Archive for July, 2010

It’s time for more sorting/deleting/saving of photos in my camera.
Which means, of course, that I found additional shots taken at Old
Sturbridge Village
during the recent ALHFAM National Conference.
There are quite a few, so I’ll spread them out over several posts.
I think they’re all fairly self-explanatory. If not, just ask!


P.S. I hope these are all “never-seen-befores.” If not, well, dagnabit,
please excuse. Enjoy ’em anyway!


Read Full Post »

I can’t believe another year has gone by.
Another year without my dearly beloved
cat-companion, Kitty-Pooh. Yes, I have
Mystery-Kitty now, and although she’s
a sweetie and we’re bonding more each
day, it’s just not the same. I guess it was
sort of like a first love with me and K-P:
he’s the one I’ll never forget.

In any event, today is the anniversary, once again, of my beloved
pet’s passing. I considered writing something new, but I think this
piece says it all; I can’t improve on it. Although minor updating has
been done, it’s essentially the same as last year’s tribute.



Eighteen years ago, when I was living in Indianapolis, Indiana,
I discovered a stray cat sleeping now and then in an unused dog
house in my back yard. As time went on, I saw him more frequently,
and I began to set out some food. Occasionally, I’d come home
from work, and there he’d be out on the patio. At first, I’d let him
in, he’d casually walk around the room, and then head back out.


Slowly but surely, he became
a regular visitor. Eventually,
he’d come inside, eat, take
a nap on my couch, and then
go back out. Soon we became
a team. He seemed to always
know when I had just gotten
home, for he’d show up
within minutes. Other times,
if I didn’t see him right away,
I would soon hear him. There’d
be meowing coming from one
direction or another, and all
I had to do was meow back,
and he’d come running. There
were many times when I came
home, and he’d be at the patio
door, waiting patiently to come in. And if I’d just had a long hard day,
I’d lie on the floor, he’d sit sphinx-like on my chest, and we’d have
ourselves a little cat nap. Before long, I’d come home, let him in,
and he’d stay until the next morning, when I’d be awakened by his
meowing to be let out. As cats go, it was a match made in heaven.

When I moved to New York, he came with me. On the plane, in the cabin.
In fact, during the next several years, whenever I’d go back and forth
to Indianapolis, he went with me. He didn’t mind flying. I’m sure being
in that cramped carrier, “placed under the seat in front” of me per airline
regulations wasn’t the greatest, but he knew that I was right there. Several
times I took him out (unbeknownst to the flight attendants, of course),
and he quietly and calmly sat in my lap. He’d even look out the window.
Like I said, we were a team.

In any event, to make this long story short…the point of all this is that,
four years ago today (July 28) my beloved pal, this dearly loved magnificent
cat, who had essentially adopted me, passed away. He’d never been sick a day
in his life, yet suddenly he became ill and was gone in no time.
It was devastating.

Kitty-Pooh, 1992-2006

Kitty-Pooh, 1992-2006

Since those early days in Indianapolis, he
had been my constant companion. He went
from being a mostly outdoor cat to being
a completely indoor one. He went with me
from one state to another, and from one
apartment to another and then another.
There was even that short time spent
in Jersey (what I refer to as my homeless
period). He was there as I navigated
the trials and tribulations of life in
the Big Bad City. Not to mention all
the ups and downs of pursuing an acting
career. He was there, too, when my parents
passed, first one, then the other. And the
loss of my beloved dog, Casey. In short,
for nearly 14 years he was the one constant in my life.

And so, this is in honor of my beloved pal.
You were the bestest cat I could ever hope for. My handsome fella.
My gift from God. You are dearly loved and dearly missed.

Read Full Post »


Here’s the receipt (recipe) I used to make my mushroom ketchup/catchup.
It’s from The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, by Hannah Glasse (1747):

To make Ketchup.
Take the large Flaps of Mushrooms, pick nothing
but the Straws and Dirt from it, then lay them
in a broad earthern Pan, strow a good deal of
Salt over them, let them lie till next Morning;
then with your Hand brake them, put them
into a Stew-pan, and let them boil a Minute
or two, then strain them thro’ a coarse Cloth;
and wring it hard. To take out all the Juice,
let it stand to settle, then pour it off clear,
and run it thro’ a thick Flannel Bag, (some
filter it thro’ brown Paper, but that is a very
tedious Way) then boil it, to a Quart of the
Liquor put a quarter of an Ounce of whole
Ginger, and half a quarter of an Ounce of
whole Pepper, boil it briskly a quarter
of an Hour, then strain it, and when it
is cold, put it into Pint Bottles; in each
Bottle put four or five Blades of Mace,
and six Cloves, cork it tight, and it will
keep two Years. This gives the best
Flavour of the Mushrooms to any Sauce,
if you put to a Pint of this Ketchup a Pint
of Mum, it will taste like foreign Ketchup.


Read Full Post »

The mushroom ketchup making continues.
What? You thought it was finished?! Oh no,
no, no. Of course not. There’s more to do!

Okay. When we last saw our mushrooms,
they had been spread out, salted, and
allowed to sit overnight. They were
broken up, briefly boiled, and then
strained through a cloth. All of which resulted in a luscious
sepia-toned mushroom juice:

This liquid was then left to sit for awhile, thus enabling any and all
sediment to settle out in the bottom of the bowl. I then poured
the juice back into the cloth and strained it two more times. It
was simply amazing the amount of crud that was found in the
bottom of the bowl and on the cloth itself: lots of teeny-tiny
bits of mushroom; and a whole lotta salt!

