7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Toasts Proposed during the Revolutionary War

I had a wonderful time recently at the launch for my novel, The Chamomile. Several of the guests made the following toasts that were proposed during the Revolutionary War era.
Toast 1
George Washington attended a Public Dinner at Frances Tavern on Pearl Street in New York where he would propose 13 Toasts with Hot Butter'd Rum.'
1. To the United States of America,
2. To His Most Christian Majesty Louis XVI of France;
3. To the United Netherlands;
4. To the King of Sweden;
5. To the American Army;
6. To the Fleet and Armies of France which have served in America;
7. To the memory of those heroes who have fallen for our freedom;
8. May our country be grateful to her military children;
9. May justice support what courage has gained;
10. To the indicators of the rights of mankind in every quarter of the globe,
11. May America be an asylum to the persecuted of the Earth;
12. May a close union of states guard the temple they have erected to Liberty;
13. May the remembrances of the day be a lesson to princes.
Toast 2
Here's to the four hinges of friendship --
Swearing, lying, stealing & drinking.
When you swear, swear to your country;
When you lie, lie for love;
When you steal, steal from bad company;
And when you drink, DRINK WITH ME!
Toast 3
Benjamin Franklin’s delivered a toast at Versailles while he was American emissary to France. On this occasion the toasting was led off by the British ambassador, who said, "To George the Third, who, like the sun in its meridian, spreads a luster throughout and enlightens the world." The next toast came from the French minister, who said, "To the illustrious Louis the Sixteenth, who, like the moon, sheds his mild and benevolent rays on and influences the globe."
Franklin finished the round: "To George Washington, commander of the American armies, who, like Joshua of old, commanded the sun and the moon to stand still, and both obeyed.”
Toast 4
"To the enemies of our country! May they have cobweb breeches, a porcupine saddle, a hard-trotting horse, and an eternal journey.”
Toast 5
"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." - Ben Franklin
Toast 6
To the signers of the Declaration of Independence: From this act of treason against the British Crown sprang a chart of Liberty and Emancipation broad as the universe and filled with glad tiding and a good will towards men. They who periled their lives by this noble act will live and be cherished in the hearts of free men.
Toast 7
To Authors -- The queerest of animals; their tales come out of their heads!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Southern Traditions - Hoppin' John

Hopping John  ~  Hoppin’ John

By Janet Grunst

For many years we have begun each New Year with Hopping John.  This traditional southern dish, also known as ‘Hoppin’ John in America, originated in North Africa and was probably brought to these shores as a result of the slave trade. The use of black-eyed peas dates back at least 3000 years when it was part of the Greek and Roman diet. There are many theories on how the name Hopping John started, from folks inviting guests into their homes at the new year with “hop in John” to children hopping around the table before sitting to enjoy the meal. Black-eyed peas are generally considered to assure good luck.

There are many recipes for Hopping John, but the primary ingredients in this tasty dish are black-eyed peas, also known as cow peas, rice and pork. Typically the dried peas are first soaked then cooked. Salt pork is added later. I started out doing just that, however, I’ve gone to a far simpler recipe in recent years. Let me share my recipe, and also how I’ve recently updated it at the urging of my husband who prefers it a bit spicier.

Hopping John

2 cups of canned black eyed peas
½ - 1 lb bacon
(reserve 2 Tablesp of bacon drippings)
½ teasp. Black pepper
½ teasp. Salt
1 cup white uncooked white rice

Cook rice according to directions. Fry bacon and set aside. When rice is done, add black eyed peas, cooked bacon with a couple of Tablespoons of drippings, and salt and pepper. Stir together and heat on low heat for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Chill leftovers and reheat when you are ready for more.

Spicier Hopping John 

2 cups of canned black eyed peas
½ lb bacon
(reserve 2 Tablesp of bacon drippings)
1 medium chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1/ teasp of crushed red pepper flakes
½ teasp. Black pepper
½ teasp. Salt
1 cup white uncooked white rice

Cook rice according to directions. Fry bacon and set aside. Sauté chopped onion in reserved bacon drippings until soft and clear. Add garlic and pepper flakes to onion and heat for a couple of minutes. When rice is done, add black eyed peas, cooked bacon, and salt and pepper. Stir together and heat on low heat for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Chill leftovers and reheat when you are ready for more.

There are many variations for this southern dish so feel free to experiment and make it your own.

