Yankee Doodle went to town, a-riding on a pony, stuck a feather in his hat, and called it macaroni.

Happy New Year!

With the holidays and the exciting gourmet food behind us all, it’s time to go back to basics. I have a hankering for good old macaroni and cheese.  Renaissance cooks brought pasta in its many forms to England from Italy back in the 16th Century; however it didn’t catch on until the early 18th Century. Pasta was easy to ship and found its way to the Colonies at that time.

One of the first receipts for this new ingredient was “To Make Soop with Vermicelly,” from the cookbook, The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary, written in 1723, by John Nott. Nott was a learned man and was inspired by the French and their use of vermicelli. Other cooks followed suit, Charles Carter, Elizabeth Raffald. Then the first cookbook to be published in the colonies, The Complete Housewyfe by Eliza Smith, was followed by the first American cookbook author Hannah Glass. Vermicelli seemed to be used mostly in soups and puddings and it was not until Elizabeth Raffald’s, cookery book, that we see “To drefs MACORONI with PARMESAN CHEESE” And from there it became history, in a box for kids.

As it is the New Year I thought I would start with the first Mac and Cheese receipt. Something simple and comforting with the addition of some fried cured ham and a green vegetable my dinner would be easy and complete.

Allan started the fire early and it produced a lot of coals and heat. After a few mornings of 5 below zero and very chilly wind it felt really good. I boiled the macaroni and put it on the side to keep warm, and assembled all the things I’d need by the fire.

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I melted the butter and added the flour and some salt and pepper to make a rue, then I put in the cream. When it was thick, I poured it over the pasta that I had put in a buttered dish.


I mixed all the sauce into the macaroni and added the parmesan cheese on top.


I sprinkled some bread crumbs on top and put it in the bake kettle to keep warm and toast the crumbs a bit. Then I fried the cured smoked ham in a little butter and cooked the broccoli , needed something healthy on the plate. Next year when my root cellar is operational I’ll have something from “age-appropriate” to use.


So the dinner was as easy as it sounded and comforting . Allan gave it rave reviews, even the broccoli tasted better than he thought. That saying a lot for a man who dislikes mosts vegetables.

As an historical sidebar, Thomas Jefferson was interested in macaroni, a general term he used for pasta, and this was something he ate while living in Paris; he even served macaroni at the White House too. He had a macaroni machine sent from Naples to Paris and then on to Philadelphia.


There is a recipe for macaroni from the Jefferson Papers Library of Congress, that was donein Jefferson’s own hand:

6 eggs. yolks & whites
2 wine glasses of milk
2 tb of flour
a [?] salt

Work them together without water, and very well. Roll it then with a roller to a paper thickness cut it into small pieces which roll again with the hand into long slips, and then cut them to a proper length. Put them into warm water a quarter of an hour. Drain them. Dress them as macaroni. But if they are intended for soups they are to be put in the soup and not into warm water.

I hope you enjoyed the Pasta blog and will subscribe if you haven’t already, I have some wonderful plans for hearth cooking this year.


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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

3 thoughts on “Pasta

  1. We made this for a dinner at Fort Randolph, it was a hit…to be sure, not easy to make for35 people, but worth it…and my hubby LOVES it

  2. So, did you just use macaroni from the grocery store? If so, what kind? I LOVE pasta and will give this a try!

  3. The cloest to 18th century pasta is small penne. And you will love this reciept it was great. Have fun Sandie

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