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Archive for August, 2011

Summer is fading fast, and good ol’ Fall will soon arrive.
Which, for me at least, means time for a few more rounds
of cooking tasty apple fritters over an open fire. HUZZAH!

Now, I won’t be fryin’ up any for a few weeks yet (check
out Carolina’s Calendar for details), but in honor of this
tasty autumn treat, here’s Colonial Williamsburg’s take
on the little delectable morsels, courtesy of the Museum’s
website feature “History is Served.”

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One of the many reasons I started this blog
more than two years ago was that I wanted
to share my experiences in historic hearth
cooking. Whether I was teaching a class,
or taking one, or just observing another,
I was eager to write about it, to elaborate
on the who, what, when, where, and why
that had taken place. I wanted to display
the photos I’d taken of the whole process,
as well, to demonstrate every step of the prepping, cooking, and
serving of each historically-based dish. Of course, at the time, I’d
been conducting my Fireside Feasts historic cooking programs
out at The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum for two years and was
knee-deep in preparations for my third. Since then, all those
open-fire cooking sessions have provided fantastic fodder, both
directly and indirectly, for numerous blog postings. However, as
my readers know, there were no Fireside Feasts this summer,
which meant there was a bit less to write about. Fortunately,
that’ll change come fall, when things gear up again overall,
including a couple of events out at Wyckoff (not to mention
alot of activity at the Israel Crane House). I can’t wait to see
what cooking escapades await me. HUZZAH!

In the meantime, here are more photos of the dishes prepared
and cooked during past Fireside Feasts.

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nothing like an apple pie:

Catharine Rapelye Wyckoff’s manuscript cookbook provided
the receipt (recipe) for this boiled egg pudding:

syllabubs, made with wine for the adults and with grape juice
for the young ‘uns:

fish (in this case, Sea Bass) cooked on a plank:

fryin’ up breaded cucumbers:

“To Scollop Tomatoes,” a dish that was a perennial favorite of visitors:

as seen previously, beans from Wyckoff’s garden being blanched:

they were chopped and mixed with a few other ingredients:

and then baked, resulting in a tasty bean tansey:

 

toasting bread to make “sippets” that’ll accompany other dishes:

chopping and mixing pork meat, fat, herbs, and spices for sausage:

the meat mixture was inserted into casings (hog intestines):

lovely sausages:

fryin’ up a few links:

all ages enjoyed our Fireside Feasts workshops:

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NOTE: Photos 6, 8, 12, 22, and 23 courtesy of Shirley Brown Alleyne,
former Education Director at Wyckoff. Thanks, again, Shirley!

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There was a different theme or topic
for every session of my Fireside Feasts
historic cooking program out at Wyckoff.
One dealt with soups, others with cakes
or ice creams, then vegetables, meats,
or fish, while still another covered boiled
and baked puddings. Oftentimes, the topic
was a bit more broad, such as preserving
foods for the winter or the daily schedule
of meals and how dishes might be eaten at one or all of them,
whether breakfast, dinner, or supper. This wide range of topics
also meant that no individual dish was ever repeated in any
of the historic cooking workshops (16 in all!) during the past
four years. Although, due to popular demand, there were two
that we prepared more than once: scolloped tomatoes; and
boiled parsnips. Both were big hits with visitors. They wanted
to make them again and again!

In addition, the receipts (recipes) we used came from a variety
of different historic cookbooks. From well-known authors such
as Eliza Smith and Hannah Glasse or Amelia Simmons and Mary
Randolph, to the perhaps not-so-usual Edward Kidder and Juan
de La Mata, we culled a wide range of sumptuous dishes that
spanned the centuries. In addition, we also utilized assorted

manuscript cookbooks, including the published versions of New
Jersey’s Ashfield Family and Albany’s Van Rensselaers, along
with numerous others (all cookbooks are listed in my “Library”).
Of course, the most fun was working from the handwritten book
of Catharine Rapelye Wyckoff. It provided visitors with a direct
(and edible) connection to the Museum and its former inhabitants.
Two of my favorites were her receipts for Washington Cake and
a boiled Egg Pudding.

