Kids Can Learn About Colonial Cooking, Customs At Wilton Historical Society

WILTON, Conn. — Kids in town can get a taste of the past as the Wilton Historical Society holds its monthly workshop on Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids. 

Leslie Nolan, executive director of the Wilton Historical Society
Leslie Nolan, executive director of the Wilton Historical Society Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern, File
Apple Tansey
Apple Tansey Photo Credit: contributed

For September, the Connecticut region recipe is for Apple Tansey with Fairy Butter. The event will be Saturday, Sept. 24, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

While the food is prepared, the kids hear about Colonial manners, morals and way of life. 

A “tansey” originally referred to a dish made with the herb tansy. Over time, the name and spelling shifted, and tansy was longer a required ingredient. 

During Colonial times, a tansey would likely been served as a side dish at a dinner or supper, as it is made with eggs, cream, butter, fruit, and rosewater. It is not quite sweet enough to be considered dessert. 

The workshops feature relatively simple dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients. The recipes used will be adapted for modern kitchens. This is done for safety reasons, and also so that the attendees can re-create their meals at home. 

All participants will sample their own cooking and take home recipe cards — as well as any leftovers. 

The children will learn how a Colonial kitchen would have operated, in order to appreciate the modern conveniences we take for granted. Previous sessions have made bannock cakes, pease porridge, pickles, and an amulet of green peas. 

Did you know that many foods have names with “fairy” in them, especially in Scotland. However, the names do not imply a connection with fairies; they are often simply because the food is light and delicate. 

Fairy butter can be traced back a long way, to Hannah Glasse (1747) who says it is “a pretty Thing to set off a Table at Supper.” Her version, one of many, calls for egg yolks, sugar, and orange –flower water, as well as some normal butter.”

A historical recipe for Apple Tansey appears in "The Compleat Housewife: Or, Accomplished Gentelwoman’s Companion," a cookbook written by Eliza Smith, originally published in 1742. It was the first cookbook ever published in the United States. 

To make an Apple Tansey: Take three pippins, slice them round in thin slices, and fry them with butter; then beat four eggs, with six spoonfuls of cream, a little rosewater, nutmeg, and sugar; stir them together, and pour it over the apples; let it fry a little, and turn it with a pye-plate. Garnish with lemon and sugar strew’d over it. 

The cost of the workshop is $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers. Space is limited — register by contacting or calling 203-762-7257. 

The Wilton Historical Society is located at 224 Danbury Road/Route 7, Wilton. For more information, visit

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