Sausage and Bread Workshop

The morning’s weather was crisp and stayed at 52 most of the day. Perfect for our hearth fire. I had the tables ready with all the things we would need, and stations for each receipt set up. This was a busy day; we were making two types of bread, two types of sausage, a stuffed pumpkin, cheese, butter, a prune tart and whipped cream. A doable task for the time we had.

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Everyone arrived and the workshop began. There were several things that needed to be made first. The breads would need time to rise, the puff paste to rest, and the filling for the stuffed pumpkin made and put by the fire; these were the first order of the day.

Nancy started on Hannah Glasses’ French Rolls from the The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, I had made the starter the night before so she would have a good head start. Sue made the cheese bread from the receipt of W.M.’s The Compleat Cook 1658. Because the cheese would take too long to make I had cheese prepared for use. The most difficult thing about making this bread is to fight the desire to overwork the dough. Sue was hesitant that it would rise without kneading, and surprised an hour and half later, when it started pouring over the container. This is not sissy bread; it grows twice its size.  

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Patty worked with the puff paste, layering butter amongst the dough and folding it over and rolling again as she went along. While it rested she began the soft cheese which we would use as an hors d’oeuvre later. Sara was using a combination of two Pompions receipts from John Parkinson, 17th c Herbal. Sara cut up cabbage, onions, sausage and apples, and fried them in the spider, and then mixed it with herbs and spices. The pumpkin was cut, cleaned out, and the inside rubbed with dry mustard. When the stuffing was ready, it was put into the pumpkin and rotated every 20 minutes to get a nice soft flesh.

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While the bread was rising, Nancy and Sue chopped the meat and suet for the sausages. Sue was working on the 17th century Portuguese pork sausage that also had beef in it, orange peels, lemon juice, cumin and port wine, among other interesting goodies. Nancy was working on John Nott’s “To Make Sausage another way.” She was adding chopped spinach, mace and cloves, and added an extra egg to make it the consistency looser. Sara was finished with the pumpkin, and joined Nancy and chopped the herbs and spinach.

Patty was working with the cheese and not having any luck turning it into curds. We are not sure what happened but it just would not curdle. We added some lemon and still nothing. This is the same receipt I used last week just to make sure it would work. However, this time it did not. We all concluded that we got milk from a bad cow. Fortunately, we did not need it for our cheese bread

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Earlier in the morning I had washed the hog casings very well, and they were ready for the sausage press. It’s a little tricky putting them on; however with the help of a little running water in the pantry sink, the girls were able to slip the casings on the tube, with much laughter and discussion not printable.

Before the mixture was put into the casing, both batches were tested by making little patties and frying them first. Patty and Sue had forgotten to put in the port and wanted to add more orange peels. With the addition of some more spices and the port, everything tasted great and the sausage went into the casings. Sara and Nancy went first. Their mixture was loose and it made it easier to push the plunger and make the links of sausages.

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The 17th century Portuguese sausage was a different story. The mixture was a bit stiff and much harder to get into the casings. As an afterthought, we could have added some chicken stock to make it looser. However, Patty and Sue persevered and turned out a wonderful dish of links. We all stood around and cheered them on to the finish, and took turns churning the butter for the bread.

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The French rolls and the cheese bread were done with all their rising and ready for the bake oven. The fire had been going in the oven for a few hours, and, after it was raked out, it was very hot. We waited a while for the temperature to go down then put in the puff paste and gave it a high heat start. After about 15 minutes, we transferred it to a bake kettle to finish. We needed all our oven space for the bread. Both breads looked wonderful and we were very eager to get them into the bake oven.

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With the pumpkin cooking by the fire and the puff pastry in the kettle, it was time to start Amelia Simmons’ receipt “ To Keep Peas till Christmas.”  The peas were kept in leaf lard in my refrigerator and Sue put them into a pipkin to melt the lard. When she was satisfied that the lard was melting she placed the peas into the corner of the fireplace to keep warm. When we were ready to eat, Sara took them and drained them through a cloth to remove the lard.

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It was now time to check the bread. We removed the door and took a look. There we found nicely browned rolls and loafs of bread with an aroma that wafted out of the oven with an incredible warmth that said, “Where’s the butter?” Out they came to rest before we dove into each of them with our meal.

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While the bread cooled, Sara, who made the prune filling for Plimouth Plantation Prune Tart, covered the puff paste with the mashed prunes with its cinnamon and rosemary flavors. Then it was off to help her mom whip the cream. This was done away from the fire with the twigs beater and in a deep bowl to get nice soft peaks.

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Patty was on sausage duty and kept turning them as they cooked in the spider. With deft hands, she kept turning the sausage so they browned to perfection. While Patty toiled by the fire, everyone began to clear the table and bring out the dishes and dinnerware for our feast.10 copy

We all sat down and gave a toast to a job well done, and for the help of Allan, who lugged wood, and took pictures. While we all filled our plates, Sara put the final glory on the prune tart, mounds of whipped cream.

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With dinner over, Patty served the tart. The puff paste was flaky and filled with a wonderful buttery flavor. And the topping was excellent. How could you go wrong with rosemary and cinnamon?

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We had a wonderful time and shared our happiness for a job well done as we all talked about food sources, books to read and many other things. With our day-long efforts enjoyed and praised, it was off to the kitchen to clean up, divide the spoils and continue the camaraderie that we shared.

Next month is the last workshop of this year, a Harvest Dinner; we still have room if you wish to join us.

Sandie

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
-Buddha

17TH CENTURY COFFIN CLASS

The day of the class arrived and the fires were started in the hearth and bake oven early. The wall dresser holds most of the food stuff with the exception of the cream and butter that we need to be cold. Bowls, utensils and all the needed pot and pans were assembled for easy access when everyone arrived.

