Happy New Year from Historic Foodways

We here in Historic Foodways would like to wish all of you a great new year! Because the New Year is a time of new beginnings, we’d like to tell you about some changes we’ll be making to our blog to better meet the interests of our audience: You!

We will continue to post new recipes, and keep the old ones available to you. In addition, we plan to include more discussions on the history of food and drinks, as well as more photos and other visuals about our ongoing projects and programs in Historic Foodways.

Here’s where we need your help: We’d like to hear from you about the topics you’d like to see us tackle and any other suggestions you have for the blog.  What are you curious about? What are you interested in? Please use the comment section here to tell us your thoughts and suggestions for topics.

The best way to learn about Historic Foodways, of course, is to come and visit us in the kitchens. But we hope the new blog will be the next best thing to being there.


  1. Ed Glaser:

    And, as a regular viewer and kitchen experimenter, I’d like to add my thanks to everyone of the Historic Foodways crew and say what a treat it is to watch your videos. Thank you Frank especially for your friendly and conversational narratives.

  2. Ed Glaser:

    As far as new things to cover, it might be interesting to see more about food preservation techniques from the 1700s and more about the foods of the less affluent. Even some of the folklore that followed the foods that everyone ate.

  3. Helen:

    Happy New Year to all of you! And, so good to see you Kim.

  4. Stacey Nadeau:

    I’ve truly enjoyed this blog over the last couple of years and look forward to the new things you’ve got planned. I recall with lots of smiles and good memories the day that my staff got to spend in the Palace kitchen learning from Dennis. Many blessings on your retirement!

  5. Howard Jordan:

    I have always enjoyed the Foodways blog and am looking forward to the “new beginnings”. Happy New Year and Huzzah to you.

  6. James:

    This is my favorite cooking show. I love to try the recipes whenever I get a chance. What I would like to see is Wild Game like venison, rabbit, pheasant etc, these were definitely popular in Colonial America. I would like to see how the soldiers cooked and the foods they ate, along with Beer Brewing, and Cheese making. I would like to know what is the name of the theme song and is that available for purchase on a CD, or MP3?

  7. Abby:

    Thank you so much for all you do on the Foodways staff! I would like to see a recipe for a colonial 12th Night cake. Also, I have seen a recipe for a sugar cake sort of thing, but if there is any variation between those and Shrewsburry cakes, I would be happy to see that recipe here too!

  8. Jim:

    Love the blog, the video’s and the food. Would enjoy seeing more information about the preparation and cooking of wild game. In addition what beverages were served with meals and any recipes for those beverages. Thanks for all your hard work and research.

  9. Helen Robison FitzGerald:

    Happy New Year all. Since a kid coming to Williamsburg I have always enjoyed viewing the kitchens and historic ways of cooking the most. Many thanks for the yeary of Historic Foodways; I like the other commentators look forward another year with extras no less.

    I should like to see roasting. I am always chastised when I come that no matter what I try I am not truly doing roasting – even with a rotisserie on my Weber kettle with the coals divided to the sides and with a cover.

    Also hearth Dutch oven baking. I still don’t understand how you’all get your pie crust toppings, et. al. to stay so pale.

    As always, I enjoy learning about the history of a dish, with what else it might have been served. What would a middling family have had on their table for a main afternoon dinner?

    Best regards always,

  10. Christine Hansley:

    Hi Foodways Crew,
    Happy belated New Year to the whole crew.
    This is the first time this year I have had a chance to sit and really look at the blog. Thank you so much for all of the interesting receipts that you have provided over the years. I look forward to many more. To Dennis. Thank you for answering our questions. Some were simple, others more difficult. Enjoy your retirement. We will miss you.
    Something I would like to see in the way of receipts: more of the everyday foods that all of the colonists ate. I know many only ate 2 meals, but I’m sure they ate snacks and lighter meals then many of the items we’ve seen over the years. If I ate heavy foods like this all of the time……Also, maybe a few items that they gave to very young children just starting to eat solid food.
    Please keep up these wonderful history lessons.
    Have a great year,

  11. Karen Arland:

    When are you going to publish these in a book? Perhaps a binder format so that we could continually update the book?

