I’ve been talking a lot lately about my paranormal romances, but don’t forget my first love is historical fiction! As I wrote the 5 books in the A More Perfect Union series, and am writing some other historical fiction stories to share with my readers soon (I hope!), I found myself wondering about what folks enjoyed eating during the 1700s when my series takes place. They didn’t have processed foods and some of the other not-so-healthy options we have today.
So on a recent research trip to Virginia, I came across two cooking books that contain “receipts,” or what we call recipes today, for colonial era meals and desserts. I figured I’d try some of them. Maybe they would prove healthier alternatives. Something new and different to tempt our palates.
Then one night my husband and I were watching the 2009 movie Julie and Julia and it dawned on me. I could do the same sort of thing as the Amy Adams character, Julie, did but on a modified basis. Julie, after all, decided to make all of Julia Child’s dishes. I’m not that dedicated! Doing so would take all my time, and I need to be writing after all. And after reading through the contents of both books, I knew there were limits as to what my husband would be willing to try. Me, too, but I’m more adventurous than he is.
The two books are The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy; Excelling any ever yet published by Mrs. Hannah Glasse, and Revolutionary Cooking: Over 200 Recipes Inspired by Colonial Meals by Virginia T. Elverson and Mary Ann McLanahan.
My plan over the next 6 months is to try to make a variety of sauces, meats and fish, vegetables, and maybe some of the desserts. The two books together provide me context and equivalencies so I can more easily adapt the ingredients and quantities needed. If I can adapt the desserts to reduce the quantity, since many of the receipts seem to make quite a large amount of cake/pie/cookies. Specifically, here’s what I’ve laid out to attempt to adapt to something that my hubby and I – and my readers – might enjoy:
|May 9||Veggies and cooking techniques|
|May 16||Stewed spinach and eggs|
|May 23||Potato pudding|
|May 30||Meats and cooking techniques|
|Jun 6||Brown gravy|
|Jun 13||Oyster sauce|
|Jun 20||Force-meat balls|
|Jun 27||Scotch collops|
|Jul 4||Beef collops|
|Jul 11||Lamb pie|
|Jul 18||Fish types and cooking techniques|
|Jul 25||Salmon – broiled, and baked|
|Aug 1||Salmon au Court-Bouillon|
|Aug 15||Fowl and other birds|
|Aug 22||Brown Fricasey with chicken|
|Aug 29||Roast chicken with chestnuts|
|Sep 5||Stewing chickens|
|Sep 12||Duck with green peas|
|Sep 19||Collops and eggs|
|Oct 3||Apple pudding|
|Oct 10||Apricot pudding|
|Oct 17||Stewed pears|
|Oct 24||Pound cake|
The cooking techniques described in the two books are very different from today’s abilities with our ranges and ovens, mixers, and even cooking surfaces to work on. As I work through these receipts, I will talk about what the differences are. For example, boiling a pudding then meant putting it into a closely woven fabric and tying it tight at the top, then lowering it into a kettle of boiling water over an open fire. Obviously, that is not a method I’d employ in my own kitchen, so I’d make some adjustments and tell you how it worked out.
Have you read any of the A More Perfect Union series? The latest story, Elizabeth’s Hope, will release in time for Christmas and is actually the introduction to the rest of the series. In order, the rest of them are Emily’s Vow, Amy’s Choice, Samantha’s Secret, and Evelyn’s Promise. But as noted below, I’m sharing a chapter of Elizabeth’s Hope each month with my newsletter subscribers, including a link to all the chapters new subscribers may have missed up to that point.
So are you with me? Shall we try some new wholesome, whole foods from centuries old recipes? I think it will be an interesting and enlightening journey to make. I wonder whether the lady characters in my historical romance series would be surprised at how cooking has changed since their time.
What do you think? I hope you’ll take this adventure with me! I’m heading to the kitchen now…
P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!
Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.
The most recent release in the A More Perfect Union series is Evelyn’s Promise (January 2016). Here’s more about her story…
Determined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.
Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, where his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathaniel to make the hardest decision of his life.
Amazon ebook: http://amzn.to/1nifyz4