FORT 4

I had the opportunity to spend a “‘Women’s of the Fort” weekend at Fort 4 in Charlestown, NH, this month. This weekend, the women would demonstrate what it was like to be a women living there. The Fort at Number 4 was the northernmost British settlement along the Connecticut River until after the French and Indian War. Construction began in 1740 and by 1743, there were 10 families settled in a square of interconnected uses, enclosed in a stockade with a guard tower.14581419_10157584623395344_286759128099649110_n

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Many of us arrived on Friday. Wendy, who was residing in Parker House, gave a wine and cheeses get-together. Everyone contributed, and there was so much more than that, foods of all kinds, I brought some of my Greek and venison sausage to share. We began to run out of chairs as more and more ladies arrived.20161007_191911

At the end of the evening we went off to our sleeping quarters in Willard House. I got the rope bed and the girls both brought a cot. The next day we moved it all together in the back of the room so we were not in the way of visitors.20161008_095352

For the Foodways presentation, I was accompanied by Patty and Rhondda in the Sartwell house. This was a large room with a great fireplace and bake oven. We would be showing how food was preserved during the winter months.

After a nice breakfast by the fire, we did the final setting up of the demonstrations.

For mine, I brought things that children would have done to helped out their mothers. It’s always nice to have something they can have that’s hands-on at a museum.

As visitor entered the room they saw our displays. My side of the demonstrations started with many herbs that were bundled and hanging from a small ladder. On a bench were pole beans dried and ready to shuck, corn to take off the cob and grind in the mortar and pestle, a pumpkin along with pumpkin leather and dried pumpkin pieces that looked like teeth. Last came the eggs, both free range and quail. These were to be covered in lard and put in sifted ash to last for the winter in the root cellar.

Also behind that were the apple press and the barrel with hops on top. This gave me a chance to talk to the parents about the fact that women did make the cider and small beer for the home, after all beer and bread making went hand-in-hand.display

On the other side of the room, Patty was demonstrating how roots vegetables were put away in hay or wood shavings in boxes and barrels. She had wonderful colored carrots and many other early variety vegetables. We even had a cabbage, with the roots on it, hanging from the ceiling. Next to that was a table with dried fruit and vegetables in glass jars along with some crocks, one with a bladder on top so they could see that some things were dried or pickled.

Rhondda did a wonderful demonstration of the importance of vinegar-making and what uses it had. She turned some into Switchel, or Haymakers punch, the Gatorade of the times. She was also making rye bread.

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There was to be a potluck dinner on Saturday night, so we were also cooking on the hearth. Here I am with a chicken skewered on an iron cross.20161008_125447

There were also other activities happening that weekend. The wool blanket that was finished on the loom was taken off and brought out for felting.20161008_135359

We were using the 1, 2, 3, turn method, and I mentioned that there must have been a song for this. Everyone piped up with their knowledge of songs and out came the fiddle. I wonder if in the past they had as much fun as we all did working together to make a felted blanket1

Then it was back to work in our own houses. I decided to do a meat and rice stuffed pumpkin for our pot luck.

We all took turns keeping the chicken spinning and I poked my pumpkin to make sure the inside was getting soft. untitled-4-copyI also brought pumpkin spiced Springerle cookies that I had made at home, and frozen manchets. As a side note, I forgot to take pictures of the cookies and their unique raised forms. However, they were a big hit, and the next day many of the ladies were looking for more.

Now the manchets were an experiment. I had read somewhere in a medieval website,  long ago , that someone made manchets and, before the last rise, they froze them to take to an event. So I made them at home froze them and gave it a try. And it worked.

I used this receipt – The making of Fine Manchet –

The good Huswifes Handmaide  for the Kitchin. London 1594, 1597

I did the first rise at home, then formed the dough into rolls. The timing was a bit off with the second rising. Even though I had the buns in the cooler with lots of ice they started to rise. By morning they were puffy and I had to peel them apart. The fire was not going to be ready until later in the day. So I put them on a tin sheet, greased them well and covered them. By late afternoon they had a crust on them. If I had the right size wood for our bake oven I would have baked them myself in the morning; however, we did not, so I had to wait until the large outdoor oven was ready.

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Everyone’s bread and some apple pies being cooked by master baker Angela in the fort’s large outdoor bake oven. Surprisingly the manchets came out very well. I’d do this again if needed, however, I’d make arrangements to have then cook sooner.

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There is a group there that are called the MOLLYS. These ladies have guns and know how to use them. It was not unlikely to find a woman in a household back then, a woman who knew how to protect her family and/or shoot game to sustain them. Twice a day they put on a wonderful demonstration of their skills.

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So the Fort closed for the day, and this was the time to get all our food ready for the evening. Rhondda had an Indian pudding in the kettle baking, Patty put baked apples in hers and my pumpkin and the stew inside were done. We took the chicken off the fire but it still needed a bit of cooking, so Patty cut it up and we cooked it over the fire to make sure it was done perfectly.

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At 6:00 sharp everyone began to arrive at Hastings House laden with the bounty of the day’s food preparation. It was all lined up in a row with the dessert at the end. As people mingled waiting for the last dishes to be placed, cheeses, crackers and wine were served.

Everyone brought a chair, their eating equipment and wine glass. When we were all seated at the tables, the dinner began.

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The hall was full of talk and camaraderie as we filled our plates and discussed the day’s events. There was so much food, and all of it delicious.14581551_10154684222094165_3382728269725161282_n

A punch was made and passed around the room table by table, and then around again. Here Rhondda, Patty and I partake of the wonderful elixir.untitled-2-copy

It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day. I thank all the amazingly talented and diverse ladies who were so kind to include us in this, our first venture to Fort 4untitled-1-copy

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and colorful leaves,

Sandie

“We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity life would be very boring.”— Catherine Pulsifer

Photos were taken by many of the ladies at the Fort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

3 thoughts on “FORT 4

  1. It was a pleasure to have met you and to have had the opportunity to learn some new 18th c techniques from you and the others.