Goodreads giveaway ends tomorrow

The Giveaway ends tomorrow at midnight; two days left to add your name for the Giveaway.

Will and Lydia travel to New York just outside of Albany after a frantic plea for help from Shaker friend Mouse. There they find Mouse had been accused of kidnapping – and she admits it. Shortly after, the mother of the children is found dead and Mouse is the the primary suspect.

What did they eat in 1797?

With Thanksgiving coming up, my thoughts turn naturally to food.

One of the first things that strikes a modern person when one researches food from this era is how meat heavy it is. The American plate for the last fifty or so years has been meat, a vegetable and a starch like potato or rice.

Johnny cakes or cornbread would have more likely been the starch on the table. And while vegetables from the garden would be available in the summer and early fall, people would have been limited to good keepers like cabbage apples, and carrots after that.

Refrigeration was primitive. Root cellars, holes dug into the ground and cool, were further cooled with ice covered in sawdust for insulation.

But meat, both from domesticated animals and whatever a hunter could bag, was available all year. (Assuming enough wealth to own animals or the skill to hunt successfully.)

Here is a list of some of the animals eaten:

The regular domesticated: beef, pork, mutton, lamb and chicken.

Fish: salmon, shad, Hannah Hill (sea bass), oysters, lobster, cod, haddock, perch, eels

Wild: ducks, geese, partridge, deer, snipes, pigeon, hares and rabbits, turtles and of course turkey.

Recipes included many herbs.

No wonder people longed for greens in the spring.

More about salads and vegetables

Salad has a long history. One source I read claimed that the Greeks and Romans ate mixed greens with dressing.

I have salad recipes in my Queen Elizabeth I and King Richard cookbooks although they also include things like figs and are sweeter than we normally think of salad, which is now seen as more of a healthy food. The recipes from these renaissance cookbooks read more like dessert.

Besides wild greens and the tops of beets and turnips, early American farmers also grew several varieties of lettuce, cucumbers, radishes. What’s missing from the usual American salad? Why, tomatoes. Although now considered Italian, tomatoes are actually, like potatoes, from South America It was brought to Europe by Spain. And, a member of the nightshade family, it was considered a poison. It was not eaten at all during the Colonial period ( and grown as a decorative plant) but by the early 1800s was popular as a food. One story lists Thomas Jefferson as the who began planting and eating tomatoes. He was a passionate gardener who tried new foods but we don’t really know for sure.

But I digress. Cucumbers were frequently used as a salad and I have found old recipes for cucumber salad which usually consists of chopped cucumbers and vinegar.

Other vegetables: artichokes, onions, garlic, parsnips, asparagus and of course things like cabbage were popular. We think of the diet at this time as meat heavy, and it was, but cheese and diary and grains, as well as the vegetables, were also a big part of the diet.

I always mention food in my books. I’m a gardener myself and clearly a foodie – which regular readers of my blog can surely tell. And I find it fascinating to discover what our forefathers ate and didn’t eat. Sometimes it is surprising.



food in the 1790s – salad and maple syrup

Although trading went on, most food eaten was, by necessity, local. The port cities like Salem could import oranges, nuts, figs and more but for the outlying farms these items were exotic luxuries.

Salad (or salat) has been eaten for hundreds of years. Greens such as beet and turnip tops and spinach, cabbage are all greens that might be used. For the early New Englander, wild greens such as dandelion greens or violets would be eaten. (Fiddleheads are still eaten by Mainers, cooked of course, and have a flavor similar to spinach.) Our idea of a salad with lettuce and tomato was not the salad eaten by the early colonists. One of the memoirs from this time expressed a hunger for greens after a winter of salted and smoked food.

Poke weed was also used as a salad green. It is, however, poisonous, although the very young leaves – from accounts I have read – are not. I haven’t tried them. I have also read that the leaves are edible after cooking three or four times, discarding the water in between.

One note: since the native American tribes knew how to tap the sap from maple trees, maple syrup quickly became a staple. It was used as both lightly boiled sap, and the syrup

Devil’s Cold Dish edits and contracts

I am happy to announce that I received both the contracts and the edits for the Devil’s Cold Dish.


The contracts have been signed andĀ  putĀ  in the mail.

I am still working on the edits but they are almost done. These are line edits; i.e. the editor goes over the manuscript and comments/questions items. This is when the editor has the author correct the manuscript – are there too many repetitions of the same information? Does the plot need some changes? Too many characters?

I enjoy this part of the editing because it makes me think of the manuscript and the story in a new way. Confusing sections are clarified and sometimes I take the opportunity to expand on something. this is my chance to look at the story with fresh eyes – for good or ill since I can either think this book is good or terrible.

The next time I see the manuscript I will be working on copy edits which I don’t like at all. This is grammatical mistakes, any double periods I haven’t caught. If I haven’t paid close enough attention to the time line, I can be sure the copy editor will pick it up.