We started at 10:00, and the first order of the day was to boil eggs and roast the beets. Next we made the fillings for the coffins. Early pies were called “coffins” or “coffyns” which means a basket or box that held savory meat within a crust or pastry. The dough formed the container that was then filled and cooked in a bake kettle or in a bake oven.

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We broke up into two groups. Cathy, Dana and Debra started on the Lumbar Pie, while Barbara, Natalie and Nancy did a Turkey Pie.

Beef suet was chopped and mixed with parsley, thyme, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt and pepper and added to the chopped meat of veal, pork and beef. With it all mixed together, the meatballs were made with a piece of marrow put into the center, then rolled in a square of caul fat. These were then browned on the hearth in leaf lard.

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Turkey and chicken livers were the main ingredient in the next pie.  However a good deal of mushrooms was added along with thyme, garlic, onions, and brandy. These were sautéed in a pan to soften and brown.

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A Puff Paste was made, by making dough and rolling it out and adding pats of butter to it and folding and pounding with the rolling pin to incorporate the butter. This was cooled for 10 minutes then the process started again, more butter more pounding. After four times, the pastry was ready.  The turkey livers and mushroom mixture, was placed on the bottom crust and topped with hazel nuts. The lid was put on and the coffin shape cut. Decoration were made and added to the top.

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Over on the other table the dough for the raised Lumbar Pie was made. The process is much like a potter spinning the clay on a wheel. The dough was made into the shape of a deep bowl. Everyone had to come and take a look.

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Some of the saved dough was decorated with a rolling pin, with a vine design; this was wrapped around the coffin sides. Then the layers of grapes, figs, hard boiled eggs and the browned meat was placed in the standing coffin. A lid was placed on top and crimped together and also decorated.8 copy

With both coffins ready, they were put into the bake oven.

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With the beets roasted and cool enough to handle they were peeled and sliced and a batter was made. The manchets were grated to make bread crumbs and some flour and parsley were added the battered beets were dipped in the crumb mixture and ready to fry.

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Carrots were grated and a pudding made and put in a greased cloth. This was boiled for an hour while the beets were fried, and while custard, for a dessert, hung over the fire and was closely watched.12copy

After an hour, the coffins were removed from the oven and looked too good to eat. 10 out copy

Apples were cored and placed upside down on each person’s finger, then covered with whipped egg whites and powdered sugar. Then they were turned upside down and filled with the custard and baked while we ate our meal..11apple

Lumber Pie, Turkey Pie, gravy for both, boiled Carrot Pudding, Fried Beets, and a finish of George Dalrymple’s Custard Apples. A great beginning to the hearth cooking season, good food, good friends both old and new, and leftovers to take home. I’m sure there were a few very happy husbands.

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We had a great time, shared stories while we worked, and laughed at a few mistakes. It was a wonderful day. Some of the participants are coming back for more classes and I look forward to being with them again, as they are now old friends.
Sandie

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

I hope I have inspired.

EARLY FOOD STAPLES

Our foremothers never got a break; they were always keeping one step ahead of the next meal. They made premade gravies, sauces, jellies, bread to go stale for crumbs, among other items to have on hand to add to the fresh meat, fish, and vegetables they would have for dinner. To prepare for my hearth cooking classes I have to do the same thing.

I needed to have pig’s leaf lard to fry with and trotters for jelly. From the lamb came the caul and the lard and marrow bones from the cow. So I called Lemay’s Butchery in Goffstown and placed my order. Within a few days I picked it up. It’s amazing how many parts there are to farm animals and the foods that can be made from them

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I chopped the suet and leaf lard in pieces. I put just a little water in the suet to get it started, and gave the leaf lard a good four cups to boil in. These were both simmered, as the water evaporated from the suet, it melted nicely. The leaf lard took a bit longer yet when it was strained and cold, it was a lovely white, soft paste that looks like Crisco. After sitting in the refrigerator overnight, the melted suet was white and hard as a rock, perfect for coffin dough.

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Allan cut the pig’s feet in half. They were so long they would not fit into the pot. I scrubbed in between the pigs toes and took a knife and scraped the skin to remove all and any residue. After giving them a good wash into a large pot they went. They simmered for 5 hours then cooled overnight, and then simmered for 3 more hours the next day. Then the liquid was poured off into a clean towel, placed in a strainer, and then the jelly was poured into a jar with a good tight lid. The pig’s feet jelly will be added to gravy.

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I rinsed and rinsed the caul and picked the small veins out. I wrapped it in parchment paper and froze it. It is a really nice piece and will be used to wrap forced meat to be fried in the leaf lard and placed in the coffin made with the beef suet.  With the marrow bone roasted and browned, I scooped out the inside and saved them for the Lumber Pie. I also made two gravies to have for the two coffins. Thankfully, I have refrigeration to be able to keep these food items in a healthy manner.

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Next I needed to make the manchets so they could be made into bread crumbs, then I headed to Tender Crop Farm in Newburyport, Massachusetts, for some fresh turkey breast for the turkey pie. manchetfirecopy

The day before the class I walked the farm market in Exeter to find the best carrots, beets and apples for our carrot pudding, the fried beets and custard apples.

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There is a lot of preparation needed to have a group come and cook at the hearth. It’s not just preparing some staples ahead of time. There is also the decoding of early receipts that are written in a narrative form that need to be transformed into modern-day measurement, and sometimes food substitutions. However, I enjoy sharing my experiences with others, and though it can be messy and challenging sometimes, I love the connection with the cooks of the past and the present-day participants who come to hearth cook for the day.

 Sandie

“To speak then of the outward and active knowledge which belong to our English Houfe-Wife, I hold the first and most principal to be, a perfect skill and knowledge in Cookery,”

 Gervase Markham – The English House-Wife 1683