Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Colonial Ken Re-Visits Greenfield Village: Fall Harvest Edition 2015

Come with me as I open the door to the past...
I really, really enjoy wearing 1770s period clothing. Yes, more than wearing Civil War era clothing. And when I can be surrounded and immersed in buildings that were around during the time the clothing was fashionable (rather than at a reenactment), well that just sort of becomes the cool whip frosting on the cake.
It's just a shame that there are only a few reenacting opportunities for me to wear the garments here in Michigan;
there are plenty more occasions to don the appearance of living in the 1860s /Civil War era, however. And as you know, I grab those moments quite frequently.
But because there are far fewer events of the 1770s in my general area (right around a half-dozen or so), it took me a while to finally spend some research time and cash on such clothing knowing that it may only be worn a few times a year. In a way, it hardly seems worth it, when you really think about it.
But I am not like most people.
I will grab any and every opportunity that comes my way to throw on my shirt, waistcoat, coat, breeches, cravat, clocked stockings/hose, buckle shoes, and tricorn (or cocked) hat and head off to Greenfield Village (or anywhere else historical)...just because.
In fact, I very recently did just that during the fall harvest weekends at Greenfield Village, and the best of these photos taken I put here in this week's post. You see, for two weekends in a row in late September and early October - the time of the fall harvest - I donned my 1770s finest, grabbed a few friends, and off we went for a photo shoot. Well, not just a photo shoot - we also really enjoyed spending time around all of the traditional autumn activities that takes place this time of year inside the historic open-air museum.
Usually my wife and/or a few friends will also 'dress' and join me on such an excursion. Unfortunately, it was not to be this time. But I hope what you see here doesn't make me seem like I'm vain or anything of that sort that I'm in so many of the photos, for I am not that way at all. What I wanted to do was to put myself into period scenarios strictly out of my love and want for being a part of history.
Does that make sense to you?

Anyhow, there are photos of others as well...and what I have presented here are my favorites of what was taken over the two weekends.
Hope you like them
(I'm so vain...
I probably think this blog is about me!):
~ Crossing through the space-time continuum bridge...back to 1770...
Hey, did you know that
I'm always going back in time?
I am the backwards traveller
Ancient wool unraveller...

(Paul McCartney)
Greeting me on the other side of the bridge was this beautiful scene from October 1770. This is the home of John and Mehetabel Giddings, which originally stood on Meeting House Hill in Exeter, New Hampshire from around 1750 until Henry Ford brought it to Greenfield Village in 1929.
Giddings, a prosperous merchant and shipbuilder, built and lived in this home with his wife and their five children: Mary (1752), John (1754), Dorothy (1758), Mehetabel (1764), and Deborah (1770).
In December of 1790, it became the home of New Hampshire's first Secretary of State, Joseph Pearson, who, inside this house, married Captain Gidding's daughter, Dorothy, in April of 1795.

I was kindly welcomed into the home by Mary Giddings.

Mary and Dorothy Giddings were planning a tea and awaited for their guests to arrive. They welcomed me to sit as I waited for the arrival of their father. They treated me kindly to 'Black Caps.' Black Caps are apples that are baked in their skin upon ashes (or sometimes under or before a fire). The skins sometimes burn on one side, and make, well, Black Caps.
This was such a delicious treat that some people would imagine that it was time to seek another world if Black Caps were abolished.
(see below for the recipe). 
The ladies also served up Queen's Cake, Butter Drops (the cookies), as well as a plate of Chocolate Almonds - all popular dishes of the later 18th century.

'Twas a cooler fall day than usual this early October, and a warm fire was much needed and appreciated. I willingly helped Dorothy in getting some warmth into the room by adding fuel to the fire.

"You do me the honour, Miss Giddings, of allowing me to enjoy this fine repast of treats as such I've not had in many a day."

After an enjoyable delight, I asked if I may step into the kitchen to thank the servant for doing such a fine job in her cooking expertise. Though a bit befuddled, Miss Giddings honoured my request.
Inside the Giddings kitchen, where the fine foods of the house are cooked over the hearth by their hired girl.

Colonial Ken at your service.

"I wish you a good day, Madam.
May I compliment you on such
a fine repast of savory delights?"

The Giddings' servant girl made Black Caps in this way:
Cut 12 large apples in half and take out the cores and place them on a thin patty pan, or mazarine, as close together as they can lie, with the flat side downards; squeeze a lemon in two spoonfuls of orange-flower water and pour over them; shred some lemon peel fine and throw over them, and grate fine sugar all over; set them in a quick oven and half an hour will do them. When you send them to table, throw fine sugar all over the dish.
From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Mrs. Glasse (from 1776)
Before baking...

