Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Ways of Cooking Indian Corn

I must tell you of a way to cook this Indian corn which Squanto showed to Captain Standish, and now we have it in all the houses, when we are so fortunate as to have a supply of the wheat in our possession.

It is poured into the hot ashes of the fireplace, and allowed to remain there until every single wheat kernel has been roasted brown. Then it is sifted out of the ashes, beaten into a powder like meal, and mixed with snow in the winter, or water in the summer. Three spoonfuls a day is enough for a man who is on the march, or at work, so Captain Standish says, and we children are given only two thirds as much.

Mother says it is especially of value because little labor is needed to prepare it; but neither Sarah nor I take kindly to the powder.

The Indians also steep the corn in hot water twelve hours before pounding it into a kind of coarse meal, when they make it into a pudding much as you would in Scrooby; but mother likes not the taste after it has been thus cooked before being pounded, thinking much of the fine flavor has been taken from it.

Sometimes we make a sweet pudding by mixing it with molasses and boiling it in a bag. It will keep thus for many days, and I once heard Captain Standish say that there were as many sweet puddings made in Plymouth every day as there were, housewives.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Next fall we shall have bread made of barley and Indian corn meal, so father says, and I am hoping most fervently that he may not be mistaken, for both Sarah and I are heartily tired of nookick, and of sweet pudding, which is not very sweet because we have need to guard carefully our small store of molasses.

We girls often promise ourselves a great feast when a vessel comes out from England bringing butter, for we have had none that could be eaten since the first two weeks of the voyage in the Mayflower.

Squanto often tells us of a kind of vegetable, or fruit, I am not certain which, that grows in this country, and is called a pumpkin. It must be very fine, if one may judge by his praise of it, and we are looking forward to the time, when it shall be possible to know for ourselves.


Front Matter

Why This Story was Written
The Leaking Speedwell
Searching for a Home
After the Storm
Wash Day
Finding the Corn
Attacked by the Savages
Building Houses
Miles Standish
The Sick People
The New Home
Master White and the Wolf
Inside of the House
A Chimney Without Bricks
Building the Fire
Master Bradford's Chimney
Scarcity of Food
A Timely Gift
The First Savage Visitor
Squanto's Story
Living in the Wilderness
The Friendly Indians
Grinding the Corn
A Visit From Massasoit
Massasoit's Promise
Massasoit's Visit Returned
The Big House Burned
The Mayflower Leaves Port
Setting the Table
What and How we Eat
Table Rules
A Pilgrim Goes Abroad
Making a Dugout
Governor Carver's Death
Bradford Chosen Governor
Farming in Plymouth
Cooking Indian Corn
The Wedding
Making Maple Syrup
Decorating the House
Trapping Wolves and Pigeons
Elder Brewster
The Visit to Massasoit
Keeping the Sabbath Holy
Making Clapboards
Cooking Pumpkins
A New Oven
Making Spoons and Dishes
The Fort and Meeting-House
The Harvest Festival
How to Play Stoolball
On Christmas Day
When the Fortune Arrived
Possibility of Another Famine
On Short Allowance
A Threatening Message
Pine Knots and Candles
Tallow From Bushes
Wicks for the Candle
Dipping the Candles
When James Runs Away
Evil-Minded Indians
Long Hours of Preaching
John Alden's Tubs
English Visitors
Visiting the Neighbors
Why More Fish are not Taken
How Wampum is Made
Ministering to Massasoit
The Plot Thwarted
The Captain's Indian
Ballots of Corn
Arrival of the Ann
Little James Comes to Port
The New Meeting-House
The Church Service
The Tithingmen
Master Winslow Brings Cows
A Real Oven
Butter and Cheese
Settlement at Wessagussett
The Village at Merrymount
The First School
Too Much Smoke
Schools Comforts
How Children Were Punished
New Villages
Making Ready for a Journey
Clothing for Salem
Food for the Journey
Before Sailing for Salem
Beginning the Journey
The Arrival at Salem
Sight-Seeking in Salem
Back to Plymouth