Sunday, June 20, 2010

19th Century Cooking Competition

Yesterday we competed in our annual 19th Century Cooking Competition at the Fort! The rules were as follows:

1. The entry must be created from a mid-19th century primary source receipt.

2. All ingredients for the entry must be available at the Fort during the 1850s, with bonus points available for use of regional ingredients.

3. The entry must be cooked on-site (over an open flame, in a working cook stove, or in the outdoor bake oven).

4. All entries must be accompanied by a story (the taller, the better!).

There were 7 or 8 entries, including the winner, Victoria (above), in her new work dress who was victorious (sorry, couldn't resist) with her contribution of a Victorian 6-layer wedding cake, complete with bridal bouquet and calligraphied copy of the recipe. Who could compete against that?!?
Our entry was fresh-brewed root beer from an 1864 recipe from the Feeding America website. We had several challenges with the root beer, not least of which was a train derailment in the midwest, which prevented our sassafrass and wintergreen oils from arriving in time for the event! We perservered by making a reduction tea/syrup from sassafrass root instead. And while we didn't come close to winning the competition (the root beer turned out very hoppy, and quite strong, although we did get bonus points for using regional Cascade hops), we had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit for our next attempt at brewing later in the summer!

Thankfully, we had lots of help from the other Fort laborers to chop & haul wood, stoke the fires and keep the bake oven hot (getting that to an even 350 degrees is a very tricky proposition!).

The second place winner, Mr. Thornhill, showed off his culinary skills while preparing braised Kale, German-style carrot and veal, pork & beef suet sausages, all from the cook book of Mrs. Beeton.

Other entries in the competition included a beef stew, dutch-oven bacon cornbread, a snared rabbit, a Puget Sound cod & crab chowder and the best rosemary biscuits you ever ate. Mr Eckrom persuaded guests to churn some butter, which was later molded and used for the biscuit entry.

We are tired today, but happy. We did quite a bit of intepretation at our station, which we had set up with all the different roots and ingredients for guests to smell & feel - we used Yellowdock, Burdock, Spikenard, Sarsaparilla, Sassafrass, Dandelion, Cascade Hops & Spruce oil. I haven't gotten to do a lot of interpretation lately, as I am usually busy with the children at events, so that was a nice change of pace. If it wasn't for the rain, it would have been a near perfect day!

I'm looking forward to the week ahead as I'm going off the grid this week - both kids are going to a day camp, so for the first time in 6 years, I will have a bit of time to myself during the day! I'm going to read novels, drink coffee and maybe play with some pretty fabric! So on that note, dear readers, Happy Father's Day and have a great week!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I got to see the new apron in action - very fun!
What a fun fun event. You are lucky to have such a great group of folks to play with!
Enjoy your sacred week - what a treat that will be!