Col. Rueben Colburn House Museum
This is a lovely museum and a great place to visit in the summer. The history of the expedition and the building of the Bateaux are well described and showcased in the house and barn. Visit someday; you’ll enjoy it.
The fish monger gave us two wonderful fresh salmon for our workshop. Zack gutted them and took the scales off outdoors in the camp. As you can see the fish are real beauties.
Zack and I stuffed each fish with thyme, dill, parsley and sliced lemons. We took twine and made sure to secure all the herbs and lemons so they would stay inside the fish. For a board we used a long split log we found outside in the pile of fire wood. Zack placed the fish on the side of the fire to roast as we made other dishes.
Roger, the regiment’s parson, was in charge of deflowering the cabbage so it could be stuffed with a forced meat. We needed a very big pot to dip it in. It was a hot job and he was able to get down to the center section and cut it out for the forcing. The ladies pitched in and made the forced meat for him. He then wrapped the cabbage into a pudding cloth and boiled it for an hour. He was very diligent and kept the water boiling at all times.
Melissa took all the marrow out of the bones. Some was used for the marrow pasties and some went into a sauce that Roger made for the forced cabbage. Stephanie looks on from as far away as she can get. Marrow and cocks’ combs were not her favorite things on the menu.
Perry shared with me her copy of a rare book called Mrs Gardner’s Receipt Book 1763. Mrs. Gardiner husband, Doc Gardner, traveled to Old Fort Western as he was one of the large landholders in Maine. So we thought it would be fitting to use her receipt for Marrow Pasties. Pasties were easy to carry with you and could be eaten anytime you were hungry. She also had a receipt for portable soup which I’m sure she sent along with her husband when he left for the Fort. So it only seemed fitting that we should use a few of her receipts. Susan and Perry made the puff paste for the marrow pasties and everyone pitched in to make them. The beets that are on the table were baked, peeled and cut by Stephanie to be fried later in a batter.
The last thing that was done on Saturday before we cleaned up was to make the starter for the French bread the next day. Stan took care of this. On Sunday, the dough had risen and smelled of wonderful yeast and beer. Desiree came to join us on Sunday and took over the bread making. As you can see her efforts paid off with a great rise on the dough.
Linda’s task was to make the winter squash pudding. Paring and grating the large squash took a good part of the morning. When done, she poured it into a pudding cloth and tied it up ready to be boiled.
The cabbage was boiled on the hearth right next to our vermicelli soup. The soup was made with the leftover chicken bones from the day before and some chicken meat. Stan made super vermicelli noodles but we never got a picture of them, darn. Linda’s pudding came out great. It is so important to prep the pudding cloth and keep the water boiling at all times.
Stan is an expert with flour and water. He made the vermicelli for the soup, He also made the crust for the lemon pudding Stephanie made. Both receipts are from Mr. Gardner’s receipt book.
So we made Vermicelli soup, planked fish, forced cabbage, marrow pasties, fried beets, winter squash pudding, cranberry sauce, gravy, French bread, and lemon pudding all from scratch. Plus we put figs on the lemon pie and had a bowl of preserved walnuts, and cider to drink. It was a busy day and all the time we had visitors asking questions and wanting to taste the food. This is not the best picture; however, you can see that all day we were having visitors in and out of the kitchen.
The last 15 minutes was hectic with everyone scurrying around with their last minute touches. I sat down and reviewed the receipt to make sure we had not forgotten anything.
All looked well and the weather was lovely out of doors. There were so many of us we decided to move the feast out to the encampment. The men put up tables and brought chairs out and we all had our plates, cups and utensils ready. Everything was placed on the table, given a spoon or fork, and was ready to serve.
Peter Morrissey, the regiment captain, took a moment to read a bit about the important contributions that Benedict Arnold had made in the beginning of his career, then Pastor Dough said a prayer for health, and happiness. We all dug into a tasty Sunday repast that was done to perfection.
We were busy each day and, because of that, we didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked. Missing in the round of day two is Tess, she ran back and forth from camp to kitchen keeping things clean and helping everyone chop or mix when needed. However, with the pictures we do have, I think you’ll get the gist of what was accomplished over the weekend.
Now, if you remember I had said that the day before, we ran the well dry. Thanks to everyone bringing water we made it through the day. Also Tessa and Melissa washed everything out doors in camp and we could not have gone home without their help. We all took what was ours and packed it into our cars and said our goodbyes. So the workshops came to a close.
Our goal was to use the hearth as an educational tool and cook with seasonally available foods from the months of May to October in Maine to interpret the Floodways of the Fort. However it is not the food alone that will leave a lasting impression on the visitor, it is the performance at the earth. Our task was to find things to cook that would engage the visitor in a sensory experience and share the simple technology of a chicken cooked on a string, puddings boiled in a bag, the smell the yeasty bread fresh from the bake kettle. This did indeed keep our visitors asking questions and wanting to learn more. I think we accomplished our goal.
The camaraderie and joy shared by everyone at the workshop and encampment was phenomenal, I had such a great time and made lifelong friends along the way.
“We had grown into one another somewhere along the way. We were officially a team.”
― Shannon A. Thompson, Take Me Tomorrow