The kitchen cooking fire...

While back in 1770 I thought I might take the opportunity to travel out to visit with Samuel Dagget and his wife, Anna. They live quite a ways from Giddings so I concluded a coach would be the wisest choice to travel on this overcast and cool fall day which held the promise of rain.
Rather than sit inside the coach, the driver kindly granted me permission to take the reins. 

Off to the countryside I then travelled, along Shoddy Hill Road, to where my friends, Samuel and Anna Daggett, lived.

The Daggett Farm Hay:
The hay would have been made into a rick although some of it would have gone into the loft of the stable for horses.
A hay rick, by the way, is a stack of hay used as a covering or thatching for protection from the weather. Many farmers would bank their homes with hay during the fall to help insulate it from the winter's cold.

Samuel, a housewright by trade, built this saltbox house sometime between 1746, when 40 acres of land was deeded to him by his father, and 1758, the year he married his wife, Anna Bushnell. 

Twas a busy day at the Daggett home

I watched for a while as the Daggett daughters, Asenath and Tabitha, worked hard in the kitchen, preparing the day's meal. A fine harvest was had, allowing for a good serving of vegetables before preservation was to begin.

Over the Daggett hearth were more 18th century delectable delights, including Essence of Ham, Apple Tansy, Windsor Beans, Dressed Parsnips, Crookneck or Winter Squash Pudding, Applesauce, Apricot Chips, Hasty Fritters, Common Peas Soup, and Brandied Peaches & Cheesecake for dessert.

While the ladies of the house were very busy cooking and preserving food, Samuel had his own chore outside making a goodly amount of beer for the winter.
Permit me, Sir, the honour of assisting you in your endeavor.
Beer and ale was a major dietary staple in the colonies. Literally everyone partook. It was the common item which spanned generations; from cradle to grave everyone drank beer. Infants were fed beer and it was especially recommended for nursing mothers. Farmers, laborers, merchants, lawyers, and craftsman all drank beer. It was a common thread in all their lives and this beverage would even play an important role in the formation of government.
It was not uncommon for drinking to begin even before breakfast and it continued with every meal throughout the day.

I certainly appreciate opportunities such as this!
Now, in the silly introduction of the all-knowing History Channel's "Founding Fathers" series, a so-called "historian" makes a point to state something along the lines that it was a wonder the Founding Fathers could even stand up with all the beer they drank. Well, hey! Guess what? Although there were those who drank to get drunk (just like in the 21st century), most in the colonial times drank beer because it was healthier than water. They did not drink to get inebriated.
Just correcting another myth that tries to make our founding generation look bad.
Preparing to make the beer
Ben Franklin’s favorite type of beer could have been similar in gravity and strength to the modern version of an Old Ale (1.060 to 1.086). Franklin’s own writings refer to, “the type of strong, harvest-time ale, or October ale.” Yet, his regular drink couldn’t have been excessively strong because he was known to have intellectual discussions in Taverns while, “lifting a few pints of ale,” and Franklin felt (along with many of the time) that ale was a healthful tonic if consumed in moderation.
In colonial times, brewers took malted barley and cracked it by hand. They would then steep (or soak) the grains (including corn) in boiling water. They called the process mashing. 

Eighteenth century texts say to, “Bring your water to a boil and put it into the mash tun.When it has cooled enough that the steam has cleared and you can see your reflection in the water, add your malt to the tun."

This translated to a mash temperature of  approximately 154F. This mash temperature is supported by both Noonan’s recipe for an 1850 Scottish ale and Daniels’ recommendation for an Old Ale.
Mashing allowed the brewer to extract the sugars from the barley.
As I stirred the mash, I noticed it smelled just like the modern 'Malto-Meal.' did!

Brewers in colonial times took the mash they had created, which had the consistency of oatmeal, and dumped it into a sawed-off whiskey barrel. The modified tub acted as a sieve, filtering the sugary liquid from the grain. Modern brewers pass the mash into a device called the mash/lauter tun for straining.
Are we ready for the hops yet?
 In researching the era, it is believed that due to the high cost of imported hops and the documented hop shortages in Colonial America, the hopping rates would have been appreciably less than that of Old Ale and more comparable to a Strong Scotch Ale.

The colonial brewer returned the strained liquid to the boil kettle, or the copper as it was called, for a 2-hour boiling. He added hops, chilled the brew, sprinkled it with yeast, and drained the final product into wooden kegs. The brewer then placed those kegs in a cellar for three weeks to a month.
Yeast is added, which helps turn the sugar from the malt into alcohol.

