I received a call from the Wilton Historical Society. They were in need of a hearth cook who could work with children during their school program.

So off to Connecticut I went. I would be there for the week, working at the hearth in the Sloan-Raymond-Fitch house

I stayed at the very comfortable home of Lola, the museum educator the first night, Sunday. I needed to make vegetable soup and little cakes for 92 students and their teachers and parents. The way I had set up the program was to have the children divided into two groups for a hands-on experience, making 18th century food. I had two parents who stayed in the room for the whole day, helping and that was wonderful, plus there was a teacher or other parent with the group as the moved from station to station .


The students arrive at the kitchen and wipe their hands with wipes, then divide into two groups in front of the table. I gave a 5- to 10-minute discussion on the hearth, bake oven and its door, peel, toe kick toaster, butter churn and chores that boys and girls would do in the 1700s, and I had put a chicken spinning on the hearth as one of the talking points.

5 to 10 minutes was about as long as they could stay still.

One group of six did the vegetables a the other one group was divided into two to make two batches of little cakes and one student started on the butter churn.

One mother helps with the cutting of the carrots, celery, onions and field greens.

The students managed a small knife, and everything they cut went into a large bowl. With 92 students each day we were very lucky to only have two, slight, finger cuts.



The other side of the table was busy making oatmeal jumbles and butter. Students took turns with the butter, changing places as they went.



When the bell rang we put the cookies in Tupperware, stashed it in the pantry , cleaned the table cloth and set up for the next group that was already filing in and washing their hands.

This procedure was repeated for each class.

Then came lunch, however no rest for the weary. It was time to regroup and wash some of the bowls and get ready for the afternoon students.

The cookies and soup I made the night before was served to the children by a parent or teacher to have with their lunch in the big hall. That is why I made them the night before.

While we were having lunch, Mario Pedone, the maintenance man, whom I could not have done without, kept the fires going for us, and sat in from time to time, which helped keep some of the boys in order.



Then came 2:15 and everyone was back on the bus. The parents left and I cleaned up the things in the room and the best thing is that several ladies from the museum came and helped me cart thing s to the real kitchen and wash them up so I could reset for the next day.

I left and went back to Lola’s and began baking the little cakes that the students made, making sure there were 150 for the following day. I didn’t have to do the soup, as that was being done at the museum the next day by the ladies.

So it went for five days about 92 children a day and each day was different. Some classes were very well behaved and others not so, parents very helpful and other not. It’s the name of the game when doing school groups.

I enjoyed myself, and hope I instilled, in some of the students, an interest in early American life and how their ancestors worked hard, took nothing for granted, and didn’t waste anything, if possible.


“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”

– W.B. Yeats
















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About Sandie

Since I was a small child I have loved early fireplaces and the smell of smoke in an old house. However it was not until about Fifteen years ago that my journey into hearth cooking began. It all started at the Hurd House Museum in Woodbury Ct. I was the director of the Junior Docent program and among the programs each week we cooked. At about the same time a group of us started the Culinary Historians of Connecticut meeting once a month to discuss equipment used, receipt (18th century term for recipe), and anything between the late 1600 to late 1700 that had to do with hearth cooking. We were fortunate to try our hand at cooking at several Museums throughout Ct and many more private homes. We made cheese; we held a late 1600 dinner and shared our knowledge with others. Our group designrd our own tours such as the Kitchens of Old Wethersfield. In 2000 we were delighted to host the Historic Foodways group of ALFAM at the Hurd House during their conference at Mystic Seaport. We put together a great workshop of Puddings, Sausages, Brown Bread, Beverages you name it we offered it. I am now a member of the ALFAM foodways group. Then it was off to Colonial Williamsburg for the seminar The Art of 18th-Century Cooking: Farm to Hearth to Table. During the years I joined many workshops in Sturbridge Village plus their Dinner in a Country Village and breakfast at the Freeman Farm. So I was pretty much hooked on heart cooking and the 18th century way of life. I joined a wonderful group of ladies and we started the “Hive” a place to improve and grow your 18th century impression and offer research about material culture in 17070’s New England. We also travel with friends and have displays of clothing and teas at Museums in Massachusetts. Many events are held at the Hartwell Tavern at Minute Man National Park. They have been gracious enough to let us play there and entertain and share our knowledge with their visitors. Please visit our “Hive” site if the 1700 interest you. Then the move to New Hampshire and a job at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth as the co-coordinator of the Junior Role Playing workshop and eventually cooking in front of the hearth at the Wheelwright house. Not only did I enjoy making my evening meals at the hearth to take home but also talking with the visitors. I am an entertainer after all, check out my program page. Most recently I am working at the Museum of Old York in Maine as an educator, hearth cook and organizer of the Junior Docent cooking program in the summer. See some photos in the archive file Because I do make food with the docents and serve food to the public at our Tavern Dinners I took the National Restaurant Association tests called ServSafe and now have my Certification as a Restaurant Manager. I look forward to the Museum of Old York opening again this March 2012 and getting back to the hearth and teaching, however for now I’m cooking at home and enjoying doing so.

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