Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Rainy Day with Great Friends!

Saturday started gray & rainy. It was a great window into the past, since I could hardly see anything in the dark kitchen that morning, even with the fire going.  I had chosen to make Eliza Leslie's "To Stew Beef".
I had a pretty large hunk of beef too! It was put in the pot early, around 9:30am & covered with water.
It was great to have fun in the kitchen with some of my dearest friends! We mostly enjoyed watching the kids run around in the morning, in the midst of peeling potatoes & cutting carrots. 
Morning fun in the Kitchen

 The day turned out to be busy, despite the gray skies, and periods of light rain. Visitors could take wagon rides, play period games of townball, tour the Harper House, or visit with us in the demonstration area.
Speaking to visitors about period cookery. 
 The stew turned out wonderfully!! The broth was some of the best I had ever tasted, I had only seasoned the stew with salt & some kitchen pepper!  I cooked some carrots & onions on the side, but I added them into my bowl of wonderful beef!  There was also fresh bread & butter to go along with the wonderful meal!
A Stew of Beef

The girls playing

All of the toys neatly lined up on the well. 
For even more photos of the event: http://www.newsargus.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=749175

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

To Stew Beef

I always get excited when I get to cook on an open fire! It's something about the cool air, the crackle of the fire, the smell of cider! The fact that fall is my favorite season probably has a lot to do with it as well.  
This year for Bentonville's Fall Festival (yes, I have the best job) I will be cooking once again in our lovely kitchen. I have decided that a meal of "Stewed Beef" with some veggies is perhaps one of the most wholesome meals I could make & all of those veggies are so pretty sitting in baskets waiting to be cut up!

I have pulled a few different receipts from the books. I am sure that I will be following one of them this weekend! Stay tuned to see the finished meal! 

"Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches" Eliza Leslie, 1844

"The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook" Susannah Carter, 1796

"The Kentucky Housewife" Lettice Bryan, 1839

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Kitchen Pepper

In order to get our period food to taste like it would have 100 years ago we need to season it like it was 100 years ago!  I have found that I have much more nutmeg in my cabinet than ever before, and I bought mace for the first time in my life- all because of period cookery.  This "recipe"  is a blend of spices to use in period kitchens. It comes from The Kentucky Housewife, 1839. 
This blend was pretty easy to put together, and I had everything already in the cabinet (except white pepper, which I grabbed from the Food Lion).   I threw everything into my mortar & pestle. The good thing about modern spices is that most of them are already ground up, making the work a little easier. The instructions say to use 12 blades of mace; mine was already ground, so I used about a tablespoon.  
Mix it together well with the mortar & pestle-it does become a nice fine powder. 
Kitchen Pepper mixed together. 
This does make quite a lot of seasoning.  I had extra that did not fit in by bottle. The extra was put in a modern spice container to use in my kitchen.  This is a spice that does have some heat to it. I am not one that likes hot & spicy foods, and this may be used sparingly in my kitchen. However, I do see where it will enhance the flavor of gravy & I can't wait to try it!

Bottled & Corked!
There is a reference to this pepper in another recipe in the Kentucky Housewife. It is one of the spices found in "Bread Sauce for a Pig".  It only calls for a teaspoon.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Aren't you hot in that? Pt. 2

Here are a few more period reference images of "working women". Notice all that their clothes have in common. Rolled-up sleeves & pinned up skirts!  Enjoy! 

The Sinews of Old England  George Edgar Hicks - 1857   Private collection   Painting - watercolor
"The Sinews of Old England" George Edgar Hicks, 1857
I have always loved this image. Although this particular one is from the outside looking in, we can see that this couple is probably just outside of their kitchen judging by the cupboard of dishes that can be seen through the door. 
"Rustic Courtship" Harpers c.1865
"Rustic Courtship" Harpers, c. 1865
"The Jolly Washwewoman", Lilly Martin Spencer, 1851
I just love all of the details that Lilly Martin Spencer includes in her paintings. They are like the snapshots of the 19th century! 
"Girl in a Brown Dress" Joshua Cristall (1768-1847), undated
I was so happy to find this image!! You can see how the skirt looks from the back!