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Archive for May, 2012

For your enjoyment and edification: another 17th Century
painting that depicts a reflector oven. HUZZAH! This was
posted just today on Facebook by friend and fellow CP
alum (aka former Conner Prairie interpreter and thus,
an occasional 1836 “husband”…ahh, good times!),
the illustrious Terry Sargent.

The painting is attributed to Gillis Van Tibong (1625-1678).
I wanted to know more about the guy, so I googled his
name, but, alas, found nothing. I will keep looking, tho.
________

ARTIST UPDATE: I found two versions of the artist’s name,*
Gillis van Tilborch and van Tilborgh. Sometimes, both were
used in the same article. Not sure what’s up with that. He
was a prolific Flemish painter. Born in Brussels, he lived
most of his life there, although he did venture to England
to work on a commissioned family portrait. As to this work,
interestingly, its title is “A Barn Interior.” For more details,
check out this page from not-always-correct-Wikipedia or
here for additional paintings.

*Yep, I got it wrong above! dagnabit. Sorry ’bout that.
____________________

HUZZAH!

____________________

NOTE: To see the painting shown previously that depicted
a 17th Century reflector oven (“Number 1”), click here.

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“Drink, friendly to Nature and accommodated to General
Use” was the topic last year of Deb Peterson’s annual
Historic Foodways Symposium. As usual, a hearth cooking
workshop was held afterwards, wherein dishes related
to the event’s subject were prepared. Participants toiled
happily at the two hearths in the kitchens of Pennsbury
Manor
, creating dishes that used a variety of “spirituous
liquors.” For my part, I teamed up with two fellow historic
food enthusiasts*, and together we made a trout dish
and a drink known as a posset
.

Now, for the posset, ideally we needed an authentic
posset pot. Or at the very least, a fairly reasonable,
period-correct, reproduction. Fortunately for us, we
had such a vessel, for one of our instructors, Nancy
Webster, had brought hers. Interestingly, she’d found
it on e-Bay. Apparently, a few years ago the cosmetics
company Avon had the pots made, and then they were
“awarded” to the Company’s top sellers. Who knew?!
Of course, I have to wonder what folks thought after
receiving one. Perhaps, “What the heck is THIS?!” and
“Just WHAT do I do with it?!” LOL In any event, one
such high-sales “gift” was eventually auctioned off,
it was purchased, and now it was to hold our posset.

So, to make this long story at least a tiny bit shorter,
since last spring, I’ve been yearning, and patiently
looking and waiting, for another Avon posset pot
to come up for bid on e-Bay. Then, lo and behold, it
recently did! I just happened to look one day, and
there it was; I bid, and I won! HUZZAH!

And so, without further ado, here’s my newly-acquired
reproduction posset pot:

Here’s the receipt we used during Deb’s 2011 Historic
Foodways Symposium at Pennsbury Manor (PA). It’s
taken from Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook (1685,
5th edition):

To make a Posset simple.
Boil your milk in a clean scowred skillet,
and when it boils take it off, and warm
in the pot, bowl, or bason some sack,
claret, beer, ale, or juyce of orange;
pour it into the drink, but let not your
milk be too hot, for it will make the curd
hard, then sugar it.

I’m SO excited! I can hardly wait to use it. HUZZAH!!

____________________

*NOTE: I must give a hale ‘n hearty HUZZAH! to the members
of my hearth cooking team: Bill Martell of The Griffith Morgan
House, NJ; and Jacob Fish, of Long Island, NY.

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During the recent “Spring Celebration” at the Queens County
Farm Museum
, I was busy at the hearth of the site’s Adriance
Farmhouse. While a variety of modern-type activities, ranging
from sheep shearing and hayrides to music and a plant sale,
were taking place throughout the complex, I offered a few

of a more historical nature in the Farmhouse kitchen. There,
the main focus was the Mighty Cow and the role she played
in the life of a typical 18th century farm family during the
Spring months and beyond. Thus, we churned butter and
drank the resulting buttermilk, made cheese, and cooked
up dozens and DOZENS of yummy Curd Fritters. Visitors
also enjoyed butter that I’d churned previously (with its
buttermilk, of course) and cheese that I’d made. Oh, and
mustn’t forget, we also made toast.

