Pork Sausage and apples is a period concoction; pies are too, and putting anything in a pie goes back to the Middle Ages. I didn’t have any blackbirds to bake in a pie for the last muster but this seemed to satisfy.

Several members asked me for the recipe and as I didn’t have one, you’ll have to be indulgent as to quantities of ingredients. I’ll start with the crust . For meat pies, I like a lard crust. While flaky, they hold up better to the moisture and are substantial .

Pie crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  •  23 cup lard (or Crisco if you’d rather)
  • 5 -7 tablespoons cold water. I actually use vodka which I store in the freezer. it’s colder than water and the alcohol evaporates when baked.


  1. Put flour into a mixing bowl with the lard or shortning
  2. Using a pastry cutter or your floured fingers, cut the lard into the flour until it’s very crumbly.
  3. add salt and water.
  4. Mix until dough is formed.
  5. Roll out on flat surface.

I made the crust at home , rolled it out and on waxed paper and brought it with me. Since I made 2 pies, I did two batches which made 4 – 9 inch crusts. I put 2 of them  in pie pans and set aside while I made the filling.


  • 2 lbs homemade lean pork sausage (or any kind you want)
  • 2 medium sized sweet onions, chopped fine
  • 1 medium red pepper, 1 small  green pepper, chopped fine
  • 6 medium apples (I used Macintosh but half whatever apple you have AND  half Granny Smith would be great.), peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb divided, grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 tablespoon + of flour (maybe more)
  • 1 egg scrambled
  • 1/4 organic apple vinegar
  • 1/4 cup + Stevia (If it weren’t for my diabetic friends, I’d use dark brown sugar)


  1. In a skillet, Crumble the sausage and brown it. Remove after it’s done and set aside.
  2. Deglaze with a little bit of vinegar. Then melt butter, add the onions and peppers and fry until semi soft and the onions are golden. Ad the apples and cook down a little.
  3. Add the sausage back to the pan and mix with the remaining vinegar and sugar or stevia. cook a little to combine.
  4. At this point, you’re done and then you fill the crusts high. the crusts should be in pie pans ready to be filled.
  5. Brush the egg on the sides and bottom of each crust.
  6. mix a bit of flour in the filling to bind the liquid when baking.
  7. Layer the cheese on top and fill each pie.
apples and sausage

Egg washed pie crust and filling



Add the cheese

Put the crust lids on, pinch the sides to close and spread remaining egg wash on tops. Cut vents in to let the steam out.

As to baking. , I put each one in a dutch oven and used what is described as a quick fire, coals on top and on bottom. If I was making this in my oven, I’d start at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes and them reduce to 375 for about 40 minutes or so.

pie baking

Dutch ovens are stacked with coals between. I turned them every 15 minutes.

I made a salad. The dressing was a simple dressing of 3 parts good olive oil (I used infused oil with lemon), a bit of Stevia or sugar, a pinch of salt and pepper and 1 part apple cider vinegar. Can’t get anything this good in a restaurant!!!




My comfort food is German and that’s what I make a lot at the fort. I can justify it by knowing that there were a lot of German settlers that came to the Watauga by way of the Great Road from Pennsylvania. I got a recipe from my friend, Chef Stephen Block, and made it with beef at home. WINNER!!! Technically it’s a venison dish and there is a venison roast that Earl Slagle gave me just waiting to be cooked so that’s dinner at the public house, aka Cabin 4, the Hillbilly Hilton, for the February muster.

Here’s the recipe and it’s wonderbar!


