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Monday, November 23, 2009

A successful evening!

Well, our first historical dinner as part of a formal group is done, and it was quite a success!  The only hitch of the evening was discovering the bathroom across the hall was locked, so we had to take people across the street to our place if they needed to go.  *L*

There were some last minute changes in the number of people.  One person ended up staying home with a fever, possibly a flu, but two other last minute additions made it.  We totalled 20 people, I think.  My husband wasn't able to stay very long - not too much of a surprise there, with the way his health has been lately - and Youngest went home with him.  The noise levels got a bit much for her. 

I'll detail more about the dishes we had on my home school blog once I've gone through my photos.  I did the rabbit, which went over quite well, wild rice.  Eldest did bannock, which also went over quite well, and fake coffee, which everyone seemed to find rather odd tasting. *L*  I also made some "hay time switchel" for a drink.  I imagine it would have tasted quite good after a day in the sun making hay - with all that sugar and molasses, it would have been quite the pick-me-up.  Otherwise, it was... not something I'd make again. LOL

Now, let's see if I can remember all the other dishes without having to go back to the photos. :-D  There were little potatoes, baked whole, a fish and carrot dish, a fish soup that included mushrooms and cattail roots, freshly made saurkraut, rose hip jam, pemmican, roasted pumpkin seeds, a thick lentil and smoked hamhock soup, and a dessert of... I think it was pears, prunes and raisins, but I'll have to double check that.  One of our guests even brewed up some spruce beer (used as a tonic to fight scurvy).  They had to make "essense of spruce" using their own spruce trees and a bit of guesswork.  Like the fake coffee and switchel, molasses figured heavily, too, though they had to make sure the molasses was preservative free, so the yeast wouldn't be killed off.

One of the surprised while researching recipes - when they had it, the pioneers used a LOT of sugar or other sweetener.  Huge amounts of salt was also used, though more often as a preservative.  I guess, with depending on game so much in the early years, fat and protein weren't much of an issue, but carbs were a little harder to come by.  Well, except for the poor souls that died of rabbit starvation.  Hard to imagine starving to death while having plenty to eat.  In our day and age, with dietary fat being viewed as such an evil, we tend to forget we can't live without it.

I think I remembered everything that was there. 

My personal favorites were the lentil/ham hock soup and wild rice.  I'm not big on fish, but the fish dishes worked out quite well.  I completely forgot to try the rose hip jam, though, which I was looking forward to.  The pemmican was an experiment, and I'm not sure if it worked or not, not knowing what "real" pemmican is supposed to taste like.  I was surprised by how much I liked the saurkraut.  I grew up with my mother's saurkraut and never liked it - it was so incredibly sour and acidic - but this was really nice.  The person who made it said it was saltier than it was supposed to be, but I wouldn't know any better. *L*

Before we started, we all talked about the dishes we'd brought and how close we could get to authentic to the theme.  I was surprised to find that lentils were being used in NA that far back.  There are always allownaces to be made when trying to recreate historical dishes, if only because information tends to be sparse or cryptic. 

Some of our guests even dressed up a bit, and one family brought a small table loom used for making narrow strips of fabric for sashes.  Another guest had brought her fiddle and played us a few tunes.  There were games and even dances - it was all a lot more elaborate than anything I'd expected.  The kids had a blast, that's for sure. 

Unfortunately, things went on a bit too long and we never got to the story telling.  One of our guests is actually a professional storyteller and I was really looking forward to hearing her. She had to leave, though, so it never happened.  :-( 

Things got loud, sometimes a bit chaotic, and was overall a success.  The theme was chosen by Eldest (I picked the last themed dinner we had, before the group was formally created), so the next one will have to be hosted by another family.  It may not happen until the spring, though! ;-D  We have plenty of themes we'd like to try, but I look forward to seeing what someone else might come up with!

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