LUMBAR PIE

DINNER WITH FRIENDS

I love making coffins, and so, when we invited three couples to dinner, that was top on the menu. I also made rolls and a warm bean salad. Our guest brought hors d’ oeuvres and dessert, a special treat was freshly dug steamers just dug off of Newburyport that same day, thank you Connie and Bart, who also brought blueberry pie. Ray and Linda provided bacon wrapped figs which were wonderful. This carried on my theme as I had figs in my coffin. Bob and Barbara made a crab dip, a receipt out of Food TV magazine.

The house was decorated for Christmas and looking very festive. I have four trees this year. The fresh one with all the family ornaments is in front of the Cage Bar as far away from the hearth as it can get. It needs water every day.

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With such a large group of guests, I made two coffins. I used the roller to make some of the designs.

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With the bake oven hot, they were ready to put in and bake for an hour.

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They came out of the oven brown and ready to eat.

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Connie took this picture with her phone. Here I’m cutting off the top of the coffins.sandie

The coffin was filled with lamb and veal meatballs that had both sweet and savory spices in them, ginger, nutmeg and cloves as well as salt and pepper. And a little nuget of bone marrow in the center. Large white grapes added some moisture and the, figs a bit of crunch. Eggs and three types of mushrooms rounded out the ingredients. I made a gravy with the drippings from the meatballs and added some fresh rosemary to it this was then added to the coffins. Most early cookery books had at least one receipt for a Lumber pie; they seemed to be very popular.  I know I love them.

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Connie was taking pictures of the opening of the coffins and got this shot of the men coming in to find a seat. We ladies sat down, and dinner began. Our conversation ranged from a new Clock Jack that was purchased, then the name of my Rooker that was used to remove embers from oven, and the trials and tribulations of moving a first-period house that might be up for sale, and discussion of early foods and many compliments on the dinner. Connie loved the crust and ate the top crust alongside her meal, so much for giving the coffin remains back to the kitchen help.

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Dessert was served, and we sat by the fire for a long time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. Our guests are friends, so it made the evening even more delightful.

I hope you will have many occasions to share food with friends and family over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I’m looking forward to having Christmas here and a Beef Wellington with family.

Sandie

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

 

17TH CENTURY COFFIN CLASS

The day of the class arrived and the fires were started in the hearth and bake oven early. The wall dresser holds most of the food stuff with the exception of the cream and butter that we need to be cold. Bowls, utensils and all the needed pot and pans were assembled for easy access when everyone arrived.

We started at 10:00, and the first order of the day was to boil eggs and roast the beets. Next we made the fillings for the coffins. Early pies were called “coffins” or “coffyns” which means a basket or box that held savory meat within a crust or pastry. The dough formed the container that was then filled and cooked in a bake kettle or in a bake oven.

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We broke up into two groups. Cathy, Dana and Debra started on the Lumbar Pie, while Barbara, Natalie and Nancy did a Turkey Pie.

Beef suet was chopped and mixed with parsley, thyme, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt and pepper and added to the chopped meat of veal, pork and beef. With it all mixed together, the meatballs were made with a piece of marrow put into the center, then rolled in a square of caul fat. These were then browned on the hearth in leaf lard.

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Turkey and chicken livers were the main ingredient in the next pie.  However a good deal of mushrooms was added along with thyme, garlic, onions, and brandy. These were sautéed in a pan to soften and brown.

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A Puff Paste was made, by making dough and rolling it out and adding pats of butter to it and folding and pounding with the rolling pin to incorporate the butter. This was cooled for 10 minutes then the process started again, more butter more pounding. After four times, the pastry was ready.  The turkey livers and mushroom mixture, was placed on the bottom crust and topped with hazel nuts. The lid was put on and the coffin shape cut. Decoration were made and added to the top.

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Over on the other table the dough for the raised Lumbar Pie was made. The process is much like a potter spinning the clay on a wheel. The dough was made into the shape of a deep bowl. Everyone had to come and take a look.

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Some of the saved dough was decorated with a rolling pin, with a vine design; this was wrapped around the coffin sides. Then the layers of grapes, figs, hard boiled eggs and the browned meat was placed in the standing coffin. A lid was placed on top and crimped together and also decorated.8 copy

With both coffins ready, they were put into the bake oven.

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With the beets roasted and cool enough to handle they were peeled and sliced and a batter was made. The manchets were grated to make bread crumbs and some flour and parsley were added the battered beets were dipped in the crumb mixture and ready to fry.

