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Speaking of Conner Prairie…when I was employed as an Interpreter
there, beginning 25 years ago, I was frequently reminded of specific
principles to which I was required to adhere at all times. Of course,
being an institution that (at the time) prided itself on its first-person
capabilities, the main, and most important, one was that we always
be as historically-accurate as possible. Another, which constituted

A special invite: Yes! I'd visited often before becoming an employee.

A special invite: Yes! I’d visited often before becoming an employee.

the site’s very foundation, was that the three most important things
were research, research, and research! In turn, these two mandates
supported a third, namely, that if any interpreter wanted to make,
sew, wear, cook, build, create, or whatever, anything that had not
been done before, she or he must procure at least (as in a minimum;
more was ideal) three pieces of documentation. And preferably, that
person would find primary documentation (although, if none could
be found, secondary would, possibly, suffice), to prove that, indeed,
whatever “it” was, had existed or had been done, or worn, made,
cooked, built, and so on, during our time period (1836). At least,
that’s how I remember it. These mandates influenced my entire
experience at Conner Prairie. They’re also the foundation of all
I do, even to this day.

Okay. Great! So, what’s the point? Where is this going? Well,
here’s the deal…

You see, when I was at Conner Prairie (at least, as I recall, my
fading memory notwithstanding), “spider” was the word used
for this piece of cooking equipment:

my antiq bake kettle__post 10_24-2010

And no, I don’t know why. I never asked, and no one ever said.
It’s what I was told, and what I heard others say. I suppose,
maybe, it’s because of the three legs?

Nevertheless, then I moved East, where I found many people
who called the above pot a Dutch oven. That is, until I started
attending assorted hearth cooking classes and symposiums. There
I met dozens of fellow hearth cooks who, like me, were dedicated
to being as historically-accurate as possible. And they always
referred to it as a bake kettle.

What the heck?! So, which is it? A Dutch oven? Or a bake kettle?
Or hey, maybe a spider?

I’ve already thrown out the last one (spider), as I believe that’s
likely what this cooking implement is called:

006

Which makes sense. Three long legs. Kinda like a spider? But
I’ve also seen it simply referred to as a long-legged skillet.
Although, if you continue reading, you’ll see that I found one
citation with the word “spider.” It’s just the one, though. Or,
perhaps it’s a regional term? You know, it’s known as a “bake
kettle” in the East, and as a “spider” in the West? I don’t know.
Alas, more research specifically on this term is needed!

In any event, I’ve been searching for answers for quite awhile,
and I believe that I’ve found those requisite “at least three”
pieces of documentation. HUZZAH! Two are from primary
sources, and the others are from secondary. Of course, I’m
constantly on the prowl for additional evidence, especially
primary, but certainly these, below, satisfy that “Let’s see
your proof” mandate, as it was set forth at Conner Prairie.

In short, I’ve determined that this:

bz cd__tansey__outside WFM

is a bake kettle, and not a Dutch oven, because that’s what this is:

Biz Cd__reflec ov__bake ket__fire

And here’s why…

Documentation Number One, Primary Source

A tinsmith’s advertisement in The Pennsylvania Gazette
of May 16, 1765:

BENJAMIN HARBESON, HATH removed
from the House he formerly lived to
a House in Market street, at the Sign
of the gilded Still and Teakettle, next
door to the Widow Wister, and nearly
opposite to the Indian King; where
he continues to carry on his Tin and
Coppersmith Business as usual, and
hath for Sale, Stills, Brewing Coopers,
Washing Kettles, Boilers, Fish Kettles,
Dutch Ovens [emphasis mine], Stew
Pans, Preserving Pans, Chocolate and
Coffee Pots, Tea Kettles, Sauce Pans,
Plate Warmers, Coal Cases, brass
and iron Wire, Scales of all sorts,
Brass and Lead weights, with a
compleat Assortment of best
London Pewter, &c. &c.

Mr. Harbeson operated a “Tin and Coppersmith Business,”
so these “Dutch Ovens” would’ve been made of tin and/or
copper, not iron.

Documentation Number Two, Primary Source

From Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife (1824):

TO ROAST POTATOES.
Wash and dry your potatoes, (all
of a size,) and put them in a tin
Dutch oven
[emphasis mine], or
cheese toaster; take care not to put
them too near the fire, or they will
get burned on the outside before
they are warmed through. Large
potatoes will require two hours
to roast them. To save time
and trouble, some cooks half
boil them first.

A key word here is “roast.” The main purpose of a reflector
oven is to roast meats and other food items. In addition,
it mentions not putting the potatoes “too near the fire,
or they will” burn. Although they might burn in a bake
kettle, it’d likely be because they were left too long or
there were too many coals under or on top, and not
because they were “too near the fire,” particularly
since placing the pot near a fire is not required.
It can be near or far. If that makes sense?!

Documentation Number One, Secondary Source

From Alan Davidson’s “Glossary” in Prospect Books’ facsimile
of (First Catch Your Hare,) The Art of Cookery Made Plain and
Easy
(1747), by Hannah Glasse:

TIN OVEN. The reference to a tin
oven, [on page] 91, is to the
Dutch oven‘ [emphasis mine]
which was in common use and
which stood in front of the fire.
The food being cooked was exposed
to direct heat and also to reflected
heat from the polished tin interior.
A door in the back could be opened
to permit viewing and basting.

"A tin (Dutch) oven from the Hugh Roberts collection." (c) Prospect Books, 2004

“A tin (Dutch) oven from the Hugh Roberts collection.” (c) Prospect Books, 2004

Incidentally, this refers to a receipt on page 91 of Glasse’s cookbook
for “Salmon in Cases.” It’s instructions state, in part, “…a Tin
Oven before the Fire does best.” Now, I’ve cooked this dish
several times, and yes, I used a “Dutch oven” or tin reflector
oven. It works surprisingly well!

