Longtime readers may remember that each year I mark my calendar for the Friends of Minuteman Park annual harvest festival. Not only does this event afford an excuse to take in the splendor of New England fall, but it also gives me a chance to learn more about authentic colonial cooking.
We first stumbled upon this event a few years ago when walking in the footsteps of Paul Revere along the Battle Road from Lexington to Concord. As we watched reenactors at Hartwell Tavern string vegetables in order to dry them for the winter, Oliver, then 5, suddenly grabbed an extra needle. As I admonished him, a lady in colonial garb stepped in. “Actually,” she informed me, “in the 18th century, stringing vegetables would have been the chore of someone just his age.” Ok. Though a little apprehensive, I let him try. Wasn’t I surprised to see, a. how much he enjoyed it, and b. how this fine motor activity really calmed my active boy down! Needless to say, we’ve been stringing things ever since – beads or cranberries and popcorn at Christmas. But this fall was the first time we actually tried drying vegetables for ourselves.
Every year I take a picture of this spinning wheel in the window. The way the light hits the lithe form is breathtaking. (See here for last’s year’s picts.)
You can buy you own copy of this 18th century Housekeepers Companion, which is full of traditional cooking methods at G. Gedney Godwin.
You can read my complete tutorial on Colonial Food Drying at Gardenista.