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Carrots were grated and a pudding made and put in a greased cloth. This was boiled for an hour while the beets were fried, and while custard, for a dessert, hung over the fire and was closely watched.12copy

After an hour, the coffins were removed from the oven and looked too good to eat. 10 out copy

Apples were cored and placed upside down on each person’s finger, then covered with whipped egg whites and powdered sugar. Then they were turned upside down and filled with the custard and baked while we ate our meal..11apple

Lumber Pie, Turkey Pie, gravy for both, boiled Carrot Pudding, Fried Beets, and a finish of George Dalrymple’s Custard Apples. A great beginning to the hearth cooking season, good food, good friends both old and new, and leftovers to take home. I’m sure there were a few very happy husbands.

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We had a great time, shared stories while we worked, and laughed at a few mistakes. It was a wonderful day. Some of the participants are coming back for more classes and I look forward to being with them again, as they are now old friends.
Sandie

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

I hope I have inspired.

EARLY FOOD STAPLES

Our foremothers never got a break; they were always keeping one step ahead of the next meal. They made premade gravies, sauces, jellies, bread to go stale for crumbs, among other items to have on hand to add to the fresh meat, fish, and vegetables they would have for dinner. To prepare for my hearth cooking classes I have to do the same thing.

I needed to have pig’s leaf lard to fry with and trotters for jelly. From the lamb came the caul and the lard and marrow bones from the cow. So I called Lemay’s Butchery in Goffstown and placed my order. Within a few days I picked it up. It’s amazing how many parts there are to farm animals and the foods that can be made from them

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I chopped the suet and leaf lard in pieces. I put just a little water in the suet to get it started, and gave the leaf lard a good four cups to boil in. These were both simmered, as the water evaporated from the suet, it melted nicely. The leaf lard took a bit longer yet when it was strained and cold, it was a lovely white, soft paste that looks like Crisco. After sitting in the refrigerator overnight, the melted suet was white and hard as a rock, perfect for coffin dough.

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Allan cut the pig’s feet in half. They were so long they would not fit into the pot. I scrubbed in between the pigs toes and took a knife and scraped the skin to remove all and any residue. After giving them a good wash into a large pot they went. They simmered for 5 hours then cooled overnight, and then simmered for 3 more hours the next day. Then the liquid was poured off into a clean towel, placed in a strainer, and then the jelly was poured into a jar with a good tight lid. The pig’s feet jelly will be added to gravy.

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I rinsed and rinsed the caul and picked the small veins out. I wrapped it in parchment paper and froze it. It is a really nice piece and will be used to wrap forced meat to be fried in the leaf lard and placed in the coffin made with the beef suet.  With the marrow bone roasted and browned, I scooped out the inside and saved them for the Lumber Pie. I also made two gravies to have for the two coffins. Thankfully, I have refrigeration to be able to keep these food items in a healthy manner.

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Next I needed to make the manchets so they could be made into bread crumbs, then I headed to Tender Crop Farm in Newburyport, Massachusetts, for some fresh turkey breast for the turkey pie. manchetfirecopy

The day before the class I walked the farm market in Exeter to find the best carrots, beets and apples for our carrot pudding, the fried beets and custard apples.

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There is a lot of preparation needed to have a group come and cook at the hearth. It’s not just preparing some staples ahead of time. There is also the decoding of early receipts that are written in a narrative form that need to be transformed into modern-day measurement, and sometimes food substitutions. However, I enjoy sharing my experiences with others, and though it can be messy and challenging sometimes, I love the connection with the cooks of the past and the present-day participants who come to hearth cook for the day.

 Sandie

“To speak then of the outward and active knowledge which belong to our English Houfe-Wife, I hold the first and most principal to be, a perfect skill and knowledge in Cookery,”

 Gervase Markham – The English House-Wife 1683

OF KITCHENS AND FOOD

So the day of my talk has come and gone.  I spent weeks researching all the stoves that were layered one behind another in the space that used to be the 1763 cooking hearth. With help from some ALHFAM friends I found out about the patents, makers and seller of the stoves that were found in the house.kitchen  M&Lcopy

There were three in all, starting with the brick-set stove placed inside the firebox of the old fireplace and then the M. Pond Glenwood B, 1991 iron wonder and last, a gas stove, perhaps for warmth. split stove copy

With each generation of families that lived there, I showed slides of the food they would have eaten, and the cooking utensils they needed, and how both changed over time.fish beef

 The talk was held in the barn of the Moffatt-Ladd Warehouse and the day was hot. I was happy to have at least a few guests who would venture out in such heat to hear my discourse on stoves and food. talk

