The New Year

With the holidays behinds us, the weather turned cold and snowy, and provided a time to just be alone by the fire. This also meant eating whatever we could find in the refrigerator and pantry. A staple in colonial days was the smoked ham, and once thawed, you could eat it many ways and often. We had the luxury of freezing half of our leftover ham from December and it was time to use it up. There were many bits and pieces of different cheeses leftover, too, from parties, and I thought mac and cheese. In my earlier posts I talk about how noodles, much like penne, were available and they did have macaroni and cheese receipts.

With a plan in my head, I assembled all the things I needed. First I have to get out some of the pots and things for the fireplaces. I had put some items away to accommodate our large Christmas crowd and the tree.


I wanted to keep this dinner simple. Allan started a great fire in the fireplace and the room became cheery and warm for such a frigid night. I put a few pots of water on to boil and sat to enjoy the fire. When I saw steam rising from the pot I put in the penne and went to cut up the cheese for the top. It did not take long for the penne to cook, and I put it in a bowl to keep warm by the fire, then stirred in the cheese.


For a green I had broccoli on hand, not a colonial vegetable but I needed to use it up and it went into the same water as the penne. Broccoli was cultivated as a leafy crop in the Northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BC. However, it did not get to England until the late 18th century, then to America in the late 19th.  Next year I really have to put up beets, pickle and things that we could have with our 18th century meals in the winter.

Do I hear a New Year’s resolution??

The ham was cut up and put into the other pot of boiling water. It only needed to be heated through as it is cooked. Nearby on the hearth I had the dinner plates warming in hopes of keeping our food hot while we ate our dinner.

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Everything was ready and we sat down to enjoy an easy meal and each other’s company. Not bad for leftovers on a cold evening. However, even with the luxury of modern heat, it was cool; the temperature outside was heading to below 0 and even our plates could not keep the food hot for long. We put another log on the fire and moved closer. I’m sure they did the same thing back in the 18th century.


The WINTER/SPRING WORKSHOPS will soon be under way. To Register and  to hold a place for yourself email me at  –


Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.   Benjamin Franklin


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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.


  1. You might want to dry some green beans for leather britches. I can let you know how to re-hydrate them and cook them. They come out a bit chewy, but provide that green for the winter.

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