Crispy Pickled Green Beans with Mary Randolph’s Pepper Vinegar

Although few recipes from Thomas Jefferson’s household survive, in 1824 Mary Randolph, Jefferson’s daughter Martha’s sister-in-law published The Virginia Housewife, a cookbook that we believe contains many recipes Jefferson enjoyed. There was much contact between the Monticello family and Mrs. Randolph in the ten years before Jefferson’s death, so it is likely that Monticello dining inspired Mary. One intriguing recipe we are left with is Randolph’s pepper vinegar, a spicy component that can be used in contemporary refrigerator pickles.  With summer party and picnic season is in full swing, pick your favorite local ingredients and try a jar or two of these quick Crispy Pickled Green Beans using Mary Randolph’s Pepper Vinegar for that extra kick.

pepper-vinegarMGMMary Randolph’s Pepper Vinegar

1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

1 ½ cups white distilled vinegar

6 to 8 ancho chile peppers or peppers of your choice

  1. Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to 2 cups.
  2. Remove and reserve the chile peppers. Set the pepper vinegar aside to cool.


pickled-beans-jarMGMPickled Green Beans

Makes 1 jar

½ pound fresh French green beans

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon “Cabernet Sauvignon” peppercorns from the Herb and Spice Wine Pairings Set

Fresh dill

¾ cup Mary Randolph’s pepper vinegar

½ cup water

2 garlic cloves, smashed once

2 peppers reserved from the vinegar

1 teaspoon local honey


  1. Place the green beans right side up in a clean Mason jar.  Add the salt, peppercorns, and a couple sprigs of dill.  Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, garlic cloves, peppers, and honey to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil for two minutes.
  3. Remove the garlic cloves and peppers and add to the Mason jar.  Carefully pour the brine into the Mason jar.
  4. Place lid on Mason jar and refrigerate for seven days until ready to eat.

MonticelloRecipe_BlogKaty Woods is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied psychology. Though always an avid foodie, it was not until Katy came to UVa that she fell in love with the local food movement. Through an internship at Monticello during her third year at UVa, Katy was inspired by Jefferson’s ingenuity to cultivate crops and introduce French cuisine to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. Since this experience, Katy has demonstrated Jefferson-era recipes for the Heritage Harvest Festival and continued to adapt Monticello classics for modern cooks.

5 Ways to Celebrate the Season


For Thomas Jefferson, Christmas was “the day of greatest mirth and jollity.” As was customary during the time, Jefferson celebrated the full 12 days of the Christmas season. The usual activities included traveling to the homes of friends and family, placing greenery around the house, and hosting and attending parties. Jefferson gathered his circle of family, which he affectionately called “the fireside,” around him during the holidays. This season draw inspiration from Monticello and make your festivities merry with classic accents and DIY workshops from The Shop.


Festive Greenery

red-apple-wall-hanging-214[1]While Christmas trees were not popular until the 1840s, natural elements like decorative greenery, sprigs of holly in the windows, or holly and bay leaves in vases were likely adornments during Jefferson’s time. A Harvest Glow Wreath, featuring Monticello’s primary export wheat, or a Dried Berry Wreath with Satin Bow, a classic combination of red and green, are sure to show off your seasonal spirit.

If you enjoy DIY, visit The Shop for one of Monticello’s Holiday Wreath Workshops. These ever-popular workshops, in their 27th year, produce a gratifying and tangible end product: a beautiful holiday wreath. Janet Miller, Lou Hatch, and Maggie Stemann Thompson lead participants through the process in these three-hour sessions. All materials (straw wreath forms, pins, wire, etc.) are provided, including a cornucopia of natural materials sourced from Monticello. Bring your own hand pruners and visit for tickets to this annual event.


