Left Overs and More

Well, thanksgiving is over and many of us start to get creative with our left overs. There is the plethora of turkey sandwiches with any number of combinations of left overs placed on it. Not for us…we barely have any turkey left over because our family get-togethers are not small and most of the grandchildren are boys who love meat. So, with the little turkey that I have, I am making the proverbial casserole with stuffing topping, because although there is not much turkey, I have a tremendous amount of stuffing. My stuffing is made with sausage and apricots, a sorta sweet and savory. So, in combination with the turkey it will prove to be a filling dinner.

In my putting together of the casserole, I looked in my vegetable bin and remembered that I had some Salsify to cook. I had been looking for the right unique receipt to use the salsify in but all I came across was to cream them. To tell you the truth I just wasn’t too sure how that would be. You may not know but salsify is also called the oyster plant, so if I was going to cook it, it should be tonight with the stuffing. I say that because a lot of people I know like to make oyster stuffing for Thanksgiving and if the salsify tastes like oysters then bring it on.

(I took some pictures to help you see what they look like.) Salsify reminds me a great deal of parsnips in their shape but with many more root tendrils. I peeled them, cut them up, and boiled them with some vinegar to keep them from turning black. Once soft, I drained them and gave them a rinse in warm water. Then, using a hand mixer, I added cream and beat them like I would potatoes. The texture is fibrous and will mash more like cauliflower then potato. It lives up to its name as the oyster plant because that is exactly how they smell. However, their taste is less like oysters and similar to mashed cauliflower which I tend to use as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

Result: Fantastic! A new vegetable to play with that I don’t mind the taste. So, if you ever get to try salsify, do…Hmmm, I bet they would be great roasted with other root vegetables. Now on to the persimmons….

Published in: on November 27, 2007 at 12:30 am  Comments (1)  


Thanksgiving is a week long process for me. There is the shopping then the preparation, finally Thursday comes and the first Thanksgiving dinner. First Thanksgiving dinner you ask? Well, I attend the actual day of Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. Then the last day of Thanksgiving is dinner on Sunday with my family. It got me thinking in all this preparation and the many readings sent to me up to the day of thanks, what are our families’ traditions and where did I get my love of cooking.

My mother’s father’s family came from Buck Valley in PA. One of the traditions each year is to make apple butter. They pick all the apples in the orchard on family property that has been in our family for 200+ years. They cook the apples in a large cast iron kettle. It is a long days process but boy is it beautiful and tasty. So, of course the apple butter is served on the Thanksgiving table. 002.jpgMy family enjoys the usual turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn, and dinner rolls, then there is my mother’s special pineapple jello salad and sweet potatoes. The joke at our house is that it is not Thanksgiving without burning the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. She didn’t bun it this year probably because the broiler was on the fritz. The finale to our dinner consists of pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and apple pie. Sometimes, someone becomes adventurous and makes something special, like this year my soon-to-be niece treated us to peanut butter brownies and a peach spice cake, both of which were a perfect addition.

My husband’s family has most of the same things…of course not my mother’s jello salad and their stuffing is different. In addition, they offer mushroom green-beans, rice and ham. The desserts is really were our family’s differ, my husband’s family likes cookies and cheesecake.

Now that all the official dinners are over, there is the leftovers. I learn to be creative and probably because of the rich background of tastes that I come from. I revel in seeing that my love of cooking is passed through the family and that we have a tradition of cooking together and then eating together.

Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 3:48 am  Comments (1)  

Sausage Sunday

What a beautiful day to cook. This particular weekend had been set aside to do sausage making. Throughout history this time of year would be the butchering time, hence a great time to demo sausage making. I have made sausage many times but it has been two years since I have indulged in it. My cooking partner, Katy, although having never made sausage came prepared with a receipt to try. Our first batch of sausage was a simple pork with herbs and spices. Katy brought some rosemary fresh from her garden and I clipped some sage fresh from the house garden. Katy finely chopped these two herbs while I ground some long pepper with mace. This was all added to the ground pork with the addition of salt and cayenne pepper. Katy, who has never had the honor of pressing sausage in my press, got to try it out. We used pork casings or pre-cleaned intestines. She had no idea the arm strength need to make this common household staple. I knew what I was in for but had forgotten how tired it was going to make me. This is why I always used a man to press the sausage during my cooking show.


