On Saturday, November 7, Westmoore Pottery will present “Stepping Back in Time: Hearthside Cookery.” Long-time hearth cook Kay Moss of Gastonia, NC will be the guest presenter this year. As she cooks foods in the large fireplace at Westmoore Pottery using historical “receipts” (as recipes were then called) from the 18th century, Kay will be assisted by her husband Fred and by friend and fellow cook Suzanne Simmons.
Among the 18th century dishes that Kay and her helpers will prepare on this day are a jugged hare, Carolina snowballs, an onion pie, groats pudding, and roast apples. She will also be teaching about chocolate beverages as they existed in the 1700s. Sampling of many of the dishes will be allowed as foods finish cooking.
Kay Moss has been practicing and researching historical hearth cookery since 1974. She is founder and was long time director of Backcountry Lifeways Studies Program of the Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC. Kay has authored numerous books, among them The Backcountry Housewife (co-authored with Kathryn Hoffman), Seeking the Historical Cook: Exploring Eighteenth-Century Southern Foodways, and Southern Folk Medicine 1750-1850.
Kay followed a wandering path in life, many steps of which influenced her perspective on hearth cookery: a childhood in the woods, a degree in chemistry from Duke University, work at a UNC medical research lab, and ten years as a math and science teacher before her many years with the Schiele Museum where though retired, she remains an adjunct curator. Along the way she has taught numerous workshops and classes including teaching hearth cookery each year at the John C. Campbell Folk School.
Westmoore Pottery is well known for making and providing replica historical pottery used for heritage cookery programs and as museum furnishings. Kay Moss will use Westmoore’s pottery in her cooking, to demonstrate how various pottery pieces were used in the 18th century. Pots used will range from the more common bowls, pitchers, and plates to the lesser known pottery pipkins, skillets, and steep pans.
“Many hearth cooks have benefited over the years from Kay Moss’ knowledge and experience, says potter Mary Farrell. “Kay has taught and/or influenced a great many of the hearth cooks active today. We are very fortunate to have her as our 2015 hearth cook. She is truly an inspiration to many. ”
The Hearthside Cookery programs are always among Westmoore Pottery’s most popular special events, and attract a wide and varied audience who learn about a part of history that people sometimes forget about — the history of foods, cooking skills, and the daily tasks of those who lived long ago. These programs interest many different types of people – history buffs, cooks, foodies, pottery enthusiasts, teachers, and lifetime learners. Never has history tasted so good!
Westmoore Pottery will be open from 9 am – 5 pm on Saturday, November 7. The hearth cooking demonstrations will run from 11 am – 3 pm. Visitors may come at any point during the day, and come back as often as they like to see the various foods being cooked. No admission fee will be charged and no pre-registration is required.
“We sometimes have people who stay the whole day to watch, ask questions, and learn,” adds Mary, “though most visitors just come for a part of the day.”
Since Kay Moss will be making and explaining different foods throughout the day, returning later in the day means more watching and learning . . . and more sampling!
In conjunction with the Hearth Cookery program, Mill Creek Forge (next door to Westmoore Pottery) will also be open and demonstrating the making of hand forged iron hearth equipment by blacksmith Jerry Darnell and friends. Jerry is one of the most skilled blacksmiths working in the US today. His work is used and treasured by many hearth cooks. Mill Creek Forge will also host a candlemaker for the day, dipping candles and making rush lights.
Westmoore Pottery is located at 4622 Busbee Road, just off Highway 705 halfway between the small towns of Seagrove and Robbins, in North Carolina.