Back to the eighteenth-century again this weekend. It's our busy season--fall, when it's not stifling hot, not snowing, and the kiddos are in school so we can host school days.
Once or twice a season, we decide to go all out on the food. Hearth and open fire cooking is a fun sideline hobby for many of us, so planning an extensive menu and somewhat complicated food is fun--once in a while. If I did this every time we had a reenactment, I'd go nuts--but most of my girlfriends will be there this weekend, and many hands make light work.
There are challenges of open-fire cooking--mainly, temperature control is not terribly accurate. You can't do dishes that require picky temperature settings or, God forbid, increases and reductions at a fast rate. All your temperature control is done by lowering or raising your cookware, or by stoking or spreading out the fire. It's not precisely scientific.
It also tends to be a bit slower, and you have to keep a constant eye on the fire. I rely on the men in our group to keep me in good supply of split wood to add to the fire.
Our menu for our grand dinner Saturday night:
Starter: Baked Brie with raspberry-rosemary sauce
The Main Attraction: A haunch of roast beef (a friend of mine is taking care of this)
The Supporting Players: Coq au Vin, Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes, Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Bacon
The Finish: Apple Pie and Pumpkin Bread (the bread was baked beforehand, but we'll be baking the apple pie onsite).
So--next week, a run-down on how we made each of these delicious delicacies, with recipes, when applicable. A forewarning--these would have been unusual tasties to see on the menu in a military camp, which usually would have been less pleasantly provisioned. And we may not always use 100% authentic techniques (for ease and for safety). Still, I hope this will give you an insight into the past and into how we attempt to recreate it.
Join me next week for more on cooking over a fire, individual recipes, and probably some hilarious stories on what didn't go as planned.