This workshop would be a different type than what I normally do for one day. Trudy came from Canada, and Carl from New Jersey, both had given me a list of different receipts and techniques they wished to try at the hearth, some of which take a few days to do.
They arrived on Friday night, and we had a nice dinner by the hearth fire. In the morning one of Trudy’s objectives for this workshop was to start the fires and bake oven. Allan stood by and instructed her on just how to do this, and from then on she and Carl were in charge of keeping it going all weekend long.
Carl and Trudy made Payn Purde, bacon and sausage for our breakfast. We left the dishes with Allan and went out to the herb garden to see what was up. Carl picked some sorrel and I picked lady’s bed straw and chives. Carl said this was the first time he had gone and picked what he wanted to cook with from a garden.
And waited, though it looked like it might turn, it didn’t, so out came the lemon. The milk just didn’t want to curd like we wanted, however, there was some. This was poured into the cloth and hung for the day in the corner to drip in my chamber pot. (Well, it needs to be used for something, I even put it to use as a bowl sometimes. No, it has never been under the bed!)
I found some plastic Easter eggs and Allan drilled a nice size hole in the top so we could pour in some flummery. We coated the inside of the eggs, fish and shell with hazelnut oil. Trudy made the flummery with isinglass, whole milk and cream, adding grated lemon rinds and a bit of cinnamon. This was strained into a bowl with a spout.
I made a quick salad, and Allan cooked up some shrimp for our lunch. We ate this out on the porch away from the fire.
Now it was time to start on dinner. Carl wanted to practice spinning a chicken. He stuffed the bird with onions, apples, thyme, parsley, butter and salt and pepper. He put two skewers through the chicken, tied the string to it, and hung it on a hook very near the fire. He gave it a good spin and it was twirled on and off during the day, being turned upside down once to insure the inside was fully cooked.
Next on Carl’s list was to make an Indian Pudding. He used Amelia Simmons “A Nice Indian Pudding” receipt. The cornmeal was gently simmered on the hearth with the milk until it thickened. When it cooled, the eggs were added with the spices and molasses, poured into a redware dish, and baked in the bake kettle.
Trudy whipped up the almond filling, a Galette des Rois (Kings Cake) with a Rough Puff Pastry from a Fortress Louisbourg recipe. She will be cooking there at the Engineer’s house in July. In the filling she poured a bit of Grand Marnier and orange zest.
Carl had hoped to make one of the coffin workshops. However, life got in the way. This was a great opportunity for us both to do something a bit different. A two-day cold coffin.
He mixed the dough and used the big coffin form to make the sides. It was the filling that was going to be interesting. He was making a rustic Pate with both forced and whole meats. I had pre-marinated chicken and pork in two different sauces for a week, and did several confits of chicken liver to be ready for Carl when he arrived. He made the forced meat of pork, veal and beef, and one of chicken, adding savory herbs, shallots , pistachios, assorted mushrooms, garlic, white wine and brandy.
Both Carl and Trudy wanted to do an Herb Pie. I decided it would be nice to do them on different days and see how the different receipts compared.
Trudy went first, combining blanched spinach, arugula, lettuce, spring greens and adding bread crumbs and ground almonds, candied lemon peels, rosewater, sultanas and pine nuts. This is after the style of La Verenne. For a paste she made French Fine Paste.
Next to be made was a Beef Ragout after La Vareen and Massialot. While Carl was looking after the chicken, he helped chop some of the ingredients.
Finger-sized lardons were tossed with flour and rendered. Then the beef was added in to cooked for 30 minutes.
The bake oven was at the right temperature and the cake, coffin, and the herb pie were carefully positioned in the oven. The new metal door was placed on, and we timed everything, peeking only once to make sure things were doing okay.
Carl warmed the saved pig’s foot jelly and poured it into the coffin. This would become our breakfast tomorrow. Carl wanted to do a jerky in the oven overnight. I was lucky to have some venison in the freezer, thanks to my friend Susan L. Carl thought that would make a great jerky. He sliced it really thin, and placed it in a marinade earlier in the afternoon. He placed it on a rack and put it into the falling bake oven to make venison jerky. This was another of his requests.
So the day came to a close, and so does this blog. Stay tune for the Day Two soon.
My work for the 50th anniversary of the Historical Society has kept me very busy. However with the open house behind us I now have more time.
Once you have mastered a technique, you hardly need look at a recipe again and can take off on your own.