And the hot oven!

What a difference a year makes. Last winter it snowed almost every Saturday, and the workshops were always being rescheduled. So far this year we have had wonderful weather, even though it has been below freezing a few days. Our workshop day dawned sunny and 22 degrees outside, with wind gusts up to 15 miles an hour. Perfect day to cook over the fire!

One of the dishes we were making was a stuffed pumpkin. I bought several pumpkins in the fall to see how they would keep over the winter. I was just at Old Sturbridge Village at the Freeman farm house and Victoria, who was working there that day, told me how their pumpkins have not fared well, being that the house is so cold. I stored mine under the sink in the panty. We keep this door open on very cold nights so the pipes won’t freeze. The pumpkins survived in wonderful shape with the exception of one that we fed to the deer outside.

The pumpkin was of a good size and I started it early in the morning. When Cathy and Sherry arrived  filled the pumpkin with a stuffing of apples, raisins, brown sugar, cubed bread, butter and spices. This would need to be turned every 20 minutes or so.

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Natalie and Kathy started right in on the quail coffin. Their marble pasty board was covered in cling wrap to keep it clean while they worked on the meat. The birds would be fried brown, cooled and picked of their meat. Four legs would be save intact to stick out of the top of the coffin. A version of, “Crustardes of Flesh,” from the Form of Curry 1390.Untitled3 copy

Sherry and Cathy read the receipt from Robert Smiths , ” A Venifon Pie” and the modern version that they plan to use. With the venison cut into cubes, Sherry renders some salt pork in the pan. Untitled-6 copy

Kathy and Natalie place the cut quail pieces in the oiled pan. After it browned at bit, they added garlic, anchovies, capers, red wine, and stock. A bouquet garni of fresh rosemary and oregano went into the simmering pan.

With the salt pork rendered, Sherry added the cut venison and browned it on all sides.Untitleda-1 copy

The filling for the venison coffin has onions, garlic, celery, carrots, potato, wine, spices and butter. When everything was cut, it was all put into the pan with the venison, and simmered along with some broth. Hanging on the crane is a pot with eggs boiling for the Lumber pie. Untitled7opy

Four quail legs were set aside and the picked meat was mixed with raisins. The braising liquid from the pan and some red wine was thickened with corn flour then poured over the torn meat. This was set aside in a cool place. The cling wrap was removed; the dough was made. After kneading it for 10 minutes it was placed in a linen cloth and twisted and set aside to help the flour absorbed the fat evenly.1

To make our coffin dough we used a medieval receipt from c 1465 Konzil von Konstanz (ÖNB 3044, fol. 48v). It is a hot water crust dough which is mainly flour, water butter, lard and a pinch of salt. The trick is to make sure you knead it well then tie it in a cloth.Capture

Now I’m lucky that I have such a handy husband who has a wood lathe. He made me three coffin forms. I’m not sure when wooden forms started to be used. I do know that they existed.

Robert Deeley, The Caildron, The Spit and the Fire, shows a picture of an 19c coffin form.

Delia Smith who wrote Food in England in 1954 has a wonder article on pork pies being cook in coffyn or coffer, i.e., little box or enclosure; it lent itself to elaborate traditional decorations, on top and sides. She says these forms were made of hot pasty and molded, or raised, round wooden molds.

And this might be the best YouTube I’ve seen of making meat pie with a wooden form.

Cathy flours the forms really well, and Natalie takes a piece of the warm dough and makes a small bowl shape with it. The inside gets floured and is put on the floured form and made into a coffin. Allan made two small forms on the wood lathe. This way we can make individual coffins. Kathy and Natalie were very excited with this, they want to do small coffins for the Deacon Graves House Museum dinner one day in Madison, CT.

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Next the quail filling goes in with the reserved leg in the middle. A top is then placed on with a hole for the leg. The sides and top edge were washed with beaten egg. Once they are pinched together they should hold in the filling nicely.Untitled-15 copy

Susan was in charge of Robert Mays’ 1660 “Lumber Pie” receipt. While she cuts all the suet, mushrooms, shallots, and marrow, I peel the eggs.Untitled-8 copy

I had some barberries in my spice box and even though the venison receipt did not call for it I ask the ladies if they would like to try it. Susan, a superb venison cook, suggested we grind three berry’s and add it to the mix and everyone agreed. The meat for the Lumber pie was made into little sausages and were then wrapped in caul to hold them together.Untitled-9

The sausages were browned in batches. I had made a beef gravy previously and we warmed it up with a bit of verjuice for pouring on the top of the filled coffin.Untitled-10 copy

Sherry and Cathy worked on their coffin. They were using the large wooden mold. And, yes, we went through a lot of flour, with three different coffins being made it’s not surprising.Untitled-11 copy

With their coffin made the venison filling was poured in. Cathy rolled out a lid and after brushing things with the beaten egg, she crimped it together. Their coffin was not raised very high, however, it would hold a goodly amount and serve four easily.Untitled-12 copy

Susan started to make her coffin on the large form. The wood was floured very well and she was able to make it very tall.Untitled-13 copy

Susan used a wooden noodle roller to make a great outside cover. Brushed with mixed egg, she applied the design.

