What’s Cooking in the Kitchen?

This is the first posting in a new blog series called “What’s Cooking in the Kitchen?” which will highlight dishes and happenings for those of you wishing to have more Historic Foodways in your daily life.  We hope to post recipes, fun findings, new research and special programs that we think you many enjoy.  For our first posting you’ll be happy to know fall has officially arrived here at Colonial Williamsburg. So, what better way to celebrate the cooler weather than a classic pea soup?  This creamy version is thickened simply by running the peas through a hair sieve after cooking.


Some of our favorite recipes highlight the international influences to our Gentry tables.  This recipe for Mutton the Turkish Way,  also called A Turkish Dish, can also be made with thin strips of beef.  The ingredients are a …

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Posted: October 15th, 2018 in Research and Foodways News

Eggs in Paper Cases

There are several recipes that Historic Foodways staff members create which prompt frequent requests for cooking instructions.  Eggs in Paper Cases is one of them.  This delightfully simple recipe is not only tasty, but fun and easy to do.  The one mystery?  The book neglects to tell one how to make, buy or even what the paper cases look like.  We guess that’s a mystery left to the mists of time.  If you wish to have a little more fun, we suggest you create your own origami boxes for the recipe.




Oeufs en Caises. Eggs in Paper-Cases.

From The Practice of Modern Cookery, by George Dalrymple, 1781.

Mix some chopt sweet-herbs with a piece of butter, pepper, and salt; put a little of this in the bottom of each case; break an egg into each case, …

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Posted: September 30th, 2018 in Side dish | 2 comments

Pub Crawl for our Newest Beer- Friday, August 3, 2018


Please join Master of Historic Foodways on Friday, August 3, 2018 as we celebrate the arrival to our beer family- the Duke of Dilemma.  Joining Frank will be Geoff Logan from Alewerks, the producers of our Historic Beers.

The pub crawl begins at Shields Tavern at 7:00 p.m. and will conclude at Chowing’s Garden at 7:45 p.m.  Along the way you will get to learn about the new seasonal line of beers, as well as tasting the final product.

The beer, apply named  Duke of Dilemma, is a pale ale based on a recipe in from the Theory and Practice of Brewing, by Michael Combrune , published in 1762. It is a light refreshing traditional British style pale ale made with traditional malt and hops and a classic  West country ale yeast.

Tickets are available for sale on the …

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Posted: July 24th, 2018 in Research and Foodways News

Join us for Ales Through The Ages, October 19-21, 2018


Join us for an exciting weekend of beer and history! Beer is the oldest recorded recipe in the world. The ancient Egyptians first documented the brewing process on papyrus scrolls around 5,000 B.C. Then, beer eventually made its way from the Middle East across the Mediterranean to Europe, where it became an integral part of life and was valued both for its nutritional value and as a safe alternative to contaminated drinking water. Beer arrived in the New World with the first European colonists and Americans have been brewing ever since.

Ales through the Ages offers a journey through the history of beer with some of the world’s top beer scholars. We will explore ancient ales and indigenous beers of the past, examine the origins of brewing and discover the ingredients brewers have used through time. Don’t miss your …

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Posted: May 21st, 2018 in Research and Foodways News

Yams and Sweet Potatoes are the Same Thing, Right?


The simple answer would be no.

Today in the United States the USDA requires the name yam to be joined with the word sweet potato. But, true yams are a form of an edible tuber and a monocot (having one embryonic seed leaf) from the Dioscoreaceae family. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are a dicot (having two embryonic seed leaves) and are from the Convolvulacea family, or morning glory family. So then, where did the origins of the name yam come from? By the 1580’s the word igname, from the Portuguese word inhame, or Spanish igname, originated from a West African language. It was a mispronunciation of the term “to eat” and is probably the source of the American word “yam”.

There are hundreds of varieties of yams, with most of them grown in Africa, …

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Posted: May 15th, 2018 in Research and Foodways News, Vegetables

What’s Going On?

From time to time we’d like to let you know what’s going on with Historic Foodways. March has been quite a busy month for us.



On Tuesday, March 13, 2018 we had a group of six graduate students from Washington College join us for a week of hands-on learning. The students were a part of a partnered program between Colonial Williamsburg and Washington College. During their visit, the students participated in a variety of hands-on learning experiences that centered on the life of a Revolutionary war soldier: from the foundry, coopers, and artificers to the shoemakers, blacksmiths and the Palace kitchen. During their two hours with Journeyman Kimberly Costa the students learned the importance of chocolate as, not only a breakfast drink, but for medicinal uses and military rations. The students went through all stages of making chocolate, …

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Posted: March 29th, 2018 in Research and Foodways News

A Curious Way to Make an Omelet

Kimberly Costa, Journeyman, Historic Foodways

Sweetbreads en Gordineere

From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse, 1788 edition

Take three sweetbreads and parboil them, take a stew-pan and lay layers of bacon or ham and veal, over that lay the sweetbreads on with the upper side downwards, put a layer of veal and bacon over them, a pint of veal broth, three or four blades of mace, stew them gently three quarters of an hour; take the sweetbreads out, strain off the gravy through a sieve, and skim off the fat; make an aumlet of yolks of eggs in the following manner: beat up four yolks of eggs, put two in a plate, and put them over a stew pan of water boiling over the fire, put another plate over it, and it will soon be …

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Posted: February 28th, 2018 in Research and Foodways News

Peas, Glorious Peas!


Each spring Historic Foodways staff highly anticipate the arrival of one of our most favored vegetables- the garden pea. Wesley Greene’s Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way, states that the green pea was one of the most fashionable of all garden vegetables for 18th-century Virginia gentlemen to grow. Thomas Jefferson held a yearly competition with his neighbor to see who could harvest them first.  In 1707, Englishman John Mortimer lamented, “The great inconveniency that doth attend them is that their extraordinary sweetness makes them likeable to be devoured by Birds.” It’s a lament familiar to most gardeners. According to research conducted by Tiffany Fisk, apprentice in Historic Foodways, peas may have been around as early as 9750 BC. “Most people were eating dried peas rather than fresh ones,” she says.

For more of Tiffany’s research and recipes from …

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Posted: February 6th, 2018 in Side dish, Vegetables

Puff vs. Rough: Exploring 18th Century Puff Pastry


Puff Paste, or pastry as we know it today, can be found in literally hundreds of published and non-published cookery books during the 18th century. Though the proportion of butter and eggs differ, what does not is the technique of working the butter into the dough to produce butter filled layers of dough that will crisp when baked.

So what the difference between a puff pastry and a rough puff? Rough puff is a modern short-cut method of cutting the butter into the flour to form a lump of dough full of butter chunks. This mass is then rolled out and folded in a series of turns, just like a puff. But a true puff will have a small addition of butter to the dough, not all at once.  A dough must be made from flour, water and …

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Posted: January 17th, 2018 in Research and Foodways News | 3 comments

A Boiled Plum-Pudding


From A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost-Story of Christmas, by Charles Dickens, 1843.

Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone — too nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up and bring it in…Hallo. A great deal of steam. The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day. That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastry cook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that. That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered — flushed, but smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

It is this passage from Dicken’s famous story that help cement the plum pudding …

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Posted: December 18th, 2017 in Dessert, Main dish | 3 comments