BAKED STUFFED PUMPKIN

This time of year when the weatherman calls for a big storm , everyone runs out for milk, eggs, bread and other supplies, to hold them over for the storm to come (or not). Back in the 18th century there were few stores, unless you lived in the cities of that time, and no one to tell you to prepare. And they did not need to know, as they were as prepared as they could be. It was the “Months of Want,” February, March and April, which were the hardest to survive food wise. By these months, if you had anything left from your preservation efforts and in the root cellar you were a lucky family. Getting nutrition from preserved food was all you had.sleepyhollowc

At Halloween, I bought a cooking pumpkin and I have managed to keep it edible for over three months. However, it was time to use it or lose it. My friend Sabra came to mind. Several years ago she brought a stuffed pumpkin to the Hartwell Tavern Preservation Day event, at Minuteman National Park. So I emailed her and she sent her receipt. She does not remember where it came from and thought it might be French. She had gotten the receipt at a hearth cooking class. Well, we may not have an original receipt, however, I’m sure we can say with some certainty that pumpkins were used as a cooking vessel and may have been stuffed and served in the 18th century. I liked Sabra’s ingredients and used those as my base. All the while my husband Allan is huffing about the house and wishing we were cooking steak instead. I held to my guns and told him if he did not like it he could have the leftovers from the night before.

Now, I had preserved in my freezer sausage, and ground chuck, in the larder I had onions, garlic, dried mushrooms, rice and dried beans. Along with some ground mustard, salt and pepper I thought I had a great combination going. I had been to the store, like a good New Englander, readying myself for the storm and saw some very nice marrow bones and brought them home.

I roasted the marrow bones for about 45 minutes and ended up with a lovely clear fat on the bottom of the pan and soft, and hopefully flavorful, marrow on the inside of the bones. I scooped out the marrow and saved all the fat. Not sure what I may use it for yet I just could not throw the fat away. While the bones were cooking, I scooped out the pumpkin and made brown rice.

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I had already soaked and cooked the beans and just needed to drain them. I put the dried mushrooms in boiling water to make them soft and gave them a rough chop. In a skillet, I fried the sausage, out of their casings, and the beef. When they were almost brown, I added the marrow, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and the mushrooms. After it all sautéed a bit, I poured it into the bowl.2copy

I rubbed the inside of the pumpkin with the dried mustard. I added some thyme and began to fill it with the mixture and placed it in a kettle with a cup of water around it, and placed it on the hearth. But then I thought “oh, no” I forgot the beans. Those were added at the hearth, and mixed as best I could.3copy

All the ingredients inside the pumpkin were cooked and I really just needed to have the pumpkin get soft on the inside. Turning it now and then, and placing it very near the fire, which we kept very hot, I poked at it, like any good cook, and when I thought it was tender I took it to the kitchen. It took the pumpkin about two hours to become soft inside.  

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So the hour of reckoning was here. I piled Allan’s plate with the stuffing and waited for his verdict. Don’t ya know he’s a man and he loved it, raved about it. Told me to write down what I did right away so I would not forget. He was so glad that we had some left over!

So our winter blizzard and days of want came and went with bellies full and thoughts of “What can I cook for him next?”

May you never have a month or day of want.

Sandie

 

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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

One thought on “BAKED STUFFED PUMPKIN

  1. We did this at one of my cooking classes, and it was also a hit. I think my receipt is very close to yours. I’ll see if I can find it.

    Hugs from Alabama
    Pat McMillion

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