winter Squash Pudding

Amelia Simmons 1796


Durning the weekend we had a great fire going and I decided to bake something. I had some small pumpkins, plus more frozen, and apples. When I think of pumpkins I think of Amelia Simmons. She was the first American to write a cookbook for Americans and with foods that were uniquely American.

Looking through the book I found the receipt for “A Crookneck, or Winter Squash Pudding,” at the end of the narrative on how to prepare and bake it she says – “The above receipt is a good receipt for Pumpkins, Potatoes or Yams, adding more moistening or milk and rose water, and to the two latter a few black or Lifbon currants, or dry whortleberries fcattered in, will make it better.” It is a very easy receipt and look like a yummy one too. So, with that settled, I gathered all the things I would need.


First I needed to prepare the pumpkin and apples. I pared and removed the seed and boiled them until just tender. While they boiled, I whisked together eggs and cream and added a drop or two of rose water. Then I added a tablespoon of white wine, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. I whisked them together. In went a tablespoon of flour, and three tablespoons of breadcrumbs to help make the batter a thicker consistancy. The apples and punpkins were now soft, and, after draining them, I put them in a bowl with the unfrozen pumpkin I had and mashed it all together.


The cream mixture went in next and was stirred about and currants added.

2 copy

With everything well mixed, it was put into a greased redware baker and placed in a warm bake kettle by the fire.

3 copy

I put coals under and on top of the kettle and I turned it a half turn, every 15 minutes. It took about 45 minutes until a knife placed in the pudding came out clean. The pudding was ready to eat. While it was still warm I served it up. I liked the hint of rose water and it had just the right amount of spices. Surprising to me was that it was nothing like an interior of a pumpkin pie. The texture was different, the addition of the flour and bread crumbs almost make it like a cake. Yet it was soft and so tasty.


I have missed the opportunity to share the hearth with others and look forward to the Winter/Spring workshops. This Saturday I had a special group of docents from the Moffatt Ladd House coming to cook. This museum is my stomping ground in the off season of hearth cooking and I always look forward to seeing my co-workers and friends. They are all new to cooking on the hearth, so it was a beginner’s class, yet with a few challenges thrown in to keep them on their toes, more on the MLH workshop to come.

The Winter/Spring Workshops are filling up so, if you’re interested, let me know so I can save you a spot.


“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”   Albert Camus





Pie has come a long way; the Oxford English Dictionary traces the first use of the word “pie” to 1303, and they were well-known and popular by 1362.

The crust of the medieval pie formed a baking dish and continues in practice for hundreds of years. Thus the meaning of “Baked in a Pie.” Almost everything was served in a pie, meats, fruit, vegetables and even live birds. Some were raised high, called coffins and some were small fold-over hand pies.

Looking for receipts for my CHEWIT AND HAND PIE WORKSHOP next month, I found many from the 15th century and they had strange names like Daryoles, meaning small, sweet pies and Chawetty, that later became the word Chewits, and could be stuffed with a savory or sweet filling. Many of the larger coffin and smaller chewits were served as banquet fare. Hand pies were great for travelers or laborers who took them for a nourishing mid-day meal.

We are making both savory and sweet chewits and hand pies to take home for dinner.

Come and join us at the hearth for a trip back to the 15th and 18th century, and have some 21st century “Take –Out” There are only two spaces left in this workshop on February 22nd .


“One morning, as I went to the freezer door, I asked my wife, ‘What should I take out for dinner?’ Without a moment’s hesitation, she replied, ‘Me.'” anonymous

Send her instead to the workshop!






When someone says stuffed cabbage to me I think of home and my mother’s cooking. Dad was Russian and these small individual cabbage rolls were always called Halupshi at home, which is the Ukrainian way. However there are several variation of the word in the different Slovak countries. These little morsels of meat filled cabbage leaves were sautéed brown, then a tomato sauce, just lightly seasoned, was poured into the pan to finish them off. Serves with potatoes and canned corn, it was heaven on a plate to me.

My husband, being a Yankee as far back as you can go, isn’t as enchanted with halupshi as I am. (The boat is still parked where they landed.) However, I saw a lovely savoy cabbage at the store and bought it. So off to the early cookery books I went. I know there are many stuffed cabbage receipts there. How Yankee could I get?  I looked at a few and decided that John Nott’s was the simplest to do.

In my freezer I still had forced meat from a lumber pie I made in December and a small piece of pork roast. Allan ground up the pork and added garlic and spices. He combined this with the lumber pie mix and some chopped mushroom. We love mushroom, so they go in almost everything we make. Adding a little egg and water, we had our stuffing for the cabbage.

Now the fun began, taking whole cabbage and turning it inside out. I knew this was going to be a wet process so I covered the table with a cloth and took my longest two tined fork and stabbed the bottom of the cabbage. I had a pot of boiling water on the fire and in it went.

1 copy

The trick to softening the leaves is to keep turning the fork and pushing the cabbage down. Out it came after a few minutes and the first layer was peeled back and then it went back in. After ten minutes or so, layer by layer it blooms like a flower. And, of course, your fingers become red hot.2 copy

I had on hand some pears and Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery with a receipt “To Stew Wardens.” Wardens refer to several varieties of pears, all of which stay hard and need stewing to be eatable. They were grafting wardens in Lexington the day of the fighting. (There’s that Yankee thing again.) In a small bowl, I mixed together ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg and put it to some white wine and apple jack in my redware pipkin. The pears were peeled and seeded and placed upside down to start. With a bed of coals under them, they cooked away while I warmed my fingers peeling cabbage.

