Introduction and Indexes Biography Lessons Plantation Community Lessons Colony into Commonwealth Lessons
Making a Nation Lessons
The Plantation Community
Lesson Nine


Hare Soup

Cut up two hares[rabbits](1), put them into a pot with a piece of bacon(2), two onions chopped(3), a bundle of thyme(4) and parsley(5), which must be taken out before the soup is thickened, add pepper(6), salt(7), pounded cloves(8), and mace(9), put in a sufficient quantity of water(10), stew it gently three hours, thicken with a large spoonful of butter(11), and one of brown flour(12) with a glass of red wine(13); boil it a few minutes longer, and serve it with the nicest parts of the hares." [Cloves and mace are types of spices.]

Sweet-Potato Pudding

Boil one pound of sweet potatos(14) very tender, rub them while hot through a colander; add six eggs(15) well beaten,

three quarters of a pound of powdered sugar(16), three quarters of butter(17), and some grated nutmeg(18) and lemon-peel(19), with a glass of brandy(20); put a paste in the dish, and when the pudding is done, sprinkle the top with sugar(21), and cover it with bits of citron(22)." [Citron is a type of citrus fruit similar to a lemon.]


Can you imagine storing food in your bedroom? That's what Mrs. Ann Mason did. Her chamber on the first floor of Gunston Hall had a storage closet. Here, she kept special food items imported from Great Britain and the West Indies, such as sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, and spices. She also stored herbs from the kitchen garden. Why do you think Mrs. Mason kept these things close at hand?

Most of the food items stored in her closet were expensive or limited in supply. These items would be safe in the closet, which was locked. Of course, a closet is only so big. Some foodstuffs which were used in large amounts (such as flour, eggs, and butter) were kept in other places. Wine and ale were also stored elsewhere.

Each morning, Mrs. Mason met with the cook to talk about the day's menu for her family. At this time, she unlocked the closet and doled out to the cook the exact amount of foodstuffs needed. It was important for Mrs. Mason to plan ahead. The herbs had to last through the winter. And she didn't want to run out of sugar before the next ship was due in from the West Indies!


1. Read the two recipes, called receipts. These are for typical dishes of the 1700s. List the ingredients by number in the categories below.

These ingredients were grown or found on the plantation:

These ingredients were imported from other places:

2. Look in Mrs. Mason's closet. Which ingredients from Hare Soup and Sweet-Potato Pudding were probably stored there? List by number:

Receipts are taken from The Virginia House-wife by Mrs. Mary Randolph. Although the book was not published until 1824, it features recipes from the earlier colonial period.

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Gunston Hall Plantation
Mason Neck, Virginia 22079
703.550.9480 fax

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