January’s Cooking Invitation

Bringing the Past Into the Present – One Recipe at a Time!


1/3 pints scaled milk, 7 spoons of fine Indian meal, stir together while hot, let stand till cooled; add 7 eggs, half pound of raisins, 4 ounces butter, spice and sugar; bake one and a half hour.

— Simmons, Amelia, “American Cookery,” 1796.



   I have decided that this year I am going to make one Colonial recipe a month. (I don’t believe in setting higher goals than what I can reach. I know one is doable.) To make it more fun (and after a friend said she would join me), I decided to ask my readers to join me as well.

   I invite readers, after they make the recipes, to post picture(s) to my Facebook page. Be sure to include something in the picture (yourself or a 21st century object) so we will know the picture was taken recently. To sweeten the pot (yes, that pun was intended!), if I get 20 pictures by the end of the year (not including my own), I will hold a drawing for a $25 gift certificate and a signed copy of one of my books (winner’s choice). Winners can enter up to 12 times for 12 recipes baked this year.

  Now, I wanted to start off this year by making a Twelfth Night Cake in honor of the winding down of the holidays. After all, my tree is still up, I love nutmeg and cinnamon, and, well, anything called “Twelfth Night Cake” must be interesting. However, a quick look at the number of ingredients seemed too daunting, to say nothing of the alcoholic content.

   Who knew Colonials drank so much?  And the history? Too complicated to relate in a simple post.

   I then determined that perhaps I would find a gingerbread recipe, for I have been wanting to experiment lately with something other than the Duncan Hines boxed mix I have made for years.

   What I didn’t count on was that colonials like their gingerbread in the shape of little men, and I have little inclination at the moment to roll out dough and cut out little men which might then jump off my cookie sheet and run away. I have enough trouble with little, and big, men around here.

   What I did decide to try this month was Indian pudding. It is something that I have always wanted to make, although it may be the charm of the name more than anything else.

   The recipe I am using is from the Colonial Williamsburg History is Served website.

   Indian Pudding was made in the early days of not only the Virginia colony, but in New England as well. It combined the colonists love of pudding, which they brought with them from England, with corn, which they found in the New World. As with all cooking in any time and place, there were variations in recipes and serving styles, from soft pudding to bread, from plain, fresh, hot pudding out of the oven and even, sometimes, replete with sauces dripping over the top.

   The important thing to note though, for the sake of history, is that Indian Pudding was NOT an Indian dish. The Indians were masters at preparing corn, but they had neither molasses nor milk. The did grind the corn and mix them with berries, oftentimes drizzling the whole with maple syrup.

   But that is not Indian pudding.

   The cooks in the kitchen at Colonial Williamsburg have been including modern versions of the older recipes which oftentimes included pounds, pints, spoons, and pinches. (What is a pinch anyway?) I here give it amended from their website using notes at the bottom to clear up part of the measurements in their recipe. While I have included the recipe on this page, you can click on the link at the right for a somewhat printer friendly version to keep in your kitchen for when you are ready. (It is just the recipe on a single page.)

   If you decide to step into the past this month in a small way, be sure to take a picture and post it to my Facebook page, including yourself or an object that will let us know the picture is from the present. Remember, if I get at least 20 pictures this year (not including my own), I will hold a drawing at the end of the year. Each person can enter as many times as they have posted cooked recipes (one entry per recipe for a total of 12 for the year).

Click here for a somewhat printer friendly version.


A Nice Indian Pudding

  • 1 pint of milk (or cream if you want it rich) + 2 or 3 tbsp cream

  • 1 1/4 cups of cornmeal

  • 6 tbsp raisins

  • 6 tbsp sugar

  • 1 ½ tsp each (or less if you choose) of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

  • 3 tbsp melted butter

  • 3 eggs

  1. Heat milk over medium heat. Remove it from burner and slowly add the cornmeal, stirring it slowly with a whisk. Once blended return it to the burner and cook until fairly thick.

  2. Remove from heat and add melted butter and spices then blend these altogether.

  3. In a mixing bowl whisk eggs well, add the tablespoons of cream and whisk until incorporated with the eggs.

  4. Add the eggs to the cornmeal mixture and blend thoroughly with a spoon.

  5. Pour the mixture into a greased 9 inch pie plate.

  6. Bake in a 360° oven for 30 minutes or more. Stick a knife blade in, and if it comes out clean it is done.




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