Monday, September 8, 2014

Colonial Chicken with Scuppernong Grape Sauce

What are scuppernong grapes I wondered, when I found a recipe using them in The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook. I did a bit of research and learned they were native to North Carolina.

The explorer Verrazzano wrote to France in 1524, "Many vines growing naturally there..."

Captains Armadas and Barlowe, affiliated with Sir Walter Raleigh, wrote in 1584, "so full of grapes as the very beating  and surge of the sea overflowed them...in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found."

In 1585 the governor of North Carolina wrote to Sir Walter Raleigh, "grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater..."

Read more about the history of the scuppernong...and muscadines, which are related to each other...here. A few tips on how to prepare, store and recipes are included.


To my great surprise I found both scuppernongs and muscadines while grocery shopping in August. I immediately brought a bagful of each! I knew the family would enjoy trying these historic grapes! 

I adapted the recipe from The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook a bit because I wanted to grill the chicken instead of heating up the  kitchen. In August the weather was still nice for delightful cooking and eating on the deck...my favorite cooking and eating venue!

Here are the scuppernongs! So pretty!

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I varied up the recipe a bit from the cookbook partly because I wanted to grill and also because I didn't have all of the required ingredients. Therefore I substituted from what I had in the fridge and pantry! These spices are all quite common to the colonial era so I used them for the flavoring. See how large those scuppernongs are!

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After rubbing oil on the chicken thighs and sprinkling on the dry ingredients, I put them on the grill.

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Then I started the sauce. Deseeding is definitely necessary.

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The cooking of the sauce...

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I topped the chicken with the sauce and served it with a side salad with balsamic dressing and buttered corn.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thomas Jefferson, Religious Freedom, and a Palace Garden

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Thomas Jefferson behind the Governor's Palace 

In August we made a quick visit to Colonial Williamsburg. Saddened that it would be short, I was heartened that our short stay was during the very time that a Founding Father would be speaking behind the Governor's Palace! Who would it be? Any one of them would be incredible! Just imagine...a moment to slip into the 18th century to relive the beginnings of our nation.

Incredibly, the very man I have been reading about in my 21st century life walked onto the stage to share his 18th century work, bringing my book to life.  Lately I have been studying the history of the Bill of Rights and religious freedoms with Michael Farris' book From Tyndale to Madison. Did you know that we have our religious freedoms in America today because of three Virginians? Do you know who they are? Virginia followed the state religion of England, Anglicanism.  Three Virginian Anglicans worked industriously to give the freedom FOR religion to all, including the Quakers, Baptists and Jews. Often persecuted, often jailed, all people gained religious freedom because of Patrick Henry, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson!    

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Thomas Jefferson-Colonial Williamsburg

This idea for freedom for religion was quite novel in its day.  Up to then there had been a state religion.  Europe had battled for centuries over religion. In fact one of the books we studied a couple of years ago was titled. The Religious Wars in Europe. Whether Catholic, Anglican, Puritan, Calvinist, Baptist, Quaker, Jewish, and more...they suffered much for their beliefs, whether in Europe or the colonies, depending on the governing authorities declaration of religion. It's a fascinating story which Jefferson brought to life as he shared how he put many bills before the House of Delegates.  He can quote every aspect, every bill number and logically defend the  necessity of religious freedom for all.

Even today we often hear others incorrectly say that because of separation of church and state, religion shouldn't even be noticed. To this my daughter always quickly exclaims from her  many meetings with Mr. Jefferson, that this is not the case. Instead the separation clause is that the government should keep its hands out of religion.  However as Patrick Henry always says, without virtue (obtained from religion) government will fail. 

Mr. Jefferson concluded his program by giving a young boy his sword in one hand, and his quill in the other, then asked him which was mightier.  Such a question was easily answered, because it was the summation of Jefferson's life, of all he fought for.