I'm a member of an organization called the American Long Rifle Association. This was the group that got me started in serious living history about twenty years ago. The group focuses primarily on re-enactment of colonial-era backwoods characters, such as Daniel Boone's cohorts. The emphasis is primarily on flintlock rifles and walking the woods in moccasins. I think they define their period as being 1750-1810.
This past weekend a few of the crew got together at a beautiful (though mismanaged)historical site in Ogden called Fort Buenaventura. We sat around and shot target matches, told stories and ate good food. And slept out in the cold. Of course I was mostly interested in the food. I made a Dutch oven filled with bratwurst and sauerkraut using my kraut I just bottled from this year. It was delicious!
I also got to try a traditional fabric dye. A friend named Kevin had prepared a kettle with walnut hulls, and I dyed my woolen hunting frock to a dark brown.
I also attended a workshop by a friend of mine, Wendell. He demonstrated some historic approaches to preserved food. One dish he demonstrated was a chowder made with salt cod. From previous posts you may remember a discussion here about salt cod used in Salt Lake City in the 1850s, notably at the table of Brigham Young. At any rate, Wendell showed how to freshen the salted cod, and he then prepared the chowder using hard tack or ship's bread for the thickening. It was delicious.
Wendell also demonstrated "potted beef." He first marinated a beef roast in vinegar overnight. Then he salted it well. Then Wendell slow-roasted the beef. Once it was fork-tender, he cut it into small bite-sized pieces and packed it in a crock. Leaving a little head room on the crock, Wendell filled the voids with melted salted butter, and added an additional inch of butter to seal it. The crock was then stored in "a cool place" for a couple of months. We opened it for a taste, and the beef was sweet and succulent with no hint of rot or decay.
At the end of the day we all pitched in for a pot-luck meal. I had baked the day before so I put a couple of loaves in. Here are some pictures of us enjoying the meal together.
I love my friends in the ALRA.
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