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Is Fall here already?


With all the hot weather, those cool breezes surely feel nice. I love Fall! The changes in color and foods at the farmers' markets make me want to go into the kitchen and rattle some pots and pans.

A few weeks ago, I went to several farmers markets (Halifax, South Boston, and Semora). The seasonal produce is beautiful. Although tomatoes are all but gone, the corn and okra are still around. Add to that fruits like plums and apples, and we have a much needed change in the menu.

I was asked to create a menu for the local DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), featuring seasonal foods that might have been served in the 18th Century. As I researched, I found that baking powder was not available in the U. S. until after 1850, so what did they use for leavener? Yeast was used. Soda was also used, although it could be a little tricky. Add to that leaveners made by processing wood ash (another by-product would be lye for soap). That was REALLY tricky. So I made yeast biscuits.

Butternut squash soup was also on the menu. I love butternut. It just seems to scream "AUTUMN" to me, almost as well as pumpkin. The soup is made with leeks, so the onion flavor is not as pronounced as using regular onion. Add to that some thyme and stock (chicken or vegetable) and blend to smooth at the end. A dollop or splash of cream makes a nice garnish. I served the biscuits with the soup. Since they are made using yeast (with sugar), they were a little sweeter than our bisuits today and had no salt. Different.

Have you ever made pasties (hand pies)? I used to make them for my husband to take to work many, many years ago. They're kind of like pot pies you can hold in your hand. I made these of chicken and ham. Interesting flavor.

Finally, we ended the meal with "sweetmeats." This is no exaggeration when I say these sweets could set your teeth on edge. Think 18th Century, sugar plantations, showing off wealth, and you have the general theme. Apricot Coconut balls, cooked in sugar syrup and rolled in sugar. Date Nut Coins, cooked in sugar syrup, rolled into logs and rolled in sugar, sliced for serving. Wow!

Now that colors in the landscape are changing over to golds and browns, I look forward to the flavors of fall.


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