 I had prepared a table of various foods and items used in cooking to help explain what and how a cook might have operated in the various stages of the kitchen.table

 I brought mushroom ketchup, rose water, pumpkin leather and pickles, and gooseberries made to look like hops. I had cooked and decorated a coffin and arranged a plate of goodies with marzipan walnuts, filled with comfits and tied with a bow, fresh grapes from the garden and ripe gooseberries.split t

And I could not leave out Alexander Ladd’s favorite dish, Squabtougn

After the talk I described the various things on the table and how things had changed over time, how they did their preserving with a crock and a cow’s bladder in 1763 and the 1800’s version of pickling with a glass jar.standing jpg

I let everyone smell the rose water and the mushroom ketchup, and showed how the cinnamon marzipan walnuts were made.  I displayed a jar of gooseberry made like hops in sugar syrup. There were bags filled with chestnut flour and Isinglass and the cake pan with no bottom.flour jpg

We talked for quite a while, as everyone had questions about the differences in the centuries and where and why certain foods were served. Who knew that stoves and food could turn into a performance? It was a nice afternoon and I enjoyed sharing the stories of the Moffatt-Ladd kitchen and the food that was served.

Sandie

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

Oscar Wilde

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.)

OPEN HEARTH COOKING CLASSES

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I have just posted my up-coming classes for April – May

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

OPEN HEARTH COOKING CLASSES

Hope you can join us

Sandie

FRICAFFEE OF CHICKEN

 

ROBERT AND MARY SMITH

Robert and Mary Smith are not relatives, although genealogy can prove me wrong. Robert Smith wrote Court Cookery Or the Complete English Cook, in 1725. Mary wrote The complete house-keeper and professed cook, in 1772. So why have I joined them together? Well, they both have a receipt for Chicken Fricaffee. Mary’s is To Fricaffee Chicken and Roberts is A Brown Fricaffey of Chicken or Rabbit. The receipts have some similar ingredients, and some very different. They both use a pre-made gravy, one white, one color not mentioned. So I thought I’d check out their gravy receipts, too.

They both have several receipts for gravy; I picked Mary’s, To make White Gravy and Roberts, A good Gravy. Mary uses vegetables to enhance her Leg of veal and Robert uses, butter, anchovies, mushroom and truffles to add his flavor. (Boy what a time to be all out of truffles). These gravies are meant to be made and kept for use when called for. Living with a gravy master, I’m going to have Allan whip up something using both receipts. I know the anchovies will find their way into the sauce. Now the Fricaffe receipts differ in that Robert uses vinegar and is very heavy-handed with the butter and Mary uses lemon and hardly any butter at all. Mary only has some seasoning and Robert empties the buttry of everything he could find. Onions, gravy, parsley, mace, salt and pepper, egg yolks and cream make it in both receipts.

2copyThis evening, it will be just two of us, so I will fricaffey a large Cornish hen. I start with cutting the hen in pieces and putting out all the ingredients I will need for the receipt. I’ll use the long-handled spider, as well a few pots for rice and carrots. Allan had a great fire going and we sat in front of it and enjoyed a glass of wine while we waited for it to burn down so it would have coals.1 copy

The coals were ready and very hot. I mixed butter and a bit of oil in the bottom of the pan and the butter melted instantly but did not burn. I put the chicken pieces in, skin side down, then later when I felt they were nice and brown I turned them over. When I did, the grease in the pan caught fire on the edge and I had to back the pan off the fire a little.

If I was to compose a fricaffey receipt, I’d add mushrooms to give it that earthy flavor to complement the hen. I don’t think Mary or Robert would mind if I added them. I had shitake and oyster mushrooms left over from the making the gravy, so in they went with the chopped onion.2-copy

 

When everything was a nice crispy brown, I poured in Allan’s Gravy and sprinkled in the salt, pepper and spices. In making the gravy, Allan used a combination of Roberts and Mary’s gravy receipt. There were beef and pork scraps in the freezer which he browned along with chopped celery, carrots, and shallots. Next came the anchovies, mushrooms, parsley, herbs, spices and some red wine. He simmered this for a long time and then strained the liquor from the pot.

The carrots were on the fire simmering away earlier and keeping warm on the hearth. I scooped them out and added them to the spider and gave everything a stir.