Now, the attendance that day at the Farm may’ve been
“normal,” but for me, it was downright amazing! I was
just blown away by the number of people who stopped
by to see what I was doing at the hearth. And they just
kept coming! It reminded me of my days at Conner Prairie
long ago. It also created quite a multi-ring circus. Whether
slicing bread, offering butter churning hints, flipping curd
fritters, or warming milk for the cheese, I was kept busy
non-stop. At times, it seemed nigh overwhelming, but
thankfully, I hung in there! And I had some marvelous
conversations with folks, both singly and in groups.
Overall, I’d say it was a very productive AND highly
enjoyable day! HUZZAH!

As for photos, well…unfortunately, finding a few spare
moments for taking any was difficult. Hence, what you
see below is it. Maybe I’ll get more next time? Or not!
Oh, and for those interested, the Curd Fritter receipt
(recipe) follows at the end. Enjoy!

____________________

The receipt I used both here and at The Crane House (see
previous post) is from Eliza Smith’s cookbook The Compleat
Housewife
(1727):

To make Curd Fritters.
Take a handful of curds, a handful
of flour, ten eggs well beaten and
strained, some sugar, some cloves,
mace, nutmeg, and a little saffron;
stir all well together, and fry them
in very hot beef-dripping; drop
them in the pan by spoonfuls;
stir them about till they are
of a fine yellow brown; drain
them from the suet, and scrape
sugar on them, when you serve
them up.

Now, there’s one line in the above receipt that I think may
be a mistake, as in a typo. Or perhaps, it’s the result of just
plain ol’ poor editing. Maybe it should even be eliminated
entirely. Whatever it is, I believe the words:

…stir them about till they
are of a fine yellow brown;

should follow, or be combined, with:

…a little saffron; stir all
well together.

It just doesn’t make sense as it is. Besides, I found a great
co-supporter, if you will, of this theory: Hannah Glasse. You
see, she stole, er, borrowed Smith’s receipt for her The Art
of Cookery, made
[sic] Plain and Easy (1747), In addition
to making the whole a bit more concise, she removed
the offending sentence! To wit:

Curd Fritters.
Having a Handful of Curds, and
a Handful of Flour, and ten Eggs,
well beaten and strained, some
Sugar, Cloves, Mace, and Nutmeg
beat, a little Saffron; stir all well
together, and fry them quick, and
of a fine light-brown.

See? That seemingly extraneous, nonsensical set of words
is gone, and no harm done. Way to go, Hannah! HUZZAH!

_________________________

NOTE: I’ve made Curd Fritters many times. For more in-depth
information on this delectable delight, see this page and then
this one for details about a specific ingredient.

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I’ve known for a long time, since
the beginning of this year, in fact,
that I’d be cooking at the hearth
of The Israel Crane House on
Saturday, May 5. And, although
nothing is set in stone until just
before each specific day that I’m
there, the “menu” of what I’ll be cooking is typically planned
somewhat in advance. Of course, more goes into my cooking
than merely showing up and wielding a spatula and an iron
pot or two. There’s considering what to cook, finding and
selecting receipts, doing auxiliary research, purchasing
supplies, and so on. Naturally, this past Saturday was
no different.

That is, until the Monday prior, when I received a call from
the folks at the Queens County Farm Museum. They asked
if I could do some hearth cooking
in the Adriance Farmhouse Sunday,
May 6, during that site’s annual
“Spring Celebration.” Yes, it was
rather late notice, for sure, but
I SO enjoyed cooking with the
teachers’ group back in March,
and the day was open, and well, long story short, I agreed
to do it. HUZZAH!

