Ragout with a Cabbage

Hanging Cabbages

Hannah Glass has a receipt called “Or this Way Beans Ragoo’d with a Cabbage. “ If the 17th and 18th century mothers were lucky, they might still have a cabbage hanging in the root cellar now and a few carrots and turnips. The cabbages would be hung from their roots with the large leaves left on. The turnips and carrots would be stuck in sand to stay damp (not wet) so they think they are resting in the ground. This was the common practice of looking ahead and providing fresh produce for one’s family throughout the winter months and into early spring. So, hopefully, you still have something left in the root cellar.

I talked with Ryan Beckman at Old Sturbridge Village to see what they had in the root cellar there. Unfortunately, no cabbage, as they were hit badly with blight last year and are not growing any this year in an effort to thwart it. Ryan said they had just run out of carrots last week and are focusing on the potatoes and the multitude of eggs they are blessed with at the moment. This is the time of year that they interpret the “six weeks of want.” We have cabbage still at our Farm Markets so, here in New Hampshire, we were lucky. And I found a nice small one. The turnips fared well too and the carrots may be a bit on the wilted side yet usable.

Along with my planked fish I needed a vegetable, so this receipt seemed doable, given the coolness of the season. Having no beans yet, I omitted them and decided on fresh spring asparagus. Now this receipt has a lot of steps to it. First you must clean the cabbage and cut the stem side flat so it sits nice on a plate. Then it needs to be par-boiled so it can be pierced with a fork but not fall apart. Hannah has you put the carrots and turnips in the same pot, I did mine separately.

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When the cabbage was soft, I took it out and cut a cavity in the upper part for the ragout and saved the cone to mix with the other vegetables.  I mashed all the vegetables together with salt and pepper and added a little of the cabbage liquid I had saved.

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The cabbage went back into the pot with a bit of water, wine, vinegar from the pickled mushroom, butter and the mushroom ketchup I had made I made last fall. This was covered and simmered gently. I needed to check on it often to make sure it did not run out of liquid. With the other vegetables mashed, I placed them by the fire to keep warm.

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Once the fork slid easily through the cabbage it was removed and put on a plate stem side down. The cavity was filled with the ragout’d vegetables, and the asparagus were placed around the plate. The liquid for the last cooking of the cabbage was poured over it and my side dish was complete. I added a little more vinegar, as I like mine tart, and, as a whole, it was tasty and looked very nice on the plate.

 

cab 4I’m really looking forward to using my new root cellar come fall. It is now clean of construction debris and I can start planning the shelves and boxes I’ll need. It will be a fun project.

Sandie

“The cabbage surpasses all other vegetables. If, at a banquet, you wish to dine a lot and enjoy your dinner, then eat as much cabbage as you wish, seasoned with vinegar, before dinner, and likewise after dinner eat some half-dozen leaves. It will make you feel as if you had not eaten, and you can drink as much as you like.”
Cato (234-149 B.C.)

Charles Carter – To Roast a Pike

 

This is not Charles Carter or anyone I know, yet it gives you the idea of how large a pike can get. More fish than two people can eat at one sitting. They are fished in the spring in lakes throughout New England. While going through Charles Carter’s “The Complete Practical Cook,” I found this receipt. It was interesting because he uses a spit to cook it and places planks on either side of the fish to hold all the goodies in the belly. The receipt is long and loaded with ingredients including several eels and a smaller fish. Well, right now it is hard to get eels, as they are being caught illegally here in NH and shipped to Japan for lots of money so the game wardens are out looking for anyone catching them. Also they are not my favorite.

Now I have done planked fish many times, always putting it on a single cedar plank and standing it on the side of the fireplace, near enough to get cooked from the heat while preparing other items. So Carter’s receipt piqued my interest, as he used wooden splits.

So I have the receipt and now I need a fish. Well, a pike is out of the question as I don’t fish anymore and the local grocery store does not carry them. However, I knew that I could get a pollock with its head and tail on at Seaport Fish in Rye, New Hampshire. I only needed to order it. So I did.