Documentation Number Two, Secondary Source

Below is an image from another secondary source that supports
the use of the term “Dutch oven” to mean a tin reflector oven.
Note, too, that a low-lying cast iron pot with three legs and

Image (99)

a lid is referred to here as a “bake kettle.” This is from Home
Life in Colonial Days
(1898), by Alice Morse Earle. Though
her work is often discredited by historic researchers, she
was a pioneer in the field of domestic and social history
of early America. In addition, according to the “Preface,”
the illustrations in this book “are in every case [taken]
from real articles” that were held at the time in the
collections of Deerfield Memorial Hall, the Bostonian
Society, the American Antiquarian Society (as they were
then known), various state historical societies, and others.

Documentation Number Three, Secondary Source

Old Cooking Utensils, by Britisher David J. Eveleigh (sixth
edition, 2001; first, 1986), contains more evidence. In
the “Roasting, Broiling and Toasting” section, the author
mentions dutch ovens, describing them as “made of tinplate.”
In other words, they were reflector ovens:

Roasting screens, also known
as hasteners or dutch ovens
[emphasis mine], appeared
in the early eighteenth century.
They were made of tinplate
and stood in front of the fire,
the bright surface reflecting
the heat, reducing cooking
time and saving fuel. They
were made in various sizes,
the larger ones standing on
three legs. Most incorporated
a dripping pan and a door
in the back for basting.

There’s a term I’ve not heard before: “hasteners!” And
his timeline is a little off. Reflector ovens, whether made
of tin or copper, were in use even in the 17th century (see
NOTE for more information).

Later in this pamphlet-sized book is a drawing of “A cast
iron camp oven [a new term!] with three legs.”

Documentation Number Four, Secondary Source

Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt’s (she knew well the Lefferts
house that now sits in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park) 1882 book,
The Social History of Flatbush, contains these passages:

The roasting of meats and
poultry was done before
the open fire, in what was
called a Dutch oven [emphasis
mine
]. This was cylindrical
in form, but stood on four
feet, and the joint to be
cooked was held in place
by a long spit which
projected at each end,
so that the meat could be
turned without opening
the door of the cylinder.
It was of course open
to the front of the fire,
and there was a door
at the back for convenience
in basting.

And then:

For the baking of hot biscuit
for tea, or a single loaf of bread
or cake, a flat iron pot was used,
which was called a ‘bake-pan
or a ‘spider.’ [A-Ha! emphasis
mine
] This was placed in the
corner of the fireplace upon hot
coals, and a layer of hot coals
covered with ashes was placed
upon the tight-fitting iron lid.

So, there you have it. An abundance of documentary evidence,
from not three, but SIX sources, two primary and four secondary.
All of which tell us that the words “Dutch oven” refer to a tin
reflector oven and NOT to the low-lying three-footed cast iron
container with a lid. Instead, that piece of cooking equipment
is primarily referred to as a “bake kettle.”

Of course, I’ll keep looking for additional documentation. Who
knows what else I might find? Besides, there’s no such thing
as TOO much evidence! Eventually, I hope to do a search of
other receipts from historic cookbooks (such as the previous
one from Randolph) to see what words are used and in what
context. I know I’ve seen others in my work during the past
umpteen years. There’s also the question of when, and if,
the words used were possibly changed and/or switched or
even utilized interchangeably. There’s more to investigate!
And if any readers know of, or discover, other tid-bits
of documentation, I hope they’ll pass ’em along. Please
and thanks!

So, to review all of the above…this is a bake kettle:

IMG_1102

and this is a Dutch oven:

(c) 2014 MHS

(c) 2014 MHS

HUZZAH!

======================================================

NOTE:
I’ve written previously HERE and HERE that, based on period artwork,
reflector ovens were indeed available during the 17th century.

Read Full Post »

It was 25 years ago this month (most likely April 3, to be exact),
that I started working at what was then known as Conner Prairie
Living History Museum (CP) in my home state of Indiana.

Image (39)

Readers may recall that I’ve written previously about my
many adventures while employed
at Conner Prairie. It was
the birthplace of my passion for historic cooking. Even now,
I acknowledge that fact and am deeply grateful for the solid
foundation, both in general history and in historic foodways,
that was established there. Overall, my experience at Conner
Prairie was wonderful, and my years serving as an Interpreter
were some of the happiest, most glorious, of my life.

______________________________________________________________________

One of my stints as a cover girl while at CP!

Image (38)

______________________________________________________________________

However, sadly all is not well back there on the Prairie. At least,
in my view. The past that I knew, that I happily “lived,” shared
with, and interpreted for, thousands upon thousands of visitors
on a daily basis, is, sadly, no more. I say this based on what
I personally have seen and heard, as well as on what I’ve been
told by current employees and by fellow CP alums. The museum’s
emphasis now seems to be more on having a good time, rather
than on learning about the past. What daily transpires is more
“let’s have fun via interactive activities” and less “here’s how
inhabitants of this area and during this time (that’d be the year
1836, in central Indiana) lived, worked, and played.” In fact,
the institution’s very name has been changed to reflect this
new direction. No longer called a living history museum, it’s
now some type of fun-land, namely “Conner Prairie Interactive
Historic Park.” Even the site’s current slogan has veered
away from any semblance of history, living or otherwise,
with its bold proclamation of “Acres and Acres of Interactive
Awesomeness.” ugh. There’s a heavy sense of dread in my
very heart and soul. It feels as if a dear friend from long
ago has passed.

This new angle on daily operations at CP really hit home this
past summer when I was told of a blog written by a Danish
fellow* who was traveling around the United States with his
family, visiting different historical museums. One of his goals
was to determine which institutions offered the best interactive
experiences (yes, apparently that’s a vital criteria nowadays!).
The family went to several sites, including the Frontier Culture
Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Henry Ford Museum.
Second on their itinerary was my once-beloved Conner Prairie.
I was eager to read what they thought.

