A slice of pumpkin and current quick bread

Venoge Quick Bread

Venoge Quick Bread is indispensable in the Venoge kitchen. This bread is very versatile and depending on what fruits we have on hand the taste of the bread can change dramatically. We have tried the recipe with pumpkin, sweet potato, applesauce, raisins, nuts or currants, even bits of candied ginger. Try using grated carrots or various cooked squash, it usually works fine. Spice it up with cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves.

We bake it in the bake oven or on the tin baker, as shown below, in front of the hearth.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed or grated fruits or vegetables
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currents (optional)
  • 1 cup regular all purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup hot water


Melt butter and blend in sugar. Mix in beaten eggs and mashed fruit or vegetables. Sift flour with salt and baking soda. Stir in dry ingredients alternately with hot water.

Turn into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan or a 9″ round pan (it will bake quicker in this). Bake in slow (350°) oven for 1 hour and 10 min.


Sweet Corn Bread

There are many kinds of corn breads and they come in many shapes. We usually cook corn bread in a round pan.

Jacob Weaver writes to his father in New York State in 1814 “The people here have another way of living than where you live. Their principle bread is corn, but not because they can’t raise no other sorts of grain.” Corn bread then is appropriate to make in Jacob Weaver’s house. We prefer a sweet corn bread.  Try our fool-proof recipe.


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup milk


Mix sugar and butter, blend in eggs.

Sift flour with baking powder and salt, add corn meal. Blend dry ingredients with the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Pour into buttered and floured 9 inch square or round pan.

Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.


6 Hour Chicken

Six Hour Chicken

The flavor of chicken is exceptional when slow roasted in front of the fire. A chicken could be done in about two hours, depending on how close the tin kitchen is set to the fire.

At Venoge, our hearth cooking is partly a demonstration for our visitors so we prefer a Six Hour Chicken. Moving the tin kitchen back from the fire keeps the chicken from roasting as fast. Our chickens roast all day and are ready by supper.

We serve the roasted chicken with various vegetables or rice.


  • 1 large chicken or two small chickens
  • Kitchen twine to bind the chicken to the skewers


Just about any size chicken will work in the tin kitchen. We use a large roasting chicken so the meat to bone ratio is high.

Clean the chicken and insert the main rod that will hold the chicken in the tin kitchen. Truss the chicken well, wrapping twine around the skewers. As the chicken cooks, it shrinks; good wrapping keeps it from falling off.

Turn the spit one notch approximately every 15 minutes. We do not baste or add spices.

You know your chicken is done when the juices run clear.


6 hour chicken


Grandmother Nora’s Pie Crust

This wonderful pie crust recipe came to us from one of our volunteers, Sharon Reavis Ward. We find this recipe will make two 8 or 9 inch crusts or one 10 inch deep dish crust with enough for a lattice top.

My grandmother, Nora Lee Reavis, was born in 1898 on a farm in North Carolina. There were ten children in the family, and she, being one of the oldest, was expected to help with the cooking . . . so she became one of the best.

When my grandparents were married, they moved to Indiana. As a child, walking into her big farmhouse kitchen was like walking into Heaven for me. She always had pies in the freezer, ready to put in the oven. Anytime anyone walked through the door she would lift the lid to that big old freezer to reveal pies whose fillings would have been grown and canned there on the farm. Grandfather and she worked side by side to fill the basement pantry. My heart is warmed just to think of her.

Sharon Reavis Ward


  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • 3 cups flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup lard


Break egg in a cup and beat with a fork. Add vinegar and water.

In mixing bowl, mix flour, salt and cut in lard. Mix wet ingredients to the dry.

Knead lightly until a ball is formed and roll out to desired thickness.

Place pie plate on crust, trim and lay crust into plate.

Fold under the outer edge. Flute edges as desired.



We like to serve these delightful little sweet treats at our Country Christmas get together each December. Our recipe is adapted from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hanna Glasse 1805. 


To one pound of flour, put one quarter of a pound of butter, one quarter of a pound of sugar and; two spoonfuls of yeast; mix them all together in warm milk or water of the thickness of bread, let it raise, and make them in what form you please, boil your fat (consisting of hog’s lard), and put them in.

The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, Hanna Glasse, 1805.

Since we cook the doughnuts in small batches they are somewhat labor intensive, however a larger kettle could be used for the oil or lard. As soon as they are done, drain and roll in a sugar-cinnamon, powdered sugar or eat them plain. The crisp outer crust is fantastic.


  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm butter
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups warm milk


Heat oil to about 375°F. We fill our kettle half full with oil and heat it over the hearth.

Mix ingredients.

Roll dough out 1/2 inch thick. Cut in squares and let rise.

Drop a few carefully into the oil. The dough should sink to the bottom then quickly float to the top as it cooks. 

Gently flip the doughnuts. These will cook quickly. Since oil temperatures will vary, cut one open to see if it is done and adjust cooking time accordingly.

Roll in sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Fresh Cheese with Herbs

Do you remember your mother or grandmother making cheese? During events at Venoge sometimes visitors recall memories of fresh cheese being made. Some recall cheese being hung in a cloth on a clothesline to drain off the whey.

Visitors’ stories reminded me of a cool day in spring, several years ago, when Gretchen Langdon demonstrated cheese making at a Locust Grove event. We made a large amount that day, but for Venoge we make small batches just for visitors.

This is the recipe we use at Venoge now. It varies depending on the herbs on hand, but it is always quite tasty.