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Now came the layering of the grapes, figs , eggs, mushrooms and meat sausages in the coffin. The gravy was poured on last.Untitled-18 copy

With the top pinched all round she cut more designs for the top. It was definitely decorating time and everyone was busy putting on the finishing touches of their coffins.Untitled-19 copy

Susan put leaves on top of her coffin, Sherry and Cathy put hearts, Natalie and Kathy use a combination of designs.

After all Valentine’s Day was only one day away. Coffins were ready for the oven.Untitled-20 copy

Because of the stretch of cold days Allan felt the bricks of the chimney and bake oven would take a long time to heat up. He kept testing the bake oven with the Laser Infrared Thermometer. It just would not get up to heat so he added more wood. Finally, he said it was 500 degrees and falling, so in went the coffins.

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While the coffins baked away, Cathy prepared the lovely golden and red beets she had boiled and then sliced into rounds. She melted a stick of butter in a pan, added a little roux and stirred in the chopped parsley. scallions, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper and sautéed them lightly. The beets were added and simmered until the sauce thickened.



So it was time to check the bake oven. First thing that someone noticed was that there was smoke pouring out of the back of the wooden door. It was smoking and I mean really smoking. So we tossed it in the sink and poured water on it. Next we looked at the coffins. Yikes! The Lumber Pie was way in the back and BLACK. We took it out and cut off the top and found that the inside was fine. Perhaps this is why they never eat the coffin dough . (Only kidding) 

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The Venison pie did not look too bad and the small coffins were about the same. The dough was cooked, but a tad over brown!



Fredrick Nutt’s The Complete Confectioner, 1790, and his Chocolate Drops.

The chocolate was put in a brass kettle and confectionery sugar added. Sherry put it over coals and started stirring and stirring and stirring until her arm was almost baked. At this point, it was removed to the stove and it took some doing, but the chocolate and sugar melted together.


Now the chocolate was dropped by a spoon onto a piece of parchment and sprinkled with nonpareils. When the parchment was filled, the edges were picked up, and the bottom was tapped on the marble to flatten out the chocolate. In theory, this would work. However, that would be to good to be true. What we made was glass, pretty glass, but GLASS.Untitled-25 copy

All in all the meal was enjoyable and showed off the coffin-making skills of the cooks.

Each coffin had its own distinctive taste. The capers and rosemary in the quail coffin added a nice bright taste. Putting the barberries in the venison was a great idea; you could taste them in the background. Next time I’d add more. The lumbar pie had many layers of flavors with the fruit adding sweet moisture to the gravy.

The red and golden beets with a hint of lemon and the apple pumpkin brown betty was superb.


As we sat eating, there was lots of discussion of what went wrong with the candy. The beginning of the receipt says “Take one pound and a half of chocolate, put it on your pewter sheet or plate, put it in the oven just to warm the chocolate,….” (Our chocolate was sitting by the fire all day and was very soft.) “then put it into a copper stew pan, with three quarters of a pound of powdered sugar, mix well………” So, Cathy thought this sounded like a double boiler type process; other disagreed. What do you think? We would all be interested to know. One thing for sure we went way past the candy stage of warming the chocolate.

Here’s our group ready to feast on three coffins, a medley of beets, and apple-stuffed pumpkin24

Later that night, as Allan and I sat waiting for the fire to die down, he picked up the Laser Infrared Thermometer. Guess what? It has two settings, Fahrenheit and Celsius. It seems Allan was dealing with Celsius and didn’t know it. After all, he had it in his mind that the temperature outdoors had been so bitter cold that the brick stack would be cold. WRONG.

500 degrees Celsius is 800 degrees Fahrenheit – it’s a wonder the coffins didn’t burst into flames!


“…no one is born a great cook; one learns by doing.”

̶ Julia Childs, My Life in France

PS: Coffin Workshop Two ̶ check the laser.

