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.
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.
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.
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?
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.Heather 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Things were ready to put into the bake oven. The Indian pudding went first and the rolls followed .Karen 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.
Some squeezed orange juice was added to the leftover sauce from the cranberries and used to baste the goose.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 Normal; You Can Farm