Guess what I made today in the wood stove at Old World Wisconsin? Rhubarb pie! First time I’ve ever made it and first time I’ve ever used a wood burning oven. It’s a display pie, meaning no one is going to eat it. The crust was a tad dark on one side, but it looked pretty good. I have no idea how runny or crunchy the inside is. Maybe someone will cut into it tomorrow. It was lovely just sitting by the wood-burning stove, keeping toasty in the 50 degree rainy weather, smelling the pie bake and hemming handmade linen towels. We didn’t have many visitors, so I felt like I was having a cozy day in my own little corner of the 19th century, by myself. Nice work, if you can get it, I think.
So now that I’m back home, I’ve got to figure out if there’s something I can whip up for dinner in this century. Plus, I’ve got 3 days of dirty dishes in the sink to wash. Domestic bliss. For your entertainment, let me showcase a guest photographer: Steve. He took this shot while we were hiking on the Ice Age Trail on Monday.
Mmm! I can just smell that pie baking! Too bad you can’t eat it.
The cinnamon makes it super-tempting. The lard in the pie crust smells…distinctive. I’m used to vegetable shortening.
At this very moment a pie is baking in my electric oven, filled with raspberries picked from my garden last fall, but this pie won’t last the night. Do you re-enact history? I’d love to hear more about what you do.
Last year we went to our family Mecca, the Grand Tetons, and had fun talking to the pioneer woman re-enactor at Menor’s Ferry. She offered us gingersnaps baked in wood stove, and said that for years she hadn’t been able to get her cookies or pies to bake quite right. One Sunday one of the old timers from the valley came in and asked her what kind of wood she was using, and told her to use this other kind of wood, and she has had Betty Crocker pies ever since. I can hardly cook with an electric stove, but it is a wonder to me that they (or you) could do so with a wood stove.
I work at a living history museum, a 500-acre site where they’ve moved historic buildings from immigrant settlements in Wisconsin. I’m an interpreter; it’s a third-person perspective, not a first-person one. I get to be myself, just in a costume and doing things the people would have done in the 1800s. You raise an interesting point about the wood; I’ll have to ask about that!
P.S. I love the photo, and the idea of infinity pines.
Thanks! I’ll pass that on to Steve.
That is so cool! My family and I love history, and we love to experience it. We read and travel to learn about the history of a place, but our favorite thing to do is to visit open air and living history museums, particularly if we can see them peopled and used and lived in as they might once have been. In the US we have been to Plymouth Colony, Mystic Seaport, Old Sturbridge Village, a Shaker village in Kentucky, a Trading Post in Nebraska, Lewis and Clark’s camp in Astoria, and Fort Nisqually. Overseas we have done the same, visiting prehistoric, ancient Rome and Viking, and Dutch, Norman, English, and Welsh medieval open air museums. We went to one in Copenhagen that recreates the time of Hans Christian Anderson and another one in Alsace-Lorraine. We love to host historical dinners, too. Not role playing or anything like that, or even the Society for Creative Anachronism. Just our own little thing, tasting the authentic cuisine, wearing period costumes, and dining by candle or firelight.
How did you come to do this? Were you always very interested in history?
Your list of places to visit inspires me! I have been to Plymouth Colony, but none of the others. I grew up going to museums; my sister was an anthropology major, a museum curator, and a SCA member for years. My mother has been a docent at the museum where my sister used to be curator for the past 25 years or so. She also does a costumed gig with Portraits of the Past, playing period music for a historic fashion show. My background is in voice performance and theater and teaching, so the historic interpreter job seemed like a good fit. I fell in love with OWW when I first visited it 3 years ago and began attending their barn dances, too. It’s a great place!
I’ve always been curious about the making of a rhubarb pie. Kudos to you!
It’s pretty simple: pie crust, rhubarb, sugar, and cinnamon.
That sounds so cool, and what a wonderful passion to be able to share with your family. Your theater background would be really helpful in your work. I am a professional storyteller, but the only two programs I ever present in costume are the medieval stories (as told by Lady Joan Goodnight), and a program of Washington State pioneer stories–told through the eyes of the women and girls, also performed in first person. The storytelling makes it come alive.
Sturbridge Village has amazing programs, where you can follow Goody So and So around a small New England town and through a gossipy chat with the crowd she paints a picture of the village, the villagers, and the times (ie. how the new railroad is changing their way of life). You can go into one of the houses and stand at one end of the the dining room and listen to a family chat and scold and gossip with each other over dinner. Or follow the goody into the store and learn a great deal as they dicker over the cost of linen. Show rather than tell, and I love it! I hope you can get there sometime.
Anyway, this is what I love, and I think it’s amazing to find another whole family who does this too. We are museum people too. My mom drove us in a VW bus from Detroit to the art museum in Memphis to see the King Tut exhibit the first time it toured the country–we had to stand in the sun for four hours to get in. She drove seven kids from Detroit to the art museum in Toledo when Titian and Rembrandt were featured there. My sister Constance, the artist, got her degree in museology. Before she became a full-time artist, she worked at the Burke Museum in Seattle, and then up in Alaska she helped design exhibits–mostly history, anthropology and natural history–for several other small local museums.
And you are also a dancer! I met my husband folk dancing, but we each belonged to our own clogging group. I am very glad to have found your blog! I hope one day you will be inspired to write more about your work at the museum, because I would love to hear it.
I am also very glad you stumbled across my blog! I like finding kindred spirits and connections of all kinds. My father’s family settled in Detroit; my great grandfather being listed among Historic People in the Boston-Edison District. (George William Heigho – also my father’s name with the II suffix.) I am learning so much on my feet at work, but looking forward to having some longer stretches of time to process my experiences and write more reflectively about them.
That’s really interesting. I look forward to learning more about your historic Detroit connections. How is ‘Heigho’ pronounced?
Hi-yo. The second ‘h’ is silent, unlike the Lone Ranger’s cry.
I am loving your job.. and living it vicariously through you 🙂 and that’s a cracking photo!
Thanks! I’ll tell Steve you said so!
Scillabub…I struggle with the concept of a display pie………SHEER LUNACY!
This isn’t some airey-fairey objection based on people starving in the world, a rhubarb pie in Wisconsin ain’t gonna make one jot of difference to anyone who’s not in Wisconsin, but… in Wisconsin a wasted pie is a wasted pie..
Display it for a day by all means, but then eat the bloody thing!!!
Rhubarb pie is better than sex!!
Another example of stupid corporate policy, really.
Aaah…Reading between the lines you mean they’re scared your pie might kill someone…
Now it all makes sense.
I just made rhubarb & ginger sherbet- rhubarb, ginger, sugar, a dash of cardamom, and splashes of cream and gin- which I could and did eat. It’s like summer in a bowl. Come over and I’ll make you some!
It’s a deal!!
Wait for me !!
Well, hurry up!
haha… take a photograph.. that will have to do …enjoy !
The last time I even saw a rhubarb pie was in 1965 when I was a youth of 10 living in Brigham City, Utah. Everyone made rhubarb pies up there, maybe because rhubarb grew as a weed everywhere.
It grows like that here, too.