We never considered eating it would bring good luck, but we would enjoy our Hopping John every New Years and hope that our new year would be blessed. When our meal was over, my sons would often remark, “Mom, we like this, why do we only get to have it once a year?” 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Book Review - "The Redemption" by MaryLu Tyndall


Book Summary
Lady Charlisse Bristol sets off on a voyage in search of a father she never knew, only to find herself shipwrecked on a desert island. Near starvation, she is rescued by a band of pirates and their fiercely handsome leader, Edmund Merrick. Will Clarisse win her struggle against the seductive lure of this pirate captain? 

While battling his attraction to this winsome lady, Edmund offers to help Charlisse on her quest-until he discovers her father is none other than Edward the Terror, the cruelest pirate on the Caribbean. Can Edmund win this lady's love while shielding her from his lecherous crew and working to bring her father to justice? 

My Review
I originally read and reviewed The Redemption in 2006, but now that The Legacy of the King's Pirates trilogy is being re-released, I thought it would be great idea to tell you about it. The books are The Redemption, The Reliance, and The Restitution, all set in the colonial period in the Caribbean seas.  This particular review is on the first book, The Redemption and you won't be disappointed--I assure you. 

I didn't know what to expect when I discovered MaryLu Tyndall had written a Christian fiction book about pirates. I thought that perhaps the hero would be a fierce, hard-hearted rogue like Black Beard's reputation, and that perhaps the heroine would have to win him to salvation and forever change his life. I was wrong. Tyndall managed to surprise me with the storyline, and she has written a superb debut novel!

Tyndall has a writing voice that gives the reader a clear and vivid picture of what is happening in each scene. Her narrative descriptions are not long boring paragraphs that I have often read in historical novels. Instead, she manages to lace the description through characters' thoughts, dialogue and other ways that doesn't bog the reader down with long-winded paragraphs.

The reader can feel the emotion of each character, understand their motives and goals, and the temptation that the hero and heroine struggle to overcome. The villians in this book are true villians. There was no hint of a villian as one will sometimes read in a Christian fiction book. The story and characters seemed real and believable. Don't miss this trilogy.

To buy the book, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
To learn more about the author, visit MaryLu Tyndall's site.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

The Christmas Coach 1795, JLG Ferris

Merry Christmas to you and your family 2011 from the Colonial Quills Staff!

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Site Research - Revolutionary Christmas at Yorktown

Yorktown Virginia has been taken over by the American colonial army.  They have set up encampment near the York River.  Feeding such a large number of men takes some planning.  This time of year those soldiers are looking for something that reminds them of home.  We are sure the French soldiers will find our fare a little bland but the cooks are working hard.  Ovens are built into the ground.

(Yorktown Victory Center in Yorktown, Virginia click here.)

Nearby, local farmers are preparing for the coming winter. 

Table has been set at the farmhouse for a Christmas feast, with a tablecloth set out!

Pigs have been slaughtered and every part has been utilized in some fashion.

One example is a bladder ball, in which the bladder of the pig is stretched and eventually stuffed with beans.  The pigs bladders were also used to seal crocks of food, to preserve them for the winter.  Brine, a mix of salt and water, was a common method of preservation.  If you have not tried brine preserved cucumbers you have really missed out! The vinegary pickles don't taste anything like brined pickles.

Don't worry about the turkeys!  They have a job to do.  They will eat the tobacco worms in the fields and will not end up on the table come Christmas day!

Here in the mild Tidewater area, our northern brothers may be quite surprised to find greens still growing!

Bacon cooked with greens is one way to give nutrition and fat for our hungry men.

Mothers may gather goods into baskets and bring inside - wooden gourd bowls for grinding and punched  metal lamps to use during the long winter nights.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Ye Olden Days: Deck the Halls

It's Tradition!

In keeping with my hope of writing fiction set in the 18th century for a long while to come, I wanted to research and blog about what an 18th century Christmas might have looked like. I came away with one overriding impression: simplicity.

According to Emma Powers in her Christmas Customs article (Colonial Williamsburg website): "Eighteenth-century [Christmas] customs don't take long to recount: church, dinner, dancing, some evergreens, visiting--and more and better of these very same for those who could afford more."

Here are a few more interesting facts about 18th Century Christmas, quoted from the same article mentioned above, which is well worth a full read:

"Williamsburg shopkeepers of the eighteenth century placed ads noting items appropriate as holiday gifts, but New Year's was as likely a time as December 25 for bestowing gifts."

