Sausage and Bread Workshop

The morning’s weather was crisp and stayed at 52 most of the day. Perfect for our hearth fire. I had the tables ready with all the things we would need, and stations for each receipt set up. This was a busy day; we were making two types of bread, two types of sausage, a stuffed pumpkin, cheese, butter, a prune tart and whipped cream. A doable task for the time we had.

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Everyone arrived and the workshop began. There were several things that needed to be made first. The breads would need time to rise, the puff paste to rest, and the filling for the stuffed pumpkin made and put by the fire; these were the first order of the day.

Nancy started on Hannah Glasses’ French Rolls from the The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, I had made the starter the night before so she would have a good head start. Sue made the cheese bread from the receipt of W.M.’s The Compleat Cook 1658. Because the cheese would take too long to make I had cheese prepared for use. The most difficult thing about making this bread is to fight the desire to overwork the dough. Sue was hesitant that it would rise without kneading, and surprised an hour and half later, when it started pouring over the container. This is not sissy bread; it grows twice its size.  

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Patty worked with the puff paste, layering butter amongst the dough and folding it over and rolling again as she went along. While it rested she began the soft cheese which we would use as an hors d’oeuvre later. Sara was using a combination of two Pompions receipts from John Parkinson, 17th c Herbal. Sara cut up cabbage, onions, sausage and apples, and fried them in the spider, and then mixed it with herbs and spices. The pumpkin was cut, cleaned out, and the inside rubbed with dry mustard. When the stuffing was ready, it was put into the pumpkin and rotated every 20 minutes to get a nice soft flesh.

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While the bread was rising, Nancy and Sue chopped the meat and suet for the sausages. Sue was working on the 17th century Portuguese pork sausage that also had beef in it, orange peels, lemon juice, cumin and port wine, among other interesting goodies. Nancy was working on John Nott’s “To Make Sausage another way.” She was adding chopped spinach, mace and cloves, and added an extra egg to make it the consistency looser. Sara was finished with the pumpkin, and joined Nancy and chopped the herbs and spinach.

Patty was working with the cheese and not having any luck turning it into curds. We are not sure what happened but it just would not curdle. We added some lemon and still nothing. This is the same receipt I used last week just to make sure it would work. However, this time it did not. We all concluded that we got milk from a bad cow. Fortunately, we did not need it for our cheese bread

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Earlier in the morning I had washed the hog casings very well, and they were ready for the sausage press. It’s a little tricky putting them on; however with the help of a little running water in the pantry sink, the girls were able to slip the casings on the tube, with much laughter and discussion not printable.

Before the mixture was put into the casing, both batches were tested by making little patties and frying them first. Patty and Sue had forgotten to put in the port and wanted to add more orange peels. With the addition of some more spices and the port, everything tasted great and the sausage went into the casings. Sara and Nancy went first. Their mixture was loose and it made it easier to push the plunger and make the links of sausages.

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The 17th century Portuguese sausage was a different story. The mixture was a bit stiff and much harder to get into the casings. As an afterthought, we could have added some chicken stock to make it looser. However, Patty and Sue persevered and turned out a wonderful dish of links. We all stood around and cheered them on to the finish, and took turns churning the butter for the bread.

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The French rolls and the cheese bread were done with all their rising and ready for the bake oven. The fire had been going in the oven for a few hours, and, after it was raked out, it was very hot. We waited a while for the temperature to go down then put in the puff paste and gave it a high heat start. After about 15 minutes, we transferred it to a bake kettle to finish. We needed all our oven space for the bread. Both breads looked wonderful and we were very eager to get them into the bake oven.

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With the pumpkin cooking by the fire and the puff pastry in the kettle, it was time to start Amelia Simmons’ receipt “ To Keep Peas till Christmas.”  The peas were kept in leaf lard in my refrigerator and Sue put them into a pipkin to melt the lard. When she was satisfied that the lard was melting she placed the peas into the corner of the fireplace to keep warm. When we were ready to eat, Sara took them and drained them through a cloth to remove the lard.

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It was now time to check the bread. We removed the door and took a look. There we found nicely browned rolls and loafs of bread with an aroma that wafted out of the oven with an incredible warmth that said, “Where’s the butter?” Out they came to rest before we dove into each of them with our meal.

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While the bread cooled, Sara, who made the prune filling for Plimouth Plantation Prune Tart, covered the puff paste with the mashed prunes with its cinnamon and rosemary flavors. Then it was off to help her mom whip the cream. This was done away from the fire with the twigs beater and in a deep bowl to get nice soft peaks.

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Patty was on sausage duty and kept turning them as they cooked in the spider. With deft hands, she kept turning the sausage so they browned to perfection. While Patty toiled by the fire, everyone began to clear the table and bring out the dishes and dinnerware for our feast.10 copy

We all sat down and gave a toast to a job well done, and for the help of Allan, who lugged wood, and took pictures. While we all filled our plates, Sara put the final glory on the prune tart, mounds of whipped cream.

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With dinner over, Patty served the tart. The puff paste was flaky and filled with a wonderful buttery flavor. And the topping was excellent. How could you go wrong with rosemary and cinnamon?

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We had a wonderful time and shared our happiness for a job well done as we all talked about food sources, books to read and many other things. With our day-long efforts enjoyed and praised, it was off to the kitchen to clean up, divide the spoils and continue the camaraderie that we shared.

Next month is the last workshop of this year, a Harvest Dinner; we still have room if you wish to join us.

Sandie

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
-Buddha

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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.

4 thoughts on “Sausage and Bread Workshop

  1. This was the best ever. You have a tool for every part of this session. I am looking at those rolls. What a prize they are.

  2. Beautiful array of sausages and breads! So sorry to have missed this class, looking forward to your offerings next season.

  3. Thanks Sandie for another wonderful day of fireplace cooking. The pictures are as good as the food looked and tasted! Looking forward to the next class.