1 lb venison (or stewing beef), cubed, all the silver flesh cut off

a few spoonfuls of bacon fat

4 small onions, halved and wedged

4 shallots, wedged

1 tbs flour

3/4 bottle of red wine (I used merlot)

1 cup beef broth (2-3 cups if you make dumplings)

1 tsp beef bullion crystals

3 tablespoons good paprika (I used 2 of sweet Hungarian paprika and one of smoked)

1 tsp cayenne

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tsp minced rosemary

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

8 juniper berries

8 peppercorns

2 fresh bay leaves

2 tbs lingonberry jam

salt and pepper to taste (add at the last)

1 lb crimini or baby bella mushrooms (add last 15 minutes)


  • Brown the meat in the bacon fat and then set aside.
  • Add the onions, shallots, Brown and then add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes. then add the garlic
  • deglaze the pot using the wine. Add the broth and bullion. Simmer on low heat.
  • Add the spices (after you toast them gently in a separate pot to release their flavors), jam and meat.
  • Cover and simmer and hour or until the meat is tender.
  • Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste the last 15 minutes

Thicken the gravy if you don’t make dumplings (pats of butter rolled in flour will make a wonderful thickener and glaze the gravy)


1 egg

6 tbs flour

pinch of salt


add to broth and when they float, they are done.

Serve with pickled red cabbage.




For Woodcock, Snipe, &c.

PERIOD: England, 17th century | SOURCE: The Art of Cookery Refined and Augmented, 1654 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: A wine sauce for small game birds

For Woodcock, Snipe, &c..

You may make sauce for Woodcocks or Snipes as followeth; If you draw your Fowle put an Onion in the belly, then spit them, roast them with a dish under them, in which let there be Claret, Vinegar, an Anchove, Pepper and Salt; the Fowle being roasted, put a little piece of Butter and a little grated Bread, shaking it well together and dish it with your Fowl.

It is a very good sauce for a wilde Duck, onely rub your dish with a clove of Garlike, because it is a ranker fowle.

Back when I first moved to Tennessee those many moons ago, a lot of pranks were played on this burgeoning Yank-a-Billy.  Being a young , gullible innocent and so eager to “fit in”, I’d sit in the teacher’s lounge after school and be “educated” (“Miss Ramona , haven’t you ever heard of a yaller dope and a Moon Pie?”) and I bit on most of them. Notably there were the fox hunts (TVA line paths that one could see over the mountains), what to do after eating wild ramps ( gargle with lemon juice so you wouldn’t offend anyone within a mile of your mouth), the secret of what to do to brown beans so one wouldn’t have gas ( and then you fart yourself into next Tuesday!). The biggie was “snipe hunting”. Now around here snipe hunting is BIG, real BIG and every newbie is asked if any of the locals have taken you to go snipe hunting. It would make me wonder when some of the teachers who didn’t have poker faces would snigger but who would have thought? What I was told eventually is that there are no snipes and what they meant was had anyone ever taken you into the woods at night and scared the living crap out of you.

Guess what? It took forty plus years to find out that, in fact, there is such a bird and I even got a picture from the internet  to prove it. I was looking at obscure recipes of the 17th century and found one for the sauce which I reprinted above in the original. Actually it looks like a wonderful sauce that I’ll make when I roast the duck breasts I have in my freezer. Low and behold, though, that one can roast  snipe and use the sauce for them. It can’t be a very big bird so one would have to have several if one were not to starve to death. Well, well, well!!! If I could only go back in time and proffer my smart phone to my “friends” and say, guess what, there IS SUCH A THING AS A SNIPE AND NO, I HAVEN’T BEEN HUNTING. Oh,  the joy! Then I’d invite  them to participate in a fox hunt.



Savoring the Past

Proper seasoning can make all the difference between a bland chunk of meat and a course fit for royalty. We decided to dig through a collection of 18th and early 19th century cookbooks to see which spices were mentioned. We also took one of the more recognized books and looked at the frequency by which the spices appear in the recipes.

It’s seems to me to be a fairly safe and logical conclusion that the frequency by which particular spices, herbs, and seasonings were mentioned may lend insight into which were more popular. Granted, I can’t be too dogmatic in my conclusions. First, my sample is small. Second, taste preferences in the 18th century varied regionally and culturally just as they do today. So I wouldn’t attempt to apply my conclusions to every 18th century English-speaking cook, but this exercise seems to be an interesting starting point toward understanding preferences…

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And you thought beer was just for drinking? Read on!