Along with my other hearth cooking stash in the basement I found two new cedar planks. They need to be in a water bath for at least a few hours, and best overnight. This way they won’t catch on fire and ruin my fish. I put the planks in my tin kettle and turned them every few hours of so.untitled-1-copy

Reading over Carter’s receipt I decided to omit the eels and another fish for the forcing. What I did pick were salt, nutmeg, ginger, thyme, parsley, oysters, anchovies, shallots and horseradish and butter mixed with bread crumbs and an egg and then forced them in the belly.stuffed-jpg

 

After filling the belly, Carter says, “Broach it on a spit and with some lathes or wooden splits, flatten it, tying them round with tape to keep it all together and lay it to a pretty good fire.”

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With the fish clapped in cedar and tied on the spit, it needed to be bathed with thick butter, white wine and a little vinegar that has some onion and sweet herbs mixed in. Bathe it often and turn it. A leer was made with grated horseradish and beaten ginger, wine and some anchovies to be added to the drippings later.untitled-3-copy

This is where things started to unravel. The string caught fire and the planks were just too wide. Time to reread the receipt!!! So I read it again, and Carter says—“then broach it on a Spit, and with some Lathes or wooden Splits, faften it, tying them round with some Tape to keep it all together.”p3-copy

Now had I not been concentrating on the ingredients so hard, and spent more time reading the how to, I would have known that Lathes and or wooden Splits should be only about two inches wide and spaced around the fish so the heat gets through to the flesh. My only excuse is that I was testing out three other receipts. So live and learn and take my own advice: read the receipt through and then reread it. So, off it came and placed on the table to be restrung without the wood and cooked the final minutes to doneness.untitled-4-copy

 

Altogether it took about forty minutes to bake in front of the fire, and then it was placed on a plate and the spit removed and the pudding in the belly draw out. The drippings were added to the leer to make a sauce to be mingled with the pudding. To garnish I skipped the eels and placed the receipt’s broiled oysters and lemon round it.untitled-5-copy

The fish was very moist and the stuffing passable. It was a big fish and there was a lot left over so it looks like fish chowder next.

This is the first early receipt I have found that calls for planking and I will try it again, with smaller lathes.

Sandie

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

―   Julia Child

First Period House

I went to the Newburyport Preservation Trust Mass tour this Saturday.  We saw three homes one of which I loved.  It was built around 1680-1700 and had a cavernous fireplace.  I’d love to cook on this one.

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 Love the split staircase.

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The house is for sale so it was empty, except for the years of wear left among it’s posts and beams and rear cat slide roof.

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Sandie

SPRING

Spring has sprung and Wednesday weather brought me outside to search for spring greens. My raised garden disappeared with the new addition; however, a few things on the side of the house survived the big machinery.  My chives are up and the thyme made it through the winter nicely and the violets are blooming everywhere. My rosemary has grown twice the size after wintering in the house, and I put it outdoors to wash off the dust and to air it out. Down in back of the yard I have a row of forsythia which is in full bloom and behind that is my Jerusalem artichoke and angelica.angelica-arch-0498free

My first encounter with angelica was many years ago while driving to visit my mother. There on the side of the road in a ditch, it grew tall, with huge leaves and white flowers that were so big around they looked like large, round, white umbrellas. On my way home I dug one up and have had angelica in my yards ever since.Angelica_flowerhead_showing_patternAngelica is in the parsley family and has been known since ancient times. It has at one time or another been credited with the ability to cure almost anything, including the plague, and it was used along with exorcism. Fortunately, since I have grown angelica, I have not needed to use it for either of those plights.

My interest in angelica is in candying the stems for use in cakes and dessert. I have also seen a receipt somewhere, where it was used with rhubarb, another spring favorite. However, my rhubarb went the way of the shovel, so I’m very glad to have my angelica. With the sun getting stronger every day, I’m sure I will be picking the young shoots and candying them soon. I’ll post the receipt and pictures when I do.

