Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hearth Cooking at Valley Forge National Historic Park

     This past weekend, Krista Jasillo participated in hearth cooking at Valley Forge National Historic Park.  She decided to use a recipe from my cookery book, and I asked if she would be willing to tell us about her experience.       

     "Krista here - Yesterday at Valley Forge we fired up our earthen oven for the first time this season!


     The bad thing... it takes twice as long to preheat because the oven is still pretty cold from the winter months.  One good thing?  Plenty of time to prepare lunch! 

     I am a living history volunteer at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Along with other members of the Valley Forge Park Alliance we get together once or twice a month from spring until fall to demonstrate camp life, bread baking, etc. Our fully functional earthen oven is located at Muhlenberg's Brigade where a lot of our events take place, including our highlighted evening event, The Annual March In, commemorating the arrival of the continental army on December 19th. 

     And now, on to lunch over this Easter weekend! 

     We started the fire in the bake oven at 9:30am... preheating should be ready by 2pm.  (I’m already appreciating modern appliances!)  While the oven takes its sweet time, I will cook lunch on the side of the oven with leftover coals. 

     Today, it's fried sausages with cabbage from A Book of Cookery, by a Lady written and compiled by Kimberly K. Walters.  Here is the recipe:

“Fried Sausages.

TAKE half a pound of sausages, and six apples, slice four about as thick as a crown, cut the other two into quarters, fry them with the sausages of a fine light brown, lay the sausages in the middle of the dish, and the apples round.  Garnish with the quartered apples.  Stewed cabbage and sausages fried is a good dish.

      I started by placing the Dutch oven directly over the hot coals.  I cut sausages into bite sizes and browned them.  Then I sliced onions thinly and added them to the sausages. I had a good amount of drippings at this point. Once they had a head start and were nice and brown.  I took my sliced apples and cabbage and added that in.  I gave it a good stir and added some salt, pepper, and vinegar.  Once I had a good boil going I removed the Dutch oven from the direct heat so it would slow cook for about 40 minutes. When the cabbage was cooked through and wilted I served it with a loaf of bread. 

     I really do enjoy being a volunteer at Valley Forge! If you have visited you know it's a favorite place for joggers and recreation, but when a bunch of us are out there set up and in period dress there is something satisfying when you can stop a runner in their tracks and strike up a conversation about history!"