Move the Pumpkin Pie!

People have always had celebrations of Thanksgiving: from the Continental Congress proclaiming the first Thanksgiving in 1777, to the final adaptation in 1941 of the third Thursday in November as our National American Holiday. It is both relatively modern and quietly ancient at the same time. These events would have been as individual as those who chose to celebrate them. One could give thanks for so many things- a substantial crop yield, the return to health of a loved one, a good investment, the birth of a child, to celebrate or to promote the coming year’s crops, on and on and on.

Though we don’t celebrate what visitors know today as a modern Thanksgiving at either of our kitchens, the manner in which we dine on this national holiday is as close as modern Americans will come to an 18…

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Posted: November 20th, 2017 in Research and Foodways News

Special Programming Schedule to Highlight a Wide Variety of Interests in 2018

The Historic Foodways Staff is proud to present our schedule for special programming for 2018.  These programs highlight staff specialties, interest and showcase our on going research and study projects. Mark the dates and join us!

 

A Cook’s Walking Tour

Wednesday March 14, 2018

Wednesday April 18, 2018

Wednesday Sept 12, 2018

Wednesday Oct 17, 2018

1:00- 2:00 p.m.

 

Guests visiting our historic sites see lovely, pristine homes in fair order. But, did you ever wonder about the messy parts of life? Take a guided tour with a member of Historic Foodways to explore the often private world of food preparation in an 18th century city. Guests will visit a variety of original out buildings and sites, including smoke houses, dairies, kitchens and bake ovens.  Learn what it was like to live and work as a cook …

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Posted: November 6th, 2017 in Research and Foodways News

To Make Mince Pies the Best Way

Mincemeat pies are a medieval Christmas tradition. Typically, mincemeats are made up several months in advance to allow the flavors to merge. The ever-present alcohol and sugar was a way to preserve meat. By the late 18th century the meat component had become optional.

 

Mince meat tarts make a fine addition to the Governor’s table. This version is full of apples, candied peels, almonds, spices and sugar.

 

 

 

To Make Mince Pies the Best Way

 

From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, by Hannah Glasse, 1776 edition

Take three pounds of suet shred very fine, and chopped as small as possible; two pounds of raisins stoned, and chopped as fine as possible; two pounds of currants nicely picked, washed, rubbed and dried at the fire; half a hundred of fine pippins, pared, cored …

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Posted: October 12th, 2017 in Dessert, Side dish | 2 comments

Crocant Covers, a Flight of Fancy for your Dessert Course

A fancy pastry cover might also be served with a fancifully decorated sugar plate, this one complete with a crest.

 

 

By Charles Alan Welsh, Intern, Historic Foodways

When dinning with a Royal Governor it is just as important to eat with one’s eyes and nose, as with one’s mouth. Fanciful desserts of sweetmeats, sugar and pastry, such as a crocant, were a way to delight dinners while showing off the power and wealth of the host.  Though not hard to create, a pastry dome crocant would take time and effort to produce.

 

A Crocant

 

From The Lady’s Magazine; Or, Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex …, Volume 4, 1773, G. Robinson

When you make sweetmeat tarts, or a crocant tart, lay in the sweetmeats, or preserved fruits either in glass or china patties that are small, …

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Posted: October 12th, 2017 in Dessert | 2 comments

The Making of a Journeyman

Colonial Williamsburg offers a very unique and historically accurate Apprentice program as part of Historic Trades. Apprentices are required to complete a series of projects and research in order to attain status of Journeyman, including Historic Foodways. Our apprentice program is made up of five levels, with each level requiring us to prepare twenty five different recipes, a minimum of five times, or until they were deemed correct. Over the course of those five levels that equates to a 125 different recipes, with a minimum total of 625 individual dishes. Not all of the recipes are a dish that is placed on display, but are condiments such as English ketchup or a strong stock called a cullis, which are vital to our cooking.   There is also required reading, research projects, special event planning and participation, presentations and lectures, in-house and …

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Posted: September 12th, 2017 in Research and Foodways News | 4 comments

Pistachio Creams

Pistachio creams

What modern people would recognize as cooked custards or puddings we here in the 18th century call creams, which would be found in the dessert course of an elegant dinner. Creams came in a variety of flavors: chocolate, orange, lemon, almond, apple, and more. If you froze them they would become iced creams.

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Posted: June 6th, 2017 in Dessert | 4 comments

The Long Journey of Pepper Pot Soup

pepper pot

Today we are looking at the strange culinary journey of Pepper Pot, exploring the distances it covered and the evolution of recipes for this humble soup. Along with this post you will find Historic Foodways’ adaptation of a Caribbean version of Pepper Pot soup to contrast with the Philadelphia version that you can find in our summer issue of Trend & Tradition magazine.

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Posted: May 5th, 2017 in Main dish | 1 comment

All Roads Lead Home: Foodways Returns to the Wythe Kitchen

Lydia Broadnax

For the past fifteen years Historic Foodways has moved throughout the Historic Area, interpreting and cooking in a variety of kitchens: the Palace, the Randolph, and most recently the Anderson Armory. We are happy to announce that Historic Foodways is back home, working and cooking in the Wythe and Palace kitchens.

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Posted: April 6th, 2017 in Research and Foodways News

Rolling Out Theme Days With Pie!

GR PieHistoric Foodways is proud to introduce a new series of programs we are affectionately calling Theme Days. Each month staff will prepare dishes using a specific type of food or an ingredient, delving deeper into its history and uses and giving our guests a more in-depth and engaging experience. To kick off Theme Days, Historic Foodways will be celebrating Pi Day on March 14, 2017 by making, what else, but pies!

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Posted: March 6th, 2017 in Research and Foodways News

Making Use of the Marvelous Medlar
Still Life with Three Medlars and a Butterfly by Adiaen Coorte, 1705

Still Life with Three Medlars and a Butterfly by Adiaen Coorte, 1705.

Anyone who has ever walked in the Historic Area knows the wonderful job done by our gardeners and groundskeepers in creating and maintaining our vibrant and well-manicured grounds. But you may not know that there are a multitude of historically accurate fruit trees and plants right alongside the tulips and the manicured hedges. Sometimes even we come across a hidden treasure that Historic Foodways staff did not know was there. That is exactly what happened last fall when we stumbled across a medlar tree in full bloom.

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Posted: February 20th, 2017 in Side dish | 1 comment