Our 18th century housewives so waited for this time of year, with so many wonderful greens sprouting up. Go out and take a look and see what you might find in your garden or roadside. Soon we will see the fiddlehead ferns, too.

 Sandie

A Simple Meal

3The hearth was christened by a wonderful group of beginning hearth cooks. I was thrilled to have them, as they all have cooking fireplaces at home and hope to start using them as they were meant to be.

We start out with traditional cooking techniques, including fire safety, proper fire maintenance and learning skills in using the bake kettles and other hearthside equipment. Our meal was simple. Chicken on a String with root vegetables, Hannah Glasse’s Onion Pye made with Lydia Maria Child’s common pie crust, John Nott’s fried beets and Elizabeth Raffald’s boiled bread pudding, with a wonderful sauce.

After we read through the receipts, we were off and running, gathering up needed ingredients. Paul started on the pie crust which was really a puff pastry dough with lots of butter rolled into it. Barbara picked the bread pudding, a daring choice for a novice as boiled puddings are notorious for being soggy if not done correctly. 1 While Barbara mixes up the bread with the candies fruit and currants, Paul rolls out the dough a second time, after it had rested for 15 minutes in a cool place. Once the dough was ready, Heather, who had prepared the filling, assembled the pye. Heather toasted some bread on the hearth to dry out and used the mortar and pestle to make the crumbs for the beets. Being a confessed toast burner, I must say that Heather made the best dry toast, golden and light.4

With the pudding in the boiling water and the chicken and pye done, it was time to do the beets. Heather had cooked the beets to fork-tender in a bake kettle on the hearth. They were put in a batter then rolled in the bread crumbs she had made from the toast. Into the fry pan they went with butter, and were fried so they had a crunchy exterior and a soft interior. They were so good I ate them like candy. Paul worked on carving the chicken that had a lovely brown and crispy skin. He had put butter, parsley and garlic in the cavity and basted it while it spun. This was one tender and juicy bird.

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The pye was retrieved from the bake oven and it was cooked perfectly, and tasted as good as it looked.

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We all sat down to a hearty lunch and while we chatted, Barbara discovered that Paul and Heather had purchased their home from a friend of hers. The conversation turned to antiques and all the shows they all went to and the upcoming ones. Conversation did not lag with this group. Then it was Barbara’s time to present her boiled bread pudding and sauce. Taken out of the water, it was put in a strainer and covered with a dish, flipped over and then the pudding cloth slowly removed. Perfection! It was flawless and made a wonderful ending to our meal.8

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As with every meal there is a time for clean-up and this day was no different. Everyone pitched in and the job was quickly done.5

This was a very congenial group. I was able to share my cooking skills and resources with them and I enjoyed meeting Paul and Heather. And it is always nice to have Barbara visiting.

Sandie

CHEESE

 

Workshop at Old Sturbridge Village I’ve made cheese before, soft goat cheese and cow cheese, but never a hard cheese. Clarrisa Dillon of the Past Masters in Pennsylvania made me a lovely parmesan cheese for a preservation workshop once; however, it was not the same as having your own to show. Now this is quite a statement as it means I’m really thinking of making my own someday. So where to begin? I’m a hands-on learner so off I went to see Ryan at Old Sturbridge Village for a workshop on cheese. It was a cool day, yet dry, and the heat of the fire in the Freeman Farmhouse was as welcoming as Ryan was. She greeted us with her prize-winning cheese before her on the table and a pot warming the raw cow’s milk over the fire.