April 9 -10


The menu will be designed to meet your particular need and interests

Participation is limited

Possible room and board

This gives us time to do molded fish pond jelly, bread and other two day receipts.

For more information  please contact me at

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So, as usual the weather man got it wrong. Plymouth, Massachusetts, was going to get four inches, if that, on Saturday. So off I go, with my friend Barbara to the bread making workshop at Plimoth Plantation.

I left at 8:30 and picked her up and off we went. We got to Plymouth with no problem; however, when we checked into the motel the building next to it had a flooded parking area. The wind was so fierce you could barely stand to take a picture. We checked into the motel, that is right on the ocean, and then I dropped Barbara off at her friend’s house just down the road to have lunch while I baked bread.

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I found the Craft Building and was greeted by Tani our instructor for the day. I had arrived early to make sure I was there before the snow started.  The place looked a bit deserted; however, I was early. After taking off my coat, Kathleen Wall came through the kitchen door. We hugged and said our hellos. We had planned on taking the workshop on the same day.

Soon I found out that the other four people had canceled out so it was just Kathleen and myself.  The class was to go from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. However, we started right in at 11:30 am, hoping to not get snowed it. It seems that the weatherman was now saying 6 to 12 inches of snow and flooding by the shore. Just Great! 

 Tani had the first batch of bread started from the night before in plastic tubs.

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 She showed us how to stretch the bread fold it in thirds and then thirds again and then it would rest.

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This was done several times. We then took the dough and made a round ball which we threw as hard as we could on the table and turned it again. We kept turning the dough round and around making the bottom as smooth as the top. Into floured baskets they went. To rise once more.

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In the craft workshop there is a huge bee hive oven heated, of course, by wood. Just waiting for our dough.

Kathy had started the oven and it was ready, so the coals were raked out. Because it was so hot, we needed to wait for the temperature to drop. The dough was slowly rising.

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Tani is the new baker at the Plantation. She has a doctoral degree from Oxford and is a food historian. She says that “At Plimoth Plantation, her work comes together at the intersection of food and history.” Here we see Tani  on the right) and Kathy, her helper checking out the oven for baking. They are using a wonderful Laser Infrared Thermometer.

On the right you see me putting flour on the peel so my dough won’t stick as I slide it into the oven.

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I loved this sign in the room. According to the Plimoth Plantitation site, “This room has been dubbed Plimoth Bread Company. The facility opened September 26, as the culmination of a months-long renovation of the Plantation’s Craft Center. The result: visitors can get a taste of colonial-era baking techniques through daily demonstrations, special events, classes, workshops, and opportunities for participation year-round.” It is a wonderful space with lots of room to work. Hope you can go sometime and work with Tani.

We each made two loaves of bread, with Tani making them right alongside of us to show us how. With six loaves of bread, we needed to mark them. Here Kathleen marks her bread with her initial.

It was now about 1:00 pm, and the snow started blowing sideways in the wind.

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 We took turns putting our dough in the oven, and Kathy draped a wet cloth over the inside of the door to give some steam to the oven. An hour or so later we had nicely browned loaves. As you can see I was delighted with mine.

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While they cooled, Tani, had made a loaf to be put in a bake kettle in the oven. This is for the students who do not have a bake oven at home. She heated it up and then put the dough in. Next she covered it with a iron lid for 20 minutes to keep in the steam. When she uncovered it the steam rose up from the pot. When it came out, as you can see, it looked as if you had baked it in a bee hive oven. I like her slashes on top. Of course, she is an expert with the knife.

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Next Kathleen and I started more dough from scratch. Using a scale set for grams we measured out all of the different flours and corn meal and salt, into our plastic tubs. With our fingers we mixed this, and added the yeast and water. Then we mixed it with our hands until it was all incorporated. This batch of dough was to go home with us and be made fresh in our own ovens. Mine was going to be put into the refrigerator overnight in the Motel.

With the workshop over, I headed to the motel. The snow was getting deeper and the wind was coming off the bay horizontally and was filled with frozen bits of surf, mixed with snow that stung my face as I dragged my belongings into the building. As it turned out, overnight the total snow that fell was 11 inches. High tide was at 11 pm and it was wild. The surf was crashing on our door step. Both Barbara and I were sure they were going to evacuate us. By midnight, we knew we were okay and in for the night.


Morning came and the car was encased in saltwater/snow ice. After scraping the windows and such we headed back to New Hampshire. The trip may not have been easy, yet it was worth it. Plus we have a great story to tell when we get older, of the time Jonas tried to get the better of us.