Needless to say, things changed pretty quickly with regard
to my “menu” at the Crane House. After figuring out with
my contact at the Queens Farm what I’d cook on Sunday
(more on that later), I decided to ditch what I’d initially
planned for Crane’s. And so, my main dish was one that
I also did on Sunday: curd fritters. My reasons for taking
this route were, to make it easier for myself, and to gain
some practice in fritter making and frying (even though
I’ve made them MANY times before). We also had some
recently-churned butter with crackers on Saturday, along
with the last of my stash of salt pork. And since a good-sized
crowd of visitors was on hand, it all disappeared in no time.
HUZZAH!

Now, I didn’t have too many opportunities to take photos,
but here are a few:

Salt pork and a few of the curd fritter ingredients:

The curd fritter batter is mixed and ready to go:

Saffron, soaked in a bit of water, goes in last:

Fry ’em up:

Delicious curd fritters…get ’em before they disappear!:

I’ll give the receipt I used in the next post.

The fire has died out and a glorious day of hearth cooking
(my last until next fall, by the way), has come to an end:

____________________

NEXT: On to the Queens County Farm Museum!

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We had a great group of folks
at the recent (April 15) hearth
cooking class at the Israel Crane
House
. Everyone worked diligently
on all the various dishes, and I think
it’s safe to say that a fun time was
had by all. Of course, the absolute
BEST part was sitting down to enjoy
a lovely meal of delectable goodies
straight from the open fire. HUZZAH!

So, without further ado, here are a few scenes, and some
receipts (recipes), from that day. Let the fun begin!

First up, from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796):

To stuff and roast four Chickens.
Six ounces salt pork, half loaf bread,
six ounces butter, 3 eggs, a handful
of parsley shredded fine, summer-
savory, sweet marjoram; mix the
whole well together, fill and sew
up; roast one hour, baste with
butter, and dust on flour.

Next, from the Ashfield Family’s (of New York and New Jersey)
manuscript cookbook (1720s-1780s)*:

81. To make a Tansey to Bake
Take 18 Eggs and beat them well.
Put to them a quart of Cream and
the Crumb of a Stale penny Loaf
grated fine, one Nutmegg grated,
a little Salt, a Spoonfull of Orange
flower water, as much juice of Spinage
and Tansey as will make it green.
Sweeten it to your tast and put it
in your dish. Strew over it a quarter
of a pound of melted Butter. Put it
into a moderate Oven. Half an hour
will bake it. When you take it out,
Strew it with loaf Sugar and garnish
your dish with Oranges cut in Quarters.

Then it was on to:

Peeres in Confyt. XX. VI. XII.
Take peeres and pare hem clene.
take gode rede wyne &. mulberes
oper saundres and seep pe peeres
perin & whan pei buth ysode,
take hem up, make a syryp of
wyne greke. oper vernage with
blaunche powdour oper white
sugur and powdour gyngur & do
the peres perin. seep it a lytel
& messe it forth.

from The Forme of Cury, the published version of the manuscript
compiled by the Master Cooks at the Court of England’s King
Richard II (1399-1420):

Ahhh, there’s just nothing like a crackling fire:

Finding an original, historic receipt for cornbread has always
been mighty difficult. So I usually fall back on my recollections
of what we did when I worked at Conner Prairie long ago.
Thus, our somewhat “mo-dern” cornbread (made according
to my own recipe
)**:

In addition, we cooked one of my favorites, “Salmon in Cases,”
courtesy of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, made [sic] Plain
and Easy
. We also churned butter.

Finally, our sumptuous mid-day meal is served. Let’s eat!:

‘Til next time!

_________________________

* Published as Pleasures of Colonial Cooking, by The New Jersey
Historical Society, Newark, NJ (1982).
**There’s been a discussion about this very subject on one
of Plimoth Plantation’s blogs. I wanted to provide a link to it,
but, dagnabit, I can’t remember which one it was!

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