Classic Candlelight

ivorytapersDark wintry days and the remoteness of life in the countryside could lead to winter doldrums for Jefferson’s family. Lighting was essential in keeping “many a dull winter in Albemarle” at bay. Jefferson encouraged his grandchildren to outline a course of winter reading and used the reflecting reading candelabrum and alabaster lamp in his library for his own research and entertainment. Candles lit evening celebrations, games, and music at Monticello. Brighten your home with holiday-inspired Ivory Glitter Tree Tapers or Red Metal Lanterns, great for use inside or outdoors, from the Shop at Monticello.

Experience Monticello illuminated with a Holiday Evening Tour. These small-group house tours, offered nightly through most of December, give visitors an intimate look at how the holidays were celebrated in Jefferson’s time and include a walk through of the Dome Room.


Seasonal Flavors

peppermint-bark-6Holiday celebrations were more modest than those we know today, but special food would have been the focal point of the winter gatherings. Guests at Monticello could have enjoyed Country Ham and Hot Chocolate during the holiday season. Traditional savory and sweet foods including Peppermint Chocolate Bark, Chocolate Covered Gourmet Apples, Country Cured Slab Bacon, Virginia Spoon Bread, and Monticello Sparkling Cider from The Shop are prefect treats for your winter festivities.

Many seasonal decorations evolved around the grand display of food on the table.  Whether or not you are a fan of traditional baked goods in the “season of mince pies,” as Jefferson termed it, using apples and other holiday scents in your décor can set a familiar festive tone for your gatherings. The Shop’s Monticello Holiday Elegance Potpourri and Spicy Apple Botanical Wax Sachets are great choices for evoking the scents of the season.

Add some tasty DIY to your décor and embrace your inner architect during our My Monticello Gingerbread House Family Workshop. This icing intense program offers fun for the whole family. With hot chocolate and cookies fueling your creativity, you’ll work together to craft a delicious, hand-made addition to your home’s holiday décor.


Holiday Keepsakes

wooden-drum-214During the 1809 Christmas, Jefferson wrote that his eight-year-old grandson, Francis Epps was “at this moment running about with his cousins bawling out ‘a merry Christmas’ ‘a Christmas gift, etc.” Christmas then and now is a time to gather family around you. Typically gifts were given by parents to children, from masters to slaves but not from dependents to superiors.  The Shop offers gifts that are both classic and fun for kids of all ages like a Personalized Trunk, Child’s Pewter Cup, or Nine Men’s Morris Travel Game. For both young and old, gifts inspired by Jefferson’s Monticello make treasured keepsakes.

For handcrafted, historic, and unique gifts, visit the Shop at Monticello for Handmade for the Holidays. Meet artisans, sample holiday treats, enjoy craft demonstrations, and shop for gifts made in Virginia. Visit for more information on this annual event or to shop these one-of-a-kind gifts online.


Merry Traditions

carolerChristmas cards and hymns were popular though not necessarily the same ones and tunes of today. “Adestes Fideles,”” Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” “God Rest you Merry Gentlemen,” and “The Holly and the Ivy” were some of the carols sung at Monticello. Jefferson was fond of music throughout his life and the parlor was the scene of many musical performances and much holiday revelry. A Monticello Musical Snow Globe or a handcrafted Thomas Jefferson Caroler are great ways to commemorate the sounds of the season.

Like “dashing through the snow?” Start a new tradition and join the 4th Annual Monticello Holiday Classic 5K. Both festive and fun, this family-oriented 5K begins at the East Walk of Monticello and ends at the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center. Kids 12 and under can enjoy the Deck the Halls Kids Dash, a loop around the West Lawn within the shadows of Monticello. Pre-registration is suggested, but day-of registration is available. Visit for more information and holiday merriment.

Gingerbread Cookies with Fig Whipped Cream

“This recipe follows mostly Mary Randolph, since it is an old-fashioned gingerbread. Compared to the delicate crispness of cookies lightened with baking powder, these wafers are quite hard when freshly made, though both texture and flavor improve dramatically after two or three days’ storage in an airtight tin.”

