Last weekend they held an event I hadn't attended in the past, and Ashley had an all-day play practice, so we to the farm for their Winter Kitchen and Parlor event. Basically a cooking demonstration of how food was prepared using a circa 1785 open hearth versus am 1892 Glenwood stove. The farm recently acquired a late 18th century home located on the back road leading to Howell Farm (next door to the sugery (where they make maple syrup) and the one room schoolhouse. Up until quite recently someone lived in the home. Also fairly recently, the farm renovated the late 18th century farmhouse located next to the garden and barns. It now glistens.
We were lucky. The day we went they had enough staff to have the upstairs open to visitors. We could see how the bedrooms would have been decorated and appreciate their collection of photo albums, quilts, furniture, hair clips, and more.
Back to the cooking. We started our experience in the main farmhouse with Kim cooking using a cast iron stove. She had made a stew, and a beet and watermelon salad using ingredients the wife would have canned in the day. By the time we arrived, she was starting to make an apple pie/crisp for dessert so I peeled apples (which I never do when I make my own apple crisps). Making food leads to tasting food. Mmm... a good reason to mark the calendar for next year.
Don and I then ambled to the "new" farmhouse, which is really a hundred years older than the "old" farmhouse. It is so "new" it does have its own information page on Howell's website.
I did not catch our cook's name. I was too mesmerized by the facts she was sharing with us to interrupt her flow of conversation. I later learned her name is Margaret. Margaret has been doing a lot of research into studying the wills of people who lived in the area in the 18th century and died owning less than $100. In those days they itemized everything in the household -- plates, utensils, pots, pans, furniture, tools. Margaret has looked at least 300 of these wills, and presented her findings at a conference. Before we arrived she made a hearty lentil stew, some chicken "nuggets," pork, and was finishing up a dessert. She talked about "receipts," the 18th century term for recipes, where the directions included cooking by weight, by look, by feel, by any means other than what we look for in a 21st century cookbook. She spent trial and error changing them into recipes that would still use the same basic ingredients, but in a style more understandable to modern chefs. She clearly loved what she is doing.
We walked back to the first farmhouse to see if dessert was finished. It was. It was delicious.
We left promising Kim not to wait so long before our next visit. Our hope is to donate some of the pictures Honey Bunny made of Howell Farm for their auction this October.
I need to note some dates on our calendar ... Barn Dances on March 9, July 6, and November 2. April 21 -- wash day (remind me how easy I have it with my late 20th century washer and dryer). May 12 -- vintage wedding dress display. And more.