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I took three full pages of notes to make four different types of cheese. I’ll concentrate on the hard cheese and throw in a bit about the soft. Let’s hope I get the process correct. We used 15 gallons of raw milk, all having to get to a temperature of between 85 and 95 degrees. Then it was poured into a large cedar tub, covered with a cloth to strain out the impurities that might be found lurking about a farm. (Yes we found hay!)2 copy While the next pot of milk warmed, we made a pounded cheese with the prize-winning cheddar, then a Potted Cheese to have with crackers before our lunch. 3jpg Ryan showed us the rennet made from a young calf stomach that had been stretched and dried for making cheese. Now this was just a display rennet, and we used liquid rennet from the Wisconsin Cheese Company. The rennet is stirred in very slowly. Then the tub is left to sit until you put your finger on the top of the milk and the milk bounces. The function of rennin enzymes is to curdle milk and separate it into semi-solid curds and liquid whey. This is a simple explanation as I know it.  Ryan, who waxes poetically in scientific jargon about the process, lost most of us. I couldn’t spell half the words she said. She is deep into the science of food.5 copy We made another cheese while we waited for the rennet to work. With the milk warm enough to feel hot on the inside of the wrist, but not too hot, Susan added vinegar a little at a time until it curdled. When it was ready, it was spooned out into a cloth.6 This was then tied and hung by the rafters to drip and cure.4 Now the hard cheese was ready and it was time to cut the curds and release the whey. This was a slow process and you had to cut the curds just right so they would sink to the bottom and the whey could float to the top. Once this happened, the whey was removed, and re-boiled, and put back in. The warm whey helped to cook the curds and make them firmer. It takes about forty minutes for the curds and whey to process and cool. Then the fun begins – you get to play with your food.7copy Now you must go slowly. You dip your hands into the bottom of the tub and grab a handful of curd and gently squish it as you bring it to the surface. The cheese curds should squeak a bit when rubbed between the fingers. OOPs! Ours is not squeaking. Ryan thinks we may not have had enough good bacteria in the cheese to firm it up. However we forged on with our mission to make a hard cheese. With all the curds broken in bits Lisa spoons them out into the cheese basket that has a cloth that was wet with vinegar to help release the moisture in the curd. This basket is sitting on a cheese ladder, over a tub so the curds can drain.8The next process it to mill the curds. You add a goodly amount of salt, about 1 tablespoon for every cup of curd. This will help cure and preserve the cheese. Ryan and Susan grab the ends of the cloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. The leftover whey would be feed to the infants or sick and the pigs. Often it would be made into a second cheese called a half-skim cheese and the whey from that would then make a two-skim cheese, each time re-boiling the whey from the previous cheese.9 Then it is off to the cheese press. The important thing is to not overfill the cheese tub. We had more curds than we needed; however the chickens were happy. With the right lid on, and a few followers (boards to help the press work) placed on top, the cheese was ready to press.10 Ryan tightens up the press and ties it down. The cheese will sit all night and be turned tomorrow to press again.12jpg It was a long day and time to leave; however, it was also time to clean everything up. And it is not just a soap and water thing. It’s a cold water wash, and wash and wash, then spray with a special soap, then a hot water and more hot water rinse until every tub has clear clean water in the bottom, and don’t forget the cloth, stirrer and cheese basket. This is the part you don’t see when you visit someone who is making cheese. This is when we were really happy to have Jim and his strong arms to help carry the tubs during and after the workshop.11jpg

 

So off to home we went, and the next day the cheese was in the loving care of those at the Freeman Farm who turned and pressed it once more.

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So, Ryan, do you think in six months it will be properly aged, and we will have a winning cheese?

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Sandie PS: It will take a long time to accumulate all the needed items for making cheese on the hearth, and more lessons, I think! This is not a do-it-in-one-day, make-it-the-next-day food item. However, I do hope do make it at home over my own hearth one day. PSS: We loved the cheese we made, and we took home some samples of Ryan’s award-winning cheese. I made scalloped potatoes with her cheese and it was wonderful. Thank you, Ryan!

EVERY DISH HAS A PAST II

HALL TAVERN COOK-OFF

Recap – Sunday night we had a meet-and-greet at a wonderful local tavern for those who traveled far to Sandra Oliver’s workshop in Deerfield. The next day was all work and Sandy led the pack through a course on recipe research.

After several days it was time to head over to Hall Tavern and put our research to use. Claire had purchased all our ingredients and we were off and running, in many directions, finding pots and pans, spices and flour. It was a busy scene.