Then, I saw this blog photo:

(c) 2015 Martins Museum Blog

(c) 2015 Martins Museum Blog

My heart sank. Seriously?!? I was simply dumbfounded…shocked…
dismayed…disappointed. Even angered. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Why? Because below is the scene that used to greet visitors when
they walked into the kitchen of this same house:

Dr Campbell kitchen at CP c 1991

You saw a person (usually female, and in this particular case me,
but it could’ve been someone else portraying the same, or a similar,
character) DOING various kitchen-appropriate (wow, it’s a separate
room!) activities. She might be preparing a meal and cooking all or
parts of it on the cast iron cook-stove (oh, my! it’s the ONLY one
in town!) or “dressing” the good-sized table in the adjacent dining
room (again, wow, it’s separate!) with a cloth, napkins, plates,
and other assorted accoutrements or even beginning the process
of serving the folks seated therein. Or, if the meal had ended,
she might be clearing the table and washing-up all the dishes and
pots ‘n pans and putting them away in their proper spots. Naturally,
during all this, I would’ve, er, I mean, she would’ve explained each
step. Perhaps she’d start with the cook-stove, and how difficult it is
to keep it huffin’ ‘n puffin’ all day long and the challenges she faced
learning to cook on it, since, as with most females in this or any town,
she only knows how to cook on the open hearth. Then there’s
the incessant struggle to maintain a supply of stove firewood,
and the constant reminders she has to give the Doctor’s young
apprentice (or perhaps that fellow whose Contract for the Poor
Dr. Campbell holds) to chop it and fill the wood box. And then
all the times such help is non-existent, like the other day when
the Doctor and his assistant were out tending to patients, and
so she had to handle it herself. Of course, hopefully the gal
visitors encountered in this kitchen would talk non-stop (well,
I certainly did!) about the whys and wherefores of all that she

______________________________________________________________________

Me, not at the Doctor’s grand house, but at the potters’ plain ‘n rugged
one-room cabin at the edge of town, down toward the river:

Image (96)

______________________________________________________________________

was doing. Whether it was the sources of the foods that were
prepared (patients, as payment for the Doctor’s services) or
the reason for the separate rooms in the Campbell house just
for cooking, eating, and even sleeping (there were FIVE rooms!
most houses in town only had one or two) or what she really
thought of that handsome new schoolmaster, I’d, er, sorry,
I mean she, would gladly tell all. Then she’d likely yammer on
about herself and her family, her sister and two brothers, how
long she’d been the Campbell’s “hired girl,” what her duties
and chores are, and perhaps whether or not the Doctor is
a good and kind employer and how special her relationship
is with his wife, who’s teaching her about all the finer things
in life. She’s well aware that she works long hours, but she’s
mighty grateful to be able to contribute to her whole family’s
living expenses (particularly since her father passed not long
ago). And so on and so forth, ’til the day comes to an end.
Of course, the beauty and the value of it all is that, once
visitors left this kitchen and house, they could then compare
what they saw here with what they’d seen, or were going
to see, in all the other houses throughout Prairietown.

The bottom line is, visitors would’ve been able to LEARN SO
MUCH
about SO MANY things when they entered this kitchen
of Dr. Campbell’s house and chatted with the person they met
there. Through interaction with a real human being, the public
was informed, educated, and entertained. In short, it was fun!
But now, instead of an actual person showing and teaching
visitors by doing, explaining as she goes, and sharing oodles
of information, and answering your questions, both big and
small, and conducting a lively conversation, they get this:

(c) 2015 Martins Museum Blog

(c) 2015 Martins Museum Blog

Yep, a wall placard telling everyone how to “prepare and cook”
their own meal, complete with plastic food. What a deal!

So, I ask you, is this BETTER?!? I say no, but hey, that’s just
me and my opinion.

What’s interesting is that, apparently, Colonial Williamsburg has
now set its compass in the same direction. Some folks are all
for it, others are not. Personally, I have a problem with this
seemingly rampant “enh, it’s good enough” attitude. I mean,
come on! Showcasing the pirate Blackbird, who not only was
never in the town of Williamsburg, but was also killed in 1718,
long before the site’s primary time period?! And I was shocked
to read the new president’s comment, “The Blackbeard story
was fun, it was accurate-ish.” (emphasis mine)

Seriously?!?

Alas, maybe that’s what’s important nowadays. Fun. As opposed
to, say, acknowledging our historic past. And doing it accurately.
As opposed to “accurate-ish”-ly. Whatever. As far as I can tell,
it seems like it’s the ol’ Disney-fication effect, the one that
people feared was engulfing Conner Prairie years ago.

Of course, nothing’s more constant than change. The Conner
Prairie that I knew and visited when in grade school was vastly
different from what it had become by the time I was employed
as an Interpreter. For starters, back in those very early days,
it was called Conner Prairie Pioneer Settlement and Museum.
Then decades later, due to major shifts in the surrounding
population, even the site’s address changed, from Noblesville
to Fishers (which kinda made the reason for naming the onsite
eatery after Governor Noble rather nonsensical). Later on, when
working for the City of Indianapolis’ Parks Department, I attended
meetings at CP that were conducted in a renovated barn, before
the modern Visitor Center was built. And heck, I can remember
a time when the first-person village of Prairietown didn’t exist!

Image (86)

There have been other changes since my years at CP, many
of which seem inexplicable to me. Or maybe it’s just that
the site’s focus drifted more to offering what the public
expects, rather than on what’s historically correct. This,
from an institution that, at least when I was there, strived
for historical accuracy at all times and demanded the same
of its interpreters. In any event, there were things such as
the addition of a church (after all, every town had one, yes?
No! Not those in Indiana with a population under 200; besides,
not everyone was of the same religion, if any). Then the village
potters’ surname was changed from “Baker” to “Barker,” because,
you know, too many visitors were confused as to whether pots
or bread was baked in the kiln (despite the fact that the name
Baker was set when Prairietown was conceived, and it was
the actual name of an actual, real-life early 1800s Indiana
potter). Of course, I think the nail in the coffin was hammered
tight when the potters’ house was demolished (they now “live”
outside of town, just as most everyone else does) and their
shop moved up into town (makes for a nice little industrial
district, doesn’t it?!).