3 copy

The cabbage was turned back until I got to the small center ball that was left. This center will be turned into a cabbage, potato, and bacon soup next week.6 opy

Allan’s mixture of stuffing meat went inside the cabbage leaves and I carefully folded them back one at a time in the order they had been peeled.  The cabbage was then put on a cheese cloth, wrapped tight, and then tied with butcher string, it was ready to boil.


The water in the pot was boiling when the cabbage ball went in, and we put on more logs so it would simmer for at least 1 ½ hours, while we sat and caught up on some reading. When it was ready, I lifted it out of the steaming pot.

5 copy

And steaming it was. The cheese cloth was cut and the cabbage opened to reveal a ball of boiled meat. This is where the Russian in me said, “I have to eat this.” However, I put on a brave face and plated our evening meal.


What a wonderful surprise; it was good! The lumber pie mix mingled with the leftover pork and had a subtle taste of cloves and other sweet spices, yet a hint of garlic and mushroom were present. The savoy cabbage is so different from the hard cabbage we are use to, with its strong taste and smell. This was buttery tasting and the aroma was wonderful.

Our pears had been turned over during the stewing and the sauce had browned just a bit adding a nice note to the sweet spice flavor.


Allan declared the meal a hit, the Yankee he is. We both said we would do this again soon. However, in the back of my mind I thought of the many dinners at home on the hill, and had plans for the leftovers. Who said the Cold War was over!

The next day, as I wrote this blog, I got hungry for the halupshi of home.


Out came the leftovers. I put a little water in the pan and put the cabbage and forced meat in, added some frozen corn and butter and steamed, then fried, the whole lot of it. With a cube of frozen tomato sauce I always have in the freezer, I made my own version of Russian food. No potatoes though, so I stole a few potato chips from Allan’s sandwich plate.

Ah, my lunch was complete.

9 copy


“We eat to live (and some of us live to eat), but food also carries with it the smells and tastes of places, families and histories.”

Harriet Deacon, consultant correspondent to the Archival Platform

PS Workshops are filling up. Don’t miss out on a great experecnes at the hearth.  For more information see the Listing on Workshops.


The New Year

With the holidays behinds us, the weather turned cold and snowy, and provided a time to just be alone by the fire. This also meant eating whatever we could find in the refrigerator and pantry. A staple in colonial days was the smoked ham, and once thawed, you could eat it many ways and often. We had the luxury of freezing half of our leftover ham from December and it was time to use it up. There were many bits and pieces of different cheeses leftover, too, from parties, and I thought mac and cheese. In my earlier posts I talk about how noodles, much like penne, were available and they did have macaroni and cheese receipts.

With a plan in my head, I assembled all the things I needed. First I have to get out some of the pots and things for the fireplaces. I had put some items away to accommodate our large Christmas crowd and the tree.


I wanted to keep this dinner simple. Allan started a great fire in the fireplace and the room became cheery and warm for such a frigid night. I put a few pots of water on to boil and sat to enjoy the fire. When I saw steam rising from the pot I put in the penne and went to cut up the cheese for the top. It did not take long for the penne to cook, and I put it in a bowl to keep warm by the fire, then stirred in the cheese.


For a green I had broccoli on hand, not a colonial vegetable but I needed to use it up and it went into the same water as the penne. Broccoli was cultivated as a leafy crop in the Northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BC. However, it did not get to England until the late 18th century, then to America in the late 19th.  Next year I really have to put up beets, pickle and things that we could have with our 18th century meals in the winter.

Do I hear a New Year’s resolution??

The ham was cut up and put into the other pot of boiling water. It only needed to be heated through as it is cooked. Nearby on the hearth I had the dinner plates warming in hopes of keeping our food hot while we ate our dinner.

4 copy

Everything was ready and we sat down to enjoy an easy meal and each other’s company. Not bad for leftovers on a cold evening. However, even with the luxury of modern heat, it was cool; the temperature outside was heading to below 0 and even our plates could not keep the food hot for long. We put another log on the fire and moved closer. I’m sure they did the same thing back in the 18th century.


The WINTER/SPRING WORKSHOPS will soon be under way. To Register and  to hold a place for yourself email me at  – sandie@colonialtable.com


Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.   Benjamin Franklin




3 copy

Is winter keeping you in the house? It’s time to get out and work by a warm fire and prepare tasty foods. These workshops are designed to help you enjoy the Winter/Spring season. Come and enjoy a day preparing 18th century food, and finishing by the warmth of the hearth, where you will enjoy each other’s company and the fruits of your labor. Each class prepares an assortment of dishes, while cooking on the hearth fire or bake oven, and talking about the principles and techniques of early cooking.

The registration fee per class is $65 per person.*

February 1st     WINTER COMFORT FOOD 

Enjoy making Chewits and Hand Pies to take home for your evening meal. While we bake these comfort foods we share a nice pottage and bread for our midday meal. 

March 1st        A MIDDAY MEAL 

Collops, Scallops and Codlings – We prepare a hearty meal of veal collops, potatoes served in scallops shells and coddling baked in a tart, a delicious play on words.

 March 22nd    SPRING IS IN THE AIR 

Time to raid the root cellar for the last of the Vegetables; add a nice Sattoot of Gooses and Ragout of Morels, and Sweet Pudding, and we celebrate spring with a feast.


Easter is just around the corner. We create a selection of Sweet Treats for the Tea Table that you can take home. While we bake these confections we share a nice pottage and bread for our midday meal. 

If we have inclement weather on Saturday, the make-up day is the following day, Sunday.

*Class will be cancelled 7 days prior if minimum number of participants is not met. Enrollment fee is refunded in this case. If participant cancels more than 14 days before the event, a full refund is given. Within 14 days, there are no refunds. 

Register at:  sandie@colonialtable.com