Spring Workshop 3


What is a meal without bread? At the Deacon Graves house, Natalie is known as the bread baker, so she dove right in with the receipt from W.M The Compleat Cook, 1658. Cathy and Natalie have both been to my workshops before, so I carefully picked bread they had not made, Cheese Loaf.

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The dough needs to rise twice, so it was important to start this right away. Cheese bread dough is a bit shaggy, and you do not want to overwork it. Natalie took the sticky dough and put it on the bread board while we cleaned the bowl.

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With the bowl clean, the dough was put back in and put by the fire with a damp towel on it so it could rise for an hour and a half. Everyone took turns turning the bowl and the dough rose nicely. Natalie took the dough out and it seemed a bit too shaggy, so more flour was added.


The dough was placed by the fire, was covered, and needed to rise another 30 minutes. Once again, they were turned and checked, this time by Lynn.


The cheese bread was popped into the oven, and, after 40 minutes, we rapped on the top and it sounded done. There is nothing like the aroma of hot bread right out of the oven. The shaggy dough produces a loaf of bread with a very moist center and light crust.

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In the 18th century, white potatoes was a startling novelty, frightening to some, bewildering to others. However, its popularity rose, and soon receipts were being added to cookery books. One of my favorite receipts is that of Elizabeth Raffald in the Experience English House-keeper, 1769. “To Scollop Potatoes.” If your mind is conjuring up visions of bubbly hot, dark-crusted slices of potatoes with onions and cream you’re mistaken. The surprise is in the name.

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I have a great many scallop shells for baking sea food dishes and I picked out a few for our workshop.


When the potatoes were boiled and soft, they were drained at the pantry sink. Mary put them in a large wooden bowl and added butter, cream, salt and pepper and began mashing them until all the lumps were gone. Like many cooks, sometimes you want to think out of the box, or receipt, so to speak. The gals chopped some parsley and added it to the mix. Lynn scooped out the mashed potatoes with her bare hands and followed Raffald’s directions that said “… put them into Scollp’d Shells make them smooth on Top, score them with a knife, lay thin slices of butter on the top….” .  After cleaning off her hands, the shells went onto a tin and went into the bake oven. The bake oven was starting to get a bit cool so when the 15-minute baking time was up they were not as brown on top as were would have liked, yet they were cooked. I suggested we get Allan’s blow torch out, however, we thought better of that and let them be.


The scalloped potatoes had a very velvety texture and the herbs and spices transformed them to epicurean heights. What a great way of serving something so simple. The scallop shells added refinement to the lowly potatoes served on the plate.



“Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

 Julia Child

























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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.

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