When I got home, I started on my bread. I stretched it, folded it, threw it and rolled it. With my oven at 450 and the kettle warmed, in it went, I slashed the top and put a lid on. 20 minutes later I took off the lid and popped it back in. No steam! 20 minutes later it was done. Now, my flipping the dough into the pot was not as round as Tani, and my slashing leaves something to be desired; however, it tasted great.

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There are still some opening in Tani’s workshops, and I highly recommend attending. Just don’t believe the weatherman.

As Julia Childs once said “The art of bread making can become a consuming hobby, and no matter how often and how many kinds one has made, there always seems to be something new to learn.”

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work with Tani and learn a few new tricks for making bread.















Side to determine

Orange pudding


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Workshops run from 9:30 to 3ish

To register or for more information please contact

Sandra Tarbox



39 Dishes from the Cookery Book Published in 1660, by John Notts

“If the thought of planning Christmas dinner makes you nervous, be glad you weren’t born in the Renaissance. The earliest known published Christmas menu includes pork, beef, goose, lark, pheasant, venison, oysters, swan, woodcock, and “a kid with a pudding in his belly,” to name just a few.”

Read more about the full story written by   Joy Lonzendorfer


May you all have a Happy Holiday with family and friends.


Looking forward to the New Year and seeing many of you at the  Workshops







The third and last workshop was a busy one with many dishes to prepare. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I’m sure these photos of our day illustrate just that.

Everyone was eager to start, the receipts that needed to be done first were passed around and things really got cooking.


We needed to have hard-boiled eggs and boiled beets first thing. In this picture you can see how many men it takes to boil two eggs and how many women it takes to boil beets.


Jane began on the Pompion pye receipt from Hannah Wolley. This was a compound receipt. First you needed to make a Froise (pancake) of pumpkin, spices, eggs and flour. Kate picked the pumpkin rolls and started right in.


We used rehydrated pumpkin leather. I make this every year and have it on hand for soup and other receipts.


David picked the butter. Not difficult to make. More time consuming, however, I added a twist: he would be making Fairy Butter with it.


Kate worked hard kneading the dough and it got an astonishing rise from her efforts.

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She divided the dough and rolled them into round balls then cut the edges eight times. Then she stuck a wooden spoon handle into the middle. These went off to rise again.

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John started in on Hannah Glass’s receipt for “To Stuff a Chine of Pork.” He made a stuffing, rolled it up and we covered it with a caul.


It takes a few hands to place the caul on the pork loin and then tie it so it would not unroll.


Dave creamed  the eggs, orange flower water and sugar into a paste, then he added it to his fresh churned butter to finish our Fairy Butter. This he put in a crock for later. Then he helped John skewer the roast on the spit in the tin oven.


Kris shredded the pumpkin for the pye to add to Jane’s mixture. Then they began to fry the Froise.


Taking turns Jane stepped in and made a few. Then she tested one to make sure they really did taste good. Answer was yes.


While Kate waited for the second rise on her rolls, she and John made Hannah Glasses’s Gooseberry Fool with a twist also, we added rhubarb from my garden. John first took the gooseberries and boiled them up until the popped. I picked them at the Moffatt Ladd House Museum early in the season and froze them. When they were done, he put them through a strainer to get all the seeds and pulp out. Next he cut the rhubarb and put it in the pot to which Kate added the honey, and vanilla and kept it stirred.


The next part of the Pompion Pye receipt called for a caudle of eggs, cream and brandy. There was also a filling of apples and currants. The pye would be placed in a pye dough made by our expert pastry creator, Susan.


So the layering began, the pumpkin Froise, then the apples and caudle until it was full.


Susan cut mushrooms for the filling of George Dalirumple” To Bake or Fry Mushroom in Paste”

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Kris topped the pye with a crust and decorated it. Susan waits for Allan to finish cleaning out the oven so she can add the chopped green onions and shallots to the mushrooms she had cooking on the hearth.


Dave washed all the greens for the Soup Meager, a Hannah Glass receipt. He cut celery and parsley and added it to the greens . Next he put butter in the caldron, added some onions to sauté, then put all the greens in with a bit of flour. After 10 minutes or so he added broth and stirred all very well. Lastly, he added the bread crumbs and a mixture of vinegar and egg yolks slowly.15jpg

Kris took coals out of the fire to put under the bake kettle for her pye. She wondered how women could stand this heat every day. She headed out to the porch for a minute to cool down. Every 15 minutes the pye was turned and checked on.


