HARVEST DINNER – Nov. 9, 2013

 BILL OF FARE

SOFT CHEESE WITH CHIVES

PUMPKIN SOUP & SNIPPETS

ROAST LOIN OF PORK

APPLESAUCE – HONEY MUSTARD – PEACH PRESERVES

SPINACH TART

SUCCOTASH

INDIAN PUDDING & WHIPPED CREAM

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This class was meant to be casual and full of fall receipts. My four companions had been here before and knew the drill: Start on the things that need cooking the longest first. Nancy dove in to the Indian pudding receipt, scalding the milk, mixing the cornmeal and molasses and spices with the cream and adding raisins and eggs. Paul and Heather put together the stuffing for the pork from the receipt of Hannah Glasse with a few twists. We used leftover cheese bread from another workshop as our base for the stuffing. Allan had cut the pork, so it was ready to go.

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Heather and Paul put the stuffing on the pork and it was rolled like a jelly roll. Then it was placed on the lacey lamb caul and rolled again. The caul would baste it as it roasted by the fire. Heather reminded Paul that they had seen an episode of “Chopped” that used caul fat, how timely. Paul, using his best boy scout knots, tied string around to keep the caul in place.

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Patty started two things at the same time. Multi-tasking! I’m sure our foremothers did a lot of that. Yes, we were going to try and make cheese again. Last workshop it would not curdle, so Patty agreed to give it another try. She also needed to get the pumpkin leather soaked for the soup and heat the milk for the cheese.

Pumpkin played an important role in the Pilgrim diet. There is a poem that goes:

 Stead of pottage and pudding and custard and pie Our pumpions and parsnips are common supplies, We have pompion at morning and pompion at noon,  If it were not for pompion we should be undoon.

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With the ingredients for Amelia Simmons’ A Nice Indian Pudding, all mixed together, Nancy poured them into individual bowls for baking in the bake oven. Paul and Allan secured the pork to the spit with skewers, ready for the fire. We all had a laugh at the original tin fat catcher. That will be the next order from OSV (Old Sturbridge Village).

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While Patty was working on the pumpkin soup, she kept her eye on the cheese, and was rewarded with success. She made a wonderful soft ricotta and proudly displayed it. Now for some chives.

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Heather and Paul cut up apples and added lemon zest, butter, cider, sugar and their own choice of spices and added them to the mix; this is Mary Smith’s 1772 receipt.

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With the cheese made, Patty gets back to the pumpkin leather that is soaking in chicken broth, sherry, and cream she sautéed the garlic, onions, leeks. When these were soft she added the pumpkin and spices, and put it by the fire, along with the hanging pot of apples sauce, spinach, softening leeks and onion and the pork in the tin oven.  

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Nancy’s next receipt was the spinach tart. She had placed the spinach and a bit of water in a pot and placed a cover over it and it was steamed over the flames. While that softened she makes the pie crust. This receipt is a combination of Charles Carter’s and William Blackfan’s tart.

In-between receipts, and waiting for our food to bake, roast or steam, the clean-up crew headed for the kitchen and then set the table for our meals.

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Patty puts the reconstituted pumpkin in with the leeks, onions and other ingredients. The bake oven has been going for nearly two hours and Paul got the hot job of cleaning it out.

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However, his reward is to see that the pork roast is browning nicely and nearly ready.

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With the oven clean and at the right temperature, Nancy put in her puddings and tart. I put the mashed applesauce near the fire to keep warm while everyone was busy.

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First out of the oven is the Indian Pudding. This receipt does not take as long as some receipts, and is more cake-like than a running soft pudding. Paul whips up a sweat, and the cream for the topping.

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Patty served the cheese and the soup with snippets for our first course as Nancy took out the spinach tart from the bake oven. Look at how wonderfully brown the crust is!13 copy

The pumpkin soup was delicious and just enough to whet the appetite for what was to come. Paul and Heather brought a bottle of Moonlight Meadery made in New Hampshire. The honey-apple-wine called Kurt’s Apple Pie was an exceptional addition to our meal. This is a sipping wine, for sure; it certainly warms the cockles of your heart. With the first courses a memory, Patty dished out her succotash. Colonists quickly came to depend on corn and beans as vital staples.

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Paul did the honors of carving the roast and serving it around the table. As Nancy made sure we all had a slice of her spinach tart, everyone passed the succotash, applesauce and other condiments about.

The pork was tender and moist and the stuffing tasty; it has bacon and savory spices in it, how could it go wrong? The aroma of the pork, stuffing and applesauce and tart together on the plate made your mouth water. I’m not sure what I liked best with the pork, the applesauce, honey mustard, or peach preserve; they were all marvelous. The spinach tart was set well and had a hint of the orange flower water and spices that Nancy had put in it. I still have a piece left that will be gone before I finish this blog. 14acopy

With our second course digesting, it was time to clear the table, as we talked about our experiences of past workshops, books and many other topics. It was a nice and comfortable day with good friends and fine food.

To end this perfect meal we lingered over the table eating our Indian Pudding with whip cream and enjoying each other’s company.

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Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner, and it is my dearest hope that you will spend it with friends around a table groaning with traditional foods from your mother’s, grandparent’s aunt’s and friend’s receipts. This is the best part of food, sharing it with loved ones.

There will be more workshop is the New Year; stay tune!

Sandie

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
 
Edith Sitwell 1887 – 1964

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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 “HARVEST DINNER – Nov. 9, 2013

  1. No one realized all the experience you all were having creating such a wonderful meal. Such fun you all had. A lovely meal had by the fire. Congrats on your blog. I have enjoyed it so much.

  2. Dear Sandy,
    I’m at John Campbell Folk School this week making miniature historic kitchen items…. tin kitchen and reflector oven… for our historic site to use next summer in the children’s kitchen! Your roast in the tin kitchen looks delicious. I just wrap mine in bacon. What a great harvest meal!

  3. I really enjoyed cooking and learning about 18c cooking methods with you. great food and wonderful company !! love it !