OLD FORT WESTERN WORKSHOP

DAY TWO

Col. Rueben Colburn House Museum

This is a lovely museum and a great place to visit in the summer. The history of the expedition and the building of the Bateaux are well described and showcased in the house and barn. Visit someday; you’ll enjoy it.
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dummysThe fish monger gave us two wonderful fresh salmon for our workshop. Zack gutted them and took the scales off outdoors in the camp. As you can see the fish are real beauties.
2 copyZack and I stuffed each fish with thyme, dill, parsley and sliced lemons. We took twine and made sure to secure all the herbs and lemons so they would stay inside the fish. For a board we used a long split log we found outside in the pile of fire wood. Zack placed the fish on the side of the fire to roast as we made other dishes.

3copyRoger, the regiment’s parson, was in charge of deflowering the cabbage so it could be stuffed with a forced meat. We needed a very big pot to dip it in. It was a hot job and he was able to get down to the center section and cut it out for the forcing. The ladies pitched in and made the forced meat for him. He then wrapped the cabbage into a pudding cloth and boiled it for an hour. He was very diligent and kept the water boiling at all times.

4 copy Melissa took all the marrow out of the bones. Some was used for the marrow pasties and some went into a sauce that Roger made for the forced cabbage. Stephanie looks on from as far away as she can get. Marrow and cocks’ combs were not her favorite things on the menu.
Untitled8 copy Perry shared with me her copy of a rare book called Mrs Gardner’s Receipt Book 1763. Mrs. Gardiner husband, Doc Gardner, traveled to Old Fort Western as he was one of the large landholders in Maine. So we thought it would be fitting to use her receipt for Marrow Pasties. Pasties were easy to carry with you and could be eaten anytime you were hungry. She also had a receipt for portable soup which I’m sure she sent along with her husband when he left for the Fort. So it only seemed fitting that we should use a few of her receipts.  Susan and Perry made the puff paste for the marrow pasties and everyone pitched in to make them.  The beets that are on the table were baked, peeled and cut by Stephanie to be fried later in a batter.
passties-2The last thing that was done on Saturday before we cleaned up was to make the starter for the French bread the next day. Stan took care of this. On Sunday, the dough had risen and smelled of wonderful yeast and beer. Desiree came to join us on Sunday and took over the bread making. As you can see her efforts paid off with a great rise on the dough.

bread copyLinda’s task was to make the winter squash pudding. Paring and grating the large squash took a good part of the morning. When done, she poured it into a pudding cloth and tied it up ready to be boiled.
linda copyThe cabbage was boiled on the hearth right next to our vermicelli soup. The soup was made with the leftover chicken bones from the day before and some chicken meat. Stan made super vermicelli noodles but we never got a picture of them, darn. Linda’s pudding came out great. It is so important to prep the pudding cloth and keep the water boiling at all times.
linda me copyStan is an expert with flour and water. He made the vermicelli for the soup, He also made the crust for the lemon pudding Stephanie made. Both receipts are from Mr. Gardner’s receipt book.
8copySo we made Vermicelli soup, planked fish, forced cabbage, marrow pasties, fried beets, winter squash pudding, cranberry sauce, gravy, French bread, and lemon pudding all from scratch. Plus we put figs on the lemon pie and had a bowl of preserved walnuts, and cider to drink. It was a busy day and all the time we had visitors asking questions and wanting to taste the food. This is not the best picture; however, you can see that all day we were having visitors in and out of the kitchen.
visitorThe last 15 minutes was hectic with everyone scurrying around with their last minute touches. I sat down and reviewed the receipt to make sure we had not forgotten anything.

Untitled-16 copyAll looked well and the weather was lovely out of doors. There were so many of us we decided to move the feast out to the encampment. The men put up tables and brought chairs out and we all had our plates, cups and utensils ready. Everything was placed on the table, given a spoon or fork, and was ready to serve.
soupcopyPeter Morrissey, the regiment captain, took a moment to read a bit about the important contributions that Benedict Arnold had made in the beginning of his career, then Pastor Dough said a prayer for health, and happiness. We all dug into a tasty Sunday repast that was done to perfection.
end copyWe were busy each day and, because of that, we didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked. Missing in the round of day two is Tess, she ran back and forth from camp to kitchen keeping things clean and helping everyone chop or mix when needed. However, with the pictures we do have, I think you’ll get the gist of what was accomplished over the weekend.

Now, if you remember I had said that the day before, we ran the well dry. Thanks to everyone bringing water we made it through the day. Also Tessa and Melissa washed everything out doors in camp and we could not have gone home without their help. We all took what was ours and packed it into our cars and said our goodbyes. So the workshops came to a close.

Our goal was to use the hearth as an educational tool and cook with seasonally available foods from the months of May to October in Maine to interpret the Floodways of the Fort. However it is  not  the food alone that will leave a lasting impression on the visitor, it is the performance at the earth. Our task was to find things to cook that would engage the visitor in a sensory experience and share the simple technology of a chicken cooked on a string, puddings boiled in a bag, the smell the yeasty bread fresh from the bake kettle. This did indeed keep our visitors asking questions and wanting  to learn more. I think we accomplished our goal.

The camaraderie and joy shared by everyone at the workshop and encampment was phenomenal, I had such a great time and made lifelong friends along the way.

Sandie,
“We had grown into one another somewhere along the way. We were officially a team.”
― Shannon A. Thompson, Take Me Tomorrow

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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.

2 thoughts on “OLD FORT WESTERN WORKSHOP

  1. Sandie, we are cooking some of the same dishes in our 1850 classes at Burritt on the Mountain next week ! When I get home from Hawaii (in the airport to begin our 12 hour journey) I’ll send you a copy of my new class receipt book.

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