HARVEST DINNER

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. 1 copy

The knifes were sharpened by Allan, and spoons, cutting boards and bowls arranged to be close at hand.2 copy

The goose was pre-steamed the day before and the Long Grain Pepper and Grains of Paradise were ground ahead of time and put in this cute little crock.3

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.4 copy

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.5 copy

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?6 copy

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.7 copyHeather 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.11 copy

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.8 copy

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. 16copy

Pudding cloth ready, the pudding was put inside, tied and hung into the boiling water. Great job, Judy!17 copy

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.14 copy

Judy strained the cooked bog cranberries and saved the juice for later use, Karen made the tart paste.12 copy

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.13 copy

Harriott Pickney Horry’s Rice Bread receipt had its second rise and cut into eight sections to make rolls. Natalie used the docker on the bottom of the rolls to help give them height when cooked. 15 copy

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. 9 copy

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.19 copy

Things were ready to put into the bake oven. The Indian pudding went first and the rolls followed .21 copyKaren 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.22 copy

Some squeezed orange juice was added to the leftover sauce from the cranberries and used to baste the goose.

Heather was so happy at how it was cooking. 23 copy

Judy had never used a bake kettle before, so we all cheered her on when she moved in and took a peek to see how the tart was doing. It looked wonderful. I loved the way the lattice browned.24 copy

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.26b copy

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.26c copy

Everyone looked on as Heather and Judy removed the goose from the spit. 27 copy

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.18 copy

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.

The end result was that some liked it after a bit, and others, me included, said they made better plate decorations. I might try again next year but with a different receipt. 27

It was time to carve the goose. I helped hold it while Heather cut slices off and plated it. See how lovely the high bush cranberries look! Even Ann Peckham would have been impressed.28 copy

Ann Peckham cranberry tart was done and Hannah Glasse’s cauliflower plated with the boiled purple one in the center and the fried golden ones around it.29 copy

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.31 copy

Elizabeth Raffald applesauce for the goose and Harriott Pinckney Horry’s rice rolls both smelled splendid.32 copy

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.

And I’m always grateful to Allan for his help and for having such wonderful people come to at workshops. I, too, learn from them.33 copy

Sandie

“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 NormalYou Can Farm

JUST DESSERTS 3

Yes it has been awhile since our Just Dessert workshop. Sometimes modern life gets in the way of my 18th century life. However the workshop is still important to share. We had a very full day at the hearth and this should bring us to the last group of receipts we used.
Sue and Tracey tackled the White Pudding in skins by Elizabeth Raffald, The Experience House-keeper” 1769. The rice needed to be boiled in milk until soft. It was then strained.

Untitled-1 copyRinsing the skins is a very important gob, they are gritty and you need to wash both inside and out very well. This can be fun, much like water balloons.

Untitled-2 copyThe clean skins were placed on the funnel tip and the sweet rice mixture that was made into a stiff batter was added to the funnel. Tracey and Sue take turns using the sausage press and turning the skins into links.

3We only fried four links and they were very good I’ll do this again for myself. As for the rest, they were packed up to be taken home and fried for dessert.

Untitled 4 copy Next we played with the walnut mold. The dough was divided in half and cinnamon added to one part. This would become the brown shell. The rest was made into the nut inside.

Untitled 5 copy It made quite a few as you can see here.

Untitled-6Paul’s arm had a chance to rest from beating the cake batter for an hour so he wiped up the batter for the wafers.

Untitled-7 copyOnce again the batter just would not work. We managed to get a few but then gave up and I took out the ones I had from my last successful try.

Untitled8 copyLast but not least there was the syllabub from an anonymous manuscript of 1677, made with whipping cream, lemon peel grated, white wine, a touch of nutmeg and a sprig of rosemary.

Untitled-9copyThis was poured in jars and also taken home.

Untitled-10 copyI do hope everyone enjoyed taking the deserts home to share.

Sandie

“I’m not a vegetarian! I’m a dessertarian!”

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes: Something Under the Bed is Drooling

Scalloped Potatoes – Raffals

nut field Potatoes arrived in the Colonies in 1621 when the Governor of Bermuda, Nathaniel Butler, sent two large cedar chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Governor Francis Wyatt of Virginia at Jamestown. It is thought that these potatoes were a form of yams and or sweet potatoes, not the white Irish potatoes we know today. By the 18th century, the white potato was a startling novelty, frightening to some, bewildering to others—part of a global ecological convulsion set off by the Spanish Conquistadors that conquered Peru. In 1718 when the Reverend James MacGregor and his Scotch-Irish immigrants came to New Hampshire and settled, in what was called the Nuttfield colony, they brought with them sacks of seed potatoes. Potatoes were easy to grow, tasty and very nutritious. The also produced more food per acre than other crops. In 1772, the colony of Nuttfield applied to Royal Governor Shute to be incorporated as a town called Londonderry. A token yearly rent was included in the incorporating document this rent was paid to the governor with “one peck of potatoes, on the first day of October, yearly, forever.” The planting of potatoes in Nuttfield is believed, to be the genesis of the massive potato industry in America. Today the potato is the fifth most important crop worldwide, after wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane. So potatoes have been around in one color or another for many years. The Dutch called them earth apples. Being that a picture of a potato is not very interesting I have included this picture that was taken by Bill Gekes of his daughter, reminiscent of a Vermeer.

