Straight from the hearth…

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The girls and I had a wonderful time learning how to cook authentic colonial recipes in and around an authentic colonial hearth at the John Bishop House, built in 1810 in Lisbon, CT, thanks to some wonderful people actively involved with the Lisbon Historical Society.

We arrived in the early afternoon on Saturday, greeted by lovely set tables…

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And a burning kitchen hearth…

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With its side hearth oven starting to reach baking temperatures.

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There were lovely snacks to keep us going for the day…

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and a cabinet full of beautiful and practical redware and stoneware, knives, whisks, and even a churn, which we fortunately or unfortunately did not require for our cooking that day.  It would have been fun to use, but we would have had to start a LOT earlier in the day to have time to make our own butter!

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Ingredients were there awaiting us, along with some carefully researched, authentic recipes which were kindly included in our menus at the table for us to bring home.

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As we arrived, the snow was beginning to fall…it was a very beautiful view from all of the large windows in each room…

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None of us wanted to think about the fact that this was the beginning of a serious snowstorm!  We just wanted to cook (and eat!)

The things that would take the longest were prepared first.  Here, ingredients are warming – sitting outside of the hearth, they are on the “low” setting.

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Preparing the chicken included plenty of herbs, lemons in the cavity, and careful trussing for the spit.

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The dough is rising for the Sally Lunn bread.  This would take a while, as too close to the hearth would cook the dough, whereas too far away would be too cold for the yeast.

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Now I know where the expression “too many pots in the fire” came from!  The pots were hung on an arm that could be swung out from over the fire.  High and low settings for each pot were set by how low they were hung on “s” hooks, or what position they had on the arm.

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Here are some ingredients for the barley soup, lemon pudding, mulled cider, and root vegetable dish.  No food processors!  Lots of chopping – especially the meat, which was so beautifully minced it was like ground meat!  Now I know why the Australians call ground meat “mince!”

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More ingredients – preparing the chopped herbs and veggies for the cod cakes…

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The mulled cider required first boiling the spice/citrus ingredients in muslin cloth in a simple syrup.  Here someone is removing this precious parcel from the hot liquid, squeezing it out to then add it to the wine which is warming in it’s flagon beside the parlor fire.  We were anxious to begin sampling it prior to dinner!  Nothing quite like sitting by the parlor fire with a warmed glass of mulled wine before (and during!) a hearth dinner, that’s for sure!

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And here is the Dutch Oven, containing the Sally Lunn bread.  Coals on top and bottom are kept hot to bake the bread.

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More ingredients – preparing potatoes for boiling, prior to mashing, for the cod cakes.  Barley is there, ready for the soup.  Lovely green beans waiting to be cooked in the colonial version of our green bean casserole (MUCH better, by the way, than the mushroom soup version!)

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Ingredients ready for the pork pie – filled with sauteed slices of pork, sliced apples, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

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Here’s the pie, ready for the top crust!

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Butter was the star of the day!  Plenty of it in just about every recipe!  Here it is being rolled into the dumpling dough, layered like a pastry dough.

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The pastry was rolled with a filling of raspberry jam, then wrapped in cotton cloth and tied for boiling.

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The cod cakes…before…

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And after frying in the hearth.

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Here, the pork pie is baking in the hearth oven.

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And probably the coolest tool we used for the day was the reflector oven with the rotisserie for the chicken.

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And under the chicken, in the bottom of the oven, were cooked the roasted red potatoes.  YUM!

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This was the most wonderful lemon pudding!  It looks burnt, but it truly wasn’t.  Buttery, eggy, and lemony goodness!

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The Sally Lund bread was cooked in this beautiful dish.  Here it was just removed from the dish after baking.

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And here is our pork pie, fresh from the hearth oven!

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And so began a glorious meal!  We all congratulated and thanked each other for a job well done!  We took our time and savored each dish, knowing how much time and effort went into each bite.

And we remembered the Bishop family who once ate in this home, and had a whole new appreciation for their lifestyle in the early 1800’s.

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2 comments on “Straight from the hearth…

  1. Rob Sawyer says:

    That is really cool! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Glad you liked it! They do this every year – minimum age this time was 16…Anna would love it!

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