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I had eggs to boil, forced meatballs to make, chicken to partially fry, herbs and spices to put together and gravy to make. Then on to the coffin, and that is where the disaster began. I had all the right amounts and began working the pastry. Barbara Blumenthal was at the same table making a crust for an apple pie. I’m not sure who said it first but it looked like I was making a sand castle. The rye flour would not absorb the liquid it was like grains of sand. I pushed, beat, and molded and it continued to fall apart. I added more hot water and butter and it almost worked. I rolled it out and it cracked every time I tried to raise the pye. Well, I was determined not to let this stop me from making my coffin. Into the wastebasket it went. I got a bag of unbleached flour and started all over. As I’m working the new batch, Sandy comes over to see what might have happened. She grabbed a handful of the first pastry out of the garbage and put it in a bowl and played with it.

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Sure enough she likened it to rye grain and not flour at all. I was happy to know it was not just me who thought that. So I hurried along so the coffin would cook in time for the meal.

I raised a quick pastry wall and stuffed it with all the filling and on to a peel to be placed directly on the floor in the bake oven along with the apple pie and the gingerbread.

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It took about one and a half hours to bake the coffin hard. Sandie and I worked together to retrieve it from the oven and I cut the top to reveal a well-cooked coffin that tasted as good as it looked.4

With all hands busy, it was hard to get photographs of everyone. However, I did manage to get some. Here we have Barbara working on the apples for the pie with Sandy looking on and Mary Lou making her gingerbread.6-copy

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Here we see Elyse, who made a wonderful salmon soup, and Terri, who made a wilted salad of bacon and spinach.9jpg

Bill made a Tharîda with Lamb and Spinach, Moist Cheese and Butter, Don who spent time showing us some of his rare cookbooks at the workshop made a stuffed pudding that I want the receipt for.8-jpg

 

Erica made scotch collops and they were not Scottish at all we learned. Fiona made sugarplum that danced in our mouths with joy.7-copy

I wish I had more pictures of the other cooks and their food; however one can’t be everywhere, although we sometimes try.

As a side note, the wonderful copper pots and some of the other equipment were donated to Historic Deerfield by a friend of mine, Paul, I know he is smiling knowing that we put them to task and they worked to our advantage in making the food come out grand. Thanks, Paul. I also would be remiss if I forget to thank Julie, who fed us three meals a day in splendid fashion. What a wonderful ending to a great workshop. I know each time I research a receipt in the future I will think back on this great group of food historians and triumphing over a challenge.

Sandie

EVERY DISH HAS A PAST

WITH SANDRA OLIVER

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What a fun, challenging, and educational workshop. Sharing several days with some of the top food historians and a few enthusiastic novices, we all had something to share as we progressed with our chosen receipt. Sandy, Historic Deerfield, and participants all brought receipt books from very early to modern times. It was hard not to want to look at them all. However, we each had a mission, and mine was to research Hot Water Paste to make coffins. First we all made a list of keywords that we could use in looking up things in the Oxford English Dictionary and several others that were at hand.

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My keywords were, hot water paste, raised pye, great pye, coffin, hot water crust, paste pye and standing crust. I found that I could go back as far as 13th century if I wanted too, however, I thought I’d narrow this down a bit. I started in 1596 with Thomas Dawson’s chewits and went on to an 1880 book by Agnes Marshall. Of the ten receipts the majority were in the narrative, with a few short sentences listing ingredients in copious amounts, the three that were scientific gave measurements in cups, tablespoons and pinches, as a list, and then directions on the process. Proportions depended largely on the size of the coffin, or raised pie that was being made. All most all called for three items, hot water, flour and some type of fat. Butter was used over lard and only one receipt used suet. The flour differed in the type of pye being made, rye for a high stiff crust and fine flour for smaller pies. Three of the receipts used eggs and one used saffron. Few tools were needed to make the crust, a pot to boil water and a board to mix everything on. Very few had any instructions at all and Ann Wilson who wrote Food and Drink in Britain said of making dough “Pastry making was one of the crafts which medieval cooks or house wife’s had to learn by hearsay” I would add, by practice also.