"No early Virginia sources tell us how, or even if, colonists decorated their homes for the holidays, so we must rely on eighteenth-century English prints.... that show interior Christmas decorations [such as] a large cluster of mistletoe...."

"Then as now, beef, goose, ham, and turkey counted as holiday favorites; some households also insisted on fish, oysters, mincemeat pies, and brandied peaches."

"The twelve days of Christmas lasted until January 6, also called Twelfth Day or Epiphany. Colonial Virginians thought Twelfth Night a good occasion for balls, parties, and weddings."

I'll note that a wedding does take place on Jan 6th in one of my 18th century novels... but I won't say whose!

Looking for more information on early Christmas customs and traditions? Check out these sites:

Christmas Food History: http://www.foodtimeline.org/christmasfood.html

Another Look At Christmas in the Eighteenth Century, by David DeSimone: http://www.history.org/almanack/life/christmas/hist_anotherlook.cfm

Recipes for a Twelfth Night Celebration: http://www.history.org/almanack/life/food/ginger.cfm

Do you have Christmas traditions in your family that date back more than a generation or two? The only one I can recall from my childhood was finding an orange in the foot of our stockings on Christmas morning, which to me always seemed a little strange since there were oranges in the fruit bowl in the kitchen. At some point I came to realize that it harkened back to the days of my grandfather's childhood, when an orange at Christmas was a treat, because they didn't have them or couldn't afford them for the rest of the year.
 photos by Flintlocker and fauxto_digit

Monday, December 19, 2011

Interview with Elaine Marie Cooper

Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run and The Promise of Deer Run, the first two books of the Deer Run Saga. Her website is http://DeerRunBooks.com and http://PromiseOfDeerRun.com

Published by: iUniverse; Book Three has been contracted by Sword of the Spirit Publishing, who will also publish Books One and Two when they are free of their current contracts.

Dates: 2010 and 2011

Elaine, what got you interested in the colonial time period?
Growing up in Massachusetts, I was surrounded by colonial history. My love for all things Early American was only nurtured by our trips to the Old North Bridge in Concord and Bunker Hill in Boston. My daily walk to school took me by the Jason Russell house, site of a significant battle on April 19, 1775, where eleven Patriots and two Redcoats were killed. Holes from musket balls are still visible in the parlor, cellar, and best room. Our visit to an aunt and uncle that lived near Philadelphia, took our history-loving family to the home of Betsy Ross where I became enamored of colonial pitchers and bowls. My fascination continued despite my father’s job transfer that moved our family away from New England.
What inspired your latest colonial work?
My latest colonial (The Promise of Deer Run) is the sequel to The Road to Deer Run. It follows the residents of a small village after the Revolutionary War, showing the impact that the war had on a young Continental veteran. The idea grew from a character in the first book that suffered nightmares from being in battles. I pursued this after-effect by showing the ramifications on a very young soldier who had left for war at age 16, and came back a changed man. History is most gripping when it sees past the dates and “facts” and helps the reader feel the heart of the people who lived through it.

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?
Massachusetts is still the first place that draws me to its historical landmarks. But Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia literally surrounds you with the atmosphere of Early America. Truly an awesome experience that I hope to revisit someday!

Elaine, do you have a favorite colonial recipe you enjoy?  
I am not a great cook! I am afraid I will have to pass this time!

If you care to say, you can tell readers where you live and what colonial places you have in your state or your home state if different.
Since I now live in the midwest, Colonial places are few and far between. Although, Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa does have a village of the Ioway Indians showing life in the 18th century of Iowa, before the white settlers arrived.

In Massachusetts, there are so many historical sites to see from colonial times. But no visit to view our early history would be complete without touring The Freedom Trail which takes you right through the modern streets of Boston where there are numerous landmarks to describe the events of the 1700’s. It starts at the Boston Common, and includes such sites as the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, Paul Revere house, and Bunker Hill, just to name a few. Well worth the tour.

Giveaway:  A copy of The Promise of Deer Run, my latest colonial, will go to one lucky reader.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Colonial Recipes: Plum Porridge / Christmas Pudding

Plum Porridge for Christmas (Christmas Pudding)

TAKE a leg and shin of beef, put them into eight gallons of water, and boil them till they are very tender, and when the broth is strong .strain it out: wipe the pot and put in the broth again; then fice six penny loaves thin, cut off the top and bottom, put some of the liquor to it, cover it up and let it stand a quarter of an hour, boil it and strain it, and then put it into your pot. Let it boil a quarter of an hour, then put in five pounds of currants, clean washed and picked; let them boil a little, and put in five pounds of railing of the fun, stoned, and two pounds of prunes, and let them boil till they swell; then put in three quarters of an ounce of mace, half an ounce of cloves, two nutmegs, all of them beat fine, and mix it with a little liquor cold, and put them in a very little while, and take off the pot; then put in three pounds of sugar, a little salt, a quartos sack, a quart of claret, and the juice of two or three lemons. You may thicken with sage instead of bread, if you please; pour them into earthen pans, and keep them for use.

Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1784

Friday, December 16, 2011

In Ye Olden Days: Baking on an Open Hearth

Ever wonder why the only breads frontier people ate were cornbread and biscuits? I'm here to answer that question.

It is impossible (to my knowledge) to bake yeast breads on an open hearth. The reasons are simple. An inability to keep the heat even, and no room for the bread to rise as it bakes. I worked for four years as a tour guide at Kent Plantation House in central Louisiana and Kent is one of a small handful of plantation museums with a working open hearth kitchen. I learned a lot about cooking in an open hearth. I also learned cornbread baked in a Dutch oven is the closest thing to tastebud heaven we'll ever know on this earth.

The above picture is an open hearth. All that brick is where most of the cooking and baking is done. Only soups and stews are placed directly over the fire, on the crane. The top door on the left is a bread oven that's been used twice since the hearth in this kitchen was rebuilt in the mid-80's. Beneath is wood. The first time it was fired up it took three days to get it hot enough to bake cookies.

The first step is coals. Lots and lots and lots of coals. Preferably made with oak. Pine has too much pitch in it, makes a lot of smoke, and clogs up the chimney.

The curly thing in this picture is a trivet. Coals are piled underneath, the skillet goes on top, and then the lid goes on. The round thing to the right of the trivet here is a lid with a lip on it. This lip keeps the coals from falling off the lid. Most iron pots and skillets in the 19th century had two lids. A domed one and a lipped one.

Coals on top of the skillet create the rest of the heat to cook the cornbread. Or the biscuits or the cake. Yes, you can bake a cake on an open hearth and it is very good. The coals have to be replaced at least once during baking, on top and bottom. You can also fry things on an open hearth, and my sister makes an amazing peach upside down cake. Just make sure and use liberal amounts of butter to keep the cake from sticking.

Many plantation cooks wore wooden shoes, and their skirts were shorter than everyone else's. While cooking in the kitchen where I took these pictures, my sister once caught her shoe on fire stepping on what looked like a dead coal. More than one cook at Kent has caught her skirt or apron on fire.

Since you obviously can't use potholders or an apron around live coals, what do you use? S hooks. Called S hooks because they look like an S. Every blacksmith made hundreds of them. They come in all sizes from three to four inches long to over a foot. They were also used to adjust the distance between the soup pot on the crane and the coals beneath.

Baking and cooking on an open hearth was very time consuming and very dangerous. Because of the fire danger, on plantations the kitchen was always a separate building. That often was not practical on the colonial frontier. Heat was another reason the kitchen was separate in the South. Even in October here in Louisiana it gets up in the 90's and the temperature in Kent's open hearth kitchen can easily top 100 degrees. Up north heat wasn't as much of a concern, and there often wasn't enough room to build a separate kitchen.

If you ever have the chance to see an open hearth kitchen in action, take it. It's an amazing experience that pictures cannot capture.

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?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Colonial American Christian Writers Christmas Party

Good Tidings to all our Colonial friends!

We will have lots of giveaways in
celebration of Christ's birth!

 Please help yourself to some Wassail 
from the delicious recipe Roseanna White shared with us.

And if you care for some Fruit Cake we have another
delightful receipt from Martha Washington.

And have some Christmas Plum Pudding
(watch for the recipe this coming Sunday.)

The Christmas Coach, 1795,  J. L. G. Ferris
Our colonial writers will share about how
they are getting to their Christmas celebrations.  

Some will be on foot and others in fancy carriages. 
Christmas Morning in Old New York (excerpt), Howard Pyle
Home for Christmas, 1784, J. L. G. Ferris
Feel free to come in character and tell us all about how you are going to be traveling this Christmastide!  

 Our conversation has taken a delightful turn and many of us are gushing over the lovely Christmas gowns!

A little Colonial Christmas gift for you....Desktop Wallpaper.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Colonial Recipes: Martha Washington's Fruit Cake

Martha Washington Fruit Cake, 1700's recipe

"This recipe according to the best of
authority is a corrct copy from
Martha Washington's old original
receipt book."

