Articles by: Merry Post

Merry Post

  • Warm up! On cold spring nights, take comfort in chowder

    Warm up! On cold spring nights, take comfort in chowder

    Chowder parties became popular in the mid-19th century. The following excerpt describes a family beach picnic in southern Maine in 1865. Hersina Fletcher Paul of Eliot was writing to her brother, Aaron Jones Fletcher, who was still serving in the Union Army. Although General Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia in April, the

  • Agents of change

    Agents of change

    The abundance of advertising in the pages of “The Green Mountain, White Ribbon Cook Book,” published in 1895 by the Vermont branch of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), shows how savvy New England women had become in raising funds for charitable causes. The ads document social history. For example, commercial powdered gelatin was an

  • Usher in season with asparagus soup

    Usher in season with asparagus soup

    Asparagus was brought to America by European settlers sometime in the 18th century. Abigail Adams, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson all learned to appreciate asparagus and grew it on their home farms. In the first American cookbook, published in 1796, Amelia Simmons calls asparagus “an excellent vegetable” and wisely cautions against overcooking it: “by over-boiling

  • New England boiled dinner harkens back to hearthside cooking

    New England boiled dinner harkens back to hearthside cooking

    “The September evening set in brisk and chill, and the cheerful fire that snapped and roared up the ample chimney of Captain Kittridge’s kitchen was a pleasing feature. “The days of our story were before the advent of those sullen gnomes, the ‘air-tights,’ or even those more sociable and cheery domestic genii, the cooking-stoves. They

  • Boiled Dinner

    Boiled Dinner

    The following recipe is adapted from Sarah Josepha Hale’s 1841 publication, “The Good Housekeeper.”

  • Fresh maple syrup adds distinct note to custard

    Four years before Thoreau published “Walden,” Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894) published her journal of observations and musings on the natural world around Cooperstown, N.Y. The daughter of James Fenimore Cooper, she was an acute observer, noting, for example, which flowers ruby-throated hummingbirds preferred and considering whether flower structure or fragrance were more important in attracting

  • Fresh, fluffy snow lightens pancakes

    Fresh, fluffy snow lightens pancakes

    Whether called griddle cakes, hotcakes, flapjacks, slapjacks or flannel cakes, pancakes were enjoyed by everyone in New England in the 19th century. Humble folk and gentry alike devoured them. Caroline Howard King, who grew up in a prosperous family in Salem, Mass., in the 1820s and 1830s, in recalling popular dishes, remembered that “pancakes …

  • Love, betrayal, political espionage, and smothered chicken

    Love, betrayal, political espionage, and smothered chicken

    Known as Castle Tucker, an Italianate mansion on a hill overlooking the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset, was home to a young woman whose venturesome spirit got her embroiled in one of the great political scandals of the late 19th century. Jane Armstrong Tucker, who much later in life would publish “The State of Maine Cook

  • Apple pudding a Thoreau favorite

    Apple pudding a Thoreau favorite

    Henry David Thoreau was fond of foraging on his lengthy tramps through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. His favorite fruits were wild apples from trees randomly planted by animals or from neglected trees where the grafts had died and the root stock survived. In his natural history essay “Wild Apples,” he raves about the spicy