Two Day Workshop


This workshop would be a different type than what I normally do for one day.  Trudy came  from  Canada,  and Carl from New Jersey, both had given me a list of different receipts and techniques they wished to  try at the hearth, some of which take a few days to do.

They  arrived on Friday night, and we had a nice dinner by the hearth fire. In the morning  one of Trudy’s objectives for this workshop was to start the fires and bake oven. Allan stood by and instructed her on just how to do this, and from then on she and Carl were in charge of keeping it going all weekend long.

Carl and Trudy made Payn Purde, bacon and sausage for our breakfast. We left the dishes with Allan and went out to the herb garden to see what was up. Carl picked some sorrel and I picked lady’s bed straw and chives. Carl said this was the first time he had gone and picked what he wanted to cook with from a garden.


Carl and Trudy started on the flummery  and the pig’s foot jelly for the Nest of Eggs and the Fish Pond.1a

I’ve never used Lady’s Bed Straw for making cheese, so we thought we would give it a try. Carl wrapped some of the bedstraw in a cheesecloth, and when the milk was warm, put it in,  and we waited.Untitled-3

And waited, though it looked like it might turn, it didn’t, so out came the lemon. The milk just didn’t want to curd like we wanted, however, there was some. This was poured into the cloth and hung for the day in the corner to drip in my chamber pot. (Well, it needs to be used for something, I even put it to use as a bowl sometimes.  No, it has never been under the bed!)

This cheese is to be used for cheese bread tomorrow. Untitled-4

I found some plastic Easter eggs and Allan drilled a nice size hole in the top so we could pour in some flummery. We coated the inside of the eggs, fish and shell with hazelnut oil.  Trudy made the flummery with isinglass, whole milk and cream, adding grated lemon rinds and a bit of cinnamon. This was strained into a bowl with a spout. Untitled-1 copy

Carl stirs a pot and checks on the pig’s feet jelly. Then he expertly peeled an orange in long strips for the birds nest. Untitled-2

We poured the flummery into the forms and placed them in the refrigerator. pouring

I made a quick salad, and Allan cooked up some shrimp for our lunch. We ate this out on the porch away from the fire.

It was a nice break from the heat. The sun had warmed the three-season porch, so we cracked the door a bit to let tin he fresh cool air.Untitled-10

Trudy built a bird’s nest wrapping the poached orange rind around the flummery eggs.Untitled-13

Now it was time to start on dinner. Carl wanted to practice spinning a chicken. He stuffed the bird with onions, apples, thyme, parsley, butter and salt and pepper. He put two skewers through the chicken, tied the string to it, and hung it on a hook very near the fire. He gave it a good spin and it was twirled on and off during the day, being turned upside down once to insure the inside was fully cooked.Untitled-15

Next on Carl’s list was to make an Indian Pudding. He used Amelia Simmons “A Nice Indian Pudding” receipt. The cornmeal was gently simmered on the hearth with the milk until it thickened. When it cooled, the eggs were added with the spices and molasses, poured into a redware dish, and baked in the bake kettle.Untitled-14 - Copy

Trudy whipped up the almond filling, a Galette des Rois (Kings Cake) with a Rough Puff Pastry from a Fortress Louisbourg recipe. She will be cooking there at the Engineer’s house in July. In the filling she poured a bit of Grand Marnier and orange zest. Untitled-16

Carl had hoped to make one of the coffin workshops. However, life got in the way.  This was a great opportunity for us both to do something a bit different.  A two-day cold coffin.

He mixed the dough and used the big coffin form to make the sides. It was the filling that was going to be interesting. He was making a rustic Pate with both forced and whole meats.  I had pre-marinated  chicken and pork in two different sauces for a week, and did several confits of chicken liver to be ready for Carl when he arrived. He made the forced meat of pork, veal and beef, and one of chicken, adding savory herbs, shallots , pistachios, assorted mushrooms, garlic, white wine and brandy. Untitled-5 copy

With all the meat layered plus four boiled eggs filling up the coffin Carl made a top and egg washed it and pinched it on. It was decorated with a Celtic knot and leaves were stuck on the side.Untitled-6

Both Carl and Trudy wanted to do an Herb Pie. I decided it would be nice to do them on different days and see how the different receipts compared.

Trudy went first, combining blanched spinach, arugula, lettuce, spring greens and adding bread crumbs and ground almonds, candied lemon peels, rosewater, sultanas and pine nuts.  This is after the style of La Verenne. For a paste she made French Fine Paste. Untitled7 copy

Next to be made was a Beef Ragout after La Vareen and Massialot. While Carl was looking after the chicken, he helped chop some of the ingredients.