Once we finished with that batch of sausage, we hung them to cook over the fire. As they cooked we started a second batch with a receipt from “The Art of Cooking: composed by the eminent Maestro Martino of Como” an early 1800’s cookbook from Italy. The sausage was a receipt titled “How to Prepare King of Meats with Pork of Young Veal”. Well we used both pork and veal. The receipt calls for spices, nothing specific so we added thyme, marjoram, coriander, and savory. After that was all mixed we added eggs and cheese then boil it. The receipt says to hang it to smoke after boiling but we ran out of time. (we have only 3 1/2 hours to demonstrate)

Before we began the sausages, Katy found cardoons growing in the garden and decided to cook some. So she cut the stalks, then trimmed them and boiled them in salty lemon water. The cardoons looked like really large celery but it is really an artichoke. Once fully cooked she dressed the cardoons in butter, lemon juice and cheese. It tasted great, the flavor was similar to the artichoke but the texture was like the celery. So if you like those aspects in a vegetable the cardoon is for you.

Now, I always cook something to have for dinner when I get home. That way I don’t have to cook after spending time cooking all day. I was thinking of cooking a chicken but saw a small turkey this morning and went with that. I decided that since our cooking time had been reduced and I picked the largest of birds to cook that I should use the tin kitchen. Boy what a great decision. I cooked a 10 lb turkey in 2 hours. I basted the bird with butter. Since it cooked so fast I was worried it would be dry, but no when I sliced it, it was just right.

The day went faster then we expected. We had a great time and tried something new. We would love to spend more time together and cook some vegetation we have not tried before, but we promised ourselves to take a little of these two items home and see what happens. What new vegetation you ask? Well, it is medlars and salsify. I will let you know what happens with them next time, so until then…Feed well upon life and Eat heartily!

Published in: on November 19, 2007 at 1:47 am  Comments (1)  

Friday Game Night


Well, tonight I was so excited to get to see my nephew play football. It’s his senior year and probably the last game for him, so, my mom, husband, son and I decided to go. I knew it was going to be cold so I decided to make home made hot chocolate to take with us. Having had plenty of disasters making it straight in a pan, I wanted to try something different. I know there are plenty of you who have burned the milk trying to make homemade hot chocolate. Wanting a better method, I decided to use my new double boiler. It is a lovely copper bottom pan with a ceramic top pan and it worked! I melted a nice amount of chocolate bars in the pan then added the milk. Mmmmmm, creamy and delicious. When the other nephews, who joined us, tasted it they said they could tell it was homemade. I hope that meant they liked it!

The game was during dinner, and not knowing what the concession stand would have, I decided to make a stake sandwich for us all. I fried up some onions, sweet peppers and mushrooms, and then pan seared some very thin stakes. I took a full loaf of bread that was a day old and sliced it in the middle lengthwise, making one very large sandwich. Removing much of the middle breading so that the food nestles in it, I then layered the meat with cheese then topped it with the onion mixture. I wrapped it up so that all the juices would be absorbed in the bread until we ate. And eat it they did. Many men in the stands wanted to know if I had made some for them.

The food and drink turned out a perfect addition to a wonderful evening with family cheering on a great athlete and his team…sorry to say his team lost but that did not diminish our being proud of him!

Published in: on November 17, 2007 at 6:47 pm  Comments (2)  

Julia Alive!

Last night, my mother, Liam (my son) and I went to a food related presentation.  This event is part of the “Key Ingredients” theme of lectures and presentations that the Town of Bowie, Smithsonian and other affiliates have been offering throughout Maryland for the months of November and December.

But last night was especially interesting and fun for me.  A friend of mine was presenting Julia Child.  Now I have never seen any of Mary Ann Jung’s presentations save the characters she has portrayed at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and I was looking forward to this treat.  I must say I was skeptical at first, not that Mary Ann is not talented enough to give great presentation but could she pull off Julia, one of the women of cookery I admire the most.  Mary Ann is short, of course everyone is short compared to my 5′ 10′ frame with no shoes on, but she is I would say 5′ 5″ at the most and Julia 6′ 2″.  But Mary Ann blew me away.  She didn’t need to have the height but she had the history and the energy that reminded me why Julia was great.

