The basics: Apple River Fort is located in Elizabeth, IL. It’s a little fort from the Black Hawk Wars. To welcome autumn, they have an intimate supper for the public (advanced ticket purchase necessary). The Ox Bow Tavern cooks the five course dinner. This year the menu was as follows:
1st course – pepper pot soup and pumpkin biscuits w/ jam
2nd course – cheshire pie and Jefferson’s mac ‘n cheese with sour dough bread
3r course – fish cakes and collards with wheat bread
4th course – sauer braten and spaetzel with red cabbage and dark bread
5th course – assorted pies, cookies, and cakes for dessert
It was really excellent to cook over a nice hearth. The other oddly delightful moment that was totally unexpected was being asked to serve at table and I was running back and forth from the house where we cooked and the block house where the diners were located. It was just like Downton Abbey!!! Only 1830s!!
Now for all the pictures!
Inside the cabin that served as the kitchen…
Cheshire pie = layer of fried smoked pork sprinkled with nutmeg, a layer of apples sprinkle with sugar, repeat. Add top pie crust. Bake in baking kettle.
Apple pudding (not on the menu; we made it for fun).
Setting the table for the guests…
(I think Mr. Carson would be proud!)
With our guests…
The annual encampment at Cantigny near Chicago took place Sept 12 – 13. While it was not as cold as last year, it was still good weather for wool (at least in the morning and at night!). I’m so glad I’m adding more wool items to my wardrobe.
I will be posting photos of me in the clothing once the photographer edits and posts them. A huge thank you in advance to Divine Memories by Alexis.
For now, here are my photos from the event.
Sliced citrus fruits are floating in tea punch….waiting for consumption.
Citrus fruits are ready to be put to use in syllabubs
Of all the photos I took this weekend, this one is by far my favorite. N grated nutmeg for use in a variety of dishes that weekend.
Bigos! Best stew ever: sausage, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, garlic….nom nom.
The lovely Christina from On Living History
My obligatory selfie for the event. Here I am wearing my new wool jacket.
There’s nothing like staying in a historic building for a weekend and making it your home. It’s the best. While I don’t mind tent camping (and I am extremely grateful to every man who has set up a tent for me at events), I much prefer sturdy walls that keep out large raccoons and the cold air. Macktown, in Rockton, IL is a glorious little site along the Rock River. The weekend before the event, we cleaned the entire building so that we could live in it. Part of the fun of using this building again is figuring out how to set up the furniture in a way that is comfortable and easy for our guests to use and allows for the workers to move quickly from one room to the other when working/serving.
I think my layout of having the tables kind of form a T-pattern worked. It was snug, that’s for sure, but there was much more room to walk about. There is a rather large cabinet in the kitchen area that is in a very dysfunctional spot and I wish it could be moved. Our other change was at night when everyone joined us Sat evening, we put up two tables in the bedroom – one against the wall and the other in the doorway that leads to the main dining room and had a “bar” window. Mr. B the younger manned the bar and that kept the drinks safe from greedy little hands.
Returning the following weekend, was like going home. It was so odd, yet comforting. Swept floors, clean windows, space upstairs for sleeping. I was ready.
I arrived Friday evening and set to work finishing my petticoat that I was to wear the next day. Sewing by candlelight – ah what could be better?!
For two and a half days, the building is transformed into The Ox Bow Tavern. The women slept downstairs and some men upstairs and a few in the tavern area.
We slept two in the bed, and four on the floor. It was cozy.
Saturday morning was bright and cold. I try to get dressed quickly, but it never happens. I’m usually out of bed by 5:45/6 a.m. and then I need help with stays, have to make sure all my petticoats are on in the right order and that they are tied snugly, and then that my fichu and cap are arranged properly/attractively. All the while, men are bustling about getting the fire going, the other cook’s helpers (who somehow get dressed more quickly than me) are prepping food, and “father” is chastising me for being in various states of undress.
Even though we are rushing to start the meal so it’s ready for guests, I love how the sun slowly creeps up over the river as we put the room in order; time stands still for just a bit. Breakfast is porridge and bacon. It’s an Ox Bow staple and favorite by all guests. I’m not sure what would happen if we served anything but that. Our hash is divine as well, but people must have their porridge and meat!
There is a frantic mad rush for about an hour as women bustle around the kitchen dishing out porridge and making sure the guests are satisfied. Because of the cool autumn temperatures, everyone wanted to pile into the dining room at once.
Once everyone leaves, it’s time for the tavern staff to eat…
Mr. B the younger finds a spot on the stairs – a fitting spot for his station in life.
And a young recruit and cook sneak morsels in the kitchen.
And clean up….
Mrs. Blodgett instructs B about upcoming tasks to be accomplished.
A clean pile of dishes ready to be put back on the shelves.
As the day progressed, the women prepped food for midday meal and the men cooked it. (Nothing like cleaning up from the first meal so you can start the second).
Fun colored carrots and potatoes for the soup!
Women bustling about.
Making important decisions about which bread to use.
Mrs. Blodgett rules the kitchen.
Mr. Blodgett rules the fire and cooks oysters, soups, and ducks.
