Foods and Feasts, 2016

This Thanksgiving several Gardiner’s Company members and friends gathered at Jamestown Settlement to meet and talk to visitors about food and life in early 17th Century Virginia. Isobel and Robert staffed the Governor’s Row House with a fine spread fit for Lord de la Warr himself. Tom and Jeff participated with the shot, demonstrating musket drill to the visitors and startling those not prepared for the noises of a military fort. Scott spent most of the days helping to process the hogs, from butchering to making sausage, while Elisabeth and Drea worked in the Barracks and out at the Devon Oven making a variety of tasty dishes on site.

The infamous Stargazy Pie


Pork pies
Gingerbread with crystallized ginger
Elizabeth shows off her new red kirtle.
Getting ready for drill
The Governor’s table

The Governor’s table was laid with an impressive feast to include roast duck, stargazy pie, spinach fritters, coffin pie filled with roast rabbit and root vegetables, a fine pork pie, striped pease pudding, fresh cheeses, penney loaves of bread, fig pudding, brandied cherries, banbury tarts, and sugar cakes.

In the barracks they made a succulent Rabbit boyled in Claret Wine, Stewed Pippins, Sallet of Striked Colewarts and Herbs, Soops of Buttered Carrots, and stewed Fillets of Beef, Marinated Salmon, Manchet bread and a brown bread, and even some last minute Shrewsbury cakes. Everything I tried was very delicious.

More pictures of the food and festivites can be seen here: JYF Foods and Feasts 2016

Recipe #2: Fig Pudding

So… fig pudding. Like the pease pudding, it’s cooked in a water bath, either by tying it up in linen or muslin and directly boiling, or by cooking in a bowl put in the water (essentially, a double-boiler effect). In this case, with the sweet pudding, it’s better cooked in a bowl, so you don’t lose the flavour of the figs. Now as to the length of time it’s been a pudding, rather than, say, a fruitcake-like thing, it’s harder to say, but it’s pretty old, probably almost as old as the first dried figs imported to Britain. The fifteenth-century recipe* I have uses raisins and dates in addition to the figs, having all the fruits mixed with eggs, fat, flour, and breadcrumbs, and worked into a dough that is then boiled in water (and then suggests you can warm slices of the pudding on the griddle). I prefer it with just the figs, as it’s an excellent connection with something the Jamestown Settlement & Museum visitors know – “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding” from the carol We Wish You a Merry Christmas – and it is a proper period dish made with just the figs. My experience with the pudding was that it tastes very much like a Fig Newton. Without further ado:

Fig (figgy) pudding

2 cups dried figs, chopped small
1 cup lard or suet, if you can get it (it’s better with suet)
1 cup flour
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (crumble up some bread; it needs to be fresh, not dried)
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp milk
Lard, for greasing the pudding bowl

medium mixing bowl
medium ceramic pudding bowl
6-qt saucepan

In a medium bowl, combine figs, lard, and breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and milk together, and add to the fruit mixture, adding more milk if needed to make a stiff dough. Grease the pudding bowl heavily (be generous; you want the cooked pudding to come out of the bowl), and pack the dough in firmly, flattening the top evenly. Fill the saucepan half-way with water. Cover the pudding bowl tightly with foil and place in the 6-qt saucepan, making sure the water doesn’t come up more than 2/3 of the way up the bowl. Bring the water to a boil, them simmer for 3 hours, checking the water every half hour, adding more water if needed. Do not allow the pan to boil dry.

Once the pudding is cooked, immediately turn it out onto a plate. Serve warm or cold.

* pp. 112-113, Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, Thomas Austin (ed.), printed for the Early English Text Society, Oxford University Press, 1888(facsimile, Boydell & Brewer, Ltd., New York, 2000).

Foods and Feasts 2014, Jamestown

We had an amazing turnout for Foods & Feasts, with Gardiner’s represented in almost every building at one point or another.  I know I had a great time, and really enjoyed the questions from interested and engaged visitors.  I also got some time with the chickens, which always makes me happy.


Robert and I worked the Governor’s House, with Gardiner’s members Greg and Alison, and Jamestown staff member, Samantha.  I had the “Great Hall” for most of the two days, with a big layout of period foods, set up as if the Governor was about to eat the midday meal.  This year I roasted a goose, made venison in red wine with a side of frumenty, a pease pudding, a fig pudding, meat pies, fresh-baked bread (in the popular “penny loaf” size), Banbury tarts, and sugar cakes.  Bob polished the silver – no small feat, as almost the entire table was set with silver except for the salt cellar and flagon (both beautiful replicas by Steve Millingham Pewters), and a beautiful blue and white glazed pitcher (by Eadric the Potter).


