Saturday, March 29, 2014

Open Hearth Cooking Class at the Collier House at Catoctin Furnace

We were blessed to spend the day at the restored Collier House (circa 1810) at Catoctin Furnace at an open hearth cooking class titled “Feast at the Furnace”.  While I have some experience with open-hearth cooking from working at Mount Vernon, I jumped at the chance to spend a full day getting more comfortable with fire management.  I cook a LOT, so the recipes weren’t my focus — what I really needed was a better comfort level working with the fire and to learn how to cook with coals.


Priscilla Rall put together the program, and it was amazing!  I am so thankful to have met Priscilla at one of our demos at the Market Fairs at Claude Moore Colonial Farm and she happened to remember from our conversation that I was looking for an open hearth cooking class.  She emailed me about the opportunity and we seized it…the whole family came.  Jeff intended to drop me off and take the kids hiking, but there was an open fire….and you know how he is about fire!  :-)  Plus, he became intrigued by a waffle maker and wanted to get it working properly!

The menu included apple pies, apple fritters, apricot and apple pudding, gingerbread waffles, toast, gingerbread, chestnuts, rabbit smothered in onions, fried sausages with apple and sauerkraut, grilled venison, ham hocks, freshly-churned butter, scrapple, the beginning stages of sauerkraut, and rice cakes.  It was a ton of food — when we got one thing off the coals, another took its place.   And, that was the type of class it was….you jumped in and got involved with whatever recipe intrigued you, and then moved onto another…and there were at least 4 recipes going on at a time. 

What an amazing experience!  If you get the chance to attend one of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society's Open Hearth Cooking Class, please do so!  You won’t be disappointed.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Announcing Our Spring and Summer Demo Schedule!

As spring begins, we are working at Mount Vernon and Jeff is teaching blacksmithing classes before the summer heat arrives.  If you are interested in a class or two, this is the time to do it!  We are still finalizing some details, but this is how our spring and summer demo schedule is shaping up:  

April 26 14 Fairfax Civil War Day (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) in Fairfax, Virginia.  This is a new event for us, but we are excited to participate in support of Historic Blenhein. Plus, with cannons, living history encampments, period music by “Home Front,” tours of the Historic Blenheim House and grounds, hayrides, and more, it looks like a lot of fun!

May 3 - Wye Colonial Fair (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) in Wye Mills, Maryland.  This will be our 3rd year demo’ing at this lovely church festival, complete with wagon rides, a May Pole, good food, children’s activities, a Blessing of the Animals service and a beautiful church building. Last year, my kids learned to make char cloth at this event….we are excited to see what this year brings! 

May 18-19 - Claude Moore Colonial Fair (11 a.m. - 4 p.m.) in McLean, Virginia.  Our longest-standing demo, we don’t miss a fair!  Fencing, great food, wonderful children’s activities, very nice plants for the garden, all on a small-scale so it is enjoyable for everyone. 

June 7 - Raiders and Invaders (12 p.m. - 6 p.m.) in Leonardtown, Maryland.  This War of 1812 commemoration looks to be a lot of fun!  The event is June 6-8, but we’ll only be demo’ing on the 7th. 

From the event’s website: “Site of no great battles but with a whole lotta raiding going on by those ornery  British, the war years of 1813 and 1814 were pretty much a bummer for local folks.  Two centuries later, let us harken back to those years of raiding and invading.  We’ll bring you some serious history, but we’re throwing-in more than a dollop of tongue-in-cheek fun.   Find street theater, circus arts and invasion route boat tours—plus our own British Invasion—1960s style!”

June 21-22 - War of 1812 Fair and Reenactment (10 a.m.- 4 p.m., with evening activities on the 21st) at Jefferson Patterson Park, Maryland.  We’ve done this War of 1812 Commemoration the past two years, but this is a bigger, 2-day event that promises to be amazing. We’ve seen their reenacted battles before and they do it well!  

July 19-20 - Claude Moore Colonial Fair (11 a.m. - 4 p.m.) in McLean, Virginia. 

August 13-16 - ABANA National Conference in Harrington, Delaware.  Jeff is on the board of ABANA, but even if he wasn’t, he’d be attending the conference.  It’s a great way to see many different types of blacksmithing — what a learning experience!   

August 23 - The Battle of Bladensburg Commemoration in Bladensburg, Maryland (11 a.m. - 5 p.m., with additional evening activities).    This is our final 1812 event of the summer season and it promises to be a good one, complete with fireworks over the Anacostia River! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Getting Ready to Revisit the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake

We take what we do as historical interpreters very seriously, which means there are usually various piles of history books around the house. I am scheduled to work at Mount Vernon next week and have already made a mental note to double-check the number of sheep Washington had on his farms during the years we interpret there!  :-)  

This year, though, we are also studying up on the history of the War of 1812, specifically in the Chesapeake. Maryland is celebrating the bicentennial of the war, and we are already booked for three events in June and August (more details to come).  While there are many wonderful resources available, we are finding "The Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake" to be amazingly helpful.   It’s tremendously well-researched, and we are having a great time studying up on the various places where we’ll have blacksmithing demos.  

With the research well underway, we just need to find a seamstress to adjust my 1812 gown by June!  Details, details….  :-)  

Please note — We are not connected with the authors or publishers of “The Fully Glory” in any way.  We are just enjoying it as a great resource.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

We are happy to share this video of Jeff with you.  It was made by Brian Szymanski and we think he did a fabulous job!  Thanks, Brian!