With the sauce and custard ready, Kate and John had some fun assembling the Fool. Kate had crushed ginger cookies in the mortar and pestle and as John filled the glasses she sprinkled the ginger dust over it.


Susan’s Puff Paste was rolled out and she cut them in triangles for the mushrooms in paste.

A spoon full of the mushroom and a dab of water on the edges and they were folded over ready for the bake oven.


After the golden beets had cooled, Jane peeled them and cut them into fat slices. It called for a clove of garlic. We had a discussion of how big that might be. We decided it was TO YOUR LIKING, a phrase we often see in old receipt. With parsley and chives from my garden some butter and seasoning, she made a sauce in the pan. When it was warm she added the beets, thoroughly coating them. This is a receipt from 1746 by Menon.


Everything was coming together. The roast was done, and John masterfully carved it


The Pumpkin Rolls received their sliced pecans, and the mushrooms in paste were hot out of the oven. A triumph of bakery skills.


David plated his soup meager and John his roast of pork loin. Both were delicious


The beets looked lovely with their lemon garnish, and had a unique taste. The pye cooked perfectly and I can’t stress this enough, make this pye – it was wonderful.


Allan took the picture then joined us as we sat down to a hearty meal which also included apple sauce and a gravy for the meat. In-between bites there was a lively discussion on many topic both modern and 18th century. I’ve never had a group at a workshop that was not compatible. I think like minds and the discovery of just how complicated it was to put a meal together back then, helps brings everyone together. This year has been an amazing journey for me, working alongside so many wonder and interesting people. I love the feedback I get and the help and suggestions from some very talented 18th century cooks. Their thoughtful share of information is a true gift.


Afterward, there is always the clean-up. The men took over at the sink while we women folk cleared the table and put clean things away. And look, they’re smiling.


I’ll be posting the next round of workshops in January 2016. One will include COFFINS as I have been asked so often to do it again.

I hope your Thanksgiving feast was spent with family and friends and your Christmas will be Safe and Merry.


“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”  – James Beard












What was I thinking!!!

In my workshops I like to have a theme and use original receipts, from medieval times up to the 1820s. It takes some doing to rewrite them in modern language. Now this theme took me by surprise. Fall and pumpkins just sounded too good not to do. So off to the cookery books I go to put together a sensible meal to cook over the hearth. First stop Amelia Simons. On the title page she writes that it is the first cookery book “Adapted to this Country”. What I find is pompkin No1 &2, a pie. As I read on through the Historical Notes written in my copy of Simons 1796 edition, Karen Hess has much to say about pumpkin and other squashes and gourds. She mentions Hannah Woolley’s 1675 receipt for pie that is very different from Simons. And she goes on to say how the use of edible gourds go as far back as ancient Rome. Great, I should find lots of receipt for my Pumpkin Workshop!

NOOO! However what I do find is more interesting. Great information from the Food Time Lime, a description from the travels of Peter Kalm in 1750 to the colonies, A history on “Eating in America” by Root and De Rochemont and a great 1630 poem from Plymouth.

Stead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies. Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies, We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon, If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.

And I can go on and on. There is a lot of information on the use of pumpkin in America , but not many receipts.

However, I forged on and this class will be a bit different, some original old receipts, and some I’m making judgment calls on ways pumpkin might have been used in the 1700s.

I went to the local farmer and bought several types of pumpkins some for this workshop and some for the next one. On the wall dresser I put out the red kabocha squash and a Long Island cheese pumpkin.


Everyone arrived and started right in. We had two Heathers so we called them Heather 1 & 2


Heather 2 and her husband Ken wanted to work on the sausages. I used “To make Sausage” by John Nott for a receipt. No, we did not put pumpkin in the sausage, this sausage would top the Pumpkin sauce for the Vermicelli. It is always fun to see someone cleaning the guts and using a hand held sausage stuffer for the first time.


Pumpkin soup had to be on the menu. Paul and Heather 1 picked the red kabocha squash as they felt it looked like a pumpkin and had the right color. They chopped the pumpkin, a potato, leeks, onions and garlic and sautéed them in butter in the iron cauldron.


Brenda flew in from Pennsylvania for the workshop and to visit her daughter Heather 2. She is a delightful lady and unafraid in the kitchen. Here she soften up pumpkin over the fire to use in a Pumpkin and Maize bread as described by Peter Kalm. In the morning I made barm to be added to the bread. Brenda scalded the cornmeal first then added the pumpkin and a cup of wheat flour. When that cooled she put in the yeast and mixed it up.