Social historian from Camden, New Jersey, Richard Pillatt, tells us a story of beer's importance in our history:
"After we announced (that we were doing a historic beer-brewing demonstration) this summer, I was in a nearby restaurant eavesdropping on some people who were discussing our publicity, and one of them asked the other, 'what does BEER really have to do with history?' Well, in terms of daily life in 18th-century Camden County, one word easily answers that question: 'Everything,' I said. Beer played a central role in the social, economic and political life of almost all our regional ancestors. It provided daily nutritional sustenance, it was made from the crops that they grew and bought and sold in huge quantities, and it was the key lubricant in the networks of local taverns that were the culture's primary social and political venues."
~Hops on the barrel head~

Ahh...tis always a fine day when I visit my friend Samuel Daggett! And he never fails to send me off with gifts from his garden.

Rather than drive, it was into the coach I went to head back from whence I came. The condition of the roads were not of a high order, and as we wound snake-like over hill and dale, through thick woods and meadow land, riding in the coach was like a ship rocking or beating against a heavy sea; straining all her timbers with a low moaning sound as she drove over the contending waves. 
As I rode back, I decided to stop at this log cabin I passed by on the way to the Daggetts. It was occupied by the Hamilton family: Mr. & Mrs. Hamilton and their three children - David, Daniel, and Ann.
(If you know well Greenfield Village, then you might recognize this as the McGuffey Cabin, built around 1780, though I did a little photographic trickery to give it a more lived-in look! I chose the Hamilton Family because they were the main characters in one of my favorite books as a child, The Cabin Faced West, fictional drama about an actual family who lived in Pennsylvania during the birth of our Nation.) 

As it was still a might cold out, with a harsh wind a-blowing, I set myself down near the fire for a warm.

Mrs. Hamilton prepares the ingredients for a fall favorite, apple pie.

Ann stoked the wood and added more fuel, not only for the heat but for baking the apple pie.
To make an apple pie from a 1776, make a good puff paste crust, lay some round the sides of the dish, pare and quarter apples thick, throw in half the sugar you design for your pie, mince a little lemon peel fine, throw over, and squeeze little lemon over them, then a few cloves, here and there one, then the rest of your apples, and the rest of your sugar. You must sweeten to your palate, and squeeze a little more lemon. Boil the peeling of the apples and the cores in some fair water, with a blade of mace, till it is very good; strain it, and boil the syrup with a little sugar, till there is but very little and good, pour it into your pie, put on your upper-crust and bake it. You may put in a little quince or marmalade, if you please.
From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Mrs. Glasse (from 1776)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The coach dropped me off at the tavern in town. As much as I enjoyed my stay in the autumn time of year in the 1770s, I knew it was time for me to journey through the continuum of time and space...back to the 21st rejoin my family.
Who knows? Maybe next time they'll come with me. And if we find a cozy little saltbox house that we can call home, perhaps we'll stay...
It was not too long a journey from the tavern to the bridge to the future.

Back to the future:
Happy and I'm smiling, walking miles to drink your water.
Let us close our eyes, for outside their lives go on much faster.
Once I used to join in; every boy and girl was my friend.
Oh, we won't give in, let's go living in the past.
(Modified Jethro Tull lyrics)
But I plan to travel back in time, once again, to search out more eighteenth century adventures. Maybe at Christmas tide...
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little autumn time-travel excursion to the colonial times. I certainly enjoyed travelling there. As mentioned at the top of this post, if I have an opportunity to wear my colonial clothing, I will take it...even if I am the only one wearing such clothing!
Until next time, see you in time - - -
(For a more extensive "tour" of harvest time in the 18th - and 19th - century, please click HERE)

Many, many thanks to Ian & Carrie Kushnir and April Folcarelli for coming out to Greenfield Village with me and taking such wonderful photos. I appreciate it!
(All other pictures - you know, the ones I'm not in - were taken by me).

Some of the information about beer brewing came from THIS Benjamin Franklin site.
And THIS SITE as well.
However, much of the brewing information also came from the master brewer at the Daggett Farm in Greenfield Village, Mr. Roy Mayer.
Other bits came from THIS SITE.

To learn more about Taverns in the 18th century, please click HERE.
To learn more about Food and cooking in colonial times, please click HERE
For an overview of everyday life during colonial times, please click HERE
For my 1st excursion visiting Greenfield Village as Colonial Ken, please click HERE
Celebrating Patriot's Day - the New England Holiday - at Greenfield Village: HERE
And to learn about celebrating Christmas in colonial times, please click HERE


The BUTT'RY and BOOK'RY said...

Wonderful post!!! :-)
Thanks! (as usual the best)!!! :-D
Blessings, Linnie

An Historical Lady said...

Fantastic! Thanks so much. I enjoyed every minute of your excursion to the past~