Naturally, the level of difficulty in preparing any of these dishes
ranged from simple to complex. I think it’s safe to say that, either
way, all of them resulted in well-satisfied palates. And as I said
previously, there was little that we didn’t do. Everyone, young
and old alike, gladly pitched in to help create the wide variety
of dishes that we all enjoyed. HUZZAH to all our cooks!

Below are more photos from past Fireside Feasts.

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just look at that luscious Tansey:

mmmmm, lookin’ mighty tasty:

yours truly tending the fire:

several hollowed-out French Rolls (which I’d made beforehand
at home) being lightly toasted:

meanwhile, oysters were stewed, which were then placed inside
the rolls, thus creating — TA-DA! — Oyster Loaves:

seemed there was always grating to be done:

our “one pot” meals set a-boiling over the fire:

the far left kettle contained our Soup Meagre, while the middle
one had our jugged hare (or, in this case, rabbit):

cakes made of Indian (corn) meal were standard fare; also known
as Jonny or Hoe cakes, they were often slathered on a board and
then set to bake before the fire:

a few were wrapped in leaves, or husks, from an ear of corn and
baked amongst the coals and ashes:

naturally, butter was always needed:

yours truly addresses the crowd:

More to come…

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NOTE: Photos 4-6, 9, and 12-16 (going from the top-down) courtesy of Shirley
Brown Alleyne, former Education Director of the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum.
HUZZAH for Shirley!

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As yet another Thursday approaches,
I idly sit and ponder once again the
cancellation of my Fireside Feasts
open-fire historic cooking program
out at The Wyckoff Farmhouse
Museum
. This week’s session
would’ve (should’ve!) been
number three, meaning time
for the annual “Garden Goodies”
segment, wherein we would’ve made use of locally-grown
produce, including that of the Museum’s on-site gardens.
Ahhh, those were fun times!

And so, in honor of all those joyous hours spent toiling
over the fire, I thought I’d take a pictorial look back at
all we accomplished during the past four years of Fireside
Feasts
. I must say, the quantity, quality, and complexity
of the dishes we prepared was simply staggering! Not to
mention the amazing variety. Yes, we did it all, from basic
pancakes and corn dodgers to ice cream and cakes of every
size to boiled and baked puddings to oyster loaves, “jugged”
hares, and sausages. There was little that we didn’t attempt!
Most importantly, however, is the fact that each and every

dish was prepared using only an original, historic receipt (recipe)
from a 17th, 18th, or early 19th century cookbook, including
the manuscript writings of a Wyckoff family member. There
were NO “mo-dern” adaptaions here! And that fact alone made
my Fireside Feasts program truly unique among NYC’s historic
sites. Not to mention that we used historically-correct equipment
and ingredients, even if it meant buying and lugging the former
out to Wyckoff and/or making the latter myself (can you say
“mushroom ketchup”?!). Nowhere else was such historical
authenticity offered. Nor had it been before, or has it since.
And I’m extremely proud of that! HUZZAH!

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As you can imagine, I have dozens and dozens of photos. So my plan
is to share them over the course of several posts. Here is the first
set (in no particular order).

Queen cakes (before and after baking):

grating bread (dish prep was participatory, of course!):

the ubiquitous carrot pudding (baked):

hard boiling a few eggs:

yours truly tending corn cakes on the griddle:

the makings of a salamongundy:

fresh from the garden tomatoes:

pork cookin’ on the gridiron:

the beginnings of a bean tansey:

making lemonade…all together now, SQUEEZE!:

To be continued…

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While looking through some back issues of The Journal of the Colonial
Williamsburg Foundation
, I rediscovered this article about the site’s
foodways program.
The CW staff is always delving into the whys
and wherefores of colonial cooking, including everything from what
was eaten to how it may’ve been prepared to how and when it was
served. The best part of all this research and experimentation is that
Williamsburg visitors can frequently witness it firsthand in the various
kitchens out on the historic grounds. Not to mention the fact that all
that expertise is willingly shared, which will be done in March of next
year when CW offers yet another Foodways Symposium. HUZZAH!
It’ll be simply marvelous to once again learn at the feet of CW’s
masters. The last one (2009) was incredible. I’m sure the next
will be, too!

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