Consider becoming an Apprentice Cook at Fort Mifflin
On January 22, 2022; Fort Mifflin is running our Cast Iron Chef & Colonial Brewing. The Regimental Brewmeister and our team of hearth cooks is creating a unique hands-on experience in early 19th century foodways. Normally, I would be pushing for you to join me, the Regimental Brewmeister, in creating 18th Century Beers and I would be very happy to have you on my team but you should also consider becoming an Apprentice Cook.
Today, we are accustomed to high tech cooking. Our cook stoves, microwave ovens, and other modern conveniences sometimes take us out of the reality and true artistry of preparing food. Just as the modern homebrewer learns to enhance their skills at the kettle by practicing the more basic techniques of brewing over an open fire with no instrumentation, so too does the modern chef when they learn the fundamentals of cooking using hot coals at the hearth.
Before we had modern kitchens with their cook stoves, electric mixers, and preprepared ingredients, meals were prepared at the fireplace hearth using peels, posnets, 3-legged cooking pots, spiders, bird ovens, coffee roasters, tilting teakettles, ember tongs, salamanders, tin kitchens, Dutch ovens, clock jacks, griddles, waffle irons, and kettles of all sizes. Of course, as a military establishment, Fort Mifflin’s kitchens are not this lavishly equipped but you can quickly see that the experience will be very different from microwaving your Marie Callender’s preprepared meal and sitting down in front of the TV.
In the 18th and 19th Century, a cook knew how to prepare the fire for a day, plan a meal with the ingredients on hand (no sending your better half to the grocery at the 11th hour), and how to manage that process through all the inconsistencies of controlling the fire, dealing with less than perfect ingredients, substituting for ingredients and equipment you don’t have, and making your own recipes (cookbooks were rare in the 18th Century and those that existed tended to focus on posh dishes for entertaining). Despite all of these things that we in the 21st Century would see as obstacles, great meals with elaborate layering of flavors and textures were common.
Come join us as an Apprentice cook and learn how to control the fire and tame it your needs. Learn to bank coals and bake in a Dutch oven. Practice roasting and toasting, boiling, simmering, and stewing foods under a small flame. Learn why our gear is built the way it is and basic cooking techniques that remarkably still apply when you go back to your modern kitchens. See how we can turn out prepared dishes with a surprisingly high degree of accuracy, and with remarkably tasty results using just the cook’s resourcefulness and some basic tools.
Of course, brewers and cooks will have the chance to move from program to program as they have time. You CAN do both. Tickets are selling fast so if you want to join us, act quickly.