-Jefferson-era recipe adapted by Katy Woods from Dining at Monticello

Crisp Gingerbread

1/2 ounce sugargingerbread cookies

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 rounded tablespoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/3 cups unsulfured molasses

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the sugar, flour, and spices and make  a well in the center. Stir together the butter and molasses and pour them into the center of the dry ingredients, working them into the flour to form a smooth, fairly stiff dough.

2. Divide the dough into 6 lumps. Lightly  flour a work surface and roll out one lump until it is wafer thin. Cut into 1 1/4 –inch rounds and transfer with a metal spatula to buttered baking sheets. Bake on 325 degrees for 6 minutes. Cool on the pans.


Fig Whipped Cream

1/2 cup Monticello Fig  Preserves

2 cups heavy cream

1. Mix fig preserves and heavy cream in a medium bowl using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

2. To assemble: Place 2 tablespoons of whipped cream between two gingerbread cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


diningatmonticelloDining at Monticello offers an inviting view of the renowned hospitality offered at Thomas Jefferson’s table. This beautiful hardcover book contains ten essays discussing topics such as the groceries and wine imported from Europe, the recent kitchen restoration, and the African Americans who participated in Monticello’s rich food culture at every stage. Seventy-five delicious recipes from Jefferson family manuscripts, updated by editor Damon Lee Fowler, are authentic to the period and made accessible for today’s home cook.


MonticelloRecipe_BlogKaty Woods is in her fourth year at the University of Virginia, where she studies psychology. Though always an avid foodie, it was not until Katy came to UVa that she fell in love with the local food movement. Through an internship at Monticello during her third year at UVa, Katy was inspired by Jefferson’s ingenuity to cultivate crops and introduce French cuisine to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. Since this experience, Katy has demonstrated Jefferson-era recipes for the Heritage Harvest Festival and continued to adapt Monticello classics for modern cooks.  Katy plans to stay in the Charlottesville, VA area after college.

Virginia Ham Sandwiches with Apple Butter and Sweet Potato Biscuits

Several guests recorded accounts of breakfast at Monticello. One visitor in particular, Mrs. Margaret Bayard Smith, wrote wonderfully detailed notes about her time spent at Monticello. Concerning breakfast, Mrs. Smith wrote: “Our breakfast table was as large as our dinner table…we had tea, coffee, excellent muffins, hot wheat and corn bread, cold ham and butter.” Katy Woods, local food blogger and former Monticello intern, shares this delicious taste of Thomas Jefferson’s table.

Smithfield Country Ham Slices (2 lbs) ham sandwich

Monticello Apple Butter


Sweet Potato Biscuits

1 cup canned sweet potatoes

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup  chilled cream cheese

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup Monticello Hickory Syrup

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. With a food processor or a stick blender, blend flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

2. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse to a course meal. Add potato, buttermilk, and syrup. Process to blend. Add nuts and pulse to blend.

3. Roll out dough on a piece of parchment paper. Cut into 16 biscuits. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Place biscuits at least 2 inches apart. Cook at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes. Let cool.

4. Cut biscuits in half. Place two to three slices of ham onto bottom slice of the biscuit. Top with apple butter and serve.


MonticelloRecipe_BlogKaty Woods is in her fourth year at the University of Virginia, where she studies psychology. Though always an avid foodie, it was not until Katy came to UVa that she fell in love with the local food movement. Through an internship at Monticello during her third year at UVa, Katy was inspired by Jefferson’s ingenuity to cultivate crops and introduce French cuisine to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century. Since this experience, Katy has demonstrated Jefferson-era recipes for the Heritage Harvest Festival and continued to adapt Monticello classics for modern cooks.  Katy plans to stay in the Charlottesville, VA area after college.

It’s Tomato Season at Monticello!


It’s a delicious time of year here at Monticello and we decided to check in with our resident gardening experts to see how they like to eat their tomatoes or “love apples” as they were often referred to in Thomas Jefferson’s era.

purplecalabashThe Purple Calabash Tomato was a clear favorite with our staff. Pat Brodowski, Monticello Vegetable Gardener, favors a fresh preparation, “I love Purple Calabash still warm from the garden. I cut them into scalloped circles that look like a mahogany-colored flower. The deep spicy flavor was rated first at this year’s Monticello Tomato Tasting.”

