Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Colonial Christmas Traditions: Part III

Hartwell Tavern
Unlike today, Colonial Americans (and even north in Quebec which, at that time, was basically all of Canada), had to rely on what they could gather from the bush and hunting, gathering wild berries, what the ships brought in as spices and fruit, and what they could garden. Venison, quail and wild bird, and rabbit were only some of the meat that was hunted even by the most prosperous of land and plantation owners.
Wild quail

Cooking, needless to say, was also primitive compared to what we are used to. Pots were often made of iron lead (and we know what lead poisoning was), and often meals were shared from a communal plate. Prosperous families could afford eating utensils, but modest families ate with hands or wooden spoons. Meat was generally broken apart by fingers and eaten. Bread was dipped in sauces & gravies, melted butter, or eaten unadorned.

Here are few more rustic, old recipes all dating from pre-Revolutionary or Revolutionary War society, and I focused on foods prevalent in 1775-76 Virginia. Enjoy!

12 pounds roast
Salt, pepper and flour dredge
4 cups flour
2 cups water  
1 tablespoon currant jelly.
Wipe meat carefully with wet cloth and cover with a large sheet of buttered paper.
Make a thick paste of flour and water, roll our 3/4 inch thick and lay over the fat side of the haunch.
Cover with three or four sheets of white paper and tie Securely with cord
Put in dripping pan and roast and do not .forget to baste often to prevent paper and string from burning.
A twelve pound haunch will take 3 hours to roast.
Half an hour before it is done remove from the oven cut strings, take off paste, and paper;
Dredge with flour, salt, and pepper
return to oven and roast to fine brown color
Serve with a brown sauce to which a tbs. currant jelly is added

1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour milk      
1 egg
1 tsp. Soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups flour or just enough to handle easily
Fry in hot fat (380). Turn once.
Makes about 2 dozen donuts.

1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. Soda
1/2 cup shortening (chicken fat preferred)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg beaten
l tsp. Ginger
1 cup molasses
1 tsp. Cinnamon
3 cups sifted pastry flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup boiling water
1/4 tsp cloves
Heat oven with control set for moderate oven ~ 350 degrees.
Butter and flour two pans 10x7 or 8" square if thicker loaf is desired.
Mix and sift flour, soda, salt and spices.
Cream shortening and sugar
add molasses and beaten egg.
Stir in dry ingredients.
Slowly add boiling water.
Turn into prepared pans.
Bake until it comes away from the sides of the pan, requires about 25-30 minutes.
It should be slightly and evenly rounded over the top, never cracked open.

1 cup butter                  
3 eggs
2 cups sugar            
½ pint milk
3 cups flour              
1 pint raisins
½ tsp each nutmeg, cloves, orange rind
Heat oven to 325-350 degrees.
Butter loaf pan, probably 8"x4"x4".
Sift flour, salt, and spices along with soda, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add in beaten eggs and beat well.
Add flour, to which raisins have been added-just a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
When all the flour has been added, beat the entire batter until smooth and velvety.
Turn into prepared pan and bake 60 to 75 minutes

SYLLABUB (Soft custard pudding)
Syllabub is also classified as a rich eggnog type of drink to which brandy may be added, and often served with tea cakes
4 egg yolks                
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon flour  
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar    
1 pint whipped cream
Brandy or wine
Mix half sugar with flour
Bring milk to boil and add sugar and flour.
Cook in double boiler 10 minutes.
Beat egg yolks, add in other half sugar, and finally add this to milk mixture, stirring slowly.
Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from fire and add vanilla.
Let mixture cool.
When serving fill a tumbler half full of this custard


Rossandra said...

When I saw your title, had to check it out, thought it might be my neck of colonialism, Africa, not that we had any traditions per se. Very interesting.

S.L. Bartlett said...

Thanks for visiting, Rossandra, though ultimately it proved a disappointment it wasn't Colonial Africa. LOL I had to research all this, since it relates to my novel, but in actuality, I'm Canadian.
I'm intensely interested in other cultures, and I know South African's have a unique culture of their own. Did you celebrate Christmas, and if so, what traditions did you have?

Nancy MacMillan said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and your comment. I'm so thrilled to learn your son is coming home!! And I know you're estatic. May his homecoming be filled with love and laughter . . . a day to remember.
Luv, Nancy

wosushi said...

This all sounds so amazing. I think I can get on bored with learning more history if it is in terms of food. :) said...

Those donuts look AMAZING! Will definitely have to try those soon.

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