  12. administrator:

    Thank you for your suggestion. We may publish this in book form sometime in the future, but we have no immediate plans to do so.

  13. Marie Millen:

    I would really enjoy hearing about the various spices and flavorings and how they were used. And why do you refer to some of the Foodway crew as a Journeyman? What is the difference in their duties in the kitchen? Thank you and look forward to stopping by in March!

  14. The Hartleys:

    Greetings! We are eagerly awaiting Spring!
    We enjoy the Food Blog – its historic recipes, modern translations, and preparation videos. Many thanks to all the Foodways staff and production crew. We look forward to your future presentations.
    You asked for Blog Topic suggestions – perhaps you might consider:
    1.What foods were served at occasions like weddings or funerals?
    2.Are there accounts of picnics or social events involving eating outdoors? Are there menus and recipes you could show us?
    3.What foods, besides breads, were found on “middling” or upper class tables almost every day?
    Your friends in WV,
    Martha & Dick

  15. The Hartleys:

    Again Greetings!
    We always enjoy our trips to CW, especially our visits and the informative chats with the Foodways folks. Besides our Blog suggestions, we also would like to support a programming idea.
    The Palace Kitchen demonstrates foodways with its charcoal grate and brick oven for the highest social echelon as it prepares dishes for the Governor and his guests. The Armory shows the one-pot meal and the baking of bread for laborers as they support the war effort. However, with the closing of the Randolph Kitchen, there is now a void of being able to see the multitude of other dishes which are possible in hearth cooking.
    With the many talents of the entire Foodways Staff, we encourage more hearth cooking demonstrations of other dishes besides one-pot meals. Maybe on one weekend day and one day during the week, the foodways Staff could do this expanded hearth cooking at the Armory for a higher social level with a historically accurate scenario of Mr. Anderson’s “entertaining a Quartermaster and his wife to dinner” or “meeting with the Town Fathers” to justify the menu. Let’s use the Foodways’ Staff expertise and increase the visiting public’s exposure to different social levels of hearth cooking possibilities.
    Best Wishes, Martha & Dick

  16. Christine Hansley:

    Hi Foodways Crew,
    When will you start posting on an every two week basis as previously done?
    Missing these postings.
    Take care, and thank you for all you do,

  17. Craig:

    I agree with Ed Glaser. Food preservation techniques and more about the foods of the less affluent.

  18. fclark:

    Marie, I hope you can come by and see us!
    The foodways department follows the model of our historic trades department. We learn our trade through an apprenticeship system. The foodways apprenticeship is a series of recipes that have to be prepared properly. There are also various other teaching , learning and training requirements that must be met in order to be advanced to the rank of Journeyman. At present, historic foodways has two apprentices, Melissa Blank and Kimberly Costa. There are three journeymen Rob Brantley, Susan Holler, and Barbara Scherer, and,I am the journeyman supervisor.
    Frank Clark.

  19. Frank Clark:

    Hi Chris, SOON!! We are in the final stages of getting the new blog together and will begin postings soon. Our plan is to have bigger posts every two weeks and to have small updates in between the big ones. It looks like we have a number of suggestions for future posts up here already.We will try to get to as many of them as we can. So far I see interest in Hearth cooking,preservation, specialty foods, Military foods and foods of the middling sort. Don’t worry there is plenty more to come!