Cooking in the Archives

We’re sometimes asked how the early modern recipe books we cook from ended up in library collections. It varies: some were purchased directly by the library, others were gifts. However they made it into holdings like the Kislak Center’s, we feel fortunate that they did. As I looked over the provenance notes for UPenn Ms. Codex 205, I saw a familiar name. The book was a gift from Esther Bradford Aresty, part of the Esther B. Aresty Collection of Rare Books on the Culinary Arts. Aresty (1908-2000) was a culinary historian and cookbook collector who donated her collection of 576 printed volumes and 13 manuscripts, ranging from the fifteenth to twentieth century, to the University of Pennsylvania. (For more on Aresty’s remarkable life and collecting, see here and here. Penn also holds Aresty’s papers, which I’m looking forward to digging into soon.) Aresty’s collection has already informed this…

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Chad always asks us what we want to do to demonstrate 18th century living skills and invariably, my mind turns to cooking. Slowly but surely, I’ve been collecting the right period pieces to make  on the hearth nearly any thing people ate back then. Since I have to eat, I may as well make things that are good as well as something that reflects the ethnic identity of the area. It seems as though, I dip more into German cooking than anything else which, fortunately, is appropriate as many families did come from the Palatine area. thinking ahead, I was tryingto plan a bill of faire that wouldn’t be a ton of work on a hot day but tasty and pleasant. I was planning on a salmagundy, roasting the hen in a tin roaster but then I ran into a recipe for Wurstsalat from the Alsace region. God knows how much I love sausages so its going to be a sausage salad that i will make in September. The recipe below is from a Facebook site called “I Love Germany”.  I’m going to go to Fresh Market and see if the traditional sausages are available. If not, I think I will use Summer Sausage.



German, ( literally sausage salad) is a tart sausage salad prepared with distilled white vinegar, oil and onions. It is normally made from a sort of boiled sausage like Lyoner, stadtwurst, regensburger (two types of cooked sausage) or extrawurst. It is a traditional snack in southern Germany, Alsace, Switzerland and Austria.

To prepare the dish, the sausage is cut into thin slices or strips and placed, along with raw onion rings or cubes, in a vinegar and oil marinade, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Common additional ingredients are finely cut gherkins, radishes, parsley or chives. Wurstsalat is normally served with bread and sometimes also with fried potatoes. (I don’t know about the fried pottoes but some boiled new potatoes, diced would be great)

Popular variants are the Schwäbischer Wurstsalat (Swabian wurstsalat), which is half composed of blood sausage, and especially the Schweizer Wurstsalat (Swiss wurstsalat), also called Straßburger Wurstsalat (Strasburg wurstsalat) or Elsässer Wurstsalat (Alsacian wurstsalat), and containing Emmental cheese.

I am also going to add yellow peppers for sweetness , Emmenthaler cheese and use sweet red onions , cut fine and fresh corn .My secret ingredient will be white wine vinegar and Styrian pumpkin seed oil. that stuff is so good, it’s almost a sin. Serve it up on artisinal lettuce and garnish with hard boioled eggs, OH MY!!!

I’m going to make rye bread too as the heart will make the dough rise easily. I’ve made it at home many times and it’s really wonderful. ( I got this recipe from http://www.whats4eats.com/breads/bauernbrot-recipe   a while back and each time I use the variations, adding spelt and seeds)


1 large loaf


Dough Starter

  • Bread flour — 3/4 cup
  • Rye flour — 3/4 cup
  • Honey or malt syrup — 3 tablespoons
  • Water, lukewarm — 1 1/2 cups
  • Instant yeast — 1/2 teaspoon

Flour mixture

  • Bread flour — 2 1/2 cups
  • Caraway seeds — 2 tablespoons
  • Salt — 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Instant yeast — 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil — 1 tablespoon
  • Cornmeal — for the baking tray