The beef was marinated for one hour in red wine vinegar, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Untitled-19 copyOnions, carrots, turnips and spice were put into bowls ready to be assembled.Untitled-18 copy

Finger-sized lardons were tossed with flour and  rendered. Then the beef was added in to cooked for 30 minutes.

Cold water was added along with the vegetables and spices. This was covered and simmered for the rest of the day. Untitled-20 copy

Allan cleaned out the bake oven as we were all busy. He swept it out with a damp broom as the Sun King’s Galette des Rois waited to be cooked.Untitled-8 copy

The bake oven was at the right temperature and the cake, coffin, and the herb pie were carefully positioned  in the oven. The new metal door was placed on, and we timed everything, peeking only once to make sure things were doing okay.Untitled-9

And yes they were. As you can see Carl was really pleased with his coffin. It held its shape and turned a lovely golden brown.Untitled-01

Sitting on the side table, waiting for our dinner, sat the Indian pudding, herb pie, Galette des Rois and the rustic coffin pate.3

The beef ragout and the chicken were ready. Carl carved the bird, while always-hungry Trudy grabs a piece and pops it into her mouth. It was cooked to perfection.Untitled- 21 copy

Trudy and Carl worked hard all day to prepare many dishes for our evening meal. Allan  joined us and we sat and discussed what they had made. A long but productive day. However, it was not over yet.Untitled- 23 copy

Carl warmed the saved pig’s foot jelly and poured it into the coffin. This would become our breakfast tomorrow. Carl wanted to do a jerky in the oven overnight. I was lucky to have some venison in the freezer, thanks to my friend Susan L.  Carl thought that would make a great jerky. He sliced it really thin, and placed it in a marinade earlier in the afternoon. He placed it on a rack and put it into the falling bake oven to make venison jerky. This was another of his requests.Untitled 22 copy

So the day came to a close, and so does this blog. Stay tune for the Day Two soon.

My work for the 50th anniversary of the Historical Society has kept me very busy.  However with the open house behind  us I now have more time.


Once you have mastered a technique, you hardly need look at a recipe again and can take off on your own.

 Julia Child

Historic Deerfield Workshop


After a year of going back and forth with venues and dates and who was available, Claire Carlson the Education Program Coordinator of Historic Deerfield set the day.  On Monday 28 of March, Claire and the Deerfield hearth cooks arrived at my door.  It was rainy cool and perfect for a day of hearth cooking

Claire had asked specificity for several things.  To make Lumber Pie and show everyone how to make a receipt that had many parts to it. They wanted to stretch their creative minds.  So out came the coffin forms and all the stations were set up and ready for them when they arrived.1

First to arrive were Cynitha, Richard and Beth.  They started right in.  I needed the marrow bones to be taking care of and the lumber pie and we will be needing to start on the  Naples Biscuits for our orange fool.3

Shortly after the rest of the group came in and we went right to work dividing tasks.1a copy

Laura  started in on the Forme of Crury reciept for  Flampoyntes. She browned the pork added sweet spices and graded  a soft cheeses . This would be put into Traps, know as open coffins.10

Ellen  made  Robert Smiths, Paste -Royal, this pastry would go with the Flampoynets.  Laura was done with the meat filling and made a pie crust that we used later for the coffin tops.  Claire and Melinda made the filling for a fish coffin. 


The shrimp was boiled and the only fish that was cooked was the cod. The cod needed to be beaten in the mortar and pestle and mixed with the stuffing mix Melinda had made.7

Richard liked the nutmeg grater and added the ground nutmeg into the  forced meat.  Cynitha took the force meat and made meat balls with a small nugget of marrow in the center.  Then that was wrapped in caul and fried in sweet oil.5

Beth  put the Naples Biscuits in the bake kettle and when they were done they sat on the edge of the bake oven to dry out for her orange fool. I took them off when they were ready.


While Claire cut the salmon Melinda peels the shrimp.  Claire is not fond of shell fish and Melinda has no problem, so they were a great team.


With the Paste Royal made Cynitha rolled the paste and cuts it in to long diamonds.8

Many helped fry the small points and drain them for use later.

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With all the fillings made and all the ingredients ready  I talked the group thru the process of making the coffin dough. 

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Everyone measured out their flour then one by one poured in the melted lard and butter. This was stirred with a spoon and then when cool enough, made into a ball and placed on the work surface.

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We made three dough’s  and Beth prepared the egg wash for the coffins, then the kneading began.

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 Ten minutes not a second less.

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Then  the dough gets wrapped in linen and sits for ten minutes.