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Now Robert puts vinegar in his fricaffey and Mary uses lemon. Allan suggested using wine vinegar; this was poured in and mixed about. Then I whipped the egg and cream in a bowl and added some of the hot gravy from the pan into it to temper the eggs and keep them from scrambling in the spider. Once I added the amount I thought I’d need, I gave it a good stir and shook the pan as suggested by Robert’s receipt. Now Robert finishes his fricaffey off with a half pound of butter, I don’t think I need that. I did however; add some of the carrot water from the pot to the pan so the pieces could stay on the fire longer. I wanted to make sure the hen was cooked through.

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Having the carrots ready when I started the hen helped to speed up the cooking process and the pieces took less than 30 minutes. The rice which was leftover from the night before had been sitting by the fire the whole time; it was so hot I could not believe it. Then again, the bell metal pot it was in is a great conductor of heat.

Time to serve, I put the rice down first, then the hen pieces with the carrots and mushroom then I poured the gravy around the dish and on the mushroom mixture. I garnished it with some parsley. The fricaffey was cooked perfectly, and we liked the ingredients, however, the vinegar taste was not present and I think next time I will use Mary’s Lemon at the end as a finish.

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I think Robert, who wanted to “render the Art practicable and eafy,” and Mary, who wrote her book for the “greater ease and assistance of ladies, house-keepers and cooks,” would be happy knowing that I used their receipts and l combined them for my own practicability and greater ease.

Now what should I cook next time – any suggestions?

Your most humble servant,

Sandie

 

BAKED STUFFED PUMPKIN

This time of year when the weatherman calls for a big storm , everyone runs out for milk, eggs, bread and other supplies, to hold them over for the storm to come (or not). Back in the 18th century there were few stores, unless you lived in the cities of that time, and no one to tell you to prepare. And they did not need to know, as they were as prepared as they could be. It was the “Months of Want,” February, March and April, which were the hardest to survive food wise. By these months, if you had anything left from your preservation efforts and in the root cellar you were a lucky family. Getting nutrition from preserved food was all you had.sleepyhollowc

At Halloween, I bought a cooking pumpkin and I have managed to keep it edible for over three months. However, it was time to use it or lose it. My friend Sabra came to mind. Several years ago she brought a stuffed pumpkin to the Hartwell Tavern Preservation Day event, at Minuteman National Park. So I emailed her and she sent her receipt. She does not remember where it came from and thought it might be French. She had gotten the receipt at a hearth cooking class. Well, we may not have an original receipt, however, I’m sure we can say with some certainty that pumpkins were used as a cooking vessel and may have been stuffed and served in the 18th century. I liked Sabra’s ingredients and used those as my base. All the while my husband Allan is huffing about the house and wishing we were cooking steak instead. I held to my guns and told him if he did not like it he could have the leftovers from the night before.

Now, I had preserved in my freezer sausage, and ground chuck, in the larder I had onions, garlic, dried mushrooms, rice and dried beans. Along with some ground mustard, salt and pepper I thought I had a great combination going. I had been to the store, like a good New Englander, readying myself for the storm and saw some very nice marrow bones and brought them home.

I roasted the marrow bones for about 45 minutes and ended up with a lovely clear fat on the bottom of the pan and soft, and hopefully flavorful, marrow on the inside of the bones. I scooped out the marrow and saved all the fat. Not sure what I may use it for yet I just could not throw the fat away. While the bones were cooking, I scooped out the pumpkin and made brown rice.

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I had already soaked and cooked the beans and just needed to drain them. I put the dried mushrooms in boiling water to make them soft and gave them a rough chop. In a skillet, I fried the sausage, out of their casings, and the beef. When they were almost brown, I added the marrow, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and the mushrooms. After it all sautéed a bit, I poured it into the bowl.2copy

I rubbed the inside of the pumpkin with the dried mustard. I added some thyme and began to fill it with the mixture and placed it in a kettle with a cup of water around it, and placed it on the hearth. But then I thought “oh, no” I forgot the beans. Those were added at the hearth, and mixed as best I could.3copy

All the ingredients inside the pumpkin were cooked and I really just needed to have the pumpkin get soft on the inside. Turning it now and then, and placing it very near the fire, which we kept very hot, I poked at it, like any good cook, and when I thought it was tender I took it to the kitchen. It took the pumpkin about two hours to become soft inside.  

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So the hour of reckoning was here. I piled Allan’s plate with the stuffing and waited for his verdict. Don’t ya know he’s a man and he loved it, raved about it. Told me to write down what I did right away so I would not forget. He was so glad that we had some left over!

So our winter blizzard and days of want came and went with bellies full and thoughts of “What can I cook for him next?”

May you never have a month or day of want.

Sandie