Our two main historic kitchens at the village are Loucks’ summer kitchen, with an 1800’s cookstove and the tenant farmhouse with an open hearth. Each day there is a dinner served around the noon hour in one historic kitchen. This takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Loucks’ farm, where 6 people sit down to eat…two farmers, the cook and invited guests from around the village. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, it is at the tenant farm with the cook, the tenant farmer and two guests eating. On Fridays, the meal takes place at Cook’s Tavern, also prepared on an open hearth. Six to eight people of the village are invited to have either soup in the cold weather or a cold bite in the warmer weather to demonstrate a tavern meal. If you are in a historic kitchen on a non meal day, you prepare an afternoon tea consisting of a historic dessert and a cup of tea. If you are preparing tea, you also make the meat and dessert for the meal the next day in your house. We arrive and set the fires at 9.30 in the morning, so preparing a full dinner from a standing start would be very challenging, and the choices quite limited. Yesterday, I prepared the meat and dessert for Sunday dinner at the tenant farm. I chose to cook a chicken in the tin reflector oven and a raisin pie in the bake kettle.
The first job in using the reflector oven (after giving it a good scrub) is to skewer the chicken on the spit. The spit has two holes in it to so you can put cross skewers through the chicken to hold it in place so it doesn’t just roll around on the spit. You then set the oven about 12 to 16 inches (30-40 cm) from the fire. You have to keep a pretty good fire going while you are cooking the meat and keep turning it every few minutes so it cooks evenly. They did have clock jacks which would turn the spit automatically, but the poor tenant farmers don’t own one, so it is a fully manual operation down there. I cooked it for 3 1/2 hours but it was probably done after 3. Horror of salmonella and all that…
I also did a raisin pie in the bake kettle while the chicken was cooking.
Raisin Pie Filling
2 cups raisins
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp butter
Put raisins in a saucepan with the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. In a seperate bowl, stir together brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry mixture to the boiling raisins and cook 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar and butter. Let the filling cool completely, then put it in a double pie crust and make a decorative pattern of holes in the top crust to let the filling vent as it cooks.
Bake 1/2 hour in the bake kettle or until crust looks done and the filling is piping hot. At home this would be about half an hour in a 350 oven.
Last week I talked about the bake kettle on the open hearth. This week I made a “Spotted Dick” boiled pudding on the cook stove. Our cabinet maker is from the Isle of Wight and he has been angling for one for a while. I looked it up and found that the name Spotted Dick was used by Alexis Soyer in his 1854 book “A Shilling Cookery Book for the People”. I am not sure when exactly the name was first used, but as long as it is before 1866, I am happy. The name dick refers to the dough, so the name means “spotted dough”, which is a pretty accurate description. If you look up modern recipes for Spotted Dick and the Newfoundland favourite, Figgy Duff, you end up finding exactly the same recipe for both within the top few hits. In this case, duff is the synonym of dough, and raisins are the poor mans figs, apparently. Soyer suggested serving it with butter and sugar, but I went for custard. It is the more common accompaniment today. I also substituted raisins for currants, mainly because we had them on hand. I just used a pudding bowl instead of a mould. A gill equals 1/2 cup.
At Upper Canada Village, we have a Forest Beauty wood fired cook stove made by the Findlay Stove Company of Carleton Place, Ontario. It is a mid 1880’s stove, a little younger than the time period of the village, but it was donated after being in constant use since the 1880’s with the stipulation that it had to continue to be used. It is a lovely stove, and I am getting better at using it over time. I think I mentioned this is my third season as a historic cook, so I am starting to settle in.
2 cups milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 beaten egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
Combine milk, cornstarch, salt and sugar. Heat to bubbly. Temper in the egg yolks (i.e. take out a cup of the boiling mixture and add it slowly to the egg yolks to warm them up before putting them in or they will cook instantly when they hit the boiling mixture). Bring the mixture back to JUST boiling and stir in the butter and vanilla. Leave a top on the pot and stir it occasionally as it cools down to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm or cold.
Wow, I knew it had been a while, but 3 months since my last post. Bad, bad blogger…
I have decided to do a bit about work this summer. I am getting more comfortable with my open hearth cooking, so I have actually been taking pictures in lulls between visitors of things I am happy with
Here are a few images from the last couple of weeks. We are, of course, only allowed to use ingredients that they could have reasonably had in the 1860’s on any given day. We only have strawberries and rhubarb in the garden at this point, so the set table shows my rhubarb pudding cake with fresh strawberries on top. I had a dinner this week with roast pork, mashed potatoes, and boiled carrots. I had leftovers of everything so I put them in a pie crust with some fried onions and made a shepherd’s pie for dinner the next day. On Friday, I invited my carpoolers for afternoon tea, so I decided to go the extra mile and make cinnamon buns. They are a bit of a fiddle because you have to make the sponge, then let them rise twice before baking. Not to mention the kneading…I just got them baked in time so they were warm. Needless to say, they were well received. I have also included a couple of pics of the hearth as things are baking in the bake kettle. Fire is hard to photograph because it’s beauty is in the licking flames.
Rhubarb Pudding Cake Recipe
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 cup finely chopped rhubarb
1/2 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
Blend butter and sugar. Sift in flour and baking powder alternately with milk. Stir in rhubarb and vanilla. Put in greased 8 inch pan. Combine sauce ingredients and pour on top. Bake 30 minutes or until cake tests done. For a regular oven, 350 degrees should be about right.
This is like a French Canadian Pudding Chomeur. The sauce sinks through the cake as it bakes and becomes a sauce on the bottom, then you invert it to serve.
On a personal, proud mum front, my son Jacob just graduated with high honours from Engineering Science at U of Toronto.
We are going to a wedding tomorrow…
Charles has been living in Phonm Penh off and on for many years and has befriended people over time. Today we went into the countryside to visit the home of Ro’s parents. Ro is in the middle between Charles and Chanras. It took a little over an hour to get to their home.
Apparently at least 10 other members of my extended family and their friends have enjoyed their hospitality over the years.
This platform became the table for a lovely meal, then we were invited to have a nap when the meal was cleared away.
The meal consisted of three fish dishes, roast chicken, Khmer beef with green tomatoes and onions, a cabbage dish, mango salad, rice and homemade condiments.
We all sat together cross legged on the platform to enjoy our meal.
On the tuktuk ride we stopped and bought some lotus seed pods and learned how to break them open like a pomegranate. You also have to peel the seeds. All in all a great day.