All hands break off and start for home, and are ready to sit down at the table just as the sun is square on the window-ledge, and the sand in the hour-glass is out. A blessing craved, they begin with the Indian pudding, and relish it with a little molasses. Next come a piece of broiled salt pork, or black broth, fried eggs, brown bread, cabbage, and cider. They denominated their dinner, ‘boiled victuals;’ adn their plates, ‘wooden trenchers.’ Dinner despatched in fifteen minutes, the time till one o’clock was called ‘nooning,’ when each laborer was free to sleep or play. Nooning over, they repair to the fields, and find that a fox or wolf has killed a sheep, and eaten his dinner. the father takes his gun and hastens in search, telling the boys ‘to keep at their work, and if they see the fox, to whistle with all their might.’ The fox, that took great pains to be there when the owner was away, now takes great pains to be away when the owner is there. A drink of good beer all round, at three o’clock, is the only relief in the afternoon’s toil, which ends at five; at which hour the youngest son drives home the cows, and the milking is finished at six. The hogs and sheep are now called to their enclosures near the barn, where the faithful dog will guard them from their night-prowling enemies. All things being safe, supper is ready.
The father takes a slice of cold broiled pork, the usual brown bread, and a mug of beer, while the boys are regaled with milk porridge or hasty-pudding. In their season, they had water-melons and musk-melons; and for extra occasions a little cherry wine. Sometimes they had boiled Indian corn, mixed with kidney beans. Into bean and pea porridge they put a slice of salted venison. They had also succatash, which is corn and beans boiled together. The meat of the shag-bark was dried and pounded, and then put into their porridge to thicken it. The barley fire-cake was served at breakfast. They parched corn, and pounded it, and made it into a ‘nokake’. Baked pumpkins were common”.
– The History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts. 1859. Boston. Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society.
Brown bread was considered healthier in earlier times, just as whole wheat is considered healthier than white today. It was made from rye and Indian meal in equal proportions. “Add salt to the mixture, wet it with water and yeast enough to raise it; the dough should not be made hard enough to mould. Stir it with a spoon as thick as you conveniently can; put it immediately into the baking pan, smooth over the top with your hand wet in cold water, and let it stand till the top cracks. Then bake it in a hot oven. If a thick loaf, four hours. Some people put molasses into this bread, but molasses, I think, renders it unwholesome and unpalatable. Good Indian meal and sweet rye flour are much better without molasses in it. Another method is mixing one third wheat, one third rye, and one third Indian, and proceeding as above”. – Bliss’s Practical Cookbook. 1850. Philadelphia. Lippincott.
Modern Recipe, my rendition:
2 pkg. yeast, 2 1/2 cups war to the touch water, 2/3 cup molasses, 5 cups bread flour, 2 cups rye flour, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 2 Tablespoons caraway seeds, optional.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the molasses. Let set about 5 minutes or until it starts to bubble and foam.
Put the salt, oil, cocoa powder, 2 cups rye flour and about 2 cups bread flour in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer with the bread dough attachment in place. Turn on the lowest speed and slowly pour in the yeast mixture.
While continuing to mix, add the remaining flour, as much as is needed of it, a half cup to a cup at a time, each time you add flour, slow the mixer down to the slowest speed until the flour is stirred in, then put on the 2nd or 3rd setting.
Add the flour until the dough is not sticky and knead it with the dough hook until it is smooth and elastic – 5 to 7 minutes. [If doing in a historical setting, or you don’t have a stand mixer, knead by hand until smooth and elastic – 7 to 10 minutes usually.]
Grease a large bowl with oil. Put the dough into it. Turn the dough over, so that the top is oiled too. Cover loosely with foil or a damp towel. Let set at room temp. [if room is cool, put it in the oven with a pan of hot water and/or oven light on] until the dough has doubled in volume – about 1 1/2 hours.
Put your fist into the middle and press down to release some of the gas. Sprinkle the dough and counter top or work area with flour, put the dough on this and knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half with a sharp knife. Shape loaves as you wish, put the loaves into a prepared bread pan, cover with oiled wrap or foil loosely and let rise again, not quite doubling in volume but rising by about half its volume. This usually takes about 45 minutes. Bake at 350 to 375 degrees until done. Top will be brown and the loaf will sound hollow when tapped.
– The Historic Foodie, copyright 2009. May not be reproduced without written permission.