INSPIRATION

We have had so much snow this year we are running out of places to put it. However, on the bright side, it keeps me inside with a desire to relax and read by the fireplace. Thanks to the US Postal Service my two favorite magazines arrived just in time for a big weekend storm. Early American Life and A Simple Life. In EAL there is an article about banking a fire for the night and in ASL there is a great home in Maine that has a couver few, which is French for “cover the fire,” on the hearth. I took these articles as my inspiration for the snowy weekend.
Being that we had a huge fire going on Saturday in our cooking fireplace, I decided that I would bank the fire and see if I could start it in the morning without a match. Banking a fire means to cover the coals with ash. In colonial times, banking helped to keep the house from burning down and was a source for the next day’s fire. I have several spill holders on the fireplace and have never used them before, plus my husband has lots of tinder in his wood working shop. Spills were often used to restart the early fire.
spillsIn the morning I raked out the ash and found bit of coals still glowing underneath. I put the spills on top and faned the coals. When the spills started to brown I put some wood shavings and tinder on top and faned some more.

10POOF! and the tinder caught fire, I had succeeded in starting the fire without a match. Now, we had a plan in mind for the day. Allan and I decided to have brunch then spend he day in front of the fire and read.

7Allan put on a few more logs to really get things going so we could have coals
6After a while, we had a nice bed of coals to cook over. Allan heated up the griddle and put the bacon on, turning the griddle when one side browned; he cooked it until it was crisp. I love this griddle with its loop on top of the handle that lets the base turn without having to take it off to do so.

The mix of the wood smoke, maple syrup and bacon was awesome, I became impatient for our meal.

11I was a bit limited on how much I could do, however, I managed to make the coffee , the buttermilk batter for the pancakes , set the table, poured a cup of New Hampshire maple syrup and placed it by the fire to warm. Being one handed at the moment limits my assistance at the fire. So, to bide my time, I read a bit. Both magazines have so many great articles it will take all day to get through them. Luckily, I was in no hurry.

wristWith the bacon done, the griddle was wiped down with just enough grease left to brown the pancakes. I made a large amount of mix so we could freeze some for another day. Always thinking ahead for a quick breakfast.

4jpgAllan cooked six pancakes for our immediate consumption. He would make the rest later.

3With the orange juice poured, coffee and magazines ready, we sat down to a wonderful Sunday Brunch. We spent the entire day in front of the fire, ending with a Bloody Mary at five and looking at pictures, on the laptop, that we had taken of the many snow storms and of our warm summers spent out on the Cape.

2Winter is not all about bad weather, cold freezing temperatures, and cars that don’t start. It has its softer side that gives you an opportunity to spend quality time with someone . You don’t even need to converse much, just read and enjoy the company and the warmth of a colonial hearth.

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

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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 “INSPIRATION

  1. How idyllic! When I was a little girls in West Virginia, one of my jobs was to get a coal bucket of slack coal for banking the fires in the coal furnace (Warm Morning) and the cook stove. In the morning, Grandma would stoke the fire, add lump coal and it was up and running! Since she was born in 1883, in Ash County, North Carolina, she had lots of experience starting fires in hearth and cook stove. I think this is where I got my first yearning for a simpler time and the old ways of the frontier.