Becky Franks Has a Plan

Yo waddup, my peasants? It’s ur gurl rediscovering her love of science and chemistry without all the trouble of balancing equations because screw that I don’t do math.

So, for some ungodly reason, I’ve gotten into historical food and baking. Don’t ask my how, don’t ask my why, it was merely a whim and now I’m totally into it. I’m not really much into the whole hearth cooking thing, that seems a little daunting to me and sweaty and ur gurl don’t get dirty– I mean it’s not like I’m actually a real historian or anything so why get dirty? Anyway, so my BFF Kim Walters just dropped her hottest new book on 18th century tea and, let me tell you, this book has EVERYTHING you need to know about 18th century tea in America. I’m still not finished reading it so when I finish, I’ll be writing a review for it. In the meantime, though, I’ll share with you some of my thoughts on what I’ve read so far as well as what I’ve made from it.

When portraying Becky Franks, I often find myself surrounded by (cute) rebels–not that I’m complaining, I mean I got my bae to troll so it’s all good– so why not try to help them come to their senses with a little bit of civility among the filth and chaos of camp? Tbh the rebels need Becky’s help the most and she’s just so gosh-darn generous when it comes to unsolicited advice. It’s no shock that Becky was friendly with men on both sides of the war, considering her charm, wit, humor, and her papa’s money; Tench Tilghman’s brother William remained Becky’s “old flirt” long after the war ended and he was serving as the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court mentioning him in a letter to her friend Willy Bond, now Mrs. Cadwalader, in 1784.

When you receive this may you be happily fix’d in D–r Phila. Which in spite of Everything I shall always prefer to every other place– Advise & tell me soon that you have given General C another son– kiss those you have already for your Sincerely Affetce

B. Johnson

If you see B. Tilghman, tell him his old Flirt sends her love to him–

Mark A. Stern

I mean how could Becky complain when she’s being escorted by this hunk of burnin’ rebellion?


In the 18th century, the drawing room was the lady’s domain; because of its association with taking tea, it was the hubub of the woman’s domestic sphere. Going even deeper, the tea table served as the lady’s throne and her tea set, the crown jewels; it was the spot for her to show off and serve as hostess. When a formal tea was practiced, it was the lady who poured tea, not the servant; this was in itself a gesture of power. If a particularly influential lady invited a gentleman to tea, it was not to be taken lightly because she could promote him among her and her husband’s circle of friends. The wives and daughters of politicians played crucial roles in the public sphere when they served a formal tea because they were the ones who invited certain guests over to be introduced. This seemingly frilly ceremony was a massive power play for potential husbands, as well. After a gentleman dances with a lady, he has to be invited over for tea which would secure marriages. If Becky invites you to tea, you accept it– AND THAT MEANS YOU ALEX, I DON’T CARE IF YOU ONLY LIKE YOUR TEA DUMPED IN THE HARBOR, YOU’LL DRINK MY HYSON TEA AND ENJOY IT, GOSH DARN IT!

the face of a man who has yet to enjoy the innocent pleasures of life and ENJOY MY TEA

ANYWAY, seeing tea parties being thrown for officers in the Continental army is a surprisingly commonplace thing based on archaeological evidence. At Fort Montgomery, there was a surprising amount of ceramic found in archaeological digs; 4,099 pieces were found and while 40% of it was of it was yellowware such as slip decorated earthenware, a whopping 13% of all found ceramic was creamware meaning soldiers were using ceramic tea cups– SHOCKING– The cream glazed stoneware found was predominately decorative tableware aka plates, tea cups, tea caddies, etc. Pieces of porcelain tea bowls, saucers, salt- glazed stoneware teapots and lids, mugs, Jackfield teapots and bowls were all found at Fort Montgomery suggesting that soldiers in the barracks were enjoying tea.

Photo by Cris Zuin

So ya gurl went all out with her tea party, okay? Like I wasn’t messing around, I destroyed our new kitchen in the process of making everything. I’m honestly a little dangerous in the kitchen

I had three things I wanted to bake from scratch, idk why but it gives me good content so my blog doesn’t go stale. I wanted to bake a lemon cream, those 1786 chocolate drops I made for July 4th, and some almond mackaroons from Kim’s new book. What I loved about Kim’s book is how the included the original recipes from other historical books and the modern “translation” for the ingredients as well as ingredient substitutes, that made my work so much easier. I’m used to translating historical cosmetics receipts, so for the average person just wanting to try a historical recipe for the first time, this is hella useful. Maybe I’m just dumb, idk, but I couldn’t find the bake time or temperatures so I played around with it for a little bit… which did destroy the kitchen. There was almond paste everwhere. It was ugly. For her almond mackaroons, preheat the oven to 350 and bake for maybe fifteen minutes– if that. I counted thirteen minutes. Also you can probably shape them with a butter greased cookie tin, which I did not.

Hell yeah!

They honestly turned out DELICIOUS! The taste is strange, but in a good way, having a slightly cereal-esque taste and they’re so incredibly light it’s not even funny. This is a gluten free recipe for those who are curious.

