Over the last six weeks, I’ve had the privilege of diving into the delicious history of Colonial America, alongside American Heritage Chocolate.
Since I’m studying American History with our girls this year, it was such a wonderful opportunity to allow the facts and stories of our great nation come alive. With three different visits, we saw first hand some of our most iconic historical locations.
First, we visited the beauty that Thomas Jefferson poured into his home: Monticello.
Next, we spent the weekend where George Washington devoted his time: Mount Vernon, and finally, I drove just 25 miles away from my home to once again be transported to the beautiful Moravian town of Old Salem, founded in 1776.
I think when something so beautiful and unique is so close to home it’s easy to take it for granted. For years, I took my boys to Old Salem and we would walk around the beautiful cobblestone streets enjoying the gardens, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually taken a real live “field trip” and perused all the workshops and Moravian homes built hundreds of years ago. Every year, my brother’s family enjoys the Old Salem’s Moravian love feast. It’s one of their time honored Christmas traditions and periodically, we join them, but after my visit back in time, I will be prioritizing it this year.
The amazing things about Old Salem Museum and Gardens is that you’re essentially experiencing early American history in the their unique Moravian settlement just like they did in the late 17oo’s. Through their extensive research, original structures and gardens give us a hands on approach to life during this time period.
While we went through many of the original buildings, enjoyed period crafts, learned about dying wool, gardening and more, I was just fascinated with our opportunity to spend time in the kitchen and cook authentic recipes. You know how much I love that.
We began our morning just right by enjoying chocolate drink and some chocolate “biscuits”.
As I’ve shared in past posts, American Heritage Chocolate dedicated themselves to the research and development of creating a historically accurate chocolate that was authentic to colonial America. It took them years to finally develop the perfect blend of ingredients and spices using only items available during the 18th Century. It’s been fascinating to learn more about the history of chocolate and experimenting with the baking of this colonial chocolate has added a depth of flavor to my baked goods that I can’t get with typical chocolate.
As researchers dove into the archives, they found that Old Salem has receipts (recipes) which noted the Mikschs family brought chocolate to Old Salem in 1771. Moravians both drank and baked with it, which differs from both Mount Vernon and Monticello where original records show only the chocolate drink around the same time.
For me, there’s something so therapeutic about working bread dough with my hands. As I chatted with one of the bakers, making pie crust was second nature to her and she rolled a beautiful crust in minutes.
Those few minutes were telling.
In our hurry scurry, fast paced society, we’ve talked ourselves out of the beauty of a home cooked meal. We’ve convinced ourselves it’s too much trouble, but you know, I beg to differ.
This was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I’ve had in a long time. One, it reminded me of how fortunate we are with our modern conveniences. While I love to work the bread dough and shape it into a beautiful loaf, baking it in a brick oven would be quite challenging.
And second, whole food, down home cooking is undoubtedly the most amazing comfort food created, and I needed that reminder.
I had the privilege of preparing and cooking our lunch meal in the Single Brothers House and Kitchen. Built in 1769, this is the original structure and I just love imaging all the stories that these walls whisper.
While cooking from scratch takes longer, the end experience is so worth it.
(Although, I’m never going to take beating my eggs for granted any more.)
For a kitchen tools lover like myself, this was pure eye candy. It was fascinating to see all that they did with only a few items. The above hutch holds many more items than the typical colonial kitchen because it served so many more men.
Aren’t they all beautiful, hand crafted pieces?
I’m wondering if you have ever been camping?
If you haven’t, you are missing out. Not just because of the family bonding, but more importantly, food cooked over a fire just tastes that much better.
While we prepared some of the items during our time in the kitchen, fortunately, one of the cooks began the meat hours earlier. Imagine tender meat slow roasted over this fire for hours, then mixed with a little wine and served with potatoes?
I can’t even begin to tell you how delicious this meal tasted and every single item served was authentic to this time period. Don’t think for a minute, I only had one plate. It was that good.
In the past I’ve shared how our family would love to be more self sufficient and this reminded me of just how possible, albeit, challenging, it can be.
Old Salem is such a wonderful opportunity for kids to truly experience what life was like before ipods, computers, electricity and cars. This brings us back to a slow, meaningful way of life that I adore.
The delightful women of Old Salem shared their recipes with me and I can’t wait to roll out every single item served. My family will love all of these dishes and I’ll make sure and post them over the next few weeks. They are too delicious not to share and it would be a perfect addition to an old fashioned Thanksgiving meal.
I’m so grateful for this time I’ve gotten to share a piece of our nations’ history and thankful to American Heritage Chocolate for introducing me to such an extraordinary part of our past.
Have you ever been to Old Salem?
If you ever stop by, make sure you let me know. My front porch is ready and waiting to greet you. 🙂
I’m partnering with SocialMoms and American Heritage on a paid blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed about how wonderful Old Salem and American Heritage Chocolate are my own.