Archive for September, 2013

This past August, it was time once again to commemorate
the Battle of Brooklyn in Green-Wood Cemetery. HUZZAH!
Held every year on or near the anniversary of its actual
occurrence (August 27, 1776), the Battle re-enactment
concludes an annual series of events and activities known
as Battle Week.

As usual, I participated by doing an 18th century cooking
demonstration. My menu featured Mr. Sea Bass, whose
preliminary prep was covered in a previous post, and
what I call “soldier’s bread,” which is a simple flatbread
made of flour (a Revolutionary War soldier’s daily rations
often included one pound of flour) and water, maybe with
a little salt, if and when it was available. Both were either
strapped or spread on a plank and set to cook near the fire.
Before long, we had tasty fish and bread to eat.

Of course, getting photos was NOT easy! I was too busy
getting things set up or stuffing Mr. Sea Bass* or talking
to visitors…I tell you, it was like a multi-ring circus! I did,
however, manage to get a few, as you’ll see below.



Several members of The Order of the Ancient and Honorable
Huntington Militia did a practice drill:


The Militia also provided the cannon and supervised its firing:


His Majesty’s Highlanders:


Young Master Poppe of the Huntington Militia dug my fire pit:


A jolly good job he did, too. Thank you, young Sir! And so,
the “soldier’s bread” and Mr. Sea Bass were set fireside
on their respective planks:


Of course, those dang Redcoats won the Battle of Brooklyn, but
WE won the War! HUZZAH!!!



I love this next set of photos! Earlier in the day, I just happened
to see the three horses arrive in their trailer. The sole white one
had its head out the window, just like a dog!


Silly horse!


I think I heard it say, “Who you callin’ silly?!? Not me. No way!”


The vehicle stopped momentarily, so I went over to check out
the horse and stroke its soft muzzle. Then I shot a close-up.
Hmmm, it seems to be saying, “Oh, yes, THIS is my best side!”



Overall, this year’s Battle re-enactment was a great success.
And there were many more participants, as well as visitors.
The number of various media-types hanging ’round was also
impressive. One fellow even stuck his camera right down by,
and practically IN, my fire and clicked away. Another gal, who
was a journalism graduate student at Columbia University,
spent about 20 minutes interviewing me. It was all pretty
heady stuff!

And finally, a great set of photos taken during the event can
BE SEEN HERE. I will say, out of all the shots taken, THIS is my
favorite, showing me and Mr. Half-Eaten Sea Bass. HUZZAH!

ME at the Battle of Brooklyn 2013
[courtesy of BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by SB News]


*In case you’re wondering, Mr. Sea Bass was stuffed with forcemeat
made of minced marjoram and parsley, a finely-chopped hard-boiled
egg yolk, a bit of butter, and grated bread crumbs. And if the verdicts
of the soldiers are to be believed, he was mighty tasty! HUZZAH!

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remembering 9/11

Brings tears to my eyes every time…

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Early the day after my “Cook Like a Soldier” program
at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, I headed over
to Green-Wood Cemetery for the annual commemoration
of the Battle of Brooklyn. Held once again on the bucolic
grounds of the Cemetery, the Battle re-enactment capped
off Battle Week 2013. And again, I was at the fire pit,
demonstrating 18th century cooking.

Now, I had decided weeks earlier that I’d again cook fish
on a plank, along with a simple bread, also on a plank (or
what I’ve dubbed “soldier’s bread”). But of course, before
I could even think of roasting a fish over a fire, let alone
building that fire, I had to purchase and prepare the fish.
So I paid a visit to the fishmonger at my local farmer’s
market, bought a whole Sea Bass, took it home, and
went to work.


The ever-engaging and pensive Mr. Sea Bass:


First, I cut off a couple fins. Then I removed all those pesky
scales. A spoon was used for this task, although a butter
knife came in handy now and then, particularly near the
head and under the remaining fins:


I tell you, all those buggy little scales went EVERYWHERE,
including under my apron and in my hair!

Now for the cut ‘n gut. Slice ‘im open and pull out all those
lovely ‘n luscious innards:



And finally, I gave Mr. Sea Bass a good rinse:


TA-DA! Mr. Sea Bass! Cleaned out, rinsed, and ready to go.
“Here’s lookin’ at you, kids!”



UP NEXT: Scenes from the 2013 Battle of Brooklyn.

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The inaugural run of my “Cook Like a Soldier” program was
a HUGE success! HUZZAH! Held on Saturday, August 24,
at the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House in Queens, NY, it


was one of many events and activities that made up the annual
commemoration of the Battle of Brooklyn known as Battle Week.
The program was well-received by all who participated. Together,
we chatted about the typical fare that soldiers received during
the Revolutionary War, including the specific foods, how the type
and quantities changed over time, the cooking equipment used,
distribution issues, and so on. Everyone was able to taste two
different soldiers’ meals, one of beef and peas, and another of
salt cod, carrots, and rice. Each “brew” also had a bit of hard
biscuit thrown in to create dumplings.

Overall, I had a fantastic time chatting with the visitors and
sharing my knowledge of the daily fare that was likely eaten
by colonial soldiers as they fought against the British in our
struggle for independence.



COOK LIKE A SOLDIER at the Onderdonk House


Several weeks before the program, I made a couple-three
batches of hard biscuits. Some were to be used in cooking,
and others were to be bundled together for demonstration
purposes. Since a soldier’s daily rations included one pound
of flour, bread, OR hard biscuits, I weighed out a pound’s
worth (or, in this shape and size, 17 individual biscuits):


I made examples of different ration items by placing them
in cloth bags, including (L-R) the possible weekly allotment
of one pint of Indian meal, the weekly three pints of peas
(or beans or other vegetables), a daily ration of one pound
of flour, and a few hard biscuits (in wooden bowl), along
with another daily option of one pound of hard biscuits
(behind the bowl; a third option, bread-wise, being
a pound of actual bread, which I also had on display):


Cast iron kettles were initially distributed to soldiers, but they
proved to be highly impractical. So a switch was made to tin
and then to sheet metal. Inside the reproduction pot below
is our mixture of a daily ration option of one pound of salt
cod, the weekly vegetable (in this case carrots), a portion of
the weekly option of half a pint of rice, and a few dumplings,
which were made by throwing in pieces of hard biscuit:


The repro soldier’s kettle (L) hangs alongside a typical brass
household kettle (R). In the latter is the daily ration of one
pound of beef with half a pint of the weekly ration of peas:



Rations for soldiers fighting during the Revolutionary War
typically included:

1 pound of beef or fish or ¾ pound of pork per day
1 pound of bread, hard biscuit, or flour per day
3 pints of peas, beans, or other root vegetables per week
½ pint rice or 1 pint Indian (corn) meal per week

The specific contents of these “regular” rations changed
periodically throughout the War. However, at the very least,
an effort was made to make sure the troops always received
meat, flour (in one form or another), and root vegetables
of some sort.



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