Notice my new marble pastry board. Thanks to Niel Vincent De Marino for information on where to buy it. 6 copy

Ken and Heather looked over the receipt for Nott’s sausage and chopped the pork very fine. I had rendered some suet and added a bit of goose fat from the workshop beforehand; this was chopped and mixed in. The receipt also called for spinach and cloves . 4

Heather reads the soup receipt and gets the chicken stock out. Allan made the fresh chicken stock just for the workshop. Heather gathers the brandy, cloves coriander, nutmeg and cayenne to mix in with the sautéed mixture in the cauldron. Ken and Heather are still chopping and I’m adding a bit of water to Brenda’s bread. The day was very low in humidity and the cornmeal needed just needed a bit more liquid one teaspoon at a time. 9

With all the ingredients in the soup, Paul hangs it from an S-hook on the crane. After much attention, it was taken off and put to the side to keep warm. The cauldron was turned now and again to make sure one side did not get too hot and burn.


17th  Century Cheese Cake by Robert May was next to be made. The dough is made of wheat flour with cold butter,  just pinch of salt and sugar and a three egg whites. It is very stiff. After Brenda mixed it together it went into the refrigerator for a hour. Brenda rolled out one disk and I showed her how to make a round into a triangle for the base.


Ken and Heather take turns with the hand sausage stuffer. Ken said next time he makes sausages he’ll really appreciate an electric grinder.


Being that this is a pumpkin workshop and we have Robert Mays cold butter crust, it needs a pumpkin filling. I picked a filling form Plymouth Plantation and we added pumpkin. Paul softened the pumpkin over the fire and drained it. Heather and Paul mixed up a filling with a good amount of ground almonds, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, butter, sugar, salt, eggs, mace, a hint of rose water and the pumpkin.

The triangle paste held its shape wonderfully and Heather filled it up. 7

With the sausages made, Ken and Heather fry them up in a pan. They were then taken out and set aside to keep warm. The drippings would be used in the pumpkin sauce.  14

Our two Heathers put in the cheese cake and the risen pumpkin maize bread into the bake oven. 1 copy

Hannah Glasse’s receipt “To Make Vermicelli” was made by Paul with help from Heather.  12 copy

Paul tried the roll and slice technique and the dough was a bit too sticky to unroll the strains of vermicelli. Paul unrolled what was left and cut the vermicelli, that worked better. Every day is different in the kitchen. 15

I found two receipts and I decided to combined them. One is “The Vse Of Pompkins,” by John Parkinson, 1629; and “Fried Sausage” by Hannah Glasse where she puts stewed apples and cabbage around sausage.

Hannah’s receipt will be the base for our pumpkin sauce. Heather uses the kabocha again cutting the chunks into bite size pieces. Brenda cut onions, apples and half a cabbage. Ken put the butter in a the pan that had the sausage drippings, added the cabbage, apple, pumpkin, garlic, chicken broth salt and pepper. This would be put on the vermicelli and topped with sausages and parmesan.


Then my 21st century sensibility kicked in. I wanted something green on the table and I needed it to be done just before we served our lunch. I decided on braised greens. My favorite green is Swiss Chard which has nothing to do with Switzerland but with someone who coined the name, as he was from there. With a bit of research, I found that Chard is a cousin to spinach and the beet greens. Back in the fourth century B.C. Greek philosopher, Aristotle, wrote about chard, as the Greeks and Romans used it for its medicinal properties. Then things get very confusing as the French called cardoon and chard “carde”. The English had many names for it as well, white beet, strawberry spinach, seakale beet, Spinach beet and Roman Kale among others. Well I know it existed and I have no reason to think it was not braised somewhere, sometime, perhaps with meat in a stew . So my batting average on Pumpkin receipts “Soup to nuts” was taking a dip here.

The receipt I chose had bacon, chard, garlic, anchovies and fresh peeled tomatoes. No pumpkin in this although you certainly could. I thought better of it though, with all the pumpkin we did put in other things, I thought  a fresh braised green on the side would be better. Heather and Paul put this together and it looked great.


Everything was coming together as Paul put the vermicelli in the boiling water and Ken took out the bread and cheese cake.


The pumpkin sauce was scooped out and the soup put in bowls.19

The Pumpkin Maize bread and Robert May/ Plymouth Plantation/Pumpkin cheese cake were cooling. Brenda and Heather cut the sausages in pieces for the top of the vermicelli and pumpkin sauce.20

The table was set and everything plated. 18

This workshop really stretched my brain and though it was different from the others it was an interesting learning curve. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. We had a great group and the food was outstanding.  1a

We feasted on a bowl of Pumpkin soup, a plates full of braised greens, pumpkin cheese cake, pumpkin maize bread, vermicelli topped with pumpkin sauce, sausage and parmesan cheese.



