Tea Party winners: Roseanna M. White's winner is Debbie Wilder, Denise Weimer's print copy of Widow goes to Andrea Stephens, Debra E. Marvin's winners for Ebook collection are Cheryl Baranski and Rachel Koppendrayer, Carrie Fancett Pagels' ebook collection goes to Joan Arning and paperback to Connie, Gina Welborn's winner is Regina Fujitani, Gabrielle Meyer's paperback copy of A Mother in the Making is Teri Geist DiVincenzo

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas for The Colonel's Lady

The final chapter of The Colonel's Lady is a Christmas scene. There's something about ending a novel right then that is somewhat magical and contributes to the requisite happy ending. I had such fun covering Fort Endeavor and the stone house with snow, decorating everything with greenery and candlelight even down to the scent of gingerbread. Even if it was only on the page!

After reading the novel, one of my dear readers said, "I'm so glad you made Roxanna a kitchen diva!" She loved the food details throughout the book and was particularly intrigued by spoonbread and cherry bounce, true colonial fare.

While researching, I paid close attention to cookbooks and menus from that time, especially the fare at Mount Vernon, City Tavern in Philadelphia, and other historic places. Since I grew up on spoonbread, I was delighted to find it was a favorite recipe back then. If you haven't had it, it's a wonderful blending of a souffle and cornbread. Drench it with butter and you'll probably be a lifelong fan!

One of favorite sources is The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse (1708-1770).

Here's a Christmas menu of the day:

Holiday egg nog, Virginia ham, beaten biscuits, corn pudding, chicken and oyster pie, pumpkin chips, cucumber pickle, claret, mincemeat pie, filbert pudding, honey flummery, plum pudding, Madeira, coffee, walnuts.
~The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook

If you could try anything from colonial times, what fare would it be?


  1. I would love to get copies of these old cookbooks. How people cooked throughout history has always fascinated me. Being a person who cooks primarily from scratch, I love reading their tips or substitutions.

  2. Lynn, I love to cook, too, from scratch like you and also collect recipe books. However, I don't have a single colonial one! When I think of those cooks slaving all day I feel kind of faint:) The old "receipts" do make for interesting reading and are often quite humorous. Thanks so much for coming by!

  3. I just got a "new" colonial cookbook from the Yorktown Settlement store. We have older ones that Cassandra and I used that were for kids and of course the VA and SC cookbooks from Junior League always have a few colonial receipts!

  4. I'd take some of that cherry bounce just to see what all the fuss was about. <};^)

    I already do a rendition of corn pudding, but my husband calls it corn casserole. Wonder if my kids are up to a bit of colonial fare?

  5. Laura, how did they make the beaten biscuits? After reading this I need to bring your book to the top of my reading stack.With trying to get ready for Christmas I've gotten behind.


  6. Carrie, Living in Virginia you have a treasure trove of books, historical and otherwise! I'd be in serious trouble where you are:) Your recipe book sounds wonderful. I'd love some of those Raleigh Tavern recipes. It's one of the first places I'm headed when I get back there!

  7. Winter, So glad you're here!! I think I know just the corn pudding/casserole you're talking about. YUM. Last night for supper I made Mexican cornbread which has a whole can of creamed corn in it. Randy loves it so it must be a keeper as he's pretty particular. Like you, I'd love to try some cherry bounce. It was a beloved item back then and I first came across it in William Clark's (Lewis and Clark) household as his first wife used to make gallons and gallons of it on her family's plantation). I hear it's quite good but being a teetotaler (sp?) I don't know. However, Colonel McLinn says it's a keeper!

  8. Wilma, Thanks so much for coming by and asking such a good question! Beaten biscuits are very different than ordinary southern biscuits. They're made with cream and the dough is "beaten" by hand (basically pounded) till it "blisters" for about 30 minutes. The beaten biscuits I was raised on were slightly hard and somewhat sweet. I LOVED them. And I've never tasted anything like them since. They remain one of my best memories:)

    And thanks so much for even having my book in your stack!! I know how hard it is to get that stack pared down. Mine is just toppling! And then we all probably have more books beneath our tree. OH JOY!

  9. Hi Laura, thanks for this blogspot. I love colonial history and will look into those cookbooks. Can't wait for your next book :)

  10. Hi Laura! Great post! I, too, love to cook, but hardly can find the time these days. It's so interesting to see the types of things people cooked long ago.. and it was so specific to locale as well. I've never had spoonbread or cherry bounce.. but I"d love to try some plum pudding! Now, I've gone and made myself hungry.