Image (79)

And don’t get me started on the $450 million Civil War exhibit!
(I might tell you what I really think! LOL oy) Whatever. I could
continue, but I won’t. Besides, it’s too painful! Nevertheless,
in the end, it seems that history is being, and has been, slowly
but surely, dumped by the wayside. ‘Cuz, you know, it’s allegedly
“not fun.” And that worries, even saddens, me.

In the end, I suppose the proof of any benefits, or lack thereof,
arising from all this mucking about will come decades from now,
when the general consensus is that citizens of the United States
are either more or less informed about the overall history of their
country, as well as that of their collective past, of themselves as
a people. I’m guessing it’ll be, perhaps, the latter, since it isn’t
particularly good now, but, again, that’s just me. It remains
to be seen.

In the meantime, I commemorate this 25th anniversary by bidding
a hearty farewell to a treasured past and moving forward with heaps
of fond memories. HUZZAH!

Image (78)

===================================

*NOTE: Naturally, the blog is in Danish.
To translate it, use
Google Translate. You’ll get
a version that’s understandable, albeit not perfect.
Copy the URL of the blog post and paste it into
the box on the left side of the Google Translate
page. Make sure you’re translating from Danish
to English, using the “Detect Language” function
on the left of the page, above the box. The URL
of the translated page will pop up on the right.
Then click the blue “Translate” box (also on
the right), and the translated web page will
replace the “Translate” page.
Hope that all
makes sense. Good luck!

Read Full Post »

As I’m sure you know, if you’ve read much of this blog,
I’m thoroughly fascinated with the preparation and
then the cooking of dishes over an open fire, be it
indoors at a hearth or outdoors at a fire pit. I enjoy
the entire process, from mixing historically-appropriate
ingredients to using antique or reproduction equipment
and tools to following each and every step of receipts

IMG_4667

found in various historic cookbooks. I particularly like
the ingredients, tools, procedures, even receipt titles,
that prompt those “Say, what?!” exclamations. Things
like treacle or mace, a spider or a coffin, syllabubs or
Naples biscuits, forcemeat or a jugged hare…the list
seems endless! And I’m always eager to try them all.
So I’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to use
one specific and unique cooking method: collaring.

Everybody, now: “Say, what?!?”

Collaring is a method of cooking meat and fish that’s
been around for centuries. Receipts can be found
in many historic cookbooks, both published and
handwritten, for preparing beef, mutton, pork,
and yes, even fish (eel?!?), in this manner. The
meat is laid out flat (cut, if necessary, to do so),
herbs and spices are spread on top, it’s then rolled,
tied, wrapped in a cloth, and boiled. As to the term
“collar,” it’s believed to refer to its resemblance
to the real thing when coiled up in a cooking pot.
Maybe. Maybe not! I suppose no one really knows,
but it makes for a great story, yes?!

In any event, when I was informed late last year
that another “private” hearth cooking class* was
to be held this winter at The Israel Crane House,
I was VERY eager to include the collaring of a meat,
specifically pork, on the menu. So I had the House
staff check to make sure there were no objections
of any kind. There weren’t, so it was a go! And so,
our menu featured not only receipts for assorted
side dishes, but also one for “collaring” pork.
HUZZAH!

photo 1(3)

And now a few photos of our menu preparations…

54. To coller Pigg or Eals
from the manuscript cookbook of the Ashfield Family
of New York and New Jersey (c 1720s to 1780s):

does it look like a collar? you decide!

001

here it goes, happily boiling away in a mixture of half
water and half vinegar with a few herbs and spices…

005

012

TA-DA!!!
014

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

The half vinegar/half water “Liquor” that it was boiled
in made a great sauce.

Potatoes Fried in Slices or Ribbons,
from The Cook’s Own Book (1832),
by a Boston Housekeeper (Mrs. N.K.M. Lee):

008

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

Beets, Stewed

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

…and A Cheese Pudding,
both from Mrs. Lettice Bryan’s
The Kentucky Housewife (1839):

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

010

and last, but not least, Portugal Cakes
from The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy,
by Hannah Glasse (1747):

002

This dish is supposed to be baked in individual tins.
However, not having any (dagnabit), we made one
large cake instead. I’ve been searching for a set
of small individual baking pans for quite some time,
but have yet to find any. I do have a few ceramic
ones, but not enough. So I’ll continue my search.
Or perhaps have some made? We’ll see!

It was a fantastic meal! HUZZAH! The ladies did
a terrific job. Each dish was absolutely delicious.
I tell you, there’s really nothing like food cooked
over an open fire! And everyone pitched in whenever
and wherever needed. In fact, things went so well,
that we ended early. Whodathunk?! I may have
to add extra dishes next time. Either that, or
a few that’re more difficult. All in all, everyone
had a marvelous time. I look forward to next year’s
“private” class!

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

(c) 2016 Angelica Kane

______________________________

IMG_1102
*So-called because a woman who attended
one of the hearth cooking classes two or three
years ago at The Israel Crane House had such
a great time that she gathered several friends
together and made arrangements for the group
to participate in another. We’ve since dubbed
it the “private” hearth cooking class.

Read Full Post »

There are five major chain grocery stores in my neighborhood
that I can easily reach by walking. Of course, some are closer
than others. The distances range from a mere (?!) six blocks
to more than a mile. They all vary in size, as well. And then
there are the numerous, albeit much smaller, specialty stores
and bodegas. Not to mention the weekly farmers markets,
of which there are two. I must say, this wealth of, and
accessibility to, such a wide range of food stuffs in my own
neck o’ the woods is quite amazing. HUZZAH!

So what does this have to do with historic cooking? Well, alot!
Because when I need to buy food for use during any hearth
cooking event, whether it’s a demonstration, a talk, or a class,

010

I can go to one or more of the above stores. I know which
ones carry this or that particular ingredient and which don’t.
Or which offers it at a better price (aka cheaper). And most
importantly, which store or stores offer historically-accurate
ingredients, be it mace or quinces or unadulterated flour. Or
which sells the means for creating the same (i.e. pig fat so
that I can render my own lard). Sometimes when I decide
to cook a particular dish from this or that historic cookbook,
I’m able to procure all the necessary ingredients at just one
location, and at other times, I have to pay a visit to two or
more. I will say, though, that even I’m amazed at what I
can find relatively nearby. Even at the major so-called
“generic” mass-market chain stores such as Associated,
Key Food, and C-Town. And here in Brooklyn, no less. It’s
absolutely fantastic! HUZZAH, again!

However, a major glitch has reared its ugly head. The range
of historic dishes that I can prepare and cook, at any time
and at any historic site, may soon be sorely limited. In fact,
my ability to cook specific dishes may all but be eliminated
entirely, as my access to certain ingredients will be drastically
altered within just a few short months. You see, sadly, one
of the above-mentioned big chain stores, a 36,000 square
074foot freestanding supermarket,
with a similarly-sized parking
lot, the one that’s more than
a mile from my place, down
where Sterling Street meets
5th Avenue here in Park Slope,
namely the Key Food, will be
completely demolished. It’ll then be replaced by two shiny
new modern glass, concrete, and steel 165-unit apartment
buildings. Ain’t progress grand?! Bring in more people!
Destroy their major source of food! What a deal! lordy

070

This particular Key Food is where I can acquire several ingredients
that are appropriate for replicating dishes from the 18th and early
19th centuries. And in some instances, the ONLY place. Sure,
there’s another Key Food that’s closer to me. Just seven blocks,
in fact. It’s quite a hike of more than a mile, downhill to and up
from, to arrive at this one. But believe me, being able to purchase
specific ingredients that are appropriate for countless historic
receipts makes it worth the trip.

For starters, the 5th Avenue Key Food, and ONLY this Key Food,
has a set of bookshelves that constitutes its British section…

036

and there I can find treacle (aka treakle)…

040

which, as you may know, is NOT the same as molasses (an
item most any store carries). It IS different! Yes, you can
switch the one for the other, but doing so affects the taste
of the end product. I frequently make Gingerbread Cakes
in accordance with Hannah Glasse’s receipt in her cookbook
The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy (1747), and she
specifies “treakle.” For me, nothing else will do!

Here’s the 5th Avenue Key Food’s wonderful and HUGE (in
comparison to so many other stores, even other Key Foods)
meat department, where I can find a plethora of items for use
in my various hearth cooking activities…

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046

It’s where I find marrow bones, containing that all-important
marrow specified in numerous historic receipts…

028

and pig fat, so I can render my own lard, as well as salt pork,
otherwise known as smoked slab bacon…

024

There’s also plain ol’ sausages…

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as you see, they’re called “Breakfast Sausage.” Yes, other stores
sell them, including the much-closer-to-me Key Food, but they’re
usually only the flavored varieties, those that contain herbs and
spices or cheese and tomato and so forth…which are too modern
and NOT what I need or want!

The 5th Avenue Key Food has a HUGE fresh produce section,
with nearly every vegetable and fruit you can imagine…

054

019

This is where I find small packaged bundles of herbs for only
99 cents! You can’t beat that. It’s just enough for the dishes
that require them…

021

and if I need more, they also have a larger size for $1.99…

022

The smaller Key Food has had neither. Since a recent remodeling,
however, it now offers the larger bundles…at the higher price
of 2 for $5. So in my book, it’s worth it to walk farther in order
to save a few coins (besides, it’s good exercise! LOL). And if I
need something else that only this Key Food offers, or really
just any other item, all the better.

On a personal note, this is the only store (at least, of which
I’m aware) that sells bags (not boxes) of Kit ‘n Kaboodle, one
of my kitty’s favorite dry foods…

023

And here’s the frozen food section, where I can find my beloved
Stouffer’s frozen entrees. When all was said and done, the other
Key Food eliminated eight frozen food cases upon finishing its
remodeling project. Which meant that several items had to be
jettisoned, including the entire range of Stouffer’s that had
been previously offered. Sacre bleu!

052

A few more interior shots of this soon-to-be-gone good-sized
supermarket. It’s just expansive! In both space, layout, and
variety and diversity of products offered.

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044

056

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In case anyone’s interested, here’s what’s possibly going
to be built soon to replace this neighborhood’s beloved
5th Avenue Key Food supermarket…

(c) 2016 Avery Hall Investments

(c) 2016 Avery Hall Investments

Incidentally, at a recent Community Meeting about the project,
the rep from Avery Hall Investment (AHI) made a big deal of that
“pedestrian-only” walkway. or “piazza,” where people “will be able
to sit and chat, and have a cup of coffee.” My immediate thought
was, “HA! Have you seen the nearly 600-acre green space just up
a few blocks? It’s quite lovely, with trees, a lake, and everything!
It’s been there for more than a century. Hello! Prospect Park?!
Not to mention popular Washington Park, just down 5th Avenue.”
Golly. Don’t give us what we need, but give us something we don’t.
So ridiculous.

Speaking of that Community Meeting, here’s one report. As it
mentions, I, too, thought I was attending a meeting where
the possibility of the 5th Avenue Key Food being sold and
replaced with new development would be merely discussed.
And ONLY discussed. Boy, was I wrong! It soon became clear,
not only from the meeting’s outcome, but also from a discussion
I had immediately afterward with a current Key Food employee,
that it’s a done deal. Apparently, the owner has been looking
to sell for some time; he was just waiting for the right deal,
and this is it. So the property’s been sold, finances secured,
the developer/investor chosen, moneys exchanged…it’s final…
the end is near. I must say, it was extremely disheartening
to learn that the current store owner seems to have moved
quietly, securing his deal without considering for a moment
how it might affect any of his loyal customers. Let alone
without seeking their input. It’s too bad. Like it or not,
we’ll just have to shop elsewhere. Or do without.

Alas, so it goes. Sorry to see you go, 5th Avenue Key Food!
I’ll certainly miss you and those items that only you offer.

