Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids at the Wilton Historical Society

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This Month: Puddings and Cakes

In the 1796 book “American Cookery:  Or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and all kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plumb to Plain Cake” by Amelia Simmons, no fewer than 36 “receipts” for puddings are included, as well as 37 for cakes! But not all puddings are sweet, nor are they all made for dessert, as we generally think today.  Museum Educator Laurie Walker will be discussing puddings and cakes at this workshop. Potato Pudding, Sunderland Pudding, Rice Pudding – the common ingredient in all of these is milk.  Cakes, on the other hand, can be anything from a large yeast cake (like Election Cake) to a small cake (like Shrewsbury Cake) which we would more commonly call a cookie today. The kids will make a bread pudding and some honey cakes with updated recipes from the ones originally published in 1796.

The Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids workshop at the Wilton Historical Society teaches kids a “reciept” (recipe) used in the Connecticut region.  While the food is prepared, they hear about Colonial manners, morals and way of life.  The monthly workshops feature relatively simple dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients, adapted for modern kitchens.  All participants will sample their own cooking and take home recipe cards – as well as any leftovers! The children will learn how a Colonial kitchen would have operated, in order to appreciate the modern conveniences we take for granted.  Previous sessions have made bannock cakes, pease porridge, pickles, an amulet of green peas, apple tansey, fairy butter, pumpkin bread, cranberry shortbread, New Year’s “cakes”, New England chowder, hand pies, cheese and ramp soufflé, pea and watercress Rappahannock, blackberry maslin, thirded bread, pound cake with “Oranges” juice, maple cup custard, pepper pot soup, scalloped tomatoes, dressed macaroni and cheese, gingerbread cakes,   maple syrup tart and Johnny cakes.

Suggested for ages 6 – 12.

Members: $10; Non-members $15. Space is limited — please register by contacting info@wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257. 

Did You Know?
Bread pudding & the Civil War
According to the scholarly Food Timline “Our survey of Civil War food history books and primary sources indicates bread pudding was popular on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. Civil war soldiers sometimes substituted crackers for bread. Sweeteners were hard to come by, especially for Confederate soldiers. Still. They made do. Notes here:

“Desserts existed almost solely in the imagination, especially with the scarcity of sugar. “If we wanted something extra, we pounded our crackers into fine pieces, mixed it up with sugar, raisons and water, and boiled it in our tin cups,”…”This we called pudding.” Some Yankees bought meal at a local meal and made flapjacks and puddings in what Fisk said was “a style of simplicity such as only soldiers would think of adopting.” For Confederates, a final “course” could be even less appetizing. Fruit and berries were ocften baked into pies that for want of sugar and proper flour, could be fearsome to the taste and digestion. Some Kentucky Confederates made a sugarless fried pie, “this having all the tough elasticity of a rubber suspender.” Once in a while, when there was a little sugar, soldiers with Lee made blackberry pies. Often the only sweetener available was watermelon juice, not easy to obtain when by 1863 a single watermelon sold for $40.00 in the camps.”
A Taste for War: The Culinary History of the Blue and the Gray, William C. Davis