In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History Rae Katherine Eighmey, an award-winning food historian, author, and cook, joins us to explore the culinary tastes and habits of Benjamin Franklin and colonial British Americans with details from her book Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father’s Culinary Adventures (Smithsonian Books, 2018). [Read more…] about The Culinary Adventures of Benjamin Franklin
The Friends of Johnson Hall are set to offer three workshops during the month of November, all to be held at Johnson Hall State Historic Site. [Read more…] about Culinary History Workshops Planned at Johnson Hall
Tea played a central role in the economic, cultural, and political lives of early Americans. As such, tea came to serve as a powerful symbol of both early American culture and of the American Revolution.
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Jane Merritt, Jennifer Anderson, and David Shields take us on an exploration of the politics of tea during the era of the American Revolution. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/160
All this talk from me during the last two weeks about spruce-related subjects (Sprucelets and spruce beer) is linked to past conversations with my mom, a native of Churubusco in northern Clinton County. It’s officially known as the Town of Clinton, but to local folks, it’s just Busco — and about as country as it gets around here. Growing up there on a farm in the 1920s and ’30s, Mom partook in things that were once the norm, like drinking raw milk and chewing spruce gum.
Her repeated mention of loving to chew spruce gum intrigued me. But as a young boy, I made the mistake of thinking any old evergreen would do, so I tried white-pine sap, something I still regret to this day. Maybe it doesn’t actually taste terrible, but in my recollection, it was terribly terrible, like turpentine. To avoid steering anyone away from it based on an old memory, I confirmed through our state DEC website and others that white-pine resin can be used to make turpentine. And the higher the pitch level, the stronger the turpentine taste — so my memory is good that the taste of raw pine resin was awful. [Read more…] about Adirondack Spruce Gum was Once a Hot Commodity
In keeping with last week’s spruce theme — Sprucelets: An Original Adirondack Medicine — is a look at one of the most common drinks in early Adirondack history: spruce beer. Like the aforementioned Sprucelets, it was believed to be of medicinal value due in part to its vitamin C content. Several evergreens share those same properties, and their use dates back centuries.
In one of the earliest mentions of evergreens used as a health aid in North America, there remains disagreement as to which tree along the St. Lawrence River (at today’s Quebec City) was used by Jacques Cartier in 1536 to cure scurvy. His voyage journal says that after learning nearby natives were quite ill with an unknown disease, Cartier quarantined his men on their ships, which were frozen in the ice.
As he noted, the precaution didn’t work. “Not withstanding these defences, the disease begun inside our group, in an unknown manner, as some of us were getting weak, their legs were becoming big and swollen, the nerves as black as coal. The sailors were dotted with drops of blood, and then the disease went to their hips, thighs, shoulders, arms and neck. Their mouths were so infected and rotten that all the flesh fell to the level of the roots of the teeth which had fallen out.” [Read more…] about Spruce Beer: An Old Adirondack Favorite
On Saturday, April 8 from 4 to 7 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host the sixth annual Hudson Valley Hops. This regional craft beer tasting event is a fundraiser for the museum and is sponsored by the Times UNions’ Table Hopping blog.
It’s an opportunity for the community to sample the flavors of Capital Region craft brewers, see brewing and distilling artifacts from the Albany Institute’s collection, meet industry experts, and receive a commemorative glass. This year, the fundraiser will toast the bicentennial of the groundbreaking of the original Erie Canal with an Irish Red Ale invitational, an IPA contest, music, and more. [Read more…] about Craft Beer Fundraiser Celebrates Erie Canal Bicentennial
The Senate House State Historic Site will celebrate maple season on Saturday April 8, 2017 from 11 am – 3 pm.
Activities include boiling maple sap to syrup, making jack wax candy, baking molasses cornbread and waffles over an open fire, hewing a log into a trough and making wooden buckets and spiles which were used to collect the sap. The First Ulster Militia will re-enact a raid on the sugar bush. Mark Rust will perform traditional 18th century music on a variety of musical instruments including banjo, violin, guitar and spoons. [Read more…] about Senate House State Historic Site Sugaring Off Party
Thanksgiving, with food a major holiday component, calls to mind a time of year that was once the subject of great anticipation: nutting season. I’m not old enough to have experienced it first-hand, although back in the 1980s I did explore many natural edibles. Among my favorites was beechnuts, which we harvested and used in chocolate-chip cookies. Outstanding!
But in days long ago, when many folks earned a subsistence living that utilized home-grown vegetables and wild foods, nutting season was an important time. [Read more…] about Nutting Season: An Old-Time Ritual
New York’s Historic Inns, Restaurants, and Taverns (Globe Pequot Press, 2016) explores the history of over forty institutions throughout New York City and the Hudson Valley that are still in existence today. Travel to the tavern where George Washington hosted a farewell dinner for his officers at the close of the American Revolution. Eat steak at one of the city’s oldest steakhouses. Rest your head in one of the original houses built by Dutch colonists in the Hudson Valley. Part historical record and part travelogue, the book tells tales about the region’s most historical and storied establishments. [Read more…] about New York’s Historic Inns, Restaurants, and Taverns
The Schenectady County Historical Society and the Electric City Food Co-op are teaming up to host an evening of local food tastings and live jazz (featuring Roben Kosek Jazz & Blues) inside Mabee Farm’s historic Dutch Barn, on Saturday, September 24th.
Mabee Farm to Fork will be held from 5 – 8 pm. Tickets are $25 per person and will include local food tastings prepared by chef Christopher Marney. A cash bar will be available for alcoholic drinks. [Read more…] about Mabee Farm to Fork Celebrates Agricultural History Saturday