Museum of Old York, Maine Jeffords’ Tavern

On Friday evening, I had the opportunity to work with a great group of volunteers and staff members of the Museum of Old York in Maine. It was the once- a-month Tavern Night at the Jefferds’ Tavern.

Chris, Nancy, Larrissa, Nola, Eileen, Sandie, Jack

We had two cooking fireplaces going, one beehive oven, plus the two fireplaces in the tavern rooms for the guests. Jack helped me lug wood and I kept the fires going while peeling vegetables and other chores. There were many things to do in preparation for our guests, and everyone helped where they could.  

Thirty-two guests who came to dine on, cod cakes with sweet pepper relish , fresh baked oatmeal bread with honey butter ,corn chowder, top round roast sizzled on the hearth, pommes Anna with butternut squash, rosemary, winter greens with caramelized onions, bacon and, if that was not enough, it was finished off with Indian pudding and homemade ice cream.

 As tavern mistress, I greeted one of our returning soldiers who was on his way home from Boston and the battle against the British. We fed him as much as he could eat. It was a small thing to do for the patriotism he showed our cause. He stayed a while and chatted with the guests and told stories of Indians and the war. Nola was busy tending the onions and winter vegetables over the fire.

The guests relaxed by the fire while they were serenaded by Katie on the violin while Larissa, our junior volunteer, stood ready to help serve the food. Chris cooked the beef and carved it for our guests. It was served with a wonderful wine reduction sauce.

It was a busy evening and Eileen, our director of Adult Education, sat to enjoy the fire, Indian pudding and homemade ice cream.  Doesn’t she look like a Vermeer painting?

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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 “Museum of Old York, Maine Jeffords’ Tavern

  1. Wonderful site to see how the early cooking was done. Lots of work but my it looks so good.

  2. In the picture with the pans set before the fire are you preheating or drying them? I am just curious as this is not how I preheat. I set my bake kettles directly in the fire. What a wonderful meal.

  3. Sue,

    I’am pre-heating the kettles and lids, I need the fire to put more wood on so I can have enough coals.

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