From the time I could ask “where did I come from?”  I knew that I was a New England Yankee.  My maternal grandfather was a 7th generation Mayflower descendent.  I have taken that information very seriously. 

     My favorite subject in school was always American History.  To walk the Freedom Trail in Boston was like trying to match my feet to someone who really had my own blood and lived there 300 years ago.  I have a vacation/retirement home in the Berkshires in Western MA and it was named in honor of this family heritage.   The culture of New England is so engrained in the people that it has become a caricature to some.  I think it is just strong earthy people who learned long ago that family and home and the land are the things that count.

From the kitchens of our New England ancestors come the best traditions of American eating, plain, unpretentious and unusually good. The essential ingredients were home grown products and the skill and patience of the folks in the kitchen and their wonderful ability to “make do.” There was a simple elegance to good eating that went hand in hand with honesty. 

I was so lucky to find this cookbook on eBay so that I could add to my collection of my family traditions.  It is set up with a chapter for each of the New England States and the food products that are so naturally associated with them.  For example there are many recipes using apples and maple syrup in the Vermont Chapter.  Connecticut is full of pumpkin puddings and what would a chapter of Rhode Island be without clams and oysters.  The Massachusetts chapter includes Fish Chowder ("Chowdah" for those in the know) and Portuguese specialties.  In the Maine chapter of course there is lobster and blueberries.  I have included two recipes below. 

 

Because there is a growing interest in the subject, Harrington’s has gathered together a truly memorable collec­tion of early New England recipes from each of the six New England states, which is certain to lend a spark to your own creativity in the kitchen.  The publisher Harrington’s is intrinsically New England — Yankee to the core, you might say. They believe strongly in the basic virtues that are part of our heritage: honesty, integrity, thrift, simplicity, and a wonderful ability to make do.

 

For over a hundred years they provided the New England house­wife with foods that are a basic part of the New England diet, and in recent years they have tried to include helpful information on how to use these foods — ham, sausage, bacon, cheese, maple syrup — in imaginative ways. Thinking about our role as “provisioner” has made us realize how truly creative the American cook has always been. In New England’s early days she had to work with just what was available, which took much more imagination than if she had had on hand at all times a bountiful supply of various foods. Believing that they can all learn from what has gone before, they decided to gather together a collection of early New England recipes, which would not only give us a close look at how our colonial ancestors entertained, worked, and played but could also lend a spark to our own creativity in the kitchen.

 

To compile this collection, with authenticity uppermost in importance, they enlisted the help of Marjorie Blanchard, an author who has researched the subject of colonial New England food and is presenting it to you in the form of a diary, feeling that a bit of background and anecdotal comment will help us understand and make good use of these recipes that are so much a part of our heritage.

 

 

Blueberry Cake

½ cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar, split

2 eggs, separated

    1 ½  cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

   ½ cup milk

  ¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

    1 ½ cups fresh blueberries lightly sprinkled with flour

 

Preheat oven to 350°.  Cream butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light. Beat in yolks, mixing well.  Combine dry ingredients and add alternately to batter with milk. Add vanilla.  Beat whites until stiff with remaining ¼ cup sugar. Fold in berries.  Pour batter into 9-inch square greased pan.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until done.  8 Servings

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Baked Beans 

2 pounds dried yellow-eyed beans                                   1 teaspoon dry mustard

2/3  cup maple syrup                                                            ½ teaspoon ginger

(1 cup of brown sugar can be substituted)                      ½ pound lean salt pork

 

 

Soak beans in water overnight. Drain off water. 

Preheat oven to 375°.   In 4-quart bean pot add fresh water to cover beans.  Stir maple syrup, mustard, and ginger into beans.  Slice rind of salt pork about every ¼-inch and place, lean side down, on top of beans with rind up. Press down into beans a bit.  Cover and bake for several hours (about 6) until beans are soft, add­ing water as needed to cover beans. Toward end of baking, allow sauce to thicken by not adding water.   8 Servings

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