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Hearthside Cooking Seminar June 1

Campton Hills, IL With the coming of summer and the chance to cook outdoors, now is the time to learn the basics of fireside or hearth cooking at Garfield Farm Museum’s Hearthside Cooking Seminar on Saturday June 1 at 1 pm.

    Cooking with fire was more an art of heat management in the pre-woodstove burning era. With the summer here, now is a safe time to practice outdoors the basic cooking methods using open fire, coals and embers. Once mastered, it is an easy transition to move inside to one’s fireplace with the coming of winter.

    Museum volunteer Julia Bizub of Wisconsin will conduct the seminar preparing a roasted chicken, roasted tomatoes, stewed cabbage, mince meat, and Queen’s cakes. In addition, two types of breads will be baked in the museum’s brick bake oven.  A reflector oven and Dutch oven will be used on the hearth of the Gaylord Freeman fireplace located in the Atwell Burr House at the museum.

    The phrase home and hearth is partially vague in its meaning today but it reflects the need for shelter and place to prepare one’s food. The hearth was the brick or stone “floor” of the fireplace where embers and coals could be raked from the fire and used as a source of steady heat. Actual cooking over an open flame would be comparable to trying to cook everything on a high setting on today’s stoves. Thus the hearth was today’s stovetop and covered iron pots or kettles could be used like small ovens to contain heat for baking or cooking. An iron Dutch oven with its flat cover mounded with glowing coals and sitting over the same provides all around heat necessary for a baking process. Knowing when and how many coals to use to control the heat is as much of a skill as being an expert in understanding recipes and the action of the ingredients.

    The menu will reflect both special occasion and frugal dishes to demonstrate the range of flavors and dishes mid-19th century people knew. Even the two breads will demonstrate different flavors based on different leavening methods. Participants will be able to help prepare the dishes and cook them.

   Reservations are required by calling 630 584-8485 or e-mail Class size is limited. There is a $35 fee for the class. Garfield Farm Museum is a historically intact former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and inn being restored as an 1840s living history farm and inn museum. Volunteers and donors have over 3800 households in 37 states have donated time and funds to help preserve this 375 acre project.

     Garfield Farm Museum is located 5 miles west of Geneva, IL off Illinois Rt. 38 on Garfield Road.