068

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About a month ago, I hopped on a train and headed South
to Williamsburg, Virginia, in order to attend the 2015 Annual
ALHFAM* Conference. Held on the campus of William & Mary
College, it was hosted by its neighbor, Colonial Williamsburg
(CW)
. The five-day affair featured assorted pre-conference
field trips and workshops, a day to experience all that CW

IMG_4888

has to offer, another for traipsing ’round the four separate
sites that comprise Jamestown and Yorktown, and last, but
not least, two full days of informative sessions that covered
every topic imaginable, from the role of modern technology
in museum settings to the tools required to better engage
audiences of all ages to the care ‘n feeding of re-enactors
at historic sites. Yours truly led a session, as well, entitled
“Fake Fanny Receipts and Other Travesties…,” wherein
I delved into the folly of using any of the ever-increasing
number of so-called “historic” recipe compilations, instead
of the truly authentic, original historic cookbooks (more
on that later).

Naturally, I took photos during the Conference. However,
just days before I left, my trusty camera went all wonky.
It still captured fantastic photos, but at a price. You see,
when I’d frame a shot, I’d do so blind. There’d be nothing
on the view screen, as it was completely blank! So, I had
to eyeball it, click the button, then check the resulting
photo (which it still showed, thankfully) to see if I got
what I wanted. If yes, I could go on to the next, but if
NOT, then I had to adjust, ever-so-slightly, how it was
aimed and try again. Repeatedly! Getting exactly what
I desired was rather hit ‘n miss (mostly, miss! although,
it did get easier as time went on). Of course, then I had
to sort through ’em all and delete the pesky “not-quites.”
dagnabit If I’d had enough time, I would’ve purchased
a new camera before I left, but alas…. So, I made do.
Besides, it was certainly better than nothing!

In any event, I’ll start sharing a few photos. And I’ll
begin with those that deal with my favorite subject,
historic cooking. Others, of the more general sort,
will follow. Enjoy!

================================

I’d have to say that, for me, the biggest and most
fan-ta-bu-lous thrill of this entire trip, was…well,
other than the fact that I got to wear THIS at all
times, all day, every day, everywhere I went…

IMG_5026

Woo-Hoo and HUZZAH! What fun!

Oh, sorry. Let’s see, where was I? Ahh, yes…the greatest
thrill was…walking into the recreated Rev War military
encampment at Yorktown and seeing this…

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…a fully-operational (albeit a partial) camp kitchen. HUZZAH!

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Now, I’ve read much** about the building and use of these
set-ups, have seen numerous period depictions of them, as
well as photos ‘n videos of modern-day attempts to re-create
them, and I always discuss the details of their use whenever

IMG_4424

I present my “Cook Like a Soldier” program, but this, THIS,
was the first time I’d ever seen one! AND seen it being used!
Wow! It was absolutely marvelous. I only wish I could’ve not
only stayed longer in order to explore it further, but also been
able to cook on it. How cool would that be?!

IMG_4418

There were also a couple of gridirons made outta barrel hoops…

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and the obliging barrels, filled with soldiers’ rations…

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It seemed that our time at this site was extremely limited, so
I know I missed alot. Maybe, some day, I’ll be able to return?
Here’s hoping!

Up next are various views of the communal clome bake oven
at the re-creation of the Jamestown Settlement (which, BTW,
is separate from the site of its actual location). Unfortunately,
no baking was being done at the time.

IMG_4671

IMG_4676

IMG_4674

In the section of the Jamestown Settlement site known as
the Powhatan Indian Village, a young fellow was cooking
squirrel and pigeons over an open fire…

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He was munching on previously-cooked fish and other stuff, as well…

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_________________________

NEXT: Photos taken during my pre-conference field trip

========================

*ALHFAM = Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums

**For more information, read John U. Rees’ highly-informative articles.

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I spent this past Sunday, May 17, doing some hearth cooking
over at The Israel Crane House. It was my last time doing so
for the 2014-2015 season (I’ll return in the fall). To mark
the occasion, I devised a story wherein Mrs. Crane had me
prepare dishes for a tea she was holding for fellow female
members of the local Presbyterian Church (the Family was
an active supporter). Thus, I whipped up a few delightful
and delicious desserts.

First up was a Chocolate Tart.

Heating milk, eggs, sugar, and cream to a boil:

IMG_4148

The grated chocolate:

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Which was stirred into the cream mixture after it’d cooled:

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Now, I may’ve put in a little too much chocolate. I was doing my
best to gently and slowly shake it off the plate into the kettle,
but then *whoosh* a whole bunch slid off! Oh, well…

A simple paste was made with butter and put in a pie pan:

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Put it all together and…

It’s baking!

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TA-DA!!!

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The receipt I followed was first introduced to me during 2014’s
MA-ALHFAM,* Conference at the Peter Wentz Homestead. You
can find it HERE. It was taken from John Nott’s The Cooks and
Confectioners Dictionary
of 1723.

Many people think chocolate was only consumed as a beverage
in the 18th and early 19th centuries. And although that’s how
the general public most likely used it, as you see, chocolate
could also be eaten.

Next, I used a receipt from a manuscript cookbook of a Boston
apothecary’s wife to make a Lemon Pudding:

IMG_4165

As I prepared this dish, I wasn’t sure if it was coming together
properly. The batter seemed too liquid-y. Perhaps there was
an ingredient missing? One that the copier of the receipt had
inadvertently left out? More importantly, will this be any good?!
But when all was said and done, and nicely baked…WOW! It
was fantastic! What a light ‘n lemon-y, refreshing treat for such
a hot ‘n muggy day! I hope I can make this again.

Below are the instructions, taken from the published version
of Anne Gibbons Gardiner’s manuscript, which is entitled
Mrs. Gardiner’s Family Receipts from 1763:

Lemon Pudding
Take the Yolks of 8 Eggs well beaten, &
the whites of only 4 of them, the Rhinds
of 2 Lemons grated and the Juice of one
of them, somewhat less that [sic] half
a pound of white Sugar & a quarter of
a pound of Butter. Mix all well together,
& bake it half an hour.

