Less Traveled

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See what’s cooking on the fire

Posted 12/23/2013 9:59:00 AM

A big part of the fun of traveling is experiencing how other people live and eat or in the case of historic locations, how they lived and what they ate.

A very big part of the lives of our ancestors was food. More than today, eating was about survival and a wrong step in the kitchen could mean a serious illness or waste of a precious resource. Without microwave or convection ovens, cooking took a lot longer, and without modern refrigeration, a big part of food preparation was preserving perishable goods for use at a later time.

The fine folks at the Historic Hagood Mill & Folklife Center are taking reservations now for cooking classes that will be given early next year at the Murphree/Hollingsworth cabin. Meals will be prepared on the historic cabin’s hearth.

All classes are $65 ($55 if you are a member of the Pickens County museum) and are held 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on select Saturdays. Class sizes are limited, so it is best to register early for your favorite. You can choose your classes at the calendar page[www.visitpickenscounty.com/calendar] or register by calling (864) 898-5963. The family reunion class lasts a little longer and requires students to have at least one other cooking class under their belt.

All classes are taught by Carol Bozarth, a retired registered dietitian who taught open-fire cooking in Rhode Island for a decade. Students just have to bring plates and utensils to eat from. Everything else is provided.

A great start is to learn the basics of cooking over an open fire and how to clean up without running water or antibacterial soap.

Hearth Cooking 101 (March 1) will transport you back to the 19th century. You will learn proper care for cast-iron cooking utensils and how to tell when something’s done without using a timer or meat thermometer.

This class will teach you some of the popular recipes of Southern Appalachian families past and how to adapt them to modern technology. Register for this class here.

Other offerings include:
Feb. 22: Just because you are cooking on the fire doesn’t mean you can’t eat an elegant meal. This class will teach you fire management skills and how to maintain your cast-iron cookware in addition to recipes that can be adapted to 21st technology. Register for this class here.

March 8: Learn how mountain pioneers made the most important meal of the day – a meal that usually came after all the livestock was fed, the cows were milked and the eggs and firewood collected, so they were plenty hungry. Learn to roast green coffee beans over the fire before grinding and boiling your first cup of the day. You also will be grinding your own sausage and grits as well. Register for this class here.

March 22: You don’t need a convection oven to make baked goods. Learn to prepare traditional southern Appalachian desserts with no standard measuring tools. You will be baking sweet potato pie, double crust pies, fried pies and biscuits on an open fire. Register for this class here.

March 29: This course will really give you the secrets of building a good fire as well as incorporating spring greens into your meals. There also will be chicken and dumplings, churned butter and cornbread on the menu. Register for this class here.

April 12: Although this class is on Saturday, it is all about the traditional Sunday dinner: fried chicken with gravy, greens, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, sweet potato biscuits and a fruit cobbler. Just to make it fun, you will do all this with no running water or electricity. Register for this class here.

April 26: In the finest family reunion tradition, you will learn to make the dishes of covered-dish dinner fame. You will make wild game stew, deviled eggs, corn bread, greens, potatoes, ice cream and more. This family reunion class lasts a little longer 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. to allow for singing. In addition to your plates and utensils for eating, bring a musical instrument if you play (spoons and washboards preferred). For this class, you need to have taken at least one previous open-hearth cooking class. Register for this class here.