Articles by: Merry Post

Merry Post

  • 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

  • Raise a forkful of sponge cake

    Raise a forkful of sponge cake

    George Washington would have been surprised to know that his name became associated with cherry pie. We have Parson Weems to thank for the cherry tree-chopping fable. Weems’ much-mythologized biography was published in 1800, just a year after Washington’s death. The dessert, which was associated with George Washington in the 19th century, called Washington pie,

  • Carrot soup comes from French town of Crécy

    Carrot soup comes from French town of Crécy

    Is there anything nicer on a frigid winter day than a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove? And after weeks of holiday excesses, vegetable soups are a welcome return to healthier eating. When I first read the following recipe, I was disappointed, expecting a watercress soup. Cressy is actually the Anglicized name for

  • Emily Dickinson’s black cake for those who hate fruitcake

    Emily Dickinson’s black cake for those who hate fruitcake

    Her neighbors knew her as the daughter and sister of prominent men, as a knowledgeable gardener, and as the eccentric recluse who once lowered a basket of gingerbread out her window to reach a group of eager children. Emily Dickinson, a poet of astonishing originality, was also an accomplished baker. She stirred images from home