  20. Christine Hansley:

    Hi Frank,
    I’m looking forward to it. I’m currently going through my flash drive to see if I have all of the previous receipts.
    We’ve had an old fashion Chicago winter. The kind I remember as a kid. It seems you folks have had an extremely harsh winter, which seems uncommon for the area. Are there any records as to the severity of winters in CW during the 17th and 18th centuries?
    One other aspect you might consider on the blog is a little bit of the history of how the servants got the food to the house at the proper temperature. Did they bring the hot pot to the house and plate the food in an area off and out of sight of the dining room? That type of information.
    One other question I’ve been wondering about lately. Where does CW get all the fire wood for the various uses. Your kitchens, the Armoury, the cressets and the fireplaces. The wooded areas around CW do not seem to be the source of the fire wood??
    Thanks for all you do,

  21. pam williams:

    Please hurry! We’re recipe/foodways conversations deprived…LOL!

  22. Dawn Perkins:

    Thank you so much for your blog. I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed cooking some of the dishes. Suggestions for future topics:

    1. One-pot meals. How prevalent were they?
    2. Slave meals
    3. More celebration meals.


  23. Beth Holmberg:

    It’s nice to have access to your evolving research in food ways! I’d love to see more ways to search what you’ve shared (my fantasy: I put in 3 ingredients, and get all the receipts that contain all three…).

    A specific question: reenactor friends gave me a recipe for “honey cakes”, made from whole wheat flour, corn meal, and honey. They claimed it was a Revolutionary War ‘trail food’…do you know if there’s any legitimacy to this claim, or any history of this food? I hate spreading bad history- please help if you can!

    Many thanks!

  24. Heidi:

    Hi, I just found this blog from viewing the Colonial Williamsburg website and I love it! Videos on butchering, and quartering the individual meat cuts might be interesting. Or scalding and plucking a hen. How did they go about making and using the brine, how they prepared meat for smoking et cetera. So preservation (which has already been mentioned) and the butchering that proceeds it would be very interesting.

  25. administrator:

    Dear Beth,

    I can pass on your suggestions to the web developers. We are currently working on planning for the upcoming year for changes to the blog.

    As far as the recipe from the honey recipe, I have not come across it. I will research it and try and get back with an answer!
    Melissa Blank

  26. Howard Jordan:

    I would enjoy seeing more about field dressing, cleaning and preparing game animals (squirrel, rabbit, dove, turkey, deer, etc.) using 18th century methods and recipes. It would also be nice to learn more about how meals were supplied and prepared in wilderness settings by hunters, trappers, survey parties, etc.

  27. Jim:

    Hello, this is a slightly different question for the Foodways group. The Taverns once served a cocktail names sangria. It was a mix of Madeira and juices. Could you possibly have this recipe? If so would you email it to me?

  28. administrator:

    Dear Jim,
    To be honest, the Taverns use modern recipes that can change or be altered every time a new chef comes on board. I would recommend calling or emailing the tavern where you ate and see if they would give you the recipe.
    Good luck

  29. Annette:

    Hello I am a volunteer at a museum of 18th century life and we do quite a bit of cooking and baking at our museum. Your recipes and videos are a great source of ideas for me. What I am curious about is how people in that time period would have made things like beer or wine and vinegar? So many of the recipes called for barm or sack I’m sure those who could would make their own. I have seen a recipe that calls for lemon pickle and have read Mary Randolph’s recipe for that but wouldn’t mind seeing a demonstration of it as well.

  30. Laura:

    We are a small group that gather to do cooking in the open hearth at Rock Ford Plantation in Lancaster, PA. Some of us are very interested in learning more: ie a hands on session. Does Williamsburg off such classes? If so, please send us more information on cost, time frame etc.

  31. Liz Fetter:

    It would be interesting to learn of different teas and dishes used to treat the ill.

  32. administrator:

    A great article to learn more about beer and brewing can be found on Colonial Williamsburg’s website:

    Another can be found on Wine at: http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/Summer02/wine.cfm

    Many of the items that residents needed could be purchased from stores in town or from farmers selling at the market house.

  33. Doald Wiliams:

    Last year around Labor Day CW had a culinary program which lasted several days. Sorry, I can’t remember what you called it. Will that be repeated? My wife and I would love to come. We are members of the Capitol Society and visit CW almost annually.

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