EVERY DISH HAS A PAST II

HALL TAVERN COOK-OFF

Recap – Sunday night we had a meet-and-greet at a wonderful local tavern for those who traveled far to Sandra Oliver’s workshop in Deerfield. The next day was all work and Sandy led the pack through a course on recipe research.

After several days it was time to head over to Hall Tavern and put our research to use. Claire had purchased all our ingredients and we were off and running, in many directions, finding pots and pans, spices and flour. It was a busy scene.

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I had eggs to boil, forced meatballs to make, chicken to partially fry, herbs and spices to put together and gravy to make. Then on to the coffin, and that is where the disaster began. I had all the right amounts and began working the pastry. Barbara Blumenthal was at the same table making a crust for an apple pie. I’m not sure who said it first but it looked like I was making a sand castle. The rye flour would not absorb the liquid it was like grains of sand. I pushed, beat, and molded and it continued to fall apart. I added more hot water and butter and it almost worked. I rolled it out and it cracked every time I tried to raise the pye. Well, I was determined not to let this stop me from making my coffin. Into the wastebasket it went. I got a bag of unbleached flour and started all over. As I’m working the new batch, Sandy comes over to see what might have happened. She grabbed a handful of the first pastry out of the garbage and put it in a bowl and played with it.

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Sure enough she likened it to rye grain and not flour at all. I was happy to know it was not just me who thought that. So I hurried along so the coffin would cook in time for the meal.

I raised a quick pastry wall and stuffed it with all the filling and on to a peel to be placed directly on the floor in the bake oven along with the apple pie and the gingerbread.

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It took about one and a half hours to bake the coffin hard. Sandie and I worked together to retrieve it from the oven and I cut the top to reveal a well-cooked coffin that tasted as good as it looked.4

With all hands busy, it was hard to get photographs of everyone. However, I did manage to get some. Here we have Barbara working on the apples for the pie with Sandy looking on and Mary Lou making her gingerbread.6-copy

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Here we see Elyse, who made a wonderful salmon soup, and Terri, who made a wilted salad of bacon and spinach.9jpg

Bill made a Tharîda with Lamb and Spinach, Moist Cheese and Butter, Don who spent time showing us some of his rare cookbooks at the workshop made a stuffed pudding that I want the receipt for.8-jpg

 

Erica made scotch collops and they were not Scottish at all we learned. Fiona made sugarplum that danced in our mouths with joy.7-copy

I wish I had more pictures of the other cooks and their food; however one can’t be everywhere, although we sometimes try.

As a side note, the wonderful copper pots and some of the other equipment were donated to Historic Deerfield by a friend of mine, Paul, I know he is smiling knowing that we put them to task and they worked to our advantage in making the food come out grand. Thanks, Paul. I also would be remiss if I forget to thank Julie, who fed us three meals a day in splendid fashion. What a wonderful ending to a great workshop. I know each time I research a receipt in the future I will think back on this great group of food historians and triumphing over a challenge.

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.

5 thoughts on “EVERY DISH HAS A PAST II

  1. Once again, I pine for being close enough to attend all of these wonderful sessions. Maye if I win the lottery I’ll just fly up for each one. I cooked all day in a1900 house at Burritt. They would have had very simple fare in the house so I went to the garden and got cabbabe and kale, Steamed the first and parboiled and fried the second. Roasted a chicken in my tin kitchen, made pickled eggs with beets, and worked al day on a pile of biscuits. I let lots of children help make the biscuits which they all thoroughly enjoyed. Cooked up some apples with sugar and butter… apples from the trees at Burritt last fall. I had dried and canned them. All of the food is on display today…. cooked on Saturday and eaten after church on Sunday. This evening it all goes in the trash since so very many hands helped and coughed over the dishes.

  2. Pat sounds like you have a great time in your little house with the children and visitors. I’t is too bad about the food but I sure understand.

    Miss you
    Sandie

  3. How thick do you need to make the coffin to ensure it will not fall? Is the base thicker than the sides? I’ve always been concerned about the weight of the pie being dependent on such a flimsy support. Any suggests or horror stories? Loved the past two blogs!

  4. So much work to do this but look at the results. It must have beena feast at the end. What a great group.

  5. Cindi,

    Getting the paste stiff is the trick and once you have mastered it the side can get very high. I have not lost a filling yet. Come and attend a my workshop on Coffins and practice your skills.

    Sandie