FOOD FOR THE FROLIC
It was hot and sunny out, but we had planned to cook at the open hearth for the Frontier Frolic and cook we did. Chicken “frycacy”, a recipe from Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, was the main dish of the day. Fresh-picked green beans and sweet, ripe peaches, picked that morning and baked as a peach Charlotte, rounded out the foods made in the Homestead’s kitchen. Click here for Martha’s recipe: CHICKEN FRYKACY
The chicken was prepared in the spider (a cast iron frying pan on three legs) over a bed of hot coals. The green beans were boiled over the fire in a kettle and later seasoned with butter, salt and thyme. The peaches were briefly blanched so we could easily skin them, then sliced and seasoned with some ground cinnamon, ginger and clove. No sugar was necessary! (These peaches from my neighbor’s tree may not have been much to look at, but they tasted better than any super market peach I’ve ever had.) They were placed in a buttered baking dish, had a biscuit crust placed over top and were set to bake on the hearth in the bake kettle – a Dutch oven with coals placed underneath and on the lid.
We are usually cooking in the kitchen or at the outdoor bake oven on most special event days. The Homestead’s cooks use recipes from eighteenth century sources or improvise as any cook might have done. We use foods in season and ingredients that would have been available to families like the Millers in western Pennsylvania during that time period. Since James Miller grew peaches himself (he distilled peach brandy) they are very appropriate to our site.
When the fire is burning and we are cooking, kitchen is a very popular place, especially during the colder months. I noticed there weren’t many people who lingered close to the hearth on this hot day. The docents did make their way to the back porch, however, at the end of the day, to sample the foods – one of the bonuses of being an Oliver Miller Homestead volunteer!