Garden Diary - February 2012

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Sunday, 5 February 2012
Cooking with Mother Goose

Having scant interest in the game I decided there was little need to hover in front of the television this afternoon, watching superbowl Sunday football. Instead I came to the Bouman Stickney museum in Stanton, New Jersey for a program on cooking with Mother Goose. Amazing, when I thought about them, how many of the nursery rhymes came back to mind. I wonder if children today still learn them.

Built in 1741, the stone for the house and timber for its frame were harvested on Cushetunk Mountain.
showing both Dutch and German architectural influences, it nestles peacefully into the landscape.

Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man, bake me a cake
as fast as you can. Roll it and pat it and mark it with
a C then put it in the oven for baby and me.
Back then
if you lived in town people might bring their dinner pie to
the bakery. How to distinguish them? Mark it with your initial.

Remember Do you know the muffin man, who lives in Drury lane?
Muffins as in what we would now call English muffins, not cupcakes.

Pudding, steamed pudding. Could be Little Jack Horner who sat in a corner
eating his Christmas pie. Put in his thumb and pulled out a plum, and said
"What a good boy am I!"
Back then, plum referred to raisins which still had
the seeds still in them. The cook (or kitchen maid, more likely) would have had
to stone the raisins with a needle before getting down to mixing the pudding.

Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he.
No wonder if he sampled much of the punch in his bowl. The simple recipe
1 part sour (lime juice) 2 parts sweet (simple syrup 1:1 sugar:water), then
3 parts strong (rum) and 4 parts weak (water) Spiced with nutmeg. Merry!

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold. Pease porridge in the pot
nine days old.
Dried peas, slowly simmered over the coals at the edge
of the hearth while baking takes place in the center where it's hotter.

Kimberly Costa, Readington Museum's program director has some
luscious looking little tarts in a tin reflector oven, ready to bake in the
fireplace's glowing coals. The queen of hearts, she baked some tarts.

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey. Connie Unangst checks the milk
simmering with rennet from a milk-fed calf's stomach. It will curddle, separate, and hey presto - curds.
They can be drained and eaten as is, or pressed and made into a cheese. It's a good way to preserve
extra milk when the family cow is producing well, and also a delicious addition to the family's diet.

It was a delightful event. Not only were the cooking presentation artfully done, we were also entertained with stories behind the some of rhymes, historical cooking techniques, and the background of the Bouman-Stickney museum. In addition to a couple of other open hearth cooking presentations there will be other monthly programs on a diversity of topics - gunsmithing, clothing, and more. A pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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