My favorite kitchen

One of my favorite things is “encampment cooking”. The photo here shows my part of The Greyhounds of Fairhaven encampment at the 2018 Las Cruces Renaissance Festival.

In the foreground is an 18×48″ wood-burning firepit. I primarily use it for large pots and skillets, and to provide coals for the dutch ovens. Behind it is a large metal plate that I use for my dutch ovens, and next in line is a small wood burning stove that I use for small pots, simmering things, and coffee. Behind all of that is the cook’s tent, with my preparation table and scullery table under the fly.

In actual period times, the fire pit would have just been dug into the ground, and dutch ovens also placed on the ground. But public parks tend to frown on digging large holes, and burning up their grass. So, we adapt.

Working in an encampment kitchen like this gives you a real feel for how much work it was just to provide meals prior to the 20th century. Fires had to be constantly tended to keep things at the right temperatures, and everything had to be prepared by hand. No mixers, no food processors. Need egg whites beaten to stiff peaks? Well, I hope you’ve got a good arm and a bit of endurance. When I work the encampment kitchen, I get up at 6:00 AM to get the fires started, and work fairly non-stop until around 7:00 PM when I finish washing all the dishes, just to feed a crew of 8-10 people. Your Great + Grandmothers had to clean the house, tend the garden, do the laundry (by hand) and care for the children too.

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