Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Blurring the lines

My days of late have been spent in the past - the 1890's Ozarks. I have been cooking a variety of delights on my new favorite toy - a 1931 Kalamazoo wood cookstove at the Ozark Folk Center. She is just about the sweetest thing for cooking since maple syrup.

Just this week I've experimented (very sucessfully!) with peach cobbler made with fresh peaches, scottish shortbread, apple and oatmeal cookies, venison pies, cranberries cookies, chicken vegi stew thickened with cornmeal and butternut squash pies. I am having Fun!

It has left me with little time to record all the wonderful stories and ideas that have filled my days. I hope I can remember enough of them to write them down when I have a bit of time...
And it makes me even more aware of how different our life is from most people's though. My answers to the many questions I get each day are a good illustration of this.

The most common question is -
"Aren't you glad you don't have to cook this way at home?"
Um... actually, when I have a home again - I want a wood cookstove just like the one at the Folk Center. And, right now, that is the best cooking facility I have. Depending on how crowded it is, I answer that question with a negative and explain the details as well as I can.

"How long did it take you to learn this?"
Well... Thanks to my parents, I've been cooking all my life and we did enough camping that cooking with fire makes sense to me. It really is no different than modern cooking. Really. I rarely use recipes, but today I decided to look up a recipe for pumpkin pie in our 1915 Golden Rule Cookbook and adapt it to the butternut squash pie I was making. I was stunned when the recipe's first ingredient was "1 can pureed pumpkin". Obviously this was a townie cookbook! Pumpkins store just fine in the pantry without putting them in cans!

I gave up on recipes and made very good butternut squash pie. I had lots and lots of compliments on it and one question that kind of stumped me. One lady, after tasting it, said, "You didn't make the crust, too, did you?"
Umm... If I didn't make it, where did it come from? Is there a pie crust tree in the herb garden that I don't know about?

Sometimes I don't even realize my answers come from a different reality than the question.

"Why don't you churn your own butter here?" asked a young woman.
I answered honestly, "I don't because I have goats and you can't get cream from goat's milk without a cream separator. So I just have to make-do with store bought butter."
I thought a minute and then I added, "But I do have a neighbor who has a cow. Maybe I could ask Dave for some cream."
The young woman seemed to think I was doing a fine job of staying in character...
Tomorrow I'll see if I can pick up that cream on my way down the mountain.

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