1 1/2 pounds sugar
1/2 pound butter
6 egg yolks, well beaten
1 pint of sour cream
1 teaspoonful soda
1 3/4 pounds sifted flour
6 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 pound raisins, stoned and chopped
1 pound currants, well cleaned
1/2 pound citon, thin sliced
juice of 1 lemon
grated yellow rind of 2 lemons
1 nutmeg, grated
a sprinkling of mace

"Beat to a cream a pound and a
half of sugar an a half pound butter.
Add gradually the well beaten yolks of
six eggs and a pint of cream, sour
cream, in which a teaspoonful soda
has been dissolved. Alternating with
the addition of the sour cream, add a
pound and three-quarters of sifted
flour. Fold in the stiffly beaten
whites of the six eggs and lastly one
pound each stoned and chopped raisins
and well cleaned currants and a
half pound, thin sliced citron, over
which mixture has been sprinkled the
juice of one lemon and yellow rind of
two, one grated nutmeg and a sprinkling
of mace. Turn into a paper lined
pan and bake slowly two and a half
hours, covering with buttered paper
while baking."

Source: Youngstown Ohio Vindicator newspaper, Friday, Dec 18, 1908

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why I fell in love with Charleston, South Carolina!

Before I even set foot in South Carolina, there was something about Charleston that drew my affections. A mystique, an allure of romance and adventure that caught my heart long before I tread upon the city’s cobblestone streets. So when my publisher agreed to publish my trilogy, Charles Towne Belles, and more currently, my next release Veil of Pearls, also set in Charleston,  I just had to visit the city for myself (Research purposes, of course) and see if it was everything I hoped it would be.

I wasn’t disappointed. From the rush of the mighty Cooper River pouring into Charleston Bay, to the unique narrow houses with their open air piazzas stretching the length of the building, to the clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriages over the cobblestone streets, to the magnificent St. Michael’s church built in 1761, and the colorful gardens blossoming with Bougainvilleas, I was enthralled.

But the most fascinating thing I discovered about Charleston was that it was once a walled city, complete with moats and drawbridges. How cool is that? Combining the romance of the medieval castle with the untamed colonies. The colonist built the wall to protect their new homes from Indians, the Spanish, and of course Pirates, but in 1719 they soon outgrew the boundaries and the wall was slowly dismantled.  If you want to see a small part of the wall that still remains, visit the Watch Tower museum and take a tour of the dungeon.  (See picture above.. apparently, they still have pirates imprisoned there!)

Of course, being a pirate lover, the best part of the history for me was learning about the Charleston pirates.  Did you know Blackbeard and his crew once blockaded the entire city?  He captured several leading citizens and held them hostage on board his ship, not allowing supplies to enter or leave Charles Towne port. Finally after a few weeks of negotiation, Blackbeard released the hostages for only a few medical supplies and left. Lucky for Charleston since he was one of the most brutal of all pirates. 

Another of my favorite pirates is a lady pirate named Anne Bonny.  She, along with another woman pirate, Mary Reed, terrorized the Caribbean in the early 1700’s, but apparently Anne had her beginning in Charleston where she was often seen in taverns right alongside the men.  (She actually makes an appearance in my book, The Red Siren!)

But, my favorite Charleston pirate has to be the pirate they called “The Gentleman Pirate”, Stede Bonnet.  A wealthy and educated landowner on the island of Barbados, he abandoned his family and all his belongings to become a “gentleman of fortune”. They say he was not the best pirate, but he also wasn’t a cruel pirate either. He loved books and brought a whole library on board his ship.  In September, 1718, Bonnet was captured and brought to Charleston where, being considered a gentleman, he was given residence in the Marshal’s house instead of the dungeon while he awaited trail. Apparently, he was quite good with the ladies and somehow managed to get a hold of some women’s clothes which he quickly donned and then made his escape. Bonnet was recaptured shortly thereafter and, though found guilty, received several stays of execution as the result of pleas from city merchants and several doting ladies! Bonnet's friends were influential, but not enough to save him. The "gentleman pirate" was hanged at White Point in Charleston on December 18, 1718. Moral of the story, gentleman or not, don't become a pirate!!

All in all, my research adventure to Charleston was well worth the trip!

By MaryLu Tyndall, Welcome MaryLu as a regular contributor to Colonial Quills!!! This is MaryLu's first post on CQ.