Posts Tagged ‘Kathleen Wall’

A Tasty Blend of History and Food

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

I’m a sucker for history and for food so I’m always interested in any project that combines the two. I recently received a copy of The Pleasure of the Taste from the Partnership of Historic Bostons. This booklet examines the intersecting culinary opportunities and habits of English settlers and their Native American neighbors in the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The book was put together by the Partnership, a nonprofit history group that “encourages discussion and debate” about daily life in Massachusetts in the 17th century.

Lorén Spears served as an adviser to the project. Spears is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe and the executive director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island.

Spears obviously knows her way around a kitchen; she contributed a number of Native American recipes to the booklet, describing how they would have been prepared in the 17th century but also adapting them for modern kitchens.

The other major adviser was my friend Kathleen Wall, the colonial foodways culinarian at Plimoth Plantation. Kathleen is a wonderful source of knowledge about food in Massachusetts over the centuries and has frequently judged the charity pudding contest (last year it was a pie contest!) I organize from time to time.

Like Spears, Kathleen provided both vintage and modern-day versions of her recipes.

The recipes are not extensive, but they do give the reader (and the cook) a good idea of what Puritan housewives would have had to deal with in terms of cooking conditions and ingredients.

Samp was apparently a major staple of the 17th-century colonists’ diet. An adaptation of the Native American nasaump, this cornmeal-based bread constituted a major bread/starch for both communities.

The booklet delivers versions of both nasaump and samp, along with recipes for stews, tarts, and of course puddings. I’m going to start experimenting with the modern versions of the recipes, but as I go along I may in fact try a bit of historical reenactment.

The Pleasure of the Taste is charming: informative, quick to read, and useful. It may be ordered from the Partnership at www.historicbostons.com.

I leave you with Kathleen’s recipe for English samp, courtesy of the Partnership of Historic Bostons.

English Samp

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups boiling water or milk
1 cup cornmeal
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar (optional)
butter or bacon drippings as needed

Instructions:

Stir the boiling water or milk into the cornmeal in a heat-safe bowl. Add the salt and, if using, the sugar. Mix well.

Heat butter or bacon drippings in a cast-iron skillet. When the butter or drippings simmer, add the batter in half-cup measures to the pan.

Flip repeatedly. “They take their own sweet time,” Kathleen says of these cakes.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Kathleen sampling pudding.

Pudding Perfection

Sunday, November 15th, 2009
The Winner!

The Winner!

 
I know! I’ve been posting TOO MANY SWEET RECIPES lately.
 
But I haven’t yet written about this year’s Pudding Hollow Pudding Festival. So here’s a brief report for pudding fans along with the winning recipe, a (gulp!) sweet pudding.
 
Save it for Thanksgiving when the calories will be just a small part of the day.
 
Our Day of Pudding was exhausting—and exhilarating—and just plain fun.
 
Its spooky scheduling (Halloween!) this year was an accident—the result of musical director Alice Parker’s busy schedule. We were a little worried that having the festival on this busy day would reduce attendance, but we had no choice so we decided to do it anyway.
 
It turns out that Halloween is a GREAT day for puddings! Several contestants (and even members of the general public) came in costume. Everyone seemed to enjoy the new prizes for best costume, spookiest pudding, and best pumpkin pudding.
 
Our wonderful judges—Edie Clark of Yankee magazine, Kathleen Wall of Plimoth Plantation, and Michaelangelo Wescott of the Gypsy Apple Bistro—had to work extra hard this year.
 
In the past we have held a semi-final round a few weeks before the big day to cull our finalists down to a manageable 15. This year the Sons & Daughters of Hawley had a heavy schedule and couldn’t face adding the semi-finals to it.
 
The judges therefore had all 27 entries to work on. I have a feeling their digestive systems are only now recovering from the experience!
 
If we had cut off entries earlier, however, the panel wouldn’t have been able to taste the pudding that won this year.
 
Paula Zindler of Cummington, Massachusetts, told me she only decided to enter the contest the week before Halloween. Her pumpkin gingerbread pudding delighted both the eyes and the taste buds.
 
As always, our entertainment took a lighthearted look at the culinary history of my hometown of Hawley, Massachusetts. “The Witches of Pudding Hollow” stirred up a big pot of potion and a lot of fun for thespians and audience members alike.
 
To read Edie Clark’s description of the judging process, please visit her blog. And if you’d like to see more photos of our big day, please go to the Pudding Festival web site. Meanwhile, here is Paula’s winning pudding recipe.
 
 
The Witches of Pudding Hollow (I'm the short witch in the middle) sing about their brew.

The Witches of Pudding Hollow (I'm the short witch in the middle) sing about their brew.

 
Paula’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Pudding
 
for the Pumpkin Gingerbread:
 
Ingredients:
 
1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted sweet butter
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan well; then line the bottom with buttered waxed paper. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.
 
Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat until well blended. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture, stirring until smooth.
 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan, covered with plastic wrap.
 
Cut the loaf into quarter-inch slices and line a 10-inch buttered ovenproof dish with the slices. (The dish must have 2-inch sides.) Set aside.
 
for the Vanilla Custard and Assembly:
 
Ingredients:
 
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 whole eggs plus 8 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla
 
Instructions:
 
Combine the milk, cream, and sugar in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool by stirring for 5 minutes.
 
Combine the whole eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat lightly until well blended. Quickly whisk 1/2 cup of the slightly cooled milk into the egg mixture and then slowly pour the egg mixture into the milk pot, whisking continuously over low heat.
 
When the milk mixture just begins to put off steam, remove it from the heat and pour it into the baking dish. Allow the custard to soak into the bread for 10 minutes.
 
Place the baking dish into a pan of hot water in a 350 oven for 50 minutes or until the custard is set. Enjoy at any temperature.
 
Serves 8 to 10. 
 
Crowning the Winner
Crowning the Winner

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