Tuesday, January 5, 2010

keeping the homefire burning

I am sorry to have disappointed everyone eagerly awaiting thanksgiving recipes. In the hustle & bustle of the season, that fell to the wayside as I have been tending the fire...filling love tanks. And since Nana hadn't been here in over two years, we decided to savor every bit of the three weeks we had her. So, I beg your forgiveness.

And speaking of fire...I came across a gem of a book. Hearthside Cooking by Nancy Carter Crump has had my attention of late in those brief moments of leisurely reading while nursing the baby. Having learned about the finer points of radiant heat (wishing for that four-oven Aga) and the joys of using cast iron and our woodstove, I thought it may be prudent and interesting to add open hearth to my growing repertoire. We are all about doing (some)things the old fashioned way around here. That just fits right in with our Slow Food concept of farming. The cover hints at recipes of traditional Southern, specifically Virginian, cuisine for hearthside cooking and modern interpretations thereof. What I did not expect is the wealth of historical context, thoroughly researched and presented in an enlightening manner. Before we moved to Providence Farm, I would say I'd like to live along Duke of Gloucester Street and have our whole family of interpreters in our Colonial attire, cooking at a grand hearth like the one at the Governor's Palace, with our Heritage breed animals and abundant kitchen garden and smokehouse, etc. (Aside: in these frigid hours, I am thankful to have a furnace that will kick on when the woodstove fire dies out around midnight!) Anyway, since our grill bit the dust on Christmas Day (literally, blew off the back porch just as we were cutting our steaks at the dinnertable), I've had a notion (actually my Dear and Loving Husband had it first & I concurred...before the grill bit the dust but doom was imminent) to design and build a hearth out back. That is a project that may not come to fruition in the very near term, but we do need to replace the grill before summer. What else for cooking all that fabulous, grass-fed beef growing in the back forty? I'm thinking a spit & andirons may be in order...I am reminiscing of Spiesbraten and Bratwurst. Thinking ahead to hot dogs and steaks. Why wait for warm weather? We need fire now!

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