The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” Julia Child

 So What the hell it had a lot of pumpkin!




 December 5, 2015 :

First Annual Fezziwig’s Ball

Fezziwig's Ball

Sponsored by the Newmarket Historical Society NH

Doors open at 6:30pm – The Grand March begins promptly at 7pm – Dancing untill 10pm

Music and Dance instruction by The Fiddling Thomsons

Dessert and Beverage intermission featuring 19th century delicacies Special edition 19th century cask-style Smuttynose Beer served only at this event

Period attire requested (1812-1870) or modern evening dress Prizes for the best period attire

Address: 55 Main Street, Newmarket, NH

Get tickets: $25/person  See our Web page for on-line purchase

Get tickets: $25/person



26 SEPT 2015

Well, it took a while to get this together. My computer was hacked and held for ransom. Thanks to Allan my Tech person all was put to right in this file that held the workshop in my computer. However, we are on a network and he is still debugging the rest of the mess.

So I begin again on this blog of the Harvest Dinner in September. Our feast consisted of a goose, root vegetables and tree and ground ripened fruit. As always, I have everything out and organized for the workshop, and made sure all the stations have what they needed for the first round of receipts. 1 copy

The knifes were sharpened by Allan, and spoons, cutting boards and bowls arranged to be close at hand.2 copy

The goose was pre-steamed the day before and the Long Grain Pepper and Grains of Paradise were ground ahead of time and put in this cute little crock.3

Heather wanted to work on Ann Peckham’s goose receipt. Heather lives in an old house in Massachusetts and wants to cook in her own fireplace, bake oven and her new shiny reflector oven. So this was a great time to experiment. The goose was stuffed with onions, sage, apples, butter and a bit of salt and pepper.4 copy

Judy and Karen traveled from Ohio to be at the workshop. They started on Ann Peckham’s Cranberry Tart. Karen is an old hand in front of the fireplace and Judy is new, so to begin with she followed Karen’s lead. Cooking the cranberries down was the first part of the receipt, sugar, butter and orange zest were added.5 copy

Cathy drove up from the shore in Connecticut with Natalie. They have been here many times. Cathy picked the Indian Pudding and started by scalding the milk and cream and stirring the corn meal in to soften the grains. Polenta anyone?6 copy

Natalie is the bread maker in the group. We were having rice bread made into rolls from the 1770 receipt book of Harriott Pinckney Horry. First the rice needed to be boiled and cooled. I had made a starter the night before with ale, a bit of yeast and flour. Then came the addition of cornmeal, flour, milk and butter. With Natalie masterful skills she produced a great rise on the batter.7 copyHeather and Natalie put the goose into the reflector oven, pushed the spit through it and placed the skewers in the holes and tied it on so the wings and legs would not flap around.11 copy

A boiled carrot pudding was next. We used small size cubes for this receipt instead of crumbs. The carrots were of a variety of colors that I found at our local farm, Apple Crest, along with my other vegetables. While Karen and Judy made the pudding, Heather grated the colorful carrots.8 copy

All the ingredients for the  pudding were mixed together and Judy and Karen buttered and floured the pudding cloth. Karen got a kick out of Judy’s tentative flouring . She may be a newbie to hearth cooking, however, she was doing just fine. We’ll say it was friendly ribbing between two very good friends. We all laughed with them. 16copy

Pudding cloth ready, the pudding was put inside, tied and hung into the boiling water. Great job, Judy!17 copy

Out came the cooked cornmeal and the rest of the ingredients for the Indian pudding were mixed in. Dark brown sugar, molasses, cream, raisins, butter, eggs and spices. The batter smelled great already.14 copy

Judy strained the cooked bog cranberries and saved the juice for later use, Karen made the tart paste.12 copy

With the pie plate buttered and the paste set in, the cranberries were scooped in and a lattice work top paste was applied by Karen. We decided to use the bake kettle for baking this, even though we had room in the bake oven. Judy and Heather wanted to see how a kettle would work.13 copy

Harriott Pickney Horry’s Rice Bread receipt had its second rise and cut into eight sections to make rolls. Natalie used the docker on the bottom of the rolls to help give them height when cooked. 15 copy

Hannah Glasse’s To Dress Cauliflower was in interesting receipt. You boiled the cauliflower in milk then took part of it and placed it in the middle of the dish and fried the rest cut in sections. I bought purple and golden cauliflower and Cathy chose the purple for the center and the gloden she cut. The cut flowerets were fired in a pan with a little water, butter and flour. 9 copy

