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Archive for May, 2011

This past Friday, while I was announcing the upcoming FIFTH year of my
popular and well-established Fireside Feasts historic cooking program and
posting this summer’s schedule, the powers-that-be at Brooklyn’s Wyckoff
Farmhouse Museum
decided, apparently at the very same time, to cancel
the entire series. Interestingly, I was not informed of the cancellation until
two days later. The devastating news arrived via an e-mail, no less, and
without any explanation whatsoever. Yep, they took the cowards’ way out.

I’m deeply, DEEPLY, saddened and disappointed by this development. And
I’m pissed. This is the thanks I get after all the blood, sweat, and tears,
time, energy, and money, that I’ve invested during the past four years?
Great. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

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Summer will be here before you know it and that means another
round of my historic cooking program Fireside Feasts at Brooklyn’s
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. The BEST part of it is…this will be our
FIFTH year. How exciting! HUZZAH!

So come out and join the fun!

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It’s Spring! It’s May! HUZZAH!
So, while cooking at the hearth
of the Israel Crane House this
past Saturday, as well as on
the previous Sunday, I made
dishes that fit with this glorious
season of rebirth and renewal.
And during previous centuries,
that most likely meant two things:
chickens were once again laying
eggs; and cows were giving milk.
I’ve already shared the bread
pudding that I made (which used
eggs and milk). Then Saturday,
I continued this “theme” by making
pancakes, churning butter, and
whipping up syllabubs. Each dish
made good use of eggs, milk, and cream. All this took place during the annual
Herb Plant Sale (which was a HUGE success, by the way) and Family Day, so
naturally, there was a continual crowd of people stopping to visit. Unfortunately,
there was little time to take pictures. However, I did manage to capture a few:

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As I often do, I churned some butter at home, then brought it
in so folks could have a taste. Crackers were on hand and bread
was toasted for that purpose:

We also had some leftover bread pudding. And, as I mentioned,
I also made some syllabubs, but I wasn’t able to get any photos
(see what I’ve done in the past.) Making cheese was on my list,
as well, but since the Plant Sale end of things was sold out and
therefore shut down (but what about Family Day?!), it didn’t seem
wise to start.

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For the pancakes, I used this receipt from Mrs. Lydia Child’s
The American Frugal Housewife (12th ed., 1833):

Pancakes.
Pancakes should be made
of half a pint of milk, three
great spoonfuls of sugar, one
or two eggs, a tea-spoonful
of dissolved pearlash, spiced
with cinnamon, or cloves,
a little salt, rose-water, or
lemon-brandy, just as you
happen to have it. Flour
should be stirred in till
the spoon moves round
with difficulty.

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Last summer (July 16, 2010, to be exact), I shared this segment
from Clarissa Dickson Wright’s video series, “Clarissa and the Kings
Cookbook,” wherein she prepares “Peeres in Confyt” from The Forme
of Cury
, the cookbook compiled by the master cooks of King Richard II’s
Court (her demonstration begins at 2:00):

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Then, during the hearth cooking portion of Deb Peterson’s recent historical
foodways symposium, part of our group made a very similar dish, “To Stew
Pears in a Sauce-Pan,” from Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain
and Easy
(1747)*:

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What’s interesting is that, on the Sunday before the above Symposium,
I saw this cooking show starring Chef Nick Stellino, on my local PBS station,
and he prepared “Pears Poached in Red Wine.” Well good golly, seems what
he really did was “Stew Pears” and/or make “Peeres in Confyt.” In other words,
the nigh exact same dish as the two above (it’s closest to the “Confyt” version).
I guess what’s old truly IS new again…and again! HUZZAH!

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*Here is Glasse’s receipt:

To Stew Pears (in a Sauce-Pan).
Pare six Pears, and either quarter them,
or do them whole; but makes a pretty
Dish with one whole, and the other cut
in quarter, and the Cores taken out, lay
them in a deep earthen Pot, with a few
Cloves, a Piece of Lemon-peel, a Gill of
Red Wine, and a quarter of a Pound
of fine Sugar.
Put them into a Sauce-pan…. Cover them,
and do them over a slow Fire; when they
are enough take them off.

NOTE: In the receipt book we received during the workshop, this was
mis-identified. It is NOT from Robert May’s
The Accomplisht Cook,
but from Glasse’s The Art of Cookery.

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Spring has finally arrived around here. HUZZAH!
And it was certainly evident over at the Israel
Crane House this past weekend. Sunny blue
skies, flowering trees, and bright green leaves
and lawns spread out as far as the eye could
see. It was a marvelous day for a bit o’ cooking
at Crane’s. People are out and about once again,
as well, for we had a nice crowd stop by to chat
and enjoy a few hot-off-the-fire tasty treats. Our
“menu” on this lovely spring day included a baked bread pudding and
boiled squash with parsnip. I’m sure every visitor would agree both
dishes provided a great opportunity to savor food of the past.

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The baked bread pudding:

all mixed and ready for baking:

there’s simply nothing better than food cooked over an open fire:

it must’ve been mighty tasty for it disappeared quickly:

I used the following receipt from the 1747 edition (the first of many)
of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, made Plain and Easy. Note that,
contrary to many “mo-dern” recipes, this does not specify day-old or
stale bread:

A Baked Bread Pudding.
Take the Crumb of a Penny-loaf,
as much Flour, the Yolks of four
of four Eggs and two Whites,
a quarter of a Pound of Sugar,
a Tea Spoonful of Ginger, half’
a Pound of Raisins stoned, half
a Pound of Currans clean washed
and picked, a little Salt; mix first
the Bread and Flour, Ginger and
Salt and Sugar, then the Eggs,
and then as much Milk as will
make it like a good Batter, then
the Fruit, butter the Dish, and
pour it in and bake it.

Incidentally, many present-day Italian bread pudding recipes
use fresh, and not stale, bread.

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I also completed my “experiment” involving the use of “old” root
vegetables. As you may recall, I made several squash puddings
last fall. Of course, I had to purchase all those squashes, and
when all was said and done, I had one left over. So, for the past
six months, there it sat on the ledge above my kitchen sink, where
it endured various fluctuations in the room’s temperature. Naturally,
I wondered if it was still good; so I cut it open. Well, surprisingly,
it was! HUZZAH! I then pared it, cut it into chunks, and cooked it
down. Just for fun, I also threw in a parsnip. Finally, on Sunday,
I finished preparing the dish:

For my squash ‘n parsnip concoction, I followed this Elizabeth Raffald
receipt from her cookbook The Experienced English Housekeeper (1769):

To Boil Parnips.[sic]
Wash your parsnips very well.
Boil them till they are soft, then
take off the skin, beat them in
a bowl with a little salt, put to
them a little cream and a lump
of butter. Put them in a tossing
pan, let them boil till they are
like a light custard pudding. Put
them on a plate, and send them
to the table.

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It was most definitely a marvelous day, filled with cookin’ at Crane’s.
HUZZAH!

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