A few weeks ago, Pat Roos, a fellow member of the Order
of the Ancient and Honorable Huntington Militia, expressed
interest in making a hedgehog. I later found an 18th century
receipt for it in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made
Plain and Easy
(1747). It looked quite intriguing, and so
I tried it. Here’s the one I made at the time:

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Even though I’d cut the proportions in half, there was still alot
of extra dough. But then, I was making small-ish critters. In any
event, I took it to the Crane House and made more:

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They sure is cute, yes?!

Below is Glasse’s receipt. As I mentioned previously, I cut
the ingredient amounts. I also didn’t make the sauce:

To make a Hedge-Hog.
Take two Pounds of blanched Almonds,
beat them well in a Mortar with a little
Canary and Orange-flower Water,
to keep them from oiling. Make them
into stiff Paste, then beat in the Yolks
of twelve Eggs, leave out five of the
Whites, put to it a Pint of Cream,
sweeten it with Sugar, put in half
a Pound of sweet Butter melted,
set it on a Furnace or slow Fire,
and keep it constantly stirring,
till it is stiff enough to be made
into the Form of an Hedge-Hog;
then stick it full of blanched
Almonds, slit and stuck up like
the Bristles of a Hedge-Hog,
then put it into a Dish, take
a Pint of Cream, and the Yolks
of four Eggs beat up, sweetned
with Sugar to your Palate. Stir
them together over a slow Fire
till it is quite hot, then pour it
round the Hedge-Hog in the Dish,
and let it stand till it is cold, and
serve it up.—-Or a rich Calf’s Foot
Jelly made clear and good, pour
into the Dish round the Hedge-Hog;
and when it is cold, it looks pretty,
and makes a pretty Dish; or looks
pretty in the Middle of a Table
for Supper.

hedgehogs at Crane Hse  5_17_2015

What else? Oh, yes. I’d made a batch of Shrewsbury Cakes
at home and brought them for folks to enjoy:

another angle Shrewsbury Cakes 5_17_2015 at Crane Hs

These were prepared in accordance with my usual go-to
receipt
from Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (1796).

As you see, we had quite a spread of delicious goodies!
Or should I say, Mrs. Crane had them?! LOL In any event,
lots of visitors came through, and they all enjoyed each
one. There was nary a crumb remaining! So, despite the
heat ‘n humidity, it was a fun-filled afternoon. HUZZAH!

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______________________________

* MA-ALHFAM stands for Mid-Atlantic region of the Association
for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums.

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I spent a good chunk of time earlier this year developing menus for two different hearth cooking classes at The Israel Crane House (including one that never materialized…ahh, well, so it goes). It’s always an interesting journey when I search for dishes that might have made up a typical mid-day meal at the Crane family table. I usually begin by making a general list of what I’d like to include, along with specific dishes and cooking techniques that I think class IMG_9597 participants might like to try. I consider what foods would’ve been in season at the time, and what was likely available to a family such as the Cranes, who lived so close (relatively!) to Manhattan. I often simply skim the table of contents and indexes of assorted historic cookbooks for ideas. Frequently, I’ll open one at random and just start reading, which can be fascinating, as I never know what I’ll find! If nothing else, creating menus for these classes is always a fascinating and educational experience. And so, my recent search for receipts (recipes) followed this same basic path. However, as I went along my merry way, I suddenly discovered some shocking, good-golly-miss-molly, eye poppin’ and jaw-droppin’ information. As I perused the vegetable section of the Index in Mrs. Lettice Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife (1839), I came upon these two little words:

Potatoe pumpkin.

“Wow!” I thought. “Is this another, a second, receipt for the dish that I know so well and have made multiple times? If so, how cool is that?! I’ve gotta check this out.” You see, there’s a “Potato Pumpkin” in The Virginia Housewife (1824), by Mary Randolph. I was first introduced to it during the 18th Century Historic Foodways Conference back in 2009 at Colonial Williamsburg. The Historic Foodways folks there had made one that played a major role in various displays and “live” presentations. It was a most unique dish, and I was just fascinated with it. I vowed then and there to try it when I got home. And, indeed I did, both for use at the Crane House and at my own celebratory meals. Many of my fellow hearth cooks have prepared it, as well, and I’ve seen a wide range of photos posted online that showcase their efforts. Of course, I’ve also shown off my handiwork here on my blog. One made for use at the Crane House: and another, eaten at home: And although I’d shared Randolph’s receipt for “Potato Pumpkin” often, I admit I’d never paid too much attention to the specifics contained therein. I mean, I’d read it and re-read it, and there was that one puzzling sentence, but, golly, I’d seen it, and heard its preparation discussed, at Colonial Williamsburg, and thus had a clear idea of what it was and how it went together. Certainly, the foodways folks at CW must’ve known what they were doing and what was up and what was correct, yes? There was no need to question their efforts! So, in accordance with everything that I’d witnessed, making a “Potato Pumpkin” appeared to simply involve cutting off the top of a regular (pie or sugar) pumpkin, paring and gutting it, filling the cavity with forcemeat (which typically consists of sausage or other meat mixed with herbs, bread crumbs, and other ingredients), baking it, and then, finally, eating the entire thing. Yeah, well…no! There’s one part of those basic instructions that’s completely wrong! How do I know? Well, remember when I stated previously that I’d discovered another “Potato Pumpkin” receipt in The Kentucky Housewife? Turns out, not only is it NOT the same as Randolph’s (HUZZAH! no stealing, er, “borrowing” here!), but it’s also much, MUCH different. Here’s what I found in Mrs. Bryan’s book:

POTATO PUMPKIN. Potato pumpkin when large and ripe, is very good, tasting much like the sweet potato, and can be kept well through the winter, put up in a dry place, and covered securely with fodder or shucks. They may be dressed by the various receipts I have just given for winter squash.