Brian Hartsock, Operations Manager of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s Center for Historic Plants (CHP), doesn’t even bother with a knife, “I like Purple Calabash right off the vine like an apple!”

Lily Fox-Bruguiere, Garden & Outreach Coordinator for the CHP, has two delicious and easy go-to sauce recipes that she says work well with any of the tomatoes available at the Shop at Monticello. “For a fresh, no-cook sauce, I marinate fresh tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil for at least two hours and then toss with pasta and fresh mozzarella,” says Fox-Bruguiere, “and for a quick-cook fresh sauce, I start by blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins. Then, I sauté garlic and olive oil in a pan and add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes have cooked down I add fresh basil and serve over pasta with parmesan cheese.”

genovesetomatoAccording to Gabriele Rausse, Monticello’s Director of Garden and Grounds, the secret to a great sauce is wine and the right tomato, “My favorite tomato is the Costoluto Genovese. It makes the best tomato sauce for pasta. It has a high amount of Lycopene, an antioxidant compound that gives the tomato its color. Lycopene is also highly soluble in fat and it combines very well with olive oil that I use for the tomato sauce.”

Find these tasty varieties and more like the German Johnson, Brandywine, and Prudens Purple Tomato in the Shop’s seed collection for the full Monticello “garden to plate” experience.

Gabriele Rausse’s Recipe

1) Slice a medium size onion thinly and fry it in olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat until it begins to brown. Add a glass of white wine to the onions.

2) Slice 1 lb. of Costoluto Genovese tomatoes, removing the petiole attachment and then adding to the browned onion in the pan. ( note: you can also use a blender rather than slice the tomatoes).

3) Add an half a vegetable bouillon cube or an equivalent amount of salt to the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer and then turn the heat down to low. The sauce should cook slowly for about an hour before serving with the pasta of your dreams.

While there are many myths surrounding Jefferson and tomatoes, it is true that he and his relatives frequently ate, enjoyed, and helped popularize the vegetable. “Tomatas,” as Jefferson spelled the name, were widely used in the Monticello kitchen and several varieties were planted in the Monticello garden. Jefferson’s granddaughters left records of numerous recipes that utilized the tomato, including gumbo soup, tomato pickles, preserves, and omelets. Virginia House-wife, a cookbook by Jefferson’s cousin Mary Randolf, was one of the first appearances of tomatoes in an American cookbook. It contained 17 recipes featuring tomatoes including catsup, gazpacho, and stewed tomatoes.

If you are a fan of this American heritage food, check out The Heirloom Tomato by Amy Goldman and Tomatoes by Miriam Rubin. Both cookbooks offer delicious tomato recipes and history. Along with the recipes and photos in The Heirloom Tomato, there are profiles of the tomatoes filled with fascinating facts on their history and provenance, and a master gardener’s guide to growing your own. More than just a loving look at one of the world’s great edibles, this is a philosophy of eating and conservation between covers – an irresistible book for anyone who loves to cook or to garden.

tomatoescookbookTomatoes includes recipes that celebrate the down-home, inventive, and contemporary, such as Stand-over-the-Sink Tomato Sandwiches, Spiced Green Tomato Crumb Cake, Green Tomato and Pork Tenderloin Biscuit Pie, and Tomato and Golden Raisin Chutney. Rubin also offers useful cooking tips, lively lessons on history, cultivation, and preserving, and variations for year-round enjoyment of the tomato. With our seeds and cookbooks, you can’t grow wrong!

Need more recipes and food history to pair with those tomatoes? Check out our Jefferson and Pasta blog for Jefferson’s very own noodle recipe and the Shop’s latest pasta products.

A Jefferson-Inspired Library

cabinet library_0

After selling his collection of books to the Library of Congress, Jefferson soon realized he wanted to replenish his library. He wrote to John Adams, “I cannot live without books,” and soon began to fill his Book Room at Monticello.

