18th century, fall, family, fruit, hannah glasse

Spiced, stewed pears

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We’re knee-deep in fall over here in New England. Leaves turning color, crisp and clear afternoons, days growing shorter. Sometimes I think that New England is my favorite place to be come fall. Though the leaves turn brilliant orange and red in Ohio, the days are never as consistently clear and blue, thanks to our moody Lake Erie. Plus, as a history teacher, fall and colonial history seem to go hand-in-hand for me, and there’s so much history to be mined here in Rhode Island. Walking by a low stone wall puts me in mind of a colonial homestead, the stones demarcating property lines from faraway neighbors. And teaching colonial history come fall, as I’m doing this year, just feels right. (Maybe it’s the Thanksgiving/Pilgrim connection, which is basically ingrained by this point.)

At any rate, I’m going to pursue some colonial studies of my own on this little blog for a while. We’ve looked at 18th-century Williamsburg before, thanks to the Williamsburg Art of Cookery, but now we’re going to get serious. We’re hauling out the real, original recipes. Even if the results are less than savory.

Luckily, one of the first recipes I tried turned out beautifully.

Pears are delicious on their own, and oh-so-fall and wintry. Since I was little, some relatives have been sending us a big box of pears and grapefruit for Christmas every year, which my dad would store in the cold cellar of our house. When he felt like topping off a meal with fresh, crisp fruit, he’d trek down to the basement and return with a perfectly-chilled pear, and he’d slice it up for all of us to sample. It’s still one of my favorite holiday (and post-holiday) traditions.

But Mrs. Hannah Glasse, writer of one of colonial America’s most popular cookbook The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, takes those pears and raises me one. You peel and quarter the pears, then bathe them in a delicious mixture of red wine, cloves, sugar, and lemon peel. Bake until the pears are soft and blushing, and they taste like November straight out of the oven. There’s nothing better.

Spiced, Stewed Pears
(adapted from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy)

3 pears, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp lemon peel
4-6 cloves (varies depending on how much spice you want)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and wine together until sugar dissolves.

Place the pears in a ceramic or glass baking dish and pour the wine mixture over them. Scatter the lemon peel and cloves (more if you like intense spice, less for a milder flavor) over the mixture. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring the pears once halfway through.


3 thoughts on “Spiced, stewed pears”

  1. Going to New England in the fall is on my travel list. I've always heard that it is just magical.
    Also–I so agree about colonial history in fall. I feel like growing up we talked about colonial history EVERY fall, so it is definitely the part of American history that I know best. 😉


  2. YUM! This receipe looks delicious and absolutely perfect. Even a complete novice like myself might be able to manage it. Thank you!


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