Hearth cooking to explore traditional foods

Let your taste buds do some time traveling at a hearth cooking demonstration offered at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in downtown Peterborough. Each Hearth Cooking Saturday features a seasonal menu of dishes created from authentic recipes and prepared over an open hearth.

We can read about the past or see artifacts in a museum but nothing can connect us so directly to history as eating a dish made from a 200-year-old recipe and cooked on an open fire. The Hearth Cooking Saturday series is an opportunity to sample historic dishes while learning about traditional foodways, cooking and daily life in the early years of the Monadnock region.

On Nov. 16, the menu will include items found at a 19th century Thanksgiving celebration including a pork pie in a standing crust, carrot puffs, applesauce and pumpkin pie. The menu on Dec. 14 will explore holiday fare focused on the sweeter side of Christmas, including a traditional plum pudding, mince meat, hot chocolate, and gingerbread cakes.

All of the recipes, or receipts as they were called 200 years ago, are taken from early cookbooks including Amelia Simmons, American Cookery published in 1796, The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child (1833) and The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple by Hannah Glasse first published in 1747.

Hearth Cooking Saturdays are offered in the Monadnock Center’s Phoenix Mill House located on the center’s campus at 19 Grove Street. The Phoenix Mill House is a circa 1800 house that was used as the foreman’s home for the Phoenix Mill, a large textile mill that operated in downtown Peterborough throughout the 19th century. The Mill House features a very simple kitchen with a cooking hearth and beehive bake oven outfitted with antique cooking utensils. The 2013 Hearth Cooking Saturdays series has been sponsored by Roy’s Market.

Admission to Hearth Cooking Saturday is free but a suggested donation of $5 per family or couple helps defray the costs of the ingredients. For more information, visit or call 924-3235.

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