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Once made into a coffin, standing pye or whatever you might call it, it then needed to be filled. Now this brings me to the wonderful history that I found regarding coffins being made as far back as the 14th century in France, most notably in the context of court banquets. They were not always filled with food. Sometimes they were filled after baking as an Illusion food, called a Sotellties. These were served between courses as an entertainment. The cook book Epulario published in 1598 mentions baking a coffin then stuffing it with frogs and or birds to pop out as they cut the top crust. Does four and twenty blackbirds ring any bells?

They were also made as wedding gifts and for traveling to picnics. No medieval feast would be without a Great Pye containing whole legs of venison or beef, swan, peacock or other foods laden with rich spices, herbs and eggs. All made with a very stiff paste. In 1785 Abigail Adams who was in France wrote a letter to Lucy Cranch relating the customs there. “Religion of the country requires an abundance of feasting. The day before, it is customary to make a large paste pie” So hot paste had a long run in cookery book and feast days. Raised by hand or with the use of a wooden mold if you happen to have one. It was not until the late 1880s that they were made inside a form to hold their shape.

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Agnes Marshall’s Cookery Book (London: 1880).

Back to the 17th and 18th centuries- whether or not the coffin was eaten after the content was gone is unclear. The cookery book “Good Housewife handmaid for the kitchen” published in 1596 states “but ye must take heed ye not put too many yolks of eggs for if you do it will make it drie and not pleasant in eating.” Sounds like they did eat the crust.

Yet, look at the picture by Pieter Claesz; you see a coffin with the content spooned out and crust on top.

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However, Willem  Claesz Heda paints his with it cut much like a pie wedge today. So was the crust consumed or discarded? Was it taken to the kitchen for the cooks or passed out at the door for the peasants. I have not seen any primary source confirming either way.still_life_of_food_and_drink_o_hi

So with the research completed on our chosen receipts each participant took 15 minutes to share their findings. Then it was off to the Hall Tavern to try our hand at cooking them. I chose Robert May’s 1685 receipt for my paste and filling. And my next blog will include my disaster and triumph in raising a coffin.

Once again I thank Sandy for a wonderful workshop, and am also appreciative of all the participants who were so generous in sharing their knowledge. As my roommate for the workshop mentioned later, “We came for the food and left with all these wonderful folks in our pockets.”

Until next week,

Sandie

OPEN HEARTH COOKING CLASSES

There are still opening for the up-coming classes for April – May

Look for them in the gray box on the right side of the site –

Hope you can join us

Sandie

TURKEY SLAUGHTERING & CLEANING 101

 

ALHFAM workshop presented by: Victoria Belisle, Lead Interpreter of Freeman Farmhouse and Sewing at Old Sturbridge Village This workshop provided step-by-step instructions on slaughtering and cleaning a turkey. This was a hands-on workshop. Being that it is winter, and not the time of year that you can find a heritage turkey for butchering, two white farm turkeys were used. However, the process is the same; you just have a fatter bird with two large legs and a large breast.

THIS POST IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

Slaughtering and cleaning a turkey is bloody work, literally.

Saturday dawned, a cold and dreary day, not just weather-wise, but also for the fate of two turkeys that were bound for the table at OSV. We were told to dress warm and in layers; I took that to heart and bundled up with as many layers as I could put on and still move. We all left the educational building and met outside where we were greeted by the turkeys and Dave. The turkeys were un-named at first but by the end of the outdoor session, the names Louis and Marie were heard.

