Posts Tagged ‘18th century cooking’

About two weeks ago, I headed up north to participate in the Wilton
[CT] Historical Society’s
annual “Colonial Days” program for the area’s
fourth graders. It was an amazing four-day event, and the different
groups of young’uns were daily kept mighty busy with lots to see
and do. Everyone partook of a wide variety of activities at numerous
stations that were situated throughout the Society’s complex, ranging
from flax and wool processing to hauling buckets of water with a yoke
to creating a pincushion to watching a blacksmith at work to assisting
with a small-scale barn raising and more.

And then there was me, happily ensconced in the kitchen of the Society’s
Sloan-Raymond-Fitch House. Together, the students and I talked about
cooking over an open fire in the 18th century. We covered everything,


including the process, the equipment and utensils, and the food. And
since they all just happened to arrive when the main meal of the day
(aka dinner) would’ve been prepared and cooked, we also chatted
about how they might’ve assisted and the chores they likely would
have done. Each child then had the opportunity to try three: grinding
peppercorns; cutting up sweet potatoes; and churning butter. When
their chores were completed, each student was then able to enjoy
some freshly-churned butter on a piece bread and to sample a cup
of the resulting buttermilk. The whole room was a beehive of activity,
what with our lively discussions and the sounds of ambitious little
helpers doing their chores. Alas, our time together was far too short,
and soon they were all on their way to the next station. Another group
of eager young folks arrived, and we began once again.

Overall, I think everyone had a marvelous time. I know I certainly did.











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This past weekend I trekked up to Ft. Lee to attend another
Historic Foodways Symposium sponsored by Deb Peterson.
As usual, it was an absolutely fantastic two days of lectures
and hands-on cooking. The focus of the program was “Sugar,
Spice, Isinglass & Cakes, Great & Small.”

On Saturday, attendees heard information-packed lectures
from Deb, Mercy Ingraham, Clarissa Dillon, and Cate Crown.
Then Sunday was the day for cooking out at the site’s bake
oven and fire pit. Using receipts (recipes) from various historic
cookbooks, we worked on numerous dishes that were either
baked in the oven or boiled over the fire. Everyone was able
to try their hand at any dish and to move around to see what
was being done for each. And so, under Cate’s watchful eyes,
participants worked on small Pound Cakes, Dutch Cakes, and
apple and “Ananas, or Pine-Apple” tarts. Puddings were King
at Clarissa’s station, including Suet, Wine, and Chocolate. She
supervised the making of “A French flummery,” as well. Spices
were ground to make “Kitchen Pepper” at Mercy’s table. And
Deb instructed folks on making batches of two sugary treats,
“Spanish Nut” (cacao beans) and lemon ‘n orange “Bomboons.”

Of course, when all was said and done and baked and boiled,
the consuming began. And believe me, it took no time for each
and every dish to disappear! In fact, as you’ll see below, I have
far more photos of the preparations then the finished cakes and
puddings. Ahh, well, maybe next time!
(Which, by the way, we all hope there IS a next time, at some
point, in one form or another. Pleeeeeeeease, Dearest Deb!)

Nevertheless, I think it’s safe to say, on behalf of all those who
participated, that an educational, awesome, and simply glorious
time was had by all. HUZZAH!


The oven is fired up:

Cate Crown, Baker Extraordinaire:

Simply awesome!

Three bakers, sharing baking tips…or perhaps a bit of gossip?!
(Paul Gasparo, Cate, and Neal sorry-I-didn’t-get-his-surname):

Deb Peterson, Official Symposium Wizard:

Mixing up the tart crust:

Patting it down in pie pans:

Apples for one of three tarts:

Done and ready for baking:

Slicing up ananas or pine-apples for the other two tarts:

Cooking ’em down (the apples were not cooked):

Filling the other tart shells:



Love this! HUZZAH!

John Muller, Director Extraordinaire of Historic Fort Lee:

The suet pudding, mixed and ready to go:

Clarissa Dillon shares the finer points of puddings, boiled:

Again, the Suet Pud:

Which was placed on the pudding cloth:

And wrapped:

Then tied:

Ready to go:

And into the pot:

Look! The oven is ready. HUZZAH! How do we know?

Because the interior bricks are now white, whereas they
started out covered in black soot:

Deb discusses the making of “Bomboons”:

TA-DA! It’s a sugar loaf!

And yes, the proper term is loaf, NOT cone:

Breaking up and pounding out the sugar:

Roasting the “Spanish Nuts” (aka cacao beans):

The beans, down to the nib stage, and then pounded:

Cooking a mixture of pounded nibs and sugar:

Rolling it out on a buttered plate. Better do so quickly,
though, before it all hardens!:

Chocolate Bomboons:

Mercy’s spices:

Nutmegs and mace:

Rolling out the dough for the little cakes (which are essentially
what we now call cookies):

The oven is at the desired temperature (about 450 degrees).
Time to clear out all the coals and ashes:

Once cleared, the floor is swabbed with a damp cloth, and
the door is put in place to hold in the heat until all dishes
can go in together:

The Pound Cake batter had to be beaten for 1 1/2 hours.
Thankfully, no one person wore out an arm as everyone
took a turn:

Currants were added to the batter, which was then scooped
into little tins:

Citron was minced for the Chocolate Pudding:

Into the mixture it goes:

And the entire batter is poured into the pudding cloth:

And another pud for the pot:

Finally, all the dishes to be baked in the brick oven were
prepared, and they started to go in:

Paul slides a tart deep into the oven:

TA-DA! The baked Apple Tart:

Baked Wine Pudding:

A yummy threesome consisting of a Pound Cake, the Wine Pud,
and a Pine-Apple Tart:

The boiled Chocolate Pudding:

And lastly, the marvelous boiled Suet Pudding:


NOTE: If anyone would like the receipts we used, just let me know.

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This past Saturday, I had the privilege of doing some 18th century
cooking at The Conference House out on Staten Island. The occasion
was the re-enactment of the September 11, 1776, Peace Conference,
wherein an attempt was made by opposing sides, namely the British
and the 13 Colonies, to settle their differences. On behalf of Britain,
Lord Admiral Richard Howe met with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin,
and Edward Rutledge, who represented the colonies. Alas, the meeting
was unsuccessful, and the War for Independence continued. Of course,
eventually the colonists had the last word and won their freedom!

As part of the day’s festivities, there were various crafts people selling
their wares, colonial music and dancing, children’s crafts and games,
as well as scrumptious food, cooked over an open fire. For my part,
I whipped up a lovely carrot pudding, which I then shared with any
and all visitors. I had a marvelous time chatting with everyone
about colonial open-fire cooking, in general, and about puddings,
in particular. It was great fun! The weather was absolutely gorgeous.
It couldn’t have been a more perfect day. The entire event, and all
the folks associated with it, deserve a hale ‘n hearty HUZZAH!


Soup’s a cookin’!

There were carrots to be cooked:

Two comely lasses handle cooking duties:

The beginnings of my carrot pudding:

Ready for baking:

Looks mighty tasty (smelled wonderful, too!):


Count ’em, THREE, carrot puddings are nearly gone. Yep, they were
definitely a major hit with the larger-than-ever crowd. HUZZAH!

In addition to the re-enactment of the Peace Conference, a memorial service
for 9/11 victims was held. The Staten Island Pipe & Drum Corps led the way:

Some young visitors joined the procession:

Yep, another successful event. HUZZAH!


NEXT: the receipt and pre-event pudding preparations

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