  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • 1/8 cup of vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Herbs such as garlic, dill and chives to taste


Heat milk to a bare simmer, just below boiling. The milk will be frothy on the surface. Add vinegar. If the milk and vinegar do not begin to curdle in about a minute, add additional vinegar.  Let stand about ten minutes.

Strain curds using cheese cloth or open linen, then squeeze mixture in the cloth.

Add salt and herbs. Squeeze out liquid again.

Squeeze out additional liquid. You can cut into pieces, shown below, or place it in a bowl and use it as a dip or spread. Either way this is a deliciously light treat!



Switchel is a traditional drink with a long history. Some say Switchel dates back to the late 17th century. It is often called ‘haymaker’s switchel’ because it was a refreshing drink for those doing the hard work of harvesting hay and often served along with the noon meal. Although, they didn’t know at the time, the vinegar and molasses help hydrate and replace electrolytes.  They only knew it worked.


John Lewis Krimmel, “The Village Tavern/In an American Inn” (1814), Toledo Museum of Art

The American Table blog has a nice Switchel page along with a recipe from 1853. In the last decade or so it appears Switchel is having a revival and it has lately become popular and now you can buy it bottled online.

We have served Switchel at Venoge since 2005 and only once have I had someone reject it ‘violently’. Most like it or find it ‘interesting’. There are many variations, some using honey or maple syrup, but always using vinegar. The recipe below is the one we use most often.


  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup vinegar or to taste
  • 2 quarts water


Slowly heat ingredients over low heat until combined thoroughly. We recommend using half of the recommended vinegar to start.

Adjust amounts to taste and add more vinegar now if desired. Chill and serve.



Venison Stew

Venison on the supper table is a rarity today, but in the early 19th century it was not unusual in rural areas. Below is a typical Stewed Venison recipe similar to what we make at Venoge.

Stewed Venison

Take some of the fore quarter of fresh venison, with the ribs, chop them into small pieces, rinse, and season them, stew them in a small quantity of water, with a few slices of pork or bacon.  Stew it very tender, season the gravy with butter, flour, onions, pepper and sweet cream; simmer a few minutes, and serve it on toast.

The Kentucky Housewife: Containing Nearly Thirteen Hundred Full Receipts. by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, 1839.

Venoge gives permission to three hunters to hunt deer on the 30 acres of our property. In return the hunters supply us with venison for our events. We usually use a loin or roast for the stew, cooked slowly and we often add noodles or rice. Venison is low in fat and high in protein, plus, it tastes good!


  • Venison roast, loin or stew meat
  • Herbs of choice, savory, sage, thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • Onions
  • Carrots (optional)
  • Potatoes (optional)
  • Water to cover


Cut the meat into 2 x 2 inch pieces, larger than bite-size. Cover with water.

Add onions and herbs.

Simmer until done (several hours). Noodles or rice can be added toward the end of cooking. To thicken, make a gravy with butter, flour and venison stock.


Venoge Summer Soup

This soup has a chicken base and we add various seasonal vegetables. It is very adaptable to the vegetables and herbs on hand. It is a light soup but filling, especially when served with our Round Loaf or Onion Herb Bread.   


  • 1 large chicken
  • Water to cover the chicken
  • Assorted herbs, dill, chives, garlic, savory, sage, etc.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Assorted vegetables, carrots, squash, chard or spinach, onions, etc.


We boil the chicken with the herbs until done, then remove the meat from the bone. Cut or tear the meat into bite-sized pieces. 

Add selected vegetables to the chicken broth and cook until almost done.

Add the cut chicken and cook a bit more. If we want to make dumplings, this is the time we add those for cooking.


Roasted Eggs

I became aware that roasted eggs were a ‘thing’ when I read “The Backcountry Housewife” (a must read). The writer states that:

“Experimentation has shown us that eggs do indeed roast quite nicely in their shells when buried in hot ashes for a quarter of an hour or more. A fine explosion results when placing the eggs in contact with hot coals, however. The roasted egg is very similar to a boiled egg.

Made dishes of boiled or perhaps roasted eggs are common in old recipes. These dishes are generally composed of the eggs, whole, sliced, quartered, or stuffed, with a white sauce. Mushrooms, onions, or oranges (if available) are common accompanying ingredients. …. If the eggs are stuffed, the filling may be mashed and seasoned yolks or bread crumbs. Forcemeat might also be included.”

Kay Moss and Kathryn Hoffman. The Backcountry Housewife. 18th Century Backcountry Lifeways Studies Program, Schiele Museum, 2001.

When we tested the method at Venoge, we waited until we had a nice mound of hot ashes to bury the raw eggs. We had a thin layer of ashes on the bottom and about an inch on top and sides. A few hot coals were present but none touched the eggs. It can take a bit longer than 15 minutes depending on the heat of the ashes.

The advantage of roasting versus boiling was apparent immediately. There is no need for another pot on the crane or trivet taking up space. Just remember where you buried the eggs!


  • Eggs
  • Hot ash (free from coals)


Place eggs on top of a thin layer of hot ash. Be careful to not include any coals or the eggs may explode or get too roasted on one side.

Cover eggs entirely with ashes and wait 15 minutes. You can turn eggs during cooking depending on the heat of your ashes.

Remove eggs and let them cool. We place ours in cool water so we can peel them easily. Remember older eggs peel easier than fresh eggs. So if you are having trouble peeling the eggs, like we did, it is likely you are using fresh eggs.