Finally, it was back into the saucepan to be boiled, again, this time
with a chunk of fresh ginger and several whole peppercorns:

We’re almost done! First, however, the liquid had to be strained one
more time. The end result:

Mostly pure salt is all that remained in the cloth:

Whew. It’s finally done! And so, from three eight-ounce boxes of sliced
mushrooms, this is the final (and surprising) amount of ketchup:



I can’t begin to imagine the quantity of mushrooms needed in order
to end up with a full pint, let alone half a cup! Clarissa Dillon warned
me that I wouldn’t have much in the end. She was right! All that
work for such a very, VERY small amount. Amazing.

I plan to make more. Next time, though, I’ll use whole mushrooms to start
and then, less salt. This batch was a bit heavy on that score, even though
a large percentage of it either settled, or was strained, out. Other than that,
however, it was quite tasty (and I’m not a huge fan of fungi). It was very
mushroom-y and earthy tasting. Smelled the same, too.

In addition, I found both the taste and the smell to be SO unlike that
of Worcestershire Sauce. They are worlds apart; besides, one is plant-
based, the other, fish. And then there are all those additives, chemical
and otherwise. I sure wouldn’t recommend substituting the one (WS)
for the other (mushroom). Just doesn’t make sense.


Up next: the mushroom ketchup receipt (recipe)

Read Full Post »

The great making mushroom ketchup experiment continues…

After sitting overnight, the mushrooms were
ready for the next step. They were already
in slices, but I broke them up more using
a spoon and my hands.

Then into a pan and boiled:

Then strained through a cloth (I used muslin):

Squeeze out all that good mushroom juice:

As the bag of mushrooms gets smaller and smaller:

Cool! Look at all that juice:

All that remains are spent, squished-together mushroom bits:

And a heck of alotta salt! My worries about using too much may,
just possibly, be unfounded (we’ll see):

More to come…

Read Full Post »

Soups are on the menu for this coming Thursday’s Fireside Feasts
program out at Wyckoff. One of the receipts (recipes) we’ll be using
states at one point,

take it [the soup] off the fire, and
put in…a little mushroom catchup.

So, we’ll need mushroom catchup. What fun! Now, I could just get some
Worcestershire Sauce, as that’s what most other hearth cooks would use.
If time wasn’t of the essence, I could order it (the catchup) from Deborah’s
. Or, I could make my own. Being eager to experiment, I decided
on the latter. Of course, I needed a receipt (recipe), so I browsed through
my library of historic cookbooks and found several, most of which were
nearly identical. Finally, I selected “To make Ketchup,” from Hannah
Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. Then the fun began….

First, I had to purchase the mushrooms. Now, a fungi connoisseur
I’m not. So I again called my friend Clarissa Dillon, to find out what
type she uses. The answer: button. Of course, I went to my local
grocery store, and there were several different types, but none
of them button. I had looked it up on the Internet and gotten
a couple of “also known as,” but I didn’t find those, either. This
is where I wish my dad was still around; he adored mushrooms,
particularly morels. He’d be able to tell me what to use, or which
would taste the best and all, and he’d be amazed that I’m actually
making something out of mushrooms and…sorry, I digress. In any
event, I figured it couldn’t (shouldn’t?) make THAT much difference
which I chose, so I bought three boxes of sorta dirty-white mushrooms.

Oh, and they were already sliced.

Now, the first step of the receipt is to lay them all out in “a broad
earthern Pan,” but it doesn’t say to leave them whole or to first cut
them up. Later on, it states “with your Hand brake [sic] them….” So
I figured, if they’re going to be mushed up eventually…. The second
instruction is to “strow [strew] a good deal of Salt over them,” which
I did, (a GOOD “good deal”). Then I began to worry that my ketchup
will be WAY too salty, particularly since slices were being covered and
not the whole. Only time will tell, I guess.

Well…now the mushrooms have to sit overnight. So…stay tuned.


My mushrooms:

Spread out in “a broad earthern Pan” and salt scattered over:

They’re on their way to becoming ketchup (hopefully!):


Incidentally, I looked at a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce
that I have in my cupboard, and I was
struck by the fact that there’s not a single
mushroom in it. There’s vinegar, molasses,
onions, garlic, a couple of spice extracts,
anchovies, and so on, but no mushrooms.
And none of those above ingredients are
in mushroom ketchup. Turns out, the only
ingredient in both is cloves! So, I must say,
I’m puzzled as to why other hearth cooks
deem it a proper substitute for mushroom
catchup. Maybe it’s the taste? Or…what?

Interestingly, there are historic receipts
for various sauces that DO match more
closely ingredient-wise. Just NOT those
for mushroom catchup.

Read Full Post »

This is my friend Clarissa Dillon, a founding member of Past Masters
in Early Domestic Arts,
knowledgeable 18th century food historian,
and hearth cook extraordinare:

This is one of Clarissa’s prized possessions, a lovely brass posnet,
which she found awhile back, all scuzzy and buried under a bunch
of other trinkets in a “miscellaneous items” box, when in England:

This is Danya, um, uh, dagnabit, sorry I didn’t get her last name, caught
red-handed trying to steal Clarissa’s favorite pot! Stop, thief!

No, no, that’s not true. Actually, Danya was the young lady entrusted
with caring for the little pot, albeit briefly, towards the end of Clarissa’s
hearth cooking class at Pennsbury Manor during Deborah Peterson’s
annual Historic Foodways Symposium.

And of course, I have several of these lovely little pots, as well. Five,
to be exact! Here are two of my favorites:


Both were made in England. The first one was photographed out
at Wyckoff, and I use it there often. It’s brass, and I think the other
is bronze (but I could be wrong). Each has nice long legs and a maker’s
mark on the handle. I know both are quite old, for there are remnants
of a spew on each underside:

There’s even a nice, obviously round, one on the bronze, which makes
it the oldest:

Pretty cool, ay?! HUZZAH!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »