Shannon here: Lynne Basham Tagawa shares insight in American Colonial Recipes, along with a romantic excerpt from her Historical Romance, The Heart of Courage. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print copy, U.S. only. Deadline: May 7th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Lynne:
American Colonial Recipes by Lynne Tagawa
The characters in my historical fiction enjoy a lot of foods we wouldn’t recognize today.
Or maybe we would.
For example, they drank “switchel” after a long afternoon in the fields. It’s like Gatorade, made with a sweetener (usually molasses) and a source of electrolytes (apple cider vinegar). They threw in a little ginger for flavor. There are recipes online even today (see below).
Cornbread is another favorite we’d recognize, though when traveling the recipe was reduced to cornmeal and water. I know, sounds terrible. “Johnnycake” or “journeycake” was probably rock hard.
Jerky is still a favorite today. There’s even a specialty bar that touts itself as a newfangled pemmican, the traveling food of the Native Americans that combined meat, fat, and berries. My Native American characters ate this in one scene of The Heart of Courage.
Pie and cake will never go out of style, and my character Susanna Russell in Courage helps her baby sister eat currant cake without making too much of a mess. (Ha!) Red and black currants are relatives of gooseberries and all of them found their way into colonial era recipes.
American Cookery by Amelia Simmons contains this recipe:
Stew and strain the apples, to every three pints, grate the peal of a fresh lemon, add cinnamon, mace, rose-water, and sugar to your taste—and bake in paste No. 3.
Every species of fruit such as peas, plums, raspberries, blackberries may be only sweetened, without spices—and baked in paste No. 3.
What is “paste No. 3”? I have no idea. Some kind of pastry dough, undoubtedly, that her readers were familiar with. But otherwise, it sounds familiar. Cinnamon and lemon are still used in apple pie.
Here’s a recipe for switchel, taken from Townsends, which sells historical clothing:
Start with a half gallon of drinking water. Add half a cup of unsulfured molasses, a quarter cup of apple-cider vinegar, and a heaping tablespoon of powdered ginger. Stir very well.
Substitutions: you can replace the molasses with maple syrup. Tweak the sweetener and vinegar amounts to taste.
Finally, there were treats we would call ethnic. Only the Dutch made cookies, but their popularity caused them to spread. Meat pies were common in that day, but there were ethnic variations. My characters enjoy “bridies,” a Scottish hand-held meat-filled pie, much like a Cornish pastie or Italian calzone. That’s because many of the inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley were “Scots-Irish.”
Excerpt from The Heart of Courage:
He smiled. The Russells generally served good food, especially on the Sabbath. “Thank ye kindly.”
They strolled in the direction of the Russells’ wagon.
“What did ye think of the sermon?” he asked.
“Prophet, priest, and king? I am still thinking on the subheads. Da will ask, he always does. Tonight, or tomorrow evening.”
James suspected few lasses were instructed quite as well as Susanna. “Is it terribly tedious to remember them all?”
She chuckled. “Why, how can I admit such a thing to you, the minister’s lad?”
The minister’s lad. His nickname. He was grateful she even spoke to him. Most lasses didn’t. They did have eyes for William Preston. “I’ll tell ye a secret. Sometimes Mr. Craig tears his hair out composing the thing.”
They arrived at the wagon where Agnes May bustled about.
“Here, lad.” Mrs. May piled fried pork, buttered bread, and a small Scottish meat pie on his plate. “Blackberry jam?” She didn’t wait for an answer but slathered it on his bread.
About Lynne: Lynne Tagawa is a mom and best of all, grandma to five. She and her husband live in Texas. She’s currently working on book 3 in the series, set during the American Revolution.
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About the book – The Heart of Courage:
No one would understand. But he had to obey his conscience.
It’s 1753, and troubling news comes to Russell’s Ridge . . .
Susanna Russell longs to escape her valley home. When war breaks out, she gets her wish to study in fabulous Williamsburg. But she realizes she’s lost something important along the way.
James Paxton is studying for the ministry. But when violence threatens the valley, his path becomes clouded. What is God’s will for his life? The answer is alarming—and impossible.
Red Hawk spies white surveyors near his home, a harbinger of trouble to come. Shawnee chiefs go to Philadelphia to treat for peace, but the unthinkable happens, and Red Hawk loses all he once held dear. Then he has a strange dream. What can it mean?
The Heart of Courage: A Novel of the French and Indian War is book 2 of the Russells series.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Interested in Lynne’s other titles?
Question for Readers: What is your favorite food with roots in the past?
Come back April 29th for Donna Schlachter!