I have always been an admirer of Julia but not so much a fan that I knew everything about her.  Truth be told she wasn’t old enough for me to spend too much time on her cooking and life but as Mary Ann reminded us, without her we would not have the modern cooking show.  Like Julia I love to teach and demonstrate history and Cookery.  So thanks Julia for blazing the way for those of us who want to share our love and knowledge of food and a big THANK YOU to Mary Ann for such a wonderful night of Julia and as she would say…Bon Appetit!

Published in: on November 14, 2007 at 2:47 pm  Comments (2)  

Ivan Day day

Sunday was mostly spent driving, but having another Historic Cook to talk to all the way made the drive go by fast. My friend, Katy, drove us up a little past Philadelphia to hear Ivan Day give a lecture. The Lecture was “High Status Dining in the 18th Century”.  What a fantastic lecture.  Ivan talked about how dinners were served and the service that was used.  In the lecture he talked about how the presentation of the table went from a masculine setting at the beginning of the 18th c, to a more feminine setting but the end of the century.  I had never equated the structural setting of the table to what was changing in the kitchen…it just never occurred to me.  I knew from researching that the kitchens of the rich and the receipt books were dominated by men up to the 18th century and that women began to have a prominent position in the cooking community as the 18th c. progressed, but visually seeing that change in the table settings was a light bulb moment…I love having those moments, it makes me realize that I am still learning and that excites me.  Ivan gave us a sneak peek of the “High Table” setting that he has worked on at the Bard College in New York City called “Fragile Diplomacy: The Diplomatic Gift in the Courts of Early Modern Europe (1710–1763)”, which opens on November 16 and runs through February.  I would love to go hear the Symposium that goes along with this display but alas I am unable for I have to get ready to make and cook sausage on Sunday at Riversdale.  Mmm sausage now there is something to blog about next time! 

Published in: on November 12, 2007 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Key Ingredients Symposium”

On Monday I was lucky enough to attend a symposium at Belaire Mansion in Bowie, MD.  What a lovely time!  Actually putting faces to names that I have only encountered through friends and on the internet.  We heard a talk from the McCormick Spice company’s Jerry Kahan.  He spoke on “History of the Spice Trade”.  What a great overview on spices and it’s industry here in America.

If any of you know me, I love history and research on history, so when an archaeologist spoke on findings as it pertains to meat consumption in the early colonial period called, “English to American: Archaeological Perspectives on Colonial Diet in the Chesapeake”, I was enraptured.  Dr. Henry Miller has been a part of many of the digs in towns throughout MD and VA that were established in the 1600’s, especially St. Mary’s City.

There was an informative presentation on preservation of foods mainly of the 1800’s called “Your Grandmother’s Pantry”.  It was about a time period I do not spend much time in researching but Virginia Mescher did encourage us to try things out even if they fail.  She herself tries things and then uses them as displays when she is demonstrating.  Wow, now I want to do even more but where to store finish products?

Two women came and gave wonderful presentations on food as it pertains to the culture of a particular group.  Esther Weiner of the Jewish Museum of Maryland gave a talk called, “Inside a Jewish Kitchen”.  I loved hearing from her especially since I understood alot of the words or foods that she said.  I got to talk to her for a moment and share with her that I had the books she had brought and she was delighted that I owned a copy of “In Memory’s Kitchen: A legacy from the Women of Terezin”.  If any of you get a chance to read this short receipt book written by woman in the camp at Terezin, you will not be disappointed.  The second woman, Psyche Williams-Forson, gave a wonderful talk on her current book, “Building Houses out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food & Power”.  I so plan to get this book. (John, will be happy that one more book on food will be entering the house…I guess he has given into this inevitable fact with me.)


 The last speaker I want to talk about, who was next to the last in true order of the day, is my dear friend Pat Reber.  She and I both share the love of food history, although the time periods we love only lap a little.  I am enamored with early modern cookery (up to the early 1800’s) and she likes the modern/industrial period the most.  However, she does spend some time with colonial cookery but does she love gadgets!  Her enthusiasm is so catchy.  Anyway, her presentation was called, “Cooking In Maryland: From Open Hearth To Fireless Cooker”.  She had pictures of all these home’s kitchens throughout MD.  It is amazing how many historic kitchens are still out there.  She of course surprised us all by having pictures of many of us cooking at the historic houses we are lucky enough to.  There I was in all my glory!  I of course thanked her!  In her talk she spent some time on MD specific food, like oyster and crabs but particularly a thing called “stuffed Ham”  I had never had this, but after all the presentation we got to try some.  Surprising enough, not the most eye pleasing to me but fantastic taste.  I wounder how many of you have heard of it and had not told me?

