The American Dutch Oven
The American colonies made some much needed changes to the traditional Dutch Oven. Cooking in the brick and mortar fireplace took finesse…
Thomas Jefferson’s cookbook, as well as The Cookery by Miss Eliza Leslie, made me realized that cooking was not just putting a bird on a skewer. Of course, they enjoyed baking, stewing, frying and roasting. Their meals included breads , cakes , pies and more. The colonist needed the dutch oven to be more shallow, they needed the addition of short legs and what caught my attention was the flanged lid. These changes made hearth cooking/baking possible. The oven was so valued that wills in the 18th and 19th centuries frequently included the “iron kitchen furniture” or the cast iron dutch ovens.
To make cakes and breads the legs of the pot were set over a ring of hot coals and then a specific quantity of hot coals were placed on top of the flanged lid to reach the magical 350..
Now you can tell your children why the Dutch Oven is a Dutch Oven.
On a recent buying trip I was excited to find the dutch oven pictured below. True age is evident by the “Split Formed Handle” on the lid and the “Applied Handle” on the pot.
True only a minute fraction of today’s population cares enough about an old rusty pot enough to study it for any length of time. I actually was marveled by the term “Dutch Oven” well before I uncovered the example in the picture. The dutch part did not interest me but even as a child I asked “Why is this an oven?” I can cross this off of my list of curiosities. I can now move on.
Thank You for Listening, Kit
Hope to see you soon. Please come to my shop!
731 Broadway Homewood Alabama
I recently discovered a new magazine built around the concept of living off the grid. Not a new concept. I remember an article in the ’80’s in “Mother Earth News” on using a car tire inner tube filled with water placing it on the hood of a car and calling it a hot water heater. Yes it would heat water but give me my Rudd grid and all. My point is off the grid is harder than anything I read in the magazine. A short definition …
OFF THE GRID – living in a self sufficient manner without relying on public utilities.
My favorite author is Miss Eliza Leslie. She authored a house book in 1840 and a wonderful cookery in 1850. Let’s call this time “Pre Grid”. No Grid was life. Her house book deals with how to make a fire with details on what kind of ashes make the best lye for making candles. She wrote about how to bank the fire in order to be certain that it would last until morning. NO MATCHES?? This would make building a fire even more complicated. She writes about cooking on hot coals. Which reminds us don’t let the fire go out. You need those coals 24/7 no matter what the weather. Her section on wash day reminds us that you have to make soap before you do laundry. Let’s not forget about combing the cotton, spinning the yarn, dyeing and weaving . Only then could you begin to sew something that would need washing. Get my drift on the subject of OFF GRID. Attempting Off Grid is a good thing. It is always good to be conscious of our carbon foot print. Lets work toward being less of a society of consumers. Lets use and reuse. And avoid buying land fill. Buy something permanent! Nothing is more expensive than buying temporary. Take care KIt Jenkins
I love it but it is the type of thing you only want to move once!
The concept of the picturesque Maple Chopping Block is a relatively new one. Until the 1880’s the block of preference was a slice from a Sycamore Tree on three turned legs. The trusty Sycamore because it was the largest hardwood on the North American continent with a diameter up to 10 feet. Being a round tree trunk it held up well but could develop a split due to shrinkage and drying. In the 1880’s a couple of meat packers had the idea of using “End Grain Maple”. Maple was known to be extremely hard and end grain pieces bolted together could withstand pounding. After about 100 years modern America cultivated hysteria by stating that plastic chopping blocks were healthier. The plastic industry insinuated that wood chopping blocks would trap bacteria. This hysteria was promptly reversed by laboratory test that proved wood had an enzyme that killed bacteria. With in 3 minutes the bacteria was pulled down into the block leaving the surface pathogen free. A test was perform on plastic finding that bacteria multiplied to twice the original count. The original maple block in 1880 was called “THE SANITARY MEAT BLOCK”. They had no idea just how right they were. I would like to add that intelligence and common sense should tell you to clean a good chopping block with salt and vinegar and retreating with mineral oil to prevent build up of what ever (never a good thing). And don’t misunderstand me I am not telling you to run to the land fill with our plastic chopping block. I feel certain that with proper cleaning they too have their place in even my kitchen. But given a choice “I CHOOSE WOOD!!” can’t beat it.
Recently acquired this scarlet maple chopping block, end grain with original bolts. Nice piece. circa 1890
Often it takes someone else to tell us “HEY THAT’S A REALLY GOOD IDEA. I’LL HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT ONE.”
While on a really short picking trip I was faced with the dilemma of how to transport a large chandelier that was loaded with wonderful lead crystals. We all know glass in quantity is really heavy. Of course with the wrong pressure points you can be face with trying to replace a whole bunch of crystals or worse you can break an arm on the fixture. (Which is synonymous with landfill) . The answer is to find a way to distribute support over as many arms as possible and find a way that crystals hang without binding.
For a smaller fixture Set the chandelier in/on a heavy 5 gal bucket. You want the edge of the rim to support the arms equally and let the crystals hang inside the bucket. In my case the fixture was to big for the bucket so we sawed a heavy trash can off to 12 inches high. Perfect support for the glass monster. Trip went superb!! hope this helps. After I check the wiring and general condition I will blog on cleaning a crystal chandelier. Stay tuned…….. kit
“The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me… I got into my old rags and my sugar hogshead again, and was free and satisfied.” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
A hogshead is a dugout Gum or a Sycamore tree. In America any type barrel could have been called a Hogshead. They were used for storing sugar or grain or what ever . I have heard they were a staple when leaching lye from wood ashes for making soap and candles. .
If you can't split it for firewood chances are it would make a good hogshead!
The name was derived from the English hogshead a barrel or a measure used for beer. I read an article showing early Virginians used a type of hogshead for packing tobacco leaves . They were sometimes as much as 5 feet in diameter but they were a large stave type barrels.
In my inventory I have two hogshead one is 30″ diameter and a larger one closer to 40″. They are both made from Sycamore . When I found them they were on the back of a farmer’s pickup. I was thrilled but held back my enthusiasm. The owner was trying to talk me into the sale he had to mention that the big one was “wind whooped” . He pointed at the severe twist in the grain of what was a huge tree in the 1800’s. It probably encountered high winds or a tornado.
(This image came from a book titled Frontier Living by Edwin Tunis)