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Now the fun starts. The dough is flattened, both the form and dough get’s lots of flour. Then the shaping begins. 


Clair and Melinda’s fish form is quite large so  paper was use around the edges to hold it up before it was filled with many layers of salmon, oysters, shrimp, and a force meat of cod. 17cpy

Then it was dotted with butter and slices of lemons put over it all.  Using the Laura’s pie dough a top was cut out and pinched on with the egg wash.

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Forced meat balls, grapes, eggs, figs , dates, leeks, mushrooms, shallots and spices all layered in the Lumber Pie.  A lid of pie crust and it was ready for the  bake oven.18 copy

 The third coffin dough was divided in five pieces and Beth, Cynitha and Laura each worked to make the shallow Traps.

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Melinda smiles at the well decorated fish.  Many hands helped putting scales on the top and an eye to. She waits to put it in the bake oven right in front of the Lumber Pie, The traps went into the bake kettle.

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Beth and Clair read the receipt from Hannah Glass, Orange Pudding, Another Way.  Orange pudding was so popular that she has four receipts for it. The centers needed to be taken out of the oranges and Melinda starts on it.

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They need to be boiled to remove some of the bitterness from the peel.


Beth made a filling and remarked that it is just like a bread pudding. And yes that is what it is, only you use Naples biscuits instead of bread. Then you stuff the hollow oranges and  replace the top. They go into a linen sack and get tied very tightly. 23 copy

They were boiled in a large cauldron and when cooled taken out for the table.  Sadly I did not get a picture of one on the plate ready to eat.  But I can tell you they were delicious.24 copy

Time to take out the coffins, the fish looks ready to swim away with its scales, and the Lumber pie stood tall still. 

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The Flampoyntes were taken out of the bake kettle and the points put in by Cynthia.  The center trap one was made up of left over lumber pie filling.

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Half way through the day Richard mentions he’s a vegetarian —- most of the time. So I had him make the compound salad.  He used dandelion greens and field greed, daicon radish, carrots, a golden beet, that someone cooked, hard boiled eggs and made a dressing with the left over oranges juice and sweet oil. On the side was a bowl of anchovies left over from the fish coffin.  You don’t get better than this at a restaurant. He did a lovely presentation.

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Claire and Cynthia made leers for their coffins and some were poured in and the coffin shaken.  The rest was served on the side.


Time to open the tops of the coffins and dig into them with their layers of distinct flavors.29 copy

The traps were cut in half and served.

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What a wonderful group of hearth cooks I had a great time working with them.  Cynthia said she was going home with three new ideas and Richard was very interested in the way Allan did the wood. I do hope the others took something home also. 

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“Secrets, especially with cooking, are best shared so that the cuisine lives on.”

         Bo Songvisava

 Dear Sandie:

We had a fabulous time at the coffin workshop. You are a skilled teacher, gracious host, and diligent task master! Some of our hearth cooks still see themselves as novices, even with almost five years hearth cooking experience. This workshop was JUST what they needed — to experience the multi-step process of preparing a receipt with a lot of steps, ingredients, and techniques to think about. I think their minds were blown (in a good way!)


Sun Rise Sun Set

First week of Spring and a group from the Newmarket Seniors came for Tea. I had made ginger cookies shaped in hearts and had one pan ready to put in the bake kettle.1jpg

I donned my 18th century wool gown and brought out many items to the table to share their stories.

From Isinglass to Jell-O, vanilla bean to vanilla in a bottle, cochineal to food coloring, birch whisk to emersion blender, horn, wooden and pewter utensils, I told them the story of how and when the transformation of these items came about.3

They arrived about 10 am, and we all got cozy by the fire, poured tea, and passed cookies. I gave them a bit of my background and of the room we were in. Then it was off to discover 18th century versus 21st century.2

I brought out a coffin and explained that this was the first casserole dish.5

I finished up with the various cooking pots and pans and how they were used. Here I showed them how the caldron was hung on the crane.4

It was a nice morning spent with a wonderful group and men and woman who were out for a day of fun.


One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. – Henry Miller


There were six people in the workshop and all wanted to learn how to make coffins. It does seem to be a popular form of pie-making these days. This day we would go a step beyond the normal and make a coffins and a ‘subteltie’ or eye-catching centerpiece.

– A castle with a keep, three towers and a center.

First thing that needed to be done was make the fillings for the coffins. Veronica made the mushroom and onion filling while Matt added bread crumbs and spices to beef to make a forced meat mixture.1

Nancy made two fillings. Both needed constant watchfulness and stirring. A rice filing hung over the fire, made with milk, could easily scorch, while the spinach sweating in a large spider over coals had to be carefully tended. Kate was done with her venison sausage filling, and she and Matt started on the Orange Fool. Veronica put the finishing touches on the mushrooms and onions.4 copy

Kate lends a hand to Nancy and places the spinach in a cloth-lined bowl to remove the last vestige of moisture.