I am so glad to have such knowledge close at hand in these wonderful people.  Now onto Sunday were I am going to here Ivan Day speak up in PA.  He is an expert on foodways and has a website called, “Historic Food”.   I would love to go to England to take some of his courses but until then I will relish in being able to hear him at the lecture on Sunday.  Until the next blog probably on Ivan…Feed well upon life and Eat heartily!



Published in: on November 8, 2007 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sunday Beautiful Sunday

I have to tell you that I was unsure how Sunday would be since it is getting a bit chilly and that when I went over to get the kitchen prepped on Friday, I couldn’t get a thing done since there was something going on that I had not been told about.  Needless to say I was worried that trying to cook all that we planned may not happen in the now 4 hours to work.  Luckily my husband road over with me to give aid to the prep time.  Also, cooking with a good friend like Valerie does make the day easier.

So our menu was as follows: Duck, brown rice,  creamed spinach, oyster patties, leek soup, pork pasties.  We hoped to make a mushroom sauce for the duck but ran out of time.

We began by stuffing the duck with sage (fresh from the garden) and onions.  Using good kitchen string, I trussed it and we hung roasted it to the right of the fire with a pan to catch all the grease.  We had to be diligent so to keep spinning the duck as it hung on the string.  I love cooking fowl this way…every time I cook a bird I string it up…clean up after is a breeze.  It took about 3 hours to cook, it would have gone faster using the Tin Kitchen but I hate to clean it.

We then started the Leek soup or it should really be Leek and potato soup.  Anyway, I took a slab of bacon and cut it up into 1″ pieces a 1/4 ” thick  and fried them rendering as much fat as I could.  Removing them we added sliced leeks and a small onion chopped and fried them till they were translucent.  We then added the potatoes and covered it all with chicken broth and boiled till soft.  Once that was done we mashed all as fine as we could then added thick cream. Done!

The spinach and the rice went on at the same time. The rice was cooked in beef broth (2 to 1 ratio), onion, and blade mace.  Both pots we placed on trivets with small fires under them.  And can I say running back and forth keeping two small fired going is not easy on the back…must think of getting a fire tender…just musing.  Once both completed boiling, the rice was done but the spinach was just beginning.  We tried to press the spinach through a sieve so as to puree it…no that didn’t work well, so we just chopped it all fine.  We added 2 eggs, nutmeg, cream and cheese.  Once mixed well we placed in the oval cast iron dish and baked.  2 more done!

We then were getting low on time but pressed on.  The apples were sliced and placed in a pan with cider, water, and wine.  Put on the fire to boil till soft.  We decided not to mash the apples once done but added to it butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  It was so good!

Now mind you some of these things started while doing others like the oyster patties.  Here I must confess that I cheated.  I pre-cooked the oysters so they would be ready to chop for the filling of the patties and I used already made puff pastry sheets.  I sometimes find shortcuts when I know I am not going to have a great deal of time.  So I cut the sheet of pastry into squares so they would fit well into the pans cups.  I then proofed them before stuffing them.  As they proofed, using the pre-cooked oysters, I chopped them fine added cream, pepper, nutmeg and lemon.  Once the pastries were ready, I put a piece of day old bread in the bottom, then I filled the cup, sprinkle with bread crumbs then baked.

The last thing we made for the day was the pork pasties.  This is one of the easiest things I make that Valerie likes.  I usually make it as a full pie but with time so short, thought a couple of pasties would be easier to bake.  I rolled out the dough and cut it into circles filling each with a layering as: slice of onion, slice of pork, slice of tart apple and a piece of butter.  Closed it up with egg yolk and folding over the edge.  Then baked in the biscuit oven which took all of 10 minutes.

We had many visitors that hoped they would be the ones enjoying it all this for their diner.  But I take it all home and my family has it for their dinner but not before Valerie and I tried everything except the oyster patties and the duck.

Published in: on November 6, 2007 at 6:33 pm  Comments (3)