Articles by: Merry Post

Merry Post

  • 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

  • Boiled cider is a versatile cooking ingredient

    Boiled cider is a versatile cooking ingredient

    Boiled cider pie is sometimes called Shaker cider pie. Shakers in New England and the Midwest certainly made cider pies and added boiled cider to the applesauce that they canned and sold commercially. However, this recipe came not from Shakers but from a Unitarian church group in Waterville, which published “Delectable Recipes, Tried and True”

  • Appledore House’s half-moon pies easy to make

    Appledore House’s half-moon pies easy to make

    Celia Thaxter grew up on tiny White Island in the Isles of Shoals, where her father, Thomas Laighton, was the lighthouse keeper in the 19th century. On those isolated, rock-bound isles, off the Maine and New Hampshire coasts, young Celia learned to observe natural phenomena closely and to make up stories to amuse herself and

  • Usher in fall with herbaceous sauce

    Usher in fall with herbaceous sauce

    September brings the final flourish for the annual herbs in my garden. Thyme, lemon balm, chives, oregano and summer savory will overwinter, but the rest must be brought indoors before first frost or preserved in some fashion. So I have been investigating recipes that make liberal use of my annuals. Herbs were the subject of

  • Pass the ketchup

    Pass the ketchup

    The fresh, local tomatoes finally available in the market deserve some special attention. You might want to try making tomato ketchup at home, which allows you to control the amount of salt and sugar and to eliminate corn syrup entirely. If you asked for ketchup in the early 19th century, Americans would not assume that

  • Old diary entry inspires pie baking marathon

    Old diary entry inspires pie baking marathon

    In researching what New England women were cooking in the 19th century, I have read a few diaries by farm women who recorded the work they accomplished indoors and out, the weather, their health concerns, visitors and family events. The diary of Jane Briggs Smith Fiske (at the American Antiquarian Society) was a gold mine

  • It’s prime picking for rhubarb pie

    It’s prime picking for rhubarb pie

    May brings fresh local rhubarb and thoughts of rhubarb pie. One of the first plants harvested in the garden, rhubarb, which is packed with vitamins and minerals, was a traditional spring tonic. New England’s Shaker communities grew rhubarb for pies, preserves, sauce, tea, and even rhubarb wine. They bottled rhubarb chutney to sell. The prolific

  • Remembering Admiral Dewey and U.S.S. Maine

    Remembering Admiral Dewey and U.S.S. Maine

    Every April, I like to think of a frugal recipe to mitigate the financial pain of Tax Day. The following economical recipe is a blond version of onion soup that has ties to the Spanish-American War. If you ask most Americans what they know about the Spanish-American War, some will know that we should “remember

  • New England classic brown bread has rich history

    New England classic brown bread has rich history

    “One of the finest phenomena which the curious and reverent visitor in Boston notes is the appearance on his breakfast table of a shapely loaf, rounded and domed and richly browned in hue,” the Rev. Francis N. Zabriskie, an essayist and churchman, rhapsodized about his breakfast in the 1870s. Zabriskie likened steamed brown bread’s aroma