Victoria removed a bird and Dave did the chopping, I was going to hold the second bird, however, when I saw the way they flap and the blood squirting out everywhere, I passed. I needed to stay clean for the next workshop. With both birds ready for feather removal, the water was tested to make sure it was not too hot. Don’t want to cook the meat.  I picked up one turkey and dunked it in the hot water for 60 seconds to help loosen up the pores so the feathers would come out easily.untitled-1-copy 60 seconds go by and out comes the turkey, and is it heavy, sodden with all that water. Tom and I begin to plucking the feathers which remove quickly and help keep our hands warm. The down is so soft and, being wet, it sticks to your hands. At the same time, the rest of our group works on the second turkey. We found that we needed to dip the birds more than once to loosen up the large feathers. You want to be very careful not to tear the skin so the pores need to be open; that is why there is a second and third dip.  With the bird de-feathered, Victoria and Tom carry them into the educational building. We compare a heritage chicken to the breast of the new-bred farm turkey. There is a big difference from one to the other. 2copy Then it’s time to learn how to take the intestines out. First, you carefully cut around the vent, (a bird’s all-purpose rear orifice) ideally without spilling any of the contents. Once there is an opening, you stick your hand inside and disconnect the membrane around the intestines. You are trying to separate the intestines from the fat and meat without puncturing anything that might contaminate the bird. Make sure you remove your rings first! 3copy After the neck end is disconnected, the guts are pulled out, this is not a good smell. Victoria shows us the eggs and other parts of the intestines. Next the legs are cut off and the bird is ready for a good wash. Then it will be butchered and cooked.4copy At this point I needed to go off and prepare for the workshop I was giving, so I missed the second bird being done and the washing. However, I’m sure it was the same technique used. Thanks to Victoria and Dave for a great workshop.

Sandie

THE ART AND MYSTERY OF COOPERING

A workshop presented at the ALHFAM conference by
Tom Kelleher, Curator of Mechanical Arts at Old Sturbridge Village

Of all the workshops I attended at the ALFAM regional at OSV, this may be the most difficult to explain. Every year there is an auction to raise money for a fellowship to the conference the following year. This year I bid on a piggin made by Tom. I wanted it for under my table, in front of the hearth, so I had something to put refuse in while cooking.

Well, I won the bid, and off I went to watch Tom make the piggin. This was one of the workshops offered and I could not miss the making of my wooden piggin. While taking pictures, I was also taking notes so I could write this blog. Well, there must be over ten different tools, and a ton of steps needed to make a wooden piggin, and most were unfamiliar to me. My husband may be a carpenter when we need something, yet coopering is a whole other art form. So I’ll do my best to wander my way to the mystery of coopering.

Tom had pre-made the staves to make the piggin. He demonstrated on one by putting it on the shaving horse, and ,using the coopers draw knife, he curves the back.    untitled-1-copyWith a hollowing knife, the curve of the inside was done, and then, using the joint plane, he tapered the sides.untitled-2-copy

To hold the staves together, Tom takes iron hoops to use as a template, and a funny pin (for which I have no name.) Being that this piggin was to be mine he asked if I wanted the wide side up or down. I opted for up, this way I could easily throw food waste into it. Tom hammers the handle down to make the top wide.untitled-3copy

The hoop driver is grooved to prevent them from slipping off the hoops when hit by the hammer. These hoops will tighten up the sides and are temporary.

Now the inside gets its shape. All the staves are not the same depth so he uses a special tool in two sizes to clean up the edges.untitled5-copy

Tom takes the croze that cuts the groove in the bottom of the container. This is where the bottom boards will go.untitled-6copy

 

A protractor is used to estimate the size of the bottom boards. Tom uses a bow saw to cut two pieces of pine for the bottom.Untitled7opy

Once again he uses the drawing knife to shape the edges of the bottom. The straight inside edge is run over the joint plane and the two pieces of wood are placed in.Untitled8 copy

With the aid of a hammer, the bottom is tapped in place and the temporary hoop is once again tightened.

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Now this is where my battery went dead in the camera. However, as I remember it, Tom then made the permanent hoops and placed the bottom on first then the top. He also ran the piggin bottom over the joint plane to make it level. Next he cut a curve in the handle and took a pen knife to round off the top. I have over-simplified the process that took almost two hours. However, it came out perfect, and I’m so glad to have my own original Tom Kelleher piggin.

THANKS, TOM!

t&s Sandie