Photos will be forthcoming, but I thought I’d get the ball rolling with the first of my recipes for the table.***

It’s a very old British dish: (Striped) Pease Pudding.  (Side note: A friend was looking at my hand-written recipe, and she briefly thought it looked like “stupid pease pudding”.  I thought that was hilarious. Aren’t you all glad I’m typing this out?  My handwriting is illegible to me, half the time.)


Striped Pease Pudding
1/2 lb yellow dried split peas
1/2 lb green dried split peas
2 tsp butter
2 eggs
2 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes
salt and pepper to taste
lard to grease the pudding bowl

2 2-qt saucepans
2 medium bowls
1 ceramic small/medium pudding bowl (any ceramic bowl will do; the shape of the pudding is determined by the inside shape of the bowl).
aluminum foil
Large (6-qt) saucepan

Put the yellow peas in one pan, and the green peas in the other.  Add 4 cups of water and one bouillon cube to each pan.  Cook the peas until they are soft, which can take a while, so be patient.  Keep adding more water as needed to cover the peas and allow them to cook evenly.  Once they really start becoming mushy, lower the heat to a bare simmer, and cook, stirring often, until all the extra water is gone.

Sieve the peas separately into the medium bowls, making sure all the lumps are out.  Allow to cool until barely warm.  Add 1 egg, 1tsp butter, and salt & pepper to each bowl and whisk until the egg and butter are completely blended with the peas.
Grease the 1-qt bowl heavily (be generous; the pudding will be hard to unmold otherwise).  Carefully layer the green and yellow peas 1-2″ deep into the pudding bowl, making sure not to put in too much of the peas at once, so that the layers don’t mix.  Fill a third of the large saucepan with water.  Cover the pudding bowl tightly with aluminum foil and place in the large saucepan, making sure the water is neither too high (it will get into the pudding and ruin it) nor too low (the pudding will burn).  Bring the water to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cooking the pudding for 2 hours, adding water to the large saucepan if needed (be careful not to let it boil dry).

Allow the pudding to cool for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a flat plate.  Serve warm or cold (unmold the pudding while warm; store in the fridge), in slices.

There’s a picture of last year’s pease pudding under the December archives for 2013.

This pudding is one of the oldest traditional British puddings*; the earliest mention I found in my own books was in a cookery book from 1420**.  It used to be made by putting whole dried peas (no egg!) into a linen bag, tying the top closed, and putting it into the pot where the meat was boiled for soup or stew.  The peas would swell up and take on the flavour of the pork and seasonings.  While not a fancy dish in the aforementioned form, when the peas are layered in colours of yellow and green before cooking so that the resultant dish is striped when cut into slices, it is far more elegant, and provides a welcome addition to pork and ham dishes.

If you feel brave, try making it the traditional way, and boil it in pork broth.  Make sure the peas are given enough room to swell up in the bag; Dorothy Hartley (Food in England) says that it will come out as a round “cannon-ball” shape that you then crumble apart gently, and add butter.  The broth provides the salt.  Personally, I find that it needs more salt than just that provided by the broth, but I like my peas salty.

*The word “pudding” refers to the manner of cooking, not the flavour, in much the same way as “roast”.  A pudding can be sweet or savoury, but it is always boiled in a water or stock bath.  The use of “pudding cloths” is older than the use of pudding molds, but I follow the reasoning that molded foodstuffs like aspics and set puddings were considered an attractive addition to the 17th century table, so I cook my pudding using a bowl.  I cannot document the use of specially shaped ceramic molds further back than the late 18th century, so even though I own a really pretty one, I don’t use it for Jamestown interpretation.


** Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, Thomas Austin(ed.), printed for the Early English Text Society, Oxford University Press, 1888 (facsimile, Boydell & Brewer Ltd., New York, 2000).

Food in England, Dorothy Hartley, 1954, Macdonald & Co Ltd., London.

***Photos by Andrea Callicutt, added to post by Jen Thies

Fort Progress

Gardiner’s has worked to create a berm fort in Arvonia for fun skirmishing, etc.

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Cleared center of the Fort, with earthen berms creating a perimeter.

Looking at one of the wattle fences used to hold the dirt back. More Fort

(Jane is but a simple girl, and honestly, it’s all dirt and walls to her.)