Throughout the day and well into the night, we welcomed an outstanding musician. My favorite tune is Staten Island.
A few men and myself even found time to practice our shooting skills.
Our resident soldier demonstrated proper technique first so the new recruit could hone his skills.
Mr. Blodgett then demonstrated for his daughter how best to aim and fire.
I took my turn.
After the fun and games it was back to work preparing for evening meal, which was for the family and staff only. We used our fine china!
Everyone journeyed back to The Ox Bow for a night of revelry and merriment. We had a full house!
A small group of women congregate in the kitchen to exchange news and gossip.
As usual, the family and staff fell in to bed around midnight and slept peacefully until 5:45 the next morning when we awoke to frost on the ground. It was beautiful to watch the sun rise through the fog.
Unfortunately, frosty mornings do not mean water should not be fetched. B was ready and willing to brave the elements.
Family and staff gather around the morning fire to receive instructions for the day.
The daily routine was the same as the day before, and the afternoon was warm, allowing a brief respite in the form of a walk, which lead to random leaf collecting.
And this leaf!
Goodbye little stone house; you’ve served us well again. We look forward to our next event when we can all come together as a family/staff and provide a superb experience for everyone.
Do you ever find that you want to make one garment and you start making that one garment and you rather enjoy your time with needle and thread? Your mind imagines the finished item and how it will look at this oh so wonderful event in the future. Then everything comes to a screeching halt because one the event you wanted to wear it to is in just a week and two this item is no where near finished and three obviously wearing linen in 40/50 F degree weather is the silliest thing ever.
I am slight of frame, which makes it difficult to regulate my body temperature. While working in period clothing several days a week in the summer when it is 90 – I sweat a ton. Once the sun goes down and the temperature drops to below 75 – I freeze. If there is a slight wind – I’m cold. I wear knee socks the majority of the year both for living history events and in every day life because they keep my feet warm.
Though I’ve only been participating in living history events since 2009, I have been very lucky to experience most in lovely weather; a few have been rainy or cooler, and one was in subzero temps, but we were in a building and I stood in front of the hearth for the three days. Specifically, the second weekend in Sept dawned rainy and cool. I have lots of wool items: long mitts, stockings, a petticoat, a cloak and a hat. However I do not have a short gown/jacket. I have a fitted lined linen jacket which, when it’s 80F, makes me too hot, so I made an unlined bedgown for a looser, more freeing feeling. I was wearing this jacket and a *million* petticoats and I was cold. I couldn’t get warm for almost a week afterward. While I was at this event, I bought wool for a new petticoat and a new short gown/jacket.
The petticoat will be grey with a navy blue worsted wool bottom hem. The jacket is a grey/black stripe interlined with wool and lined with worsted wool. I’m proud of myself because my interlining and lining are from items in my stash so I did not have to buy anything new/extra!!!! I’m using the JP Ryan jacket pattern, view A. With my three layers, I have 18 pieces. GAH!! They were all cut out this morning (about 3 hrs time) and I started to flat line the outer fabric to the interlining.
Oh and I need this new jacket and petticoat for Oct 18 because I’m anticipating subzero temperatures.
Thank god for crock pot cooking on Sundays.
There are lots of tutorials on both short gowns/jackets and flat lining etc, so I will only post finished product photos.
We recently had the Northwest Territory Alliance 40th Anniversary Grand Encampment at Cantigny Park in Wheaton IL. It is a lovely wooded 500 acre park and the tree lined path where we camp is delightful. A friend and I arrived late Fri night and it was cool and misty/rainy and muddy. Not ideal, but we didn’t care because we knew the next two days would eventually bring the sun. Despite the cool (read: 40F) temps at night, we managed to survive. One of my soldier friends set up his extra tent for us, which was so kind. My friend and I worked at the tavern and a good time was had by all!! We served 150 meals total this weekend – our largest ever. Here are some photos from the event…
I was a meat monger!
We had two tents this time for the Ox Bow; one was for the patrons and had four walls which was nice protection against the wind and cold for both days. This tent doubled as our prep kitchen and extra seating.
Inside full of patrons for day time meals
And at night time for libations!
A smattering of photos of tavern staff life
Cantigny Ladies of the Ox Bow!
This may be the last War of 1812 at this site, so I’m extremely glad I went. Again, I participated as Ox Bow Tavern family staff. We served two meals during the day and drinks Sat night. Dinner Saturday evening was provided for us by Rob Stone and it was wonderful to not have to cook for a third time that day. 🙂 His staff did an amazing job!
During the day, I had the opportunity to tour Villa Louis, which I had never been to before. I love late Victorian homes and it was wonderful to walk through this house (even if I was in Regency clothing).
First, some pictures of tavern life, and then the Villa.
Salmagundi for Saturday midday meal
Ladies of the Ox Bow…
The new mulling cone for flips!
And now Villa Louis! Pictures were prohibited inside, but I hope mine will inspire people to visit the site! The inside of the house was stunning. Everything is picture perfect and when I stepped into the servants’ quarters, I felt like I would see Carson or Mrs. Hughes around the corner at any moment (even if Downton Abbey is set 1912 onward).