Durand-Hedden offers taste of history

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — In an annual tradition spanning more than 35 years, visitors have gathered around Durand-Hedden’s 18th-century hearth and experienced how Maplewood residents of long ago cooked, ate and kept warm during the long winter months.

On Sunday, Jan. 26, from 1 to 4 p.m., Durand-Hedden once again welcomes skilled cook Margaret Quinn, who has worked in the living history field for more than 20 years and has become proficient at wood stove and open-hearth cooking. She continually expands her culinary knowledge as a participant in the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums and the Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley. 

On the menu this year will be sweet pork sausage and apples sauteed at the hearth in a spider — a short-handled three-legged skillet — then topped with gravy, parsnips stewed in a kettle hanging from the crane over the fire, and beef collops and potatoes also fried in a spider. For sweetness there will be rice pudding, possibly accompanied by a surprise baked in the reflector oven. 

As usual visitors will learn about the history of the food and the fireside-cooking techniques that Quinn uses, and will sample centuries-old treats. Children can try their hands at old-fashioned cooking chores, such as kneading dough and churning butter. 

Durand-Hedden House is located in Grasmere Park at 523 Ridgewood Road in Maplewood. For more information or to arrange group tours, call 973-763-7712 or visit www.durandhedden.org.