  1. Add the ingredients for the starter to a large bowl and mix together until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. While the starter is resting, mix together the remaining ingredients except for the oil and cornmeal. Pour the flour mixture over the starter. Do not stir. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set aside for at least two hours and up to five hours. The starter will bubble up through the flour mixture.
  3. Add the oil to the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to stir the flour mixture into the starter. As the mixture comes together, remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. The dough might be a little sticky. Knead in just enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
  4. Set the dough aside to rest for about 10 minutes, then knead for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set in a draft-free area of the kitchen to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and lightly knead it 3 or 4 times. Form into a ball, return to the bowl, cover and let rise for another 45 minutes or so.(I like to let it rise overnight.)
  6. Preheat oven to 450°F and set the shelf at the lowest level. Put a small metal pan in the oven (you will use this later). Lightly press down on the dough and form it into a ball. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a baking sheet and set the dough onto the baking sheet. Lightly oil the top of the dough and cover it with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for another hour.
  7. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to slash the top of the dough in 3 parallel lines about 1/4-inch thick. Then slash with another set of 3 lines perpendicular to the first set. Use a spray bottle to mist the dough with water.
  8. Set the baking sheet in the oven and pour about 1 cup of water into the small pan to create steam. Shut the door immediately and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400°F and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes. (An insta-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf should register 190°F.) When you bake it in a bastible, just add a tiny bit of water to the bottom of the pot. The cast iron creates it’s own steam and keeps it in.
  9. Set the loaf on a cooling rack and let cool completely.


  • For even better flavor, let the starter ferment for an hour a room temperature. Then set it in the refrigerator to ferment slowly for another 8 to 24 hours. Return it to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. (I’ll make the starter a day ahead and bring it with me.
  • Vary the proportion of rye flour and bread flour to your liking. Or eliminate the rye flour altogether and use all bread flour. You can also make a whole wheat loaf by replacing about 1/2 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. You will need to add a little more water if you do. I acrually like more rye flour rather than less
  • Mix 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, linseeds, flaxseeds, cracked wheat, rye or spelt into the flour mixture for added texture. THIS IS A MUST!!!!
  • For a darker crust, brush the dough with some buttermilk, yogurt or dark coffee just before baking.
  • I use a bastible and bake it in that. It allows for a wonderful crust yet delicious interior texture.

June:  “In early summer, every green thing grew very quickly.  The garden lush and full.  In the fields, the corn stood sturdy and tall.  In the woods, the blackberries were ripe and, at the dinner meal, bowls of blackberries and fresh cream were served.  The kitchen was filled with the sweet, syrupy smell of blackberries as the women made blackberry pie and blackberry cobbler, blackberry pudding, and blackberry jam to spread on hard biscuits. For a special treat, Ma mixed a syrup of blackberry juice, vinegar, and precious white sugar and mixed it with cool spring water for the refreshing drink called blackberry shrub.” (By the Seasons) By the Seasons, Cookery at the Homeplace, 1850, TVA’s Living History Farm, Golden Pond, Kentucky  http://www.meckdec.org/cooking-guild/historic-food-almanac



I love blackberries; I think everybody must. Those little black bursts of sweet and tart just explode in the mouth. Last month I found delicious ,.fresh blackberries at Farmer John’s and decided to make blackberry dumplings.

  • 1 quart blackberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or less depending  on how sweet you like the syrup)
  • 12teaspoon salt
  • 12teaspoon lemon zest and a tbs butter
  • Dumplings

  • 1 1cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1tablespoon sugar
  • 14teaspoon salt
  • 14teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 23cup milk

Cooking the blackberries:Add all ingredients to a pot and boil gently until the blackberries are tender and juicy.

To make the dumplings: sift together the first 4 ingredients. Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the milk.

Bring the blackberries to a simmer and drop in the dumplings by the tablespoon. Do not stir. Cover and cook about 15 minutes until the dumplings are done.