Enjoy a cozy (virtual) evening in front of a fire as Linda Ostrand demonstrates open hearth cooking in her home, the “Berry Brick House.” This program will be livestreamed by the Orange County Historical Museum on December 3 at 7 PM and is the first of a two-part series.
In her presentations, Ostrand will share cooking techniques and recipes from the 17th and 18th century. Part 1 of the series will be set around 1690 in the days of William Penn. Ostrand will prepare a Portugal Cake. Part 2 of this series will be held in January. It will be set around 1790, in the days of Thomas Jefferson, and will feature a Monticello-inspired recipe.
Ostrand trained in open hearth cooking at Pennsbury Manor, the colonial estate of William Penn, founder and proprietor of the Colony of Pennsylvania. She noted the importance of historical accuracy in her courses saying, “We weren’t allowed to enter the grounds unless we were dressed in appropriate period attire. All of the ingredients, pots, pans, and utensils we used were only what was available at that time.”
Portugal cakes are delicious desserts that were popular in colonial days. They are perfect for a brunch, afternoon tea or holiday treat. The origin of the name is not known but suppositions include: 1) a type of orange called “Portugal” and the recipe’s original use of orange flower water 2) the recipe’s use of sack, a sweet, fortified white wine made in Portugal 3) the recipe’s use of currants imported from Portugal. A recipe for the cakes appears in Judeth Bedingfield’s cookbooks that are in the collection of the University of Pennsylvania. Volume 1 was published in 1730, Volume 2 in 1744.
The Berry Brick House was built around 1805 for Mrs. Rhody Berry, the mother of brickmason John Berry, who built many buildings in Hillsborough including the Orange County Courthouse, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, and Eagle Lodge. The traditional belief has been that John Berry built the house; but in 1805, Berry was only seven years old. Therefore the likely builder was neighbor Samuel Hancock, a master brickmason who later became Berry's partner. The house remained in the Berry family for 131 years. Current owners Linda and Ken Ostrand purchased the house in 2017 and added a kitchen wing, specifically designed with a hearth and other colonial features.
While the live program will provide attendees with the opportunity to ask questions, people who cannot attend that evening can still receive the post-event link to enjoy the recorded program for a limited period of time.
There will be a $25 cost to attend this program. Proceeds will help the Orange County Historical Museum continue to preserve its collection of over 2,000 artifacts, present engaging exhibits on the history of Orange County, and provide a variety of educational programs. Currently, the museum is open by appointment from Friday through Sunday from 11-5. In addition to its permanent exhibit, the museum is now presenting Yésah: Journeys of the Occaneechi.
For more information, to register for open hearth cooking or to make a reservation to visit the museum, go to the museum’s website at www.orangehistorync.org or call 919-732-2201.