Another thing I made, which Kim helped me with, is lemon cream. Lemon cream was a popular dish in 18th century Philadelphia, particularly among the Quakers. I claimed the receipt was from Mrs. Shippen saying she gave it to me after I wouldn’t stop talking about it. I first came across this recipe when searching for popular Philly dishes beyond cheesesteak and found a historical cookbook written by Elizabeth Ellicott Lea who wrote the 1845 book A Quaker Woman’s Cookbook: the Domestic Cookery of Elizabeth Ellicott Lea and found this excerpt in a revised edition,

Lemon butter, of all the foods mentioned in Domestic Cookery, is perhaps the one dish that the Quakers in the Middle Atlantic states identify as a symbol of their cookery, even though the recipes are common enough in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries English cookbooks– usually under the name lemon cream. As a dish, its popularity predates that of ice cream, but among the Quakers it is not a dessert. It is simply eated as a spread, pudding, or side dish. Elizabeth Lea suggests eating it on bread

Elizabeth Ellicott Lea

It references Eliza Smith’s 1753 book… Which Kim so happens to have an original copy of!

It’s another strange but yummy dish, it would honestly make a delicious filling for a doughnut if I was skilled enough to make them! It’s suggested in one book to serve it in porcelain bowls so I opted to use the tea bowls once we were through with tea. The guys loved it saying it was like a liquid Sour Patch Kid!

Kim’s book also is a great reference on the proper way of displaying your tea! Any good tea table should have a selection of sweets and savories for consumption with tea! On my Saturday tea table, I had sausage, cheese, walnuts, and candied strawberries on one plate, almond mackaroons and Turkish Delight on another plate, and rolls with candied orange peel on another. It served as an island of normalcy among the chaos of war for these poor, handsome, misguided rebel soldiers.

Speaking of these poor misguided, handsome rebels, can we appreciate my bae for a few photos? He made this spectacular new Hearts officer’s uniform and I just want to photo dump on you peasants. You’re welcome.

The event we attended on Saturday was at the Moland House, a charming historical home which hosts a living history day which was the perfect excuse to throw a tea party and gossip with spectators as Becky Franks. I really enjoy portraying her because I get to secretly educate the public while spreading historical gossip and making people laugh with her wit and antics. People seem to adore her “haters gonna hate” attitude and I’m glad they do! It’s funny because people really get into it asking me if I had a crush on any of the soldiers or what my opinion was on things or why I played so many pranks or how my hair is staying as well as it is.

My hair is full of secrets

It was fun hanging out with the guys, they all seemed to enjoy the tea and snacks I provided for the day along with Becky’s antics

Here’s Becky doing her best Charles Lee impression
Photo by Cris Zuin of the SQUAD. I call it Becky and the Bois

It was miserably hot Saturday, I have no idea how I managed to stay as well put together as I did all day… But Sunday was even hotter (and I’m not just talking about Erik)!

he is cute tho

Sunday marked the annual Dobbs Ferry Road to Freedom march. Normally I do my historical toilette demo for this site, but since I already had my hair done the day before I was way too lazy to take it all down so I just slept in it because I’m nuts. This year, I decided to throw a tea/lemonade party for the guys and portray Becky Franks.

Photo from the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society

This setup included tea (on another table WHICH I FORGOT TO PHOTOGRAPH. BIG OOF) on on table and lemonade and snackies on the other. Dawn also had her historical food display which offered samples to the public… Tbh I’m not confident enough in my baking abilities to feed the public so the men are my guinea pigs.

Photo from the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society. I gave Dawn one of my old gowns I haven’t worn in years and she looks gorgeous in it!

I offered to put some of her queen cakes on my table on a fancy plate and I can’t thank her enough for adding to the beautiful display with her badass baking. Everything was so lovely!

After the two mile march in ninety degree weather, the guys were more than thankful for this display to welcome them back! I made sure all my sweet, misguided rebels were fed and gently reminded that they could avoid all of this suffering if they just stopped rebelling and take a moment to enjoy life as it is. It was probably the heat that kept them from heeding Becky’s sage advice, but whatever!

Photo from the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society

Becky’s arguments are convincing, but not convincing enough for some!

Photo by Cathy Dennis

Becky had the last laugh at the end, though, because you don’t have to do a two mile march in ninety degree weather if you’re a good little colonist!

Photo by Cathy Dennis

All in all, while Becky did not successfully seduce the enemy with wit and food, she did make a splash with historical societies which is just as important! In the future, I’m gonna make myself a white linen table cloth, keep the meats and cheese away from nuts and dried fruit, and make the boys swear an allegiance to the king before partaking– that might help!! Anyway, I’m out peasants, I have a birthday party to plan! Love you!

Sources used:


  1. The article is delightful, witty and fun!!! The photos are wonderful and captures the elegant tea I can’t wait to taste the tea cookies… hint hint.
    Bravo….. well done


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