Deborah Peterson
Culinary Historian

327 Sumneytown Pike
Harleysville, PA 19438
Telephone 215-256-9399
E-mail Deborah








All text and images copyright Deborah Peterson 2002-15.

Website design and maintenance:
K L Martz

Go to: Lecture and Discussion Programs | Hands-On Workshops

Cooking for the Governor at the
Governor's Palace, Colonial
Williamsburg, Virginia



Deb's programs for adults cover many subjects and are a complement to her students' programs, but with a more in-depth coverage geared to older, adult interests. These programs are a direct result of the appeals of students' parents who have seen her school programs and asked her to develop programs for them. Higher-level subject treatment, and more detailed hands-on workshops were brought to life.

Discussion and experiential programs for adults are available for the topics which follow. Suggestions and requests for other topics are always welcomed, and the list grows. Contact Deb with your thoughts and questions.

Lecture and Discussion programs

Coffee, Chocolate, Tea, Spices, and Many Other Items too Tedious to Mention; 18c Imports into Philadelphia: This show-n-tell programs goes into coffee, chocolate, imported and patriotic teas, spices, sugar, salts, peppers, food colorants, isinglass, hartshorn, gum dragon and Arabic, leavenings, oils, pickles, sweetmeats, syrups, jellies, rose and orange-flower waters and many, many other items that were part of our nation’s imported foods. A hand-out is supplied.

Seasonal Foodways: This presentation goes into just how dependent colonial Americans were on the seasons of the years for their food. It also touches on the goods imported into the colonies.

Isinglass, Trotters and Hartshorn (Jellies!): A show-n-tell program about gelatines in English colonial America. A hand-out is supplied.

Sugar, From Harvested Cane to the Table: This PowerPoint presentation deals with the sugar making process. We begin with pressing the juice from the cane explaining and illustrating the many steps and the equipment needed to do this. The different kinds of sugars will be discussed along with their packaging, export, marketing and uses in the home. A vocabulary hand-out will be given.

Sweet-meats, Sugar plumbs, Suckets, Comfits (and Other 18th Century Sweets): This is a show-n-tell presentation that goes into the diverse selection of ‘sweets’ that were available in English colonial America. A hand-out is supplied.

The Story of Chocolate: This PowerPoint presentation shows the history of chocolate beginning with its introduction into Europe and the American colonies in the mid-seventeenth century as a beverage, and follows along with its transformation into the modern candy bar of today. Enjoy a taste and a receipt (recipe) handout.

Chocolate! This PowerPoint program gives a nod to the early history of cacao but emphasizes chocolate's history in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Discussion includes how to harvest and process cacao. There is a great deal of information on the tools needed, how chocolate is presented and served. Receipts (recipes) and samples are provided.

Colonial Chocolate: In this hands-on workshop, participants make and consume several dishes made from period receipts featuring chocolate as it was imported into colonial America. Receipt (recipe) book supplied.

Packaging in the 18th Century - what came in what? This PowerPoint presentation goes into the somewhat bewildering world of packaging products for shipment and sale. A hand-out is supplied.

Eighteenth-century Colonial English Foodways of Southeastern Pennsylvania: A show-n-tell program illustrating some of the many foods we ate with emphasis on seasonality. A hand-out is supplied.

Exotic Spices of the Eighteenth Century: a PowerPoint Program illustrating the various spices imported and used by our English colonial ancestors. A hand-out is supplied.

Figgy Pudding: "Now bring us some figgy pudding. Now bring us some figgy pudding. Now bring us some figgy pudding, And bring some out here." Popular lyrics from "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." This program will cover just what a figgy pudding actually is. A handout is supplied. This is also available as a hands-on cooking program.

Hands-on Hearth Cooking Classes are always available.

Clothing the Common Sort: What did our English colonial ancestors actually wear? This show-n-tell program explains the clothing of laboring English colonial people with emphasis on the common sort, children’s, women’s and civilian men’s working clothes in the third quarter of the eighteenth century.

The Clothing We Wear, Its Reasons, the Order it goes on, or Why Do I HAVE to wear all this stuff? This program is tailored to your historical organization or site. It explains the ‘why’ of eighteenth-century English colonial clothing so staff and volunteers better understand the clothing of the time and avoid making common mistakes. A hand-out is supplied.

The Common Pin: a PowerPoint program. A careful look at the straight pin, its importance, uses and misconceptions in the eighteenth century. A hand-out is supplied.

A Visit with Mother Goose: Deborah as Mother Goose! Dressed in period-correct colonial clothing, "Mother Goose" comes to visit pre-school and kindergarten classes. A very interactive visit with lots of excitement!

Sweet-bags, or what we today call Sachets: This hands-on activity allows participatns to make the historically correct sweet-bags that were so useful in scenting clothing and controlling insect infestations. This is a cut above just making a sachet, using ingredients that are not quite so common in this day and age.

Colonial English Foodways in Southeastern Pennsylvania: What did they eat?

Colonial Pastimes for children: What WAS the day like in the life of an eighteenth-century English child? A show-n-tell presentation that covers the daily life of colonial children. A hand-out is supplied.

The First Thanksgiving - Plimoth, 1621: Myths, Legends and Facts: This PowerPoint presentation goes into the myths, legends and facts of the ‘first’ thanksgiving. A hand-out is supplied.

Hands-on workshops

Colonial Chocolate
Butter Making
Weaving on a Tape Loom
Marbled Paper
Plain Sewing for Boys and Girls
Colonial Dyestuffs
The Story of Gingerbread (requires kitchen facilities)
Colonial Christmas Goodies (requires kitchen facilities)

Field trips for hearth cooking classes are also available.


Bolognia making at Pottsgrove Manor


Demonstrating the loom at Paradise,
Pennsylvania's 300th anniversary


Fire pit cooking at Basking Ridge


Chocolate workshop at Mid-Atlantic
Association of Living History Farms
and Museums annual conference