  11. Anon, Oh, bless you for saying so! I'm actually working on book 2 of the series this morning:) I should have a cover for you soon of book 1. Merry Christmas to you!

  12. Hi MaryLu,
    I so understand not cooking! Since publishing has kicked in, Costco has become my best friend:) I'm headed there today, in fact, between the writing and checking on here. I've never tasted plum pudding but it does sound so interesting. Speaking of hungry...oh my! Time for brunch;) Thanks so much for taking time here. You always bless me!

  13. Susan Craft said --
    I found an intereting recipe of the Cherokees that I mention in my novel, The Chamomile.
    The Cherokee consider Kanuchi to be a real delicacy. They gather hickory nuts in the fall and allow them to dry for a few weeks. It is a simple process, but that does not necessarily mean it’s easy. The hickory nuts are cracked and the largest pieces of shell removed either by shaking the pieces through a loosely woven basket, or picking them out by hand.
    Traditionally, a log was hollowed out on one end into a bowl-like shape. The shelled hickory nuts are placed in the hollowed log and pounded with a long heavy stick with the end rounded to have the same contour, more or less, as the cavity in the log. The nuts are pounded until they are of a consistency -- a paste -- that can be formed into a ball that will hold its shape. Kanuchi balls are usually about three inches in diameter and must be stored in a cold place, in a cave or near a running stream.
    To prepare kanuchi for the table, place a kanuchi ball in a pan with about a quart of water and bring it to a boil to dissolve the ball. Allow the kanuchi to simmer about ten minutes and then poor it through a fine sieve. (A colander lined with cheese cloth works very well for this.) All the remaining shells are left in the sieve. If you have the time and patience you can pick the larger bits of nut meat from the shells in the sieve and add them to the liquid kanuchi. The kanuchi should be about as thick as light cream. Most traditional cooks will add about two cups of homemade hominy to a quart of kanuchi. Some cooks prefer hominy grits added to the kanuchi. Others add cooked rice. Such things as consistency and how much hominy or hominy grits to add are, of course a matter of taste, as is the addition of salt or sugar.

  14. Ive never had any interest in the real mincemeat made with suet. My mom used ti make it with green tomatoes. I buy the jar!!

    I would love to try some kind if wild fowl.

    Thanks for the name of the cookbook. Sounds like a great resource. But now I'm hungry!

  15. I almost tried making spoonbread for Thanksgiving. Perhaps I can do it for Christmas! I have wanted to try this for a long time.

    I enjoy looking at the 18th century cookbooks, like Hannah Glass's on Google Books.

    Thanks for a delicious post!

  16. Oh Susan, This recipe is so interesting and sounds tasty! I think we often forget that much of our founding involved help from natives and the foods they had, etc. Thanks so much for the great historical info and preparation/recipe. I have The Chamomile on my list to read and I can't wait!

  17. LOL, Debra:) I stay hungry and research doesn't help! Mincemeat...hmmm, I've had the pie but not the suet variety. Like you, I'd love to try some sort of wild fowl. I'm sure it's nothing like our turkey/chicken! Oh, to be Daniel Boone on a long hunt. I imagine he was a great cook;) And very fine company!

  18. Carla, Thx for the reminder that some of those old books/cookbooks are on Google Books, one of my favorite places:) And I do hope you make some spoonbread. It's heavenly right out of the oven but then falls flat in a few minutes. It still tastes wonderful though - with lots of butter!

  19. Did anyone post a spoonbread recipe?

  20. I'm posting the easy version:)


    1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal
    1 cup boiling water
    2 tsp. butter

    Pour water over meal and stir.
    Beat together:
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup whole milk

    Mix all together. Pour into greased baking dish (1-1/2 qt). Bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Stir twice while baking. Slather with butter. Go back for seconds. Burp;)

  21. Laura, you are making me hungry. Your pictures are wonderful!I have used the same Spoonbread recipe for years.

  22. I just found this blog today! It's amazing. I'm glad to see you here, Laura.

    And I, too, would like to try Roxie's spoonbread.

    Here, in yon mountains, we like stack cakes.

  23. BRITT, Glad you found CQ - welcome!!! I think spoonbread is softer than cornbread.

  24. Oh, Britt, I second Carrie here and am SO thrilled to see you! Bless you for your thoughtful comments. Spoonbread is quite wonderful but stack cakes - ah yes! - are just as yummy;)


Thanks for commenting, please check back for our replies!