Are you a passionate reader looking to create your own comfortable nook to read in? It’s easy to find inspiration for your home library in Jefferson’s own suite of private rooms which included his Book Room, Cabinet or office, Bedchamber and Greenhouse. Furnish your library with these Jefferson–inspired pieces, to create a stylish and serviceable space.

library-stand-215The first step to get organized is to find the right shelving. The Library Stand is a striking alternative to your standard bookshelf. With gorgeous neoclassical fretwork, sleek mahogany finish, and wide glass shelves for ample storage, this piece personifies timeless taste and function. The stand’s special tilting top shelf is a great way to show off an atlas, dictionary, or favorite volume.

monticellostore_2272_108315772[1]With four compartments and a shelf, the Monticello Canterbury is perfect place for storing magazines, newspapers, or office files. Jefferson and his family used the original Canterbury to store their favorite sheet music. Whether you use it as a handy wood magazine rack or for its original purpose, the reproduction Canterbury is just as practical today. Its top handle and legs with brass rolling casters make it easy to transfer your preferred reading material from home office to your favorite chair.

Campeachy Chair

Nothing says classic Jeffersonian style like the Campeachy Chair. Jefferson’s first Campeachy was imported from New Orleans, but he liked the chair so much he had Jon Hemings, a plantation joiner, make copies for both Monticello and his retreat home, Poplar Forest. Jefferson used the mahogany chair throughout his Presidency and his retirement, referring to it as, “…that easy kind of chair.” With classic style and a relaxed feel, the chair features an X-shaped base, generous armrests, a serpentine crest rail, and a low-slung seat of reinforced leather. Our reproduction chair is based on the Campeachy chair currently featured in Monticello’s parlor. Bob Self, Saunders Director of Restoration at Monticello, claims that particular Campeachy is “the most comfortable” of all the originals and that its reproductions are truly faithful replicas.

folding-library-steps-207If you have hard to reach shelves or are just in need of a fun side table, our Folding Library Steps are a smart solution. Bring some green to your reading room by setting a plant on each step or fold the bottom steps in to make a smaller side table. Made out of solid mahogany, our multi-purpose Folding Library Steps are a great addition to any room. With these key pieces in home, you can sit back in style and enjoy your “greatest of all amusements, books.”


Make your own cheese









There’s no time like summer for making fun culinary creations in your own kitchen! With homemade, fresh ingredients you can turn any dinner into a savory spread.

A huge fan of “maccaroni” among other pastas, Jefferson combined several homemade ingredients in his dinners to optimize freshness. You can add a homemade touch to your own pasta with one of The Shop’s cheese making kits! We offer three products: the Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Kit, the Goat Cheese Kit, and the Mini Farmer’s Cheese Kit. With fresh milk and basic kitchen utensils, you can make your own cheese in under an hour. Our kits are a sustainable way to create delicious cheeses using natural ingredients, and offer versatility and variation to your meals. Homemade fresh cheese far surpasses store-bought varieties and allows you to customize the final product- whether with herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, or pepper flakes, you can add your own flavor to any cheese for a unique and distinct taste. The kits come with necessary tools as well as step-by-step instructions that guide you through the process. Homemade cheese is the perfect way to enhance a traditional pasta dinner!

If you’d like to add a touch of homegrown goodness to your next dinner, try growing  vegetables in your own backyard with Monticello’s Purple Calabash Tomato Seeds and Monticello’s China Rose Winter Radish Seeds. Perfect for homemade salsa or serving with pasta, our tomato seeds grow delicious, richly flavored tomatoes while our radishes add zest and flavor to any summer dish. Complete your homemade, homegrown dinner spread with Monticello Egg Linguine, Monticello Spinach Linguine, or Monticello Garlic and Parsley Fettucine. Our pastas are made for us by artisan pasta makers in Charlottesville, Virginia and taste great when served with your personal harvest!