Elizabeth Raffald has a receipt To Make Sauce for a Goose. It has apples, butter, water and sugar; very simple. Judy said she could make this. When it was done Natalie helped her put it in a bowl to keep warm by the fire.19 copy

Things were ready to put into the bake oven. The Indian pudding went first and the rolls followed .21 copyKaren peeled and sliced a small pumpkin and cut the slices into 1/2 inch cubes. A simple syrup was brushed on them and they went into the slack oven overnight. I will be using these for Fredrick Nutt’s  Millefruit Biscuits. Thanks to Karen for helping out. Colonial bakers often used the slack oven for drying foods. The next morning I filled a small jar with the semi-dry pumpkins.22 copy

Some squeezed orange juice was added to the leftover sauce from the cranberries and used to baste the goose.

Heather was so happy at how it was cooking. 23 copy

Judy had never used a bake kettle before, so we all cheered her on when she moved in and took a peek to see how the tart was doing. It looked wonderful. I loved the way the lattice browned.24 copy

Managing the space on the hearth is an important thing. Everyone can’t be there at the same time yet the items that need to be cooked can. This is a good illustration of this. The goose and purple cauliflower are being kept warm, same as the apple sauce behind; then there are the boiled and strained high bush cranberries. Hanging from the crane is the remainder of the cranberry drippings made into a sauce. The carrot pudding was continually boiling. Drippings from the goose were made into a gravy and reduced over the heat, and on the hearth, the golden cauliflower was frying. In the bake oven, the Indian pudding and rice rolls baked.26b copy

The moment of truth for the carrot pudding. If the water is not kept boiling, you end up with mush. The pudding was taken out of the water drained in a colander and then inverted onto a plate. The cloth removed and the pudding is revealed.26c copy

Everyone looked on as Heather and Judy removed the goose from the spit. 27 copy

One day when I was at the Moffatt Ladd House working, I spied some high bush cranberries in the garden. So I said, “Hmm, can these be eaten?” I checked with Liz, our horticulturist, and also checked some receipts online and the answerer was yes. I picked a nice size basket full, washed them and removed the stems. They looked so pretty.

Now here is where the story of the cranberries gets interesting. High bush cranberries are not true cranberries; they are a shrubby plant. The bush produces lovely cluster of bright red berries about the same time as the bog berries are ripening.

However, the high bush type are very acidic and smell like stinky socks when cooked. They also have a large flat oval seed in the middle that can only be removed by boiling and straining. They do have nutritional value that may offer protection from cavities, urinary tract infection, and inflammatory diseases, that is if you can eat them.18 copy

The berries were boiled, strained through a cheesecloth and put in a pot with two cups of sugar to boil. After a mouth-puckering taste test, more sugar was added and Isinglass to make it jellied.

The end result was that some liked it after a bit, and others, me included, said they made better plate decorations. I might try again next year but with a different receipt. 27

It was time to carve the goose. I helped hold it while Heather cut slices off and plated it. See how lovely the high bush cranberries look! Even Ann Peckham would have been impressed.28 copy

Ann Peckham cranberry tart was done and Hannah Glasse’s cauliflower plated with the boiled purple one in the center and the fried golden ones around it.29 copy

Hannah Glasse stars again with the carrot pudding that came out fantastic with all the multi-color carrots in it. And there was a wonderful caramel-like sauce for it. The goose’s drippings were made into a wonderful gravy, with help from the fried and boiled wing clippings and neck.31 copy

Elizabeth Raffald applesauce for the goose and Harriott Pinckney Horry’s rice rolls both smelled splendid.32 copy

All of these wonderful receipts were accompanied by the bog berry sauce, and a lot of good humored discussion on using local sourced,  meat, garden fresh produce and HIGH BUSH CRANBERRIES.

Every dish was tasty, with the exception of the High Bush Cranberries. Judy wants to do the rice rolls at home. Karen said she learned a few new things. Cathy sent a quick note later thanking us for yet again a wonderful day and continued good learning.

And I’m always grateful to Allan for his help and for having such wonderful people come to at workshops. I, too, learn from them.33 copy


“This magical, marvelous food on our plate, this sustenance we absorb, has a story to tell. It has a journey. It leaves a footprint. It leaves a legacy. To eat with reckless abandon, without conscience, without knowledge; folks, this ain’t normal.”

– Joel Salatin, farmer and author of Folks, This Ain’t NormalYou Can Farm