Susan made a paste of shredded chicken breast, eggs and cream then picked all the meat off of the boiled quail. This would all go in her coffin with wild mushrooms, dates, fresh figs, and spices.6 copy

Kevin took the receipt for Cucumber a la Forced. He cut a small piece off the end of the cucumber and using a marrow spoon he removed all the seeds. Next he made a forced meat of bread cubes, eggs, melted butter and many fresh spices. This forced meat was stuffed into the center of the cucumber and the little end also.  Susan made a leer for her quail coffin over the fire with a roux.  Leers are like our modern gravies, made for pouring in the coffins and enjoying  as a side. One of the interesting things about this roux is most of us put the butter in the pan add the flour and mix it together. Early receipts call for mixing the flour and butter together in your hand and then put it into the liquid, a very different concept for us.


Now back to Kevin and the cucumber. The small end needed to be sewn back on. I did a brief demonstration for him and he was on his way to resembling three forced cucumbers. Susan watched the surgery.5 copy

Veronica beat the egg whites for the Orange Fool. This was folded into the juice, sugar, and rinds, and thickened on the hearth by Matt. 3 copy

Nancy grated the mozzarella for the spinach filling and mixed it with parmesan, whole eggs and spices. Kate was done with her venison sausage filling and she and Matt, working as a team, strained the orange peels from the sauce for the Orange Fool. Untitled-1 copy

With all the fillings ready to go, we made our coffins. Everyone took turns pouring the hot water crust liquid into their flour.  You must stir it with a spoon first and wait until you can touch it. When that time comes, you need to work fast to get the flour to mix with the liquid. 

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Once the flour will keep its shape as a ball, out on the work surface it goes. Ten minutes of kneading and then 10 minutes of rest and you have a ball that feels much like play dough. Using a coffin form, Susan starts on her large coffin. 8 copy

Coffin forms are mentioned in early 19th century cookbooks. I have not seen any evidence, of their existence, in the previous centuries, however, they do make the work easier, and I’ll keep looking for proof.

Turning the form upside down helps to raise a nice tall coffin. Then in went the quail mixture.9 copy

Nancy used a smaller form for her spinach filling and a tall one for the rice. Kate’s venison would go in a taller form. The spinach would be the center and the rest would become part of the castle towers. 10 copy

Veronica and Matt made the flanking towers.11 copy

Susan rolled out hot water crust to make the top for her coffin; she did a wonderful edge on the side. Kevin mentioned that she is an excellent pie maker. This edge showed off her skills. Kevin was pretty good with a basting brush, and applied the egg wash all over the coffin.12 copy

Matt really gets down making his tower tall, it would become the castle keep.  Kevin does the honors of positioning the quail coffin into the back side of the beehive oven.Untitled-12psd

With the center, towers, and castle keep filled, the tops were placed on and the embattlements cut out. Then they were stuck together to form a castle Richard II would be proud.14copy

Into the beehive they went, and after an hour they came out.15b

While the coffins cooked, Kevin simmered his forced cucumber in chicken stock. In the kettle, the leers that were made were kept warm.15

With flags flying on the castle towers, Matt take it to the table. The tops was cut off to reveal, rice pudding, venison sausage, beef forced meat, mushroom and onions and a center of spinach. All worthy of a medieval feast.

We think of creating “subteltie” as being only in the medieval times, however, even Mrs. Beeton, in 1890, did a game pie with a stuffed pheasant on top.copy4

Susan’s quail pie baked perfectly and was exceptionally good with the fruit, giving it an enjoyable tang .copy3

Everyone around the table thought the spinach tasted much like spanakopita. The venison sausage was terrific, the rice pudding slightly sweet and creamy, the mushrooms and onions delightful and the ground cloves in the forced meat was a wonderful surprise. The forced cucumbers were interesting ranging in ratings from, “glad I had it once” to “it’s not bad.”

Everyone loved the Orange Fool. It was such a popular dessert in the 1800s that Hanna Glasse had at least four receipts for it. Topped with a bit of blueberry sauce it was a perfect ending to the meal.copy 1

Another coffin workshop behind me, and so glad to have shared the day with such wonderful and interesting friends.18


“Food . . . can look beautiful, taste exquisite, smell wonderful, make people feel good, bring them together . . . At its most basic, it is fuel for a hungry machine . . . “

Rosamond Richardson, English cookery author