A-HA!!! It’s a squash! A specific squash. And it’s a food item unto itself, one that’s wholly distinct and separate from a regular pumpkin. And it’s called a “POTATO pumpkin” because it TASTES like a SWEET POTATO. [emphasis mine] Good golly, miss molly. After reading this, I turned again to the receipt in Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife:

POTATO PUMPKIN. Get one of a good colour, and seven or eight inches in diameter; cut a piece off the top, take out all the seeds, wash and wipe the cavity, pare the rind off, and fill the hollow with good forcemeat—put the top on, and set it in a deep pan, to protect the sides; bake it in a moderate oven, put it carefully in the dish without breaking, and it will look like a handsome mould. Another way of cooking potato pumpkin is to cut it in slices, pare off the rind, and make a puree as directed for turnips.

“Get one of a good colour,” as in one of the specific vegetables that’re known as potato pumpkins. And, again, NOT a REGULAR pumpkin! Then that last line, which greatly puzzled me: “another way of cooking potato pumpkin….” Well, seeing as it’s referring to a specific type of squash, cutting IT into slices, cooking and making IT into “a puree as directed for turnips,” I understand better now. But golly, I’d always wondered how you were supposed to cut a regular ol’ pumpkin filled with forcemeat into slices and then puree them all together. It just didn’t make any sense! Now, though, it does. HUZZAH! Then, as I was reading these two different receipts, I suddenly recalled seeing the words “potato pumpkin” in another section of my facsimile of Randolph’s 1824 book. Ahhh, yes, it was in the “Historical Glossary”! So I looked, and sure enough, there it says, in part:

POTATO PUMPKIN—I take this to be calabaza or West Indian pumpkin. In a letter to Samuel Vaughn, Jr., in 1790, Jefferson speaks of the potatoe-pumpkin, calling it thus ‘on account of the extreme resemblance of its taste to that of the sweet-potatoe’…

Good golly. Wow, WOW, WOW! One good part of all this is we may FINALLY be rid of that constantly-asked and annoying, but unanswerable question, “Why is the dish called a potato pumpkin, when there’s no potato in it?!” I don’t know about anyone else, but it sure made me uncomfortable. There I’d be, putting it all together with relative ease, and yet I couldn’t offer up an explanation for the name of it. THAT didn’t make any sense, either! Of course, after this major discovery, I wanted to know more and to get as much information as I could about this squash called a potato pumpkin. So, first I turned to my facsimile of Noah Webster’s 1828 edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language. Nothing was given for potato pumpkin, but under “Calabash,” I found:

[Sp. calabaza, a pumpkin….] (In case you’re wondering, “Sp.” is the abbreviation for Spanish)

Next, I consulted that well-known source for definitions of all “odd” and unfamiliar words, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Again, there was no potato pumpkin. However, I did find:

calabaza Chiefly West Indies Known as West Indian or green pumpkin…not to be confused with pie pumpkin… (emphasis mine)

Wow. There you have it. What more need I say?! Nothing. Other than the fact that I now have LOTS of questions about the research (or lack thereof?!) done on this dish by members of the Historic Foodways staff down at Colonial Williamsburg. I mean…really?!? It’s bad enough that they insist on using a 19th century cookbook (The Virginia Housewife), one that wasn’t to be published for another half century (50 years!) after the time period the site is portraying. Golly, what’s up with that?!? Furthermore, which edition of Randolph’s are they using? Indeed, there are several, from its 1824 original to those of 1828, 1836…even 1860 (incidentally, she died in 1828). If theirs is the facsimile of the original of 1824, is it the one with notes and commentaries by the late Karen Hess? And, if yes, haven’t they ever found and READ her “Historical Glossary”?! And if they have, well, so…what? They forgot what’s in it? Or they purposely chose to ignore it? And if, indeed, they’re aware they’ve used the wrong squash, did IMG_3656 they do so because they couldn’t find the correct one? So why haven’t they ever said as much? Substitutions occasionally must be made, for one reason or another, so why not share that bit of information? Particularly during the 2009 Conference. When all their fellow hearth cooks and food historians were present?! You know, saying something along the lines of “A potato pumpkin is a specific type of squash, but we’ve been unable to procure one, so we’re substituting a regular pumpkin”?! I mean, golly, don’t they think they’re obligated to tell us the truth?! And I’m fully aware that CW gives adapted receipts to the general public, particularly on its “History is Served” pages, but, come on, that ain’t us! We’re striving to closely follow historic receipts, too, and to make every dish as correctly as possible. Besides, being workers in the various kitchens at Colonial Williamsburg, they’re at the center of the 18th century living history world. We look to them to provide us with solid, factual information, and NOT namby-pamby “enh, we’ll just fudge it” shenanigans like this. On a personal level, I feel duped and betrayed, like I’ve been led astray and sent down the wrong path. I expected better, so it’s rather disappointing. Alas, I guess it highlights the fact that it’s best to do your own experimentation and conduct your own research. Don’t rely on anyone else, no matter who they are or where they work. It reminds me of what the woman told me as she led a group of us on a tour of CW’s Costume Design Center awhile back. She said, “Don’t copy us. We don’t always get things right.” Okay, good to know! Guess maybe that sentiment also applies to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways, ay?! In any event, I’ll end here with two items I found of interest online. One is an image of a potato pumpkin, the other a video of a chef creating a potato pumpkin soup. Be sure to note the colors, texture, and shape of the squash in both. Courtesy of Wikibooks: image of calabaza from wikibooks And then check out this video for making Calabaza Soup. It offers a good idea of what a calabaza looks like, inside and out. Note especially when he peels it. The rind is much thinner than that of our everyday pumpkin. Oh, and one other thing. There’s a large Caribbean population here in NYC/Brooklyn. I’ve asked around, and I should be able to find a calabaza, a potato pumpkin, at a market somewhere! My plan is to buy one and make an actual, true “Potato Pumpkin.” When I do, I’ll be sure to post an update, complete with photos. Can’t wait! HUZZAH!!! IMG_1934

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