Searching through early cookery books, I found potatoes done mostly in pyes and or puddings. However, I also found them as cakes, cooked with apples, put in soup, mashed with almonds and butter and Richard Briggs, in “The English Art of Cooking” mentions both a potatoes pudding and a yam pudding. Elizabeth Raffald who wrote “The Experienced English House- keeper,” had a unique way of doing her potatoes. She scalloped them, meaning she put the mashed potatoes in a scallop shell. So I boiled my potatoes in a stew pan with a little salt and floured butter. When done I mashed them with a lump of butter and good cream and put them in my shells. I made a smooth top and put a dent in it for more butter, then my own touch of new spring parsley sprinkled on them. p2 copy Also, in the receipt, she says to put them in a “Dutch oven,” now there’s a controversy for you. Did she own a bake kettle from Holland or is this Dutch oven a new-fangled tin thing. HMMM– very interesting side note. There has been a lot of banter about the word “Dutch Oven” and nothing conclusive that I have heard either way. Anyone out there have an idea about this? So I stuffed the shells and placed mine in the bake kettle and covered it by placing coals on top and on the bottom.p3 copy This is not the first time I’ve used this receipt and it is one of my favorites, as I love mashed potatoes. They were a great accompaniment to the fish dinner and look so fancy. p4 copy The receipt for this potato dish is in the Receipt file along with all the others. Sandie  “We’re serious but not solemn about potatoes here. The potato has lots of eyes, but no mouth. That’s where I come in” E. Thomas Hughes, founder, Potato Museum, Washington, DC

HERBS AND SPICES AND EVERYTHING NICE

The sky was blue, and with herbs popping up everywhere, it was time to feast on a spring meal. With the fires going, our class began. Reading the instructions through is an extremely important thing to do. I give both the original narrative receipt and the modern scientific one. Getting your entire ingredients list and pans together and having a plan is the next step.

Hannah Glasse’s receipt,” To Stuff a Chine of Pork” was the first charge of the day. Bob and Vicky took sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary, spinach and cloves and chopped it into a forced meat to stuff the pork with. The collops were pounded, larded and stuffed, then tied up to roast on the fire. Dana and Barbara watched as Bob stacked the collops and tied them. There was leftover forced meat and we saved that to add to the drippings at the end.  untitled-1-copy Vicky was in charge of the applesauce. I had given two receipts, Eliza Smith’s and Elizabeth Rafald’s sauce for a goose. The first extant print citation of the word “applesauce” is in Eliza Smith’s, Compleat Housewife, 1739. However, the practice of combining pork and apples dates back to ancient times. Hannah Glasse, in the mid-18th century instructs her readers to serve roast pork with “some good apple-sauce.” The receipt, Sauce for a Goose, by Raffald, is applesauce.

Fiddleheads are just coming in and no spring meal would be complete without them. They have a nutty taste and with bacon and shallots you can’t go wrong.

untitled-4-copy

Asparagus is also on the rise in the fields and gardens. We put a large pot of water on so we could parboil the bundle of asparagus. Vicky was busy making manchets bread, and here we see it having a final rise by the fire.

untitled-5-copy

Dana decided she would try her hand at making crepes for the Banniet Tort which will be our dessert. As always with crepes, the first one went into the fire and the next eight came out wonderful.untitled-2-copy

Barbara made the puff pastry for the tort, and with the crepes made, she began to assemble it. Dana removed the asparagus from the water and cut the tops off long and the bottoms into little pieces and put them aside.

Candied lemons and oranges, a few dates and currants sprinkled with orange flower water and sack and layered with sugar. YUM! Barbara slides it into the bake oven.untitled-6-copy

The fireplace became a busy space with Bob and Allan at the reflector oven, Dana and Barbara making a sauce for the asparagus. The applesauce Vicky made keeping warm over the fire. In the bake oven the manchets and a tort cook.untitled-5-copy

The Chine of stuffed pork was ready and Bob removes the strings and adds the extra stuffing that was fried in the drippings.  I had made a Rhubarb Shrub to have with our dinner. We added ice, a luxury in the 18th century; however we were all on the warm side.untitled-8-copy

Shrub is the name of two different, but related, acidulated beverages. One type of shrub is a fruit liqueur that was popular in 17th and 18th century England, typically made with rum or brandy mixed with sugar and the juice or rinds of citrus fruit.

A second type of shrub is a cocktail or soft drink that was popular during America’s colonial era, made by mixing drinking vinegar syrup with spirits, water, or carbonated water. The name also is applied to the sweetened vinegar-based syrup, also known as drinking vinegar, from which the latter drink is made. Drinking vinegar is infused with fruit juice (and at times herbs and spices) for use in mixed drinks.

The American version of the shrub has its origins in 17th century England where vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of berries and other fruits for the off-season. Fruit preserves made in this fashion were themselves known as shrubs and the practice carried over to colonial America.

The first citation for shrub is 1747, in the OED, however the word was in use before that. In Martha Washington’s, Book of Cookery, written before 1709 there is a shrub receipt. (See Receipt’s- Drinks)

Vicky and Barbara put together Hanna Glasse’s asparagus forced in rolls.Untitled-7 copy

Allan took a picture of our spring feast, chine of stuffed pork, apple sauce, fiddlehead ferns, asparagus forced in rolls and rhubarb shrub.

Vicky gives us a lesson on 18th century eating habits.untitled-11-copy

The Banniet Tort came out of the oven and was delightful, with all the fruit and tender crêpes wrapped in a crisp pastry. A fitting ending for a dinner well made.Untitled-12copy

We had fun and experienced an array of receipts with many spring herbs and greens, and produced a wonderful meal.

HAPPY SPRING

Sandie

 “A Receipt is but a Promise of a Dish, but the Dish is the Measure of its Cook.”   John Saturnall’s Feast

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.

6

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

7

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

9

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