Day’s End

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Allan has been a great help at the hearth.  Having a man around to lug wood and clean out the bake oven is huge!!  We all thank you, Allan.1

Allan is also a fount of knowledge when it comes to breathing new life into old rusted iron pots.  Here he shares with Cathy how he has gone about restoring my cooking pots and such.  It is time-consuming ,yet the end results are worth it. Cathy emailed me later to say her son was going to give it a go with her old pots.  We wish you much luck in finding the gold in an old pot.  It’s there it just takes time to find.1copyWith the meal at an end, everyone pitched in and helped to put things to right. I do appreciate this kindness and it gives us all a moment more to talk and share good books and websites and the like.2 copySandie

Keeping your space clean is as much part of the end result as the dish being tasty.

Carla Hall         ____________________________________________________

I’m not ending here as usual, as I’m going to share with you our Day’s End.

Allan and I had a very small pork loin ready for dinner that night.  The fire was still going and there was left over mushroom and artichoke cream, and scalloped potatoes.  This sounded like a good combination for our meal. Allan butterflied the pork, sautéed some mushrooms and add the rest of the Morels al la cream.  He spread this on the pork, and rolled it up, and tied it with a string.  He put a bit of oil in the skillet he had just cleaned, placed it over some coals and browned all the sides of the pork loin.   He then placed a lid on it and let it roast over the coals.4I took the potatoes and put them into the small bake oven to warm them, then tossed a salad together and we were all set for an easy, quick dinner.5yA perfect end to a great day,


“My life really began when I married my husband.”

Nancy Reagan (me too)


Charles Carter’s, Sattoot of Duck that we cooked at the workshop, called for mushroom and artichoke in a cream sauce with a garnish of fried artichokes. I found two receipts that I thought would be interesting to try. Robert Smith’s cookery book, County Cookery – 1725, has a receipt called Morels a la cream and in Mary Smith’s, The Complete House-keeper, 1772; she has a receipt, To Fry Artichokes. I’m thinking that these receipts will add a multitude of flavor to our colonial table lunch.

1 copyCathy read the receipt over and found the ingredients she needs to make the morels in cream with artichokes. Natalie took half of the artichokes for Mary Smith’s receipt.

Natalie made sure the artichokes she had were dry, then made a batter of flour, eggs and beer with a pinch of salt. Oil was poured into a deep pan and when ready the artichokes carefully dropped in. 4copyThe batter clung nicely to the artichokes and, as they went in, a nice sizzle was heard. Natalie watched over them as the batter created an instant brown puff.

3copyManaging the coals and keeping an eye on what you’re cooking is important when dealing with a hot hearth. The girls stand back from the heat for a moment and check things out. 6copyWith all the components for the meal assembled we sat to enjoy our meal and share conversation. It was fun to listen the four of them talk about their hearth cooking experiences at their own museum and the plans for the summer openings.  They had many things in common. It was a grand day and I so enjoyed cooking with them.

I hope to visit both Lynn and Mary at the Benjamin Ney Homestead & Museum in East Sandwich, Massachusetts, and Cathy and Natalie at the Deacon John Graves House in Madison, Connecticut, and I hope you will too. 6 Sandie

The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.

Jean Anthelme Brillan-Savarin



Spring Workshop 3


What is a meal without bread? At the Deacon Graves house, Natalie is known as the bread baker, so she dove right in with the receipt from W.M The Compleat Cook, 1658. Cathy and Natalie have both been to my workshops before, so I carefully picked bread they had not made, Cheese Loaf.

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The dough needs to rise twice, so it was important to start this right away. Cheese bread dough is a bit shaggy, and you do not want to overwork it. Natalie took the sticky dough and put it on the bread board while we cleaned the bowl.

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With the bowl clean, the dough was put back in and put by the fire with a damp towel on it so it could rise for an hour and a half. Everyone took turns turning the bowl and the dough rose nicely. Natalie took the dough out and it seemed a bit too shaggy, so more flour was added.


The dough was placed by the fire, was covered, and needed to rise another 30 minutes. Once again, they were turned and checked, this time by Lynn.


The cheese bread was popped into the oven, and, after 40 minutes, we rapped on the top and it sounded done. There is nothing like the aroma of hot bread right out of the oven. The shaggy dough produces a loaf of bread with a very moist center and light crust.

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In the 18th century, white potatoes was a startling novelty, frightening to some, bewildering to others. However, its popularity rose, and soon receipts were being added to cookery books. One of my favorite receipts is that of Elizabeth Raffald in the Experience English House-keeper, 1769. “To Scollop Potatoes.” If your mind is conjuring up visions of bubbly hot, dark-crusted slices of potatoes with onions and cream you’re mistaken. The surprise is in the name.

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I have a great many scallop shells for baking sea food dishes and I picked out a few for our workshop.


When the potatoes were boiled and soft, they were drained at the pantry sink. Mary put them in a large wooden bowl and added butter, cream, salt and pepper and began mashing them until all the lumps were gone. Like many cooks, sometimes you want to think out of the box, or receipt, so to speak. The gals chopped some parsley and added it to the mix. Lynn scooped out the mashed potatoes with her bare hands and followed Raffald’s directions that said “… put them into Scollp’d Shells make them smooth on Top, score them with a knife, lay thin slices of butter on the top….” .  After cleaning off her hands, the shells went onto a tin and went into the bake oven. The bake oven was starting to get a bit cool so when the 15-minute baking time was up they were not as brown on top as were would have liked, yet they were cooked. I suggested we get Allan’s blow torch out, however, we thought better of that and let them be.


The scalloped potatoes had a very velvety texture and the herbs and spices transformed them to epicurean heights. What a great way of serving something so simple. The scallop shells added refinement to the lowly potatoes served on the plate.



“Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

 Julia Child