Thursday, November 30, 2017

"Friendsgiving" 2017

On Saturday, Nov. 18 I ventured to a program that used to be a regular on my yearly schedule. The CSS Neuse Civil War Days program had not occurred in 5 years, but was brought back this year! I was excited to hear that the event had been brought back to the site that used to house the remains of the CSS Neuse ironclad. This year I was asked to cook lunch for the staff and volunteers, and of course I said yes!

The menu was ample in order to feed 50 people- selections included Chicken & Rice, Carrots Stewed in Cream, Macaroni & Cheese, Sweet Potato pudding, pound cake and Queen Cake.

The Carolina Housewife, Sarah Rutledge, 1851

The day started with a 10-gallon pot full of water, salt, and five whole chickens- and a lot of friends! My favorite cook (and friend) joined me for the day,-we cooked and laughed, and sieved sweet potatoes, and laughed, and peeled carrots, and laughed, and burnt noodles, and laughed some more- something we had not done in a while.
A busy table- chickens cooling before getting de-boned. 

In a surprising turn of events, we actually had lunch ready on time! Which almost never happens, I guess I was very focused this year. We laid the table with food and called for lunch to be served- this is may favorite part of the day.
Serving table Left to Right - Cake, sweet potato pudding, stewed carrots, macaroni & cheese, chicken & rice in large pot over the fire. 

Enjoying some great food with friends! 

Two cooks enjoying their bounty.

After a filling lunch of food and friendship, and a brief rest from the morning's rush, we decided to make pie! With the leftover sweet potatoes we added eggs and spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg) to create a wonderful pie filling, that will probably never be replicated.
Working sweet potato magic!
We placed two pies in two different ovens and waited.
Pie ready to bake in the oven. 
. Learning to control your oven heat and monitor your food while it is cooking is  a skill that is learned- and something that cannot really be taught. We had two different sized pies in two different sized oven- in two different types of pie plates (one tin, one stoneware). It was monitoring game on these pies, the smaller one in the tin pan was done in about 20 minutes, the larger one took about 10 minutes more.
Beautiful Pie! 

We did have a TON of food left over, mostly chicken and rice- there were 9 plastic containers sent home with people full of leftovers. 
It was an incredible one-day event, which I feel like I am still recovering from (in good ways). I can't wait to do it again! 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Minced Pie of Beef

While preparing for an 18th Century event last week, I knew the weekend was going to be hot, but we needed to eat. I pre-planned a basic menu of fruit, bread, and cheese. While planning I thought of all the wonderful meat pies that the 18th Century has to offer, and how many of them are served cold. I landed in Amelia Simmon's American Cookery, since it is not a large book, it was easy to find what I wanted to cook- Minced Pie of Beef, and it didn't require a lot of ingredients.

This makes a very large pie, so I quartered the recipe, boiling a little over a pound of chopped beef ( I did cheat a little here and used "beef bites" instead of chopping the beef myself). While the beef was boiling, I peeled and chopped two apples (pink lady ones this time) and mixed the raisins in along with about a 1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. Since I do not have a local source for suet, and did not have time to order any, I used the best alternative I could find- frozen butter. I grated one stick of frozen butter over the apples. raisin, spices.
Frozen butter in with the apples & raisins.

After most of the filling was mixed together, I added the liquid. While the recipe asks for wine of cyder, I didn't have either on hand, however, I did have port! Being perfectly period appropriate, I added what I had- using about 1/2 cup of port over the mixture.
Port ready to add to the mix.
By this point the beef had been drained and cooled off a little. I sprinkled a little kitchen pepper over the beef to give it a little flavor. All of this (beef & apple mixture) was folded together and placed into a dish.

Pie filling ready for the crust!

While the recipe calls for the mix to be placed in "Paste No. 3", I used a store bought crust (yes, I know, but it was the night before the event, and I still had stuff to sew). All in the dish, top crust added, vented, and placed in 350* oven. It backed for close to an hour. 
Pie ready for the oven. 
I realized that I had absolutely no pictures of the finished pie or of it being eaten. It was eaten for lunch on Saturday. It was a very hot day and I had placed the pie in the refrigerator in the office the day before. It was good & cold, and tasted great cold. It was nice to share the pie with friends gathered around our sutler booth. Overall response was that it tasted great! Next time, mince the meat a little finer. 

*This post is made in memory of the fabulous deep pie dish I made this pie in, upon unpacking the car fell to it's end & broke when it landed on the driveway*

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Where have I been?

First off, why have I not blogged since November? Well, there are many reasons and the simple answer is- life.  I have been to events, but very little period cooking has taken place, but in a field or at home.  Here is a run-down of most of what I have done since November-

Historic Weapons School
Every four years I get certified to handle, inspect, and shoot 19th Century black powder weapons, it is one of the perks of my job. We got through two days of training, learning how to clean, assemble, and fire historic weapons. The final day of class we get to live fire our weapons in order to better interpret the firing of such weapons to the public (blanks are shot during demonstrations). This year I brought the site's M1842 .69cal smooth-bore and shot a dead bulls-eye! 

Right off the range- I was surprised that I even hit the target! 

Battle of Black River
This event was set to remember the Battle of Averasboro. I only went on Sunday,mostly walked around and spoke with friends.  The event is hosted at the historic Oak Grove Plantation. 
Daddy & daughter cross the bridge to the Federal Camp. 

North Carolina Day- Yorktown
In April, members of NC Historic Sites were honored to participate in North Carolina Day as part of the Yorktown Museum of the American Revolution grand opening. It was great day, full of visitors, interpretation, and an amazing museum! This was the first time I debuted my full "petty sutler" set up for 18th Century, the response was overwhelming! There will be a bit more about this (and other similar setups) on the blog soon! 
Selling produce, liquor, and other goods to soldiers! 

War For Empire- Ft. Dobbs
Later in April, I participated in Ft. Dobbs largest program "War for Empire" Ft. Dobbs is a French & Indian era fort. The fort itself is currently being reconstructed! 
Acquiring sutler licences. 

Selling some goodsd

Members of the garrison drill. 
Garrison laundresses. 
1860's Civilian Celebration
The first weekend of May brought the long anticipated 1860's Civilian Celebration! This conference is hosted by the staff of the Homefront Herald, of which I am a part of. The conference was wonderful! We were hosted at the wonderful Capon Springs & Farms, nestled in the mountains of West Virginia. 
Saturday outfit! Old faithful dress made it out again! 

Group tintype by John Milleker

DH won this tiara in the door prize drawing and decided to give it to me in front of everyone.
But at least he had on a spiffy jacket! 

Fight for the Backcountry- Alamance Battleground

This is the second year I have attended this event at Alamance. I was only there for Sunday though. It is always a nice site to visit! This year, our daughter joined us and thoroughly enjoyed herself! 
P had enough fun for the day! 

Family portrait! 
One of the greatest images taken of our daughter! 

So, there it is, months of un-blogged activity. I promise there will be more recipes up soon! I am planning one this week. There are a